One of the lasting effects from the Coronavirus pandemic on the way we live has been the way it changed our relationship with our homes. During lockdowns, our homes became our sanctuaries, the place where we lived, worked, and spent our leisure and family time. We became versatile about how we used our space, and to value the effort we put into making that space beautiful, comfortable, and functional. This is a shift that will have an impact on our homes for years to come. So it’s important to be intentional about creating the best home environment for yourself and your loved ones as possible.
One of the best ways to maintain an environment in which everyone can thrive? Keeping your home tidy! Why? Because a tidy home also means a cleaner, safer home – and that’s better for your health. It also means having a home that’s more comfortable, more nourishing, and more supportive, both for our physical and mental health. Taking care of yourself matters – by keeping yourself clean, healthy, and fit, you’ll just feel better and will enjoy a greater overall sense of personal wellness. The payback of practicing self-care is incredibly significant; so too is the practice of intentional home-care.
The best part is that cleaning up and clearing out your home takes zero skill or budget. Anyone can do it! By doing so, you’ll even be able to breathe a little easier – literally! And doing a little tidying around the home is an activity that everyone in the family can (and should!) be a part of.
But where do you start? Here are four simple tips for keeping your home tidy.
Put Things Back Where They Belong
Your mom was right – there should be a place for everything, and everything in its place! One way to keep your home tidy and clutter-free is to follow the practice of immediately putting things back in the right place after use. Try to train your brain to remember to take an item right back to its designated spot as soon as you’re done with it. Not only is this a time and energy saver, it feels good too! You won’t have to stress over looking at something, procrastinating about putting it back, or finding the time to look for it the next time you need it. Put it back where it belongs and you’ll always know where to find it.
Although this may seem like a bit of extra time and effort at first, you’ll actually find that you save yourself more time overall. You can use this on the things that really matter – those activities that really fulfill you and make you happy. And you won’t have to worry about those waves of guilt that hit you every time you walk past something you’ve used but have put off putting back. It’s really a simple shift in mindset and habit, but it can have powerful results. If you’re not convinced, try this practice for three days. I’ll bet you that you’ll see the difference it makes in helping to keep your home tidy!
PRO TIP: As you move from one room to another, get into the habit of taking something with you that belongs where you are going. That way, putting items away becomes part of the general flow of how you move around your home.
Clear Away the Paper Piles
Look around your home. Do you see any piles of items? For example, magazines, books, newspapers, or other paper stacks? Those piles aren’t just unsightly dust collectors; they also end up wasting precious space. Embrace the beauty of your home and preserve its sanctity by not allowing items like this to pile up in the first place! If you don’t read the paper that day, go ahead and recycle it that evening. Rarely will you reach for it to read the next day, and if you truly missed out on some bit of news, you can still find it online. If you’ve got a magazine which you haven’t read it within its published month, recycle it! Try instituting a ‘no more than one issue at a time’ rule.
PRO TIP: Place a shredder and recycling bin close to the front door (or whichever door you enter most often), and sort your mail on the spot as soon as you bring it inside. For example, open up your bills, keep the necessary parts, and then just shred/recycle the rest immediately. This is a fantastic strategy to help you reduce the amount of paper clutter lying around!
Practice Mindful Tidying
Marie Kondo has great advice in her book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’. If you haven’t read it already, be sure to pick up a copy! One of the things she recommends is tidying up by category. For example, if you have several makeup drawers, it makes no sense to just tidy a single drawer at a time, because you might have duplicates of the same item in different drawers, and not even realize it!
Kondo suggests instead that you clear out everything from every drawer in the same category all at once. Then, only put back what you want, need, and use right now. If you’re not sure about some items, you could alternatively sort by what you may need over the next six months, or even up to a year – but don’t keep anything beyond that. Go through and sort everything by category all at once, and then simply organize and store items by category. When you declutter and tidy up in this matter, it really makes a big difference. You’ll also end up getting rid of much more stuff you don’t need this way, rather than simply going drawer-by-drawer.
PRO TIP: When going through the process of decluttering, Marie Kondo suggests starting with the easy stuff (i.e. the things you feel the least attached to). Leave the items of sentimental value until last.
Designate 5 Minutes a Day to Tidying
When tidying up the rest of your home, create a list of all the areas you want to tackle. Write them down on a piece of paper. Add a room name or category, and then under each room name or category, add a checklist of all the areas that need to be addressed. Then, prioritize these areas. Which matters most to you? What bugs you the most? Start there.
Next, designate five minutes a day for tidying a particular area. Seriously, just five minutes! But the trick is to do it EVERY DAY. You’ll end up finding that this is more effective than trying to block out a whole day. You’ll just end up dreading that day as it approaches the calendar, and the whole thing will start to feel like a big, messy, and possibly even overwhelming project. Rather, take the mental approach that you’re really just setting aside five minutes a day to start a good habit. You can even set a simple timer on your phone if that helps. Those five minutes really do feel fulfilling, and you’ll soon see that the time truly flies by.
You might even end up taking more than five minutes if you get on a roll, and that’s OK! But if not, go ahead and stop after five minutes, because you’ve accomplished your goal. Move on to something else. The purpose of the five minutes is to help you tidy up, yes, but it’s also meant to help you feel good about yourself. You’ve actually accomplished something! This is a great opportunity to involve the kids too. Get them in the habit of cleaning up and encourage the family participation daily. Over time you’ll have a more organized, tidy home, which ultimately helps lead to a better quality of life.
PRO TIP: Try not to see tidying and cleaning as unpleasant chores. Put on some of your favorite music or listen to a podcast to distract your mind. Associating tidying with a pleasant activity will help you stop putting it off and actually enjoy those 5+ minutes each day.
Ultimately, only YOU can make the decision to keep a more tidy, organized home. However, if you follow these simple tips and practices, you can make it happen! When you make that decision with intention and start to follow through with your actions, you’ll start to feel a real sense of accomplishment around making your home a better place. Now, isn’t that worth it?