As Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne points out, living in a cluttered space is bad for your well-being -- but you don’t need scientists to tell you that. You feel it in your gut every time you walk into a messy room. However, changing your home from a chaotic mess to a relaxing sanctuary doesn’t have to be a huge, daunting chore. You can achieve the same result by taking small, regular, consistent actions. Here’s how.
Tidy All the Time
Keeping your home tidy might not be a military operation, but you still need a strategy. Here’s one that works: don’t have a set day to clean and tidy your whole house; instead, tidy it all the time. Obviously, this doesn’t mean donning your rubber gloves from the moment you get home until the moment you go to bed. You do it piecemeal as you go about your normal business.
For example, whenever you leave a room, look for an item that belongs somewhere else, and take it with you. After you wash your hands, tidy the sink area. If you’re waiting for the kettle to boil, give the kitchen surfaces a quick wipe. You can make this easier by keeping cleaning supplies close to where you will use them.
Create a Cleaning Routine
Housekeeping expert and blogger Becky Rapinchuk, aka Clean Mama, recommends using a cleaning routine where you split your cleaning into seven tasks and do one each day. For example, clean bathrooms on Monday, dust on Tuesday, vacuum on Wednesday, and so on.
You can choose one day each week as a “catch-all” day to do jobs that need extra work or things that don’t need to be done weekly, such as decluttering. Decluttering can be a massive undertaking, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve taken the time to sort through your belongings and assess each one’s usefulness to you, so this may need to be an ongoing project that you tackle every other catch-all day. If you don’t have the time to declutter but want to reap the benefits of downsizing your belongings, you may want to think about shuttling your excess junk to a storage unit until you’re ready, which currently only costs an average of $148.77 in Boston.
There are two main advantages of this seven-days-of-cleaning routine. Firstly, you’re only doing one job per day, so it’s less daunting and you’re less likely to shirk it. Secondly, if you clean daily, it’s more likely to become habitual.
Use Your Junk Drawers Properly
Your intentions for your junk drawer started out pure. It was meant as a welcoming refuge for those items without an established place elsewhere -- neglected thumbtacks, unused scissors, forgotten flashlights -- but at some point, it became a true junk drawer, a place to hide things you didn’t want to organize in that moment.
When you do this, in effect, you’re saying, “I’ll sort this out later.” This goes against the key strategy of tidying all the time. All you’re doing is creating a big job you’ll have to do later, while making it harder to find the things in the drawer that you actually need to use. Plus, when it gets full, the junk spills into your living spaces.
Your were on the right track initially. The junk drawer can be useful, but if it’s filling up with items beyond its purpose, declutter it. You can either do this in 15-minute chunks over a period of time or all in one go -- it’s up to you. But once it’s tidy, keep it that way!
Bring in the Pros
If you really can’t find the time to clean, tidy, and declutter your house, it might be time to bring in the professionals. Clutter is such a modern problem that you can find professional organizers who will not only tidy and clean your home, but also help you with the decluttering process. The cost of hiring a professional organizer ranges from $50 - $100 and is dependent on what area of the country you live in. If you’re not a huge hoarder, though, a regular cleaner will do, and cleaning services are pretty affordable. In Boston, the average cost to hire a maid service is $277.
Little and often is the key philosophy to an organized home. Unless you really like cleaning, you don’t have to waste a precious day off work doing chores. If you stay on top of things, you’ll be able to use that day for something you actually want to do instead. Get started today!