Have you ever set aside some time to clean your house, but spent so much time trying to tidy the piles of papers on the counter, the dirty dishes in the sink, and the unwashed clothes on the floor, that before you know it you’re out of time and the house is just as dirty as it was before?
Because yes, there is a difference between having a clean house and a tidy house. Both are important, but keeping things tidy is the first step to you ruling your house rather than your house ruling you. Below, I have ten ways you can work to keep the mess in your house under control. Some take a bit of prep work, some you can launch into straight away. I’ve put them in order from the most involved to the least. So if you’re feeling determined to tame your untidiness, start with number one and work through them all. If you just want some quick and easy hacks to get started, look for some of the tips near the end. Remember, don’t let perfect be the enemy of good enough!
Do an inventory of every room
During this inventory, look to see where the crap-magnets are. A crap-magnet is one of those surfaces that seem to pull everything towards it. In our bedroom, it’s to the side of my bed, and is mainly comprised of the clothes I take off at night, some of which are destined for the laundry and some to be put away. In the kitchen, it’s the left-hand side of the kitchen bench which is right in front of you when you walk in, where we dump the mail, and school bags. As well, at the base of the bench I seem to always drop my shoes.
Once you have the inventory worked out, think about what is left in each area and what you could do to combat this dumping. This could be a routine or a storage option. For example, for the clothes, I could put a nice basket, in the walk-in wardrobe so clothes could be dumped in there, and then be easily carried to the laundry, and I could also force myself to not take off my shoes until I go into the bedroom to get changed. Paperwork could get sorted straight away as per my paperwork system. This is the most time-consuming step but the one that can have the most impact.
Examine all your cupboards
Are they being used most effectively? For example, if you have a ton of board games or puzzles, and your kids have left home, can you donate these to kids you know, and use the space for your latest hobby? As you have only limited storage space, reorder what you can to fit your current needs. That way everything can have a place.
Create a “going out” drawer
This is a space where you put things that need to leave your home. For example, library books, clothes that need dry-cleaning, letters that need posting, dishes that need returning to friends and so on. The creates a centralized location for them, and you become more efficient as you make sure you check this drawer each time you leave the house.
Create a junk drawer
It’s easier to keep things tidy when everything has a place, so this is for those things that just don’t belong anywhere else.
When you buy an item, discard a similar item
For example, you buy some clothes for work. Before you hang them up, check all your current clothes and discard those that no longer work for you (what this means is covered in a future post on creating a wardrobe). Obviously, this doesn’t work for all purchases, but can for clothes, toys, games, music, even toiletries.
When the house is a real mess, play the ten-item game
Often getting started is this hardest thing. This mind-game helps you. First, decide which room you want to start in. Put away ten things that belong in that room (eg ten items in the dishwasher). Then get ten items in the room that belong somewhere else, put them in the basket, and then go to the first room and put those items away (I try to select 10 items that go in one room where possible). Then put another ten items in that room away and add another ten to the basket. Go to the next room, and repeat the process. Eventually, you end up in a room where there is nothing to put away. You return then to your first room. When that room is 100% done, move on to the next.
Put things away (or bin them) after you use them
I so struggle with this. The worst is kitchen-related mess. Right now, I am looking at the kitchen bench and I can see the tea bags, the sugar bowl, an empty soft- drink bottle, and a couple of empty plastic containers that had berries in them. Only a few things, but they are taking up space and would take me less than a minute to put away. Rather than try do this for everything, just focus on one little habit at a time, for example putting the tea or coffee stuff away as soon as the drinks are made.
Put on the dishwasher at night even when it is not always full, and empty it first thing in the morning
Much kitchen mess is created when this does not happen and as a result, dirty dishes are left on the bench. A soon as one person does this, it’s like an invitation for the next person to do the same. Plus it’s super frustrating when you run out of things like cups and teaspoons. As an extra tip, you minimise dishes by buying glasses for each member of the family in different colours. When they need a drink, they are to reuse their glass.
Shine your sink
A clean, shiny sink makes the whole kitchen look better. You should aim to shine your sink after each main meal.
Make your bed
This is another key aspect of any morning routine. Because the bed is the biggest item in the room, it being made (or not) sets the tone for the rest of the space.
So there are ten tips to help keep that mess under control. I hope you found these personally tried and tested ideas useful! What do you do to keep your house tidy, or are there any of these ideas you think you might try?