Closed September 2017

I Thought YOU Were Going to Do It!

Coupleblaming2It's a familiar song in many households… "I thought you were going to clean up the dishes!" "Well, I thought YOU were supposed to do it!" Does this sound familiar?

If you are a regular reader, you'll probably know that I talk about organizing in terms of Prevention, Reduction, and Maintenance– just like weight loss. Having a plan for Maintenance is essential to "keeping the weight off," and the tasks involved must not only be identified, but the OWNERSHIP of those tasks must also be clear.

For example, if you do a project to organize your laundry room, the tasks to maintain your good work would be:

  • Rotating in hangers from the closet to hang up clothing from the dryer,
  • Taking out the recycling,
  • Putting away the clean clothing,
  • Periodically straightening the shelves,
  • Purchasing new cleaning products when they run out, and so on. 

The key is deciding which person is going to do those tasks– otherwise, they will not get done! Here are the three necessary factors required to make this all happen:

  • Ownership: Knowing to whom this task belongs
  • Commitment: Agreement and understanding that this needs to get done and why
  • Follow-Through: Actually doing it and understanding the consequences of not doing it

Our members have our video tutorial on Household Systems and Routines, with which they build a plan of maintenance tasks that include specifying ownership for each task in the accompanying workbook. (Our book offers this plan and workbook as well!) Of course, you can create systems that allow you to take turns per week or per night for many regular maintenance tasks, which also keeps it fair and adds variety.

What could you do today to clarify ownership and make someone accountable for tasks left undone (including maybe yourself)? It could be about your spouse or your kids, your office break room or your bathroom…  But if you don't change the habits that got you there in the first place, your beautiful organizing project results will revert right back where they started, making you a "yo-yo organizer." Do you relate? Share in the comments!

Follow me on Twitter for my Daily #ClutterTweetTip:


Joan Phillips

As a senior, with Macular Degeneration resulting in vision problems being organized has to be the primary goal. I thank you for your info.and making my live easier.

Sandi Conrad

Good points here. I uncluttered my tupperware drawers (I have 3). I matched lids to containers, divided the containers into 3 categories (1 in each drawer) to make it easier to find just what I’m looking for, discarded mismatched and gave away items I no longer need, and it has been great. Problem is: now I have to train my husband and son to empty the dishwasher into the right drawers and keep them all organized. They are smart enough to learn, they just don’t seem to want to!

Natural Stress Relievers

Commitment is definitely one of the biggest problems when it comes to organizing.
I was just talking to a friend today about taking small chunks of committed time to un-clutter some areas of my home.
Now if I could work on the weight issue!


because we work such different schedules, I pretty much let my daughter off the hook most of the time. Her room is her problem, and she keeps it clean. She does dishes. And we live by the don’t make a mess in the first place rule. My system is so easy that keeping the house clean is pretty effortless.
Which leads to your number one point – you’ve gotta have a system!


I never had a problem with dishes until I moved to a place with no dishwasher. Now they’re in my face all the time – yuck!


Leave a Reply

ParadeRachael RayInStyleCNBCFast CompanyThe Boston GlobeWomen's DayWGNToday