There is a storyteller in Philadelphia who goes by "Joe Bag-of-Donuts." He tells the story about how he had a friend in the hospital once, and when he went to visit him, he was concerned that he had nothing to bring, and in South Philly Italian culture, you really don't go visiting anybody with empty hands. It's considered thoughtless, and almost a little disrespectful. So he went to the hospital with a bag of donuts for his sick friend, and the name stuck.
Of course it always works for me when someone brings me a bag of donuts. But I recently saw where someone said she keeps her house neat by forbidding empty hands. (This was probably her WFMW post, but in case it wasn't, or to back her up, I'm posting my experience with it here too.) She pointed out how in a restaurant, you almost never see someone with empty hands. Servers are bringing food or clearing glasses. Busboys have their tubs. The only ones who move unencumbered are the hosts or hostesses; everyone else has to have full hands at all times to keep the restaurant flowing. This former restaurant employee had brought the idea back to her own house.
Dang, skippy, this works wonders. It had gotten easy for me to look past the things on the steps that needed to go up or down, and who doesn't prefer to bounce around unencumbered? But when I took my cultural "empty hands" dread and applied it to my house, it was like the brownies came and cleaned it all in one night. The stuff that collected on the peninsula went down, things that had been missing turned up, and it was really very few extra steps to my routine. This was a great technique for me and I hope it works for you too! Wanna see what else is working for people? Go check out Shannon's blog and find out!