Use a laundry basket to clean your messy house. Like this.

Clean just one room at a time, such as the living room. As you organize that room, put away anything that belongs there. Everything else, and anything you’re not sure about, goes into the basket.

You’ll be surprised how quickly you are done. Astounded, in fact.

Now address the basket. Hey, what are you doing? Don’t just leave the basket there. I know the room feels orderly now, but you’ve got a basketful of entropy sitting there.

If you leave the basket there, you run the risk of a lost toy and the ensuing ruination of children’s lives.

Local child suffers the devastating effects of lost-toy syndrome.

Instead of ruining your child’s life, carry the basket to each room of your house. Start with the room where you estimate that most of the things belong. Or just start at the kids’ room, because that’s always the right answer.

Put away any basket objects that go in the first room. Do not clean the room in any other way. Leave and go to the next room as soon as you think you might be done. Later you will discover you weren’t done.

I’ll repeat that: You will discover you weren’t done. This is inevitable. There is no point in trying to thoroughly empty the basket on the first pass. There will be a second pass.

So when you’ve visited each room once, you’ll have a little stuff left. Make the rounds one more time.

Items that do not fit in the basket may be put away immediately.

When you’ve visited each room again, you’ll still have stuff left. Throw away everything else. It’s likely you don’t even own that stuff. You don’t want the police to find it in your house.

Now you’re ready to start on the second room. Tomorrow.