2020 has led us to socially distance ourselves and stay home more than ever. A significant number of us continue to work from home, while many children are now set up for remote learning at home, as well. Since we’re still spending so much time at home, it’s important to be intentional about creating the best home environment for yourself and your loved ones as possible.
One essential way to maintain a home environment in which we all can thrive is by keeping a tidy home. Why? Because a tidy home 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. Taking care of yourself matters, too – 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.
Cleaning up and clearing out your home takes zero skill – anyone can do it! And by doing so, you’ll also be able to breathe a little easier - literally. And doing a little tidying around the home is an effort in which every member of your family can pitch in.
1. Putting Things Back
One way to keep your home clutter-free and tidy is to follow the practice of immediately putting things back where they belong. Try to train your brain to help you remember to take an item right back to its designated spot as soon as you’re done with it. Not only does this practice feel good; it’s also a real-time and energy-saver. No more stressing over looking at something, procrastinating about putting it back, or having to take the time to find it the next time you need it. Put it back where it goes, and you’ll always know where it is! By doing every time you use something, you really end up giving yourself more time to be able to spend on the things that really matter, those things that really fulfill you and make you happy. Putting things back the first time will also relieve you of those waves of guilt that arise every time you walk past something you’ve used but haven’t bothered to put back yet. It’s really a simple shift in mindset and habit, but one with powerful results.
Try this practice for three days. I bet you’ll be amazed at the difference it will make in helping to keep your home tidy – it’ll make you feel good, too!
2. Clearing Away the Piles
Look around your home. See any piles of 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 as close to the front door (or whichever door you enter) as possible, and sort your mail on the spot as soon as you bring it inside. For example, you can 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!
3. Practice Mindful Tidying
Marie Kondo has great advice in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She recommends 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. Why not? It’s 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. But what 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.
4. Designate 5 Minutes a Day
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 on 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 actually accomplished something! Plus, over time you’ll have a more organized, tidy home, which ultimately helps lead to a better quality of life.
Only YOU can make the decision to keep a more tidy, organized home – but if you’ll 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?