[Review] Unf*ck Your Habitat – Rachel Hoffman

Title: Unf*ck Your Habitat: You’re Better Than Your Mess
Author: Rachel Hoffman
Genre: Nonfiction/ Self-help
My rating: ★★★1/2

Finally, a housekeeping and organizational system developed for those of us who’d describe our current living situation as a “f*cking mess” that we’re desperate to fix. Unf*ck Your Habitat is for anyone who has been left behind by traditional aspirational systems: The ones that ignore single people with full-time jobs; people without kids but living with roommates; and people with mental illnesses or physical limitations, and many others. Most organizational books are aimed at traditional homemakers, DIYers, and people who seem to have unimaginable amounts of free time. They assume we all iron our sheets, have linen napkins to match our table runners, and can keep plants alive for longer than a week. Basically, they ignore most of us living here in the real world.

Interspersed with lists and challenges, this practical, no-nonsense advice relies on a 20/10 system (20 minutes of cleaning followed by a 10-minute break; no marathon cleaning allowed) to help you develop lifelong habits. It motivates you to embrace a new lifestyle in manageable sections so you can actually start applying the tactics as you progress. For everyone stuck between The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Adulting, this philosophy is decidedly more realistic than aspirational, but the goal is the same: not everyone will have a showcase of a home, but whatever your habitat, you deserve one that brings you happiness, not stress (From Goodreads).

I will admit this is the first self-help book I’ve ever read. I usually look down my nose at people who read these types of things. “You look like a person who would read a self-help book” is in my insult arsenal along with “yo mammy” jokes. However, I have a horrendously messy room. There are heaps of clothes, at least one pop can sits on every flat surface, and candy wrappers litter the floor like confetti. Not to mention the socks. *shudders* Not only does the mess make me not want to be in my room, I’m afraid I’m going to one day break my ankle. So I thought, why not? Also, swear words are fun.

I’m not sure if I really learned anything I didn’t already know (except that maybe my family doesn’t clean the toilet as often as we should), but it drilled into my head that the mess isn’t just going to disappear. Marathon cleaning, which is all I do, doesn’t help you in the long run. I generally get sick of my filth on the weekends and spend half of my Sunday cleaning. Over the week, the mess just accumulates again until I can’t tolerate it anymore. It’s a vicious cycle. This book helped me realize that cleaning is a life style change, and I need to work on changing my bad habits.

If only I had this thing called “willpower.”

Hoffman emphasizes doing 20/10s. 20 minutes of cleaning, 10 minutes of resting. You do however many you need to in order to get the job done. Generally when I clean, I read between tasks. Read a chapter, make the bed. Read a chapter, do a load of laundry. Read a chapter, unload the dishwasher. Read a chapter, read another chapter. Read another chapter, read another chapter, finish the book.

I did like that Hoffman went into the bullshit that is traditional gender roles when it comes to cleaning. I’ve never really experienced this because my dad does most of the laundry, dishes, and cooking. Buuuut it’s nice that she emphasizes that it’s not just women’s work. If you make the mess, you clean it up.

If you’re a slob like me and looking to change that, I’d recommend this. There are also some helpful checklists on the book’s website if you want to check ’em out: http://www.unfuckyourhabitat.com/