Do you drool over the pictures of those clutter-free white marble homes in the home decor magazine? Do you think it’s not possible for you to keep your home tidy like that because of the stuff you have?
Don’t be discouraged thinking only those big homes can look organized and clutter-free.
No matter if you have a big home or a small one, you can keep it clutter-free if you make the following decluttering habits a part of your life (yes, even if you have kids).
WHY SHOULD YOU FORM DAILY DECLUTTERING HABITS?
You want to make it a habit because decluttering only once in a while will not keep your home tidy. Decluttering should be an ongoing daily process. Making it a daily habit works, because we want our homes to always look tidy, not once in a month when you do the purging.
You might think it is hard to do it daily. It is not. Not only it’s easy, but it also helps you save a lot of time and effort in the long run.
Hm, what are the benefits of having a clutter-free home?
- Living in a clean home reduces stress for you and your family
- More focus and concentration for all (proven by research)
- Reduces workload because you don’t have to do it all at once “later”
- Saves time because you no longer have to look for lost items
- Saves money by not buying unnecessary items because you start to become aware of the clutter it can cause
I hope I have convinced you that daily decluttering is not hard and in fact super beneficial. So, how do you inculcate this habit? Let’s see.
1. CREATE ROUTINES
We are talking about habits, therefore let’s begin by creating certain routines. I have found that doing a quick decluttering in the morning and evening helps me keep my house looking tidy.
You might be used to cleaning in the morning by starting with making the bed. But if you are not used to cleaning in the evening, creating an evening routine is going to help you clean faster in the morning and vice versa.
So, what all can be included in your morning and evening routines? It’s mostly up to you and your needs. But let’s look at some ideas:
Your morning routine can include:
- Making the bed
- Putting the nightclothes in the hamper or hang them
- Starting a load of laundry
- Washing dishes after breakfast
These might seem like the regular “cleaning tasks” that you do and not technically decluttering; but clothes, dishes, and an unmade bed add a lot of visual clutter in your house and cause stress. Take a few minutes to do these tasks in the morning, and your house already looks a lot tidier.
In the evening, you have your family around, so ask everyone to participate in another round of quick decluttering.
It can include:
- Putting all belongings in their place (toys, books, bags, etc.)
- Wiping the kitchen counters before switching the lights off
- Taking the trash out
- Putting away folded laundry
- Making the living room in order by putting away everything its place
2. ESTABLISH HOUSE RULES
Daily decluttering is not a mom’s job alone, but of everyone living in the house. Establish certain house rules for each family member, so that it becomes a joined effort.
Making kids used to decluttering early on will help them to get used to clean spaces and develop a sense of responsibility. Assign small decluttering tasks to kids which they are expected to do daily.
You can teach kids about the importance of a clean home. And let them know how living in a clutter-free home helps them to think better, study better and feel better. When they get used to living in a clean home, they will automatically learn to keep their living space clean.
When everyone does their part, keeping your home clutter-free free becomes a reality.
Rules differ for each home. Here are some examples of house rules:
- No clothes on the floor
- Put everything back in its place immediately after use
- It’s everyone’s duty to put any waste they see on the floor into the waste bin
- Clean up every surface immediately after the activity (be it cooking or kids’ crafts)
- Always clean the room before going to sleep
You can make decluttering a part of kids’ chore list to get them used to doing chores and keep the home looking neat and tidy. It’s a win-win.
3. DO THE DISHES IMMEDIATELY
Dirty dishes can pile up in the blink of an eye. What works in my household to keep the kitchen look uncluttered is washing the dishes after every.single.meal.
It can be after cooking or eating. Everything gets washed, dried and put away immediately (we don’t use a dishwasher). It reduces the workload and you always have a clean kitchen.
And after having food, make it a point to clean the dining space as soon as possible.
4. BEWARE OF FLAT SPACES
Do you know where does clutter get accumulated fast? It’s the flat spaces. Go to any room that is cluttered in your house and observe. You can spot at least one object out of its place which has made its way onto the tabletop or a furniture top.
You can eliminate a lot of visual clutter if you can keep the flat surfaces clean.
The reason why flat surfaces become the target for dumping things is that those items don’t have a designated place.
So, before starting the daily decluttering habit, make sure you have a place for every belonging. And begin by moving each item on the flat surfaces in its designated new place. Don’t dump it somewhere else thinking you’ll get to it someday.
The next step is to declare it to the family. Let everyone know where each items are destined to be and request the cooperation of all to keep the living space clutter-free.
Telling everyone has the added benefit of holding yourself accountable to follow the rule.
Floor is another flat surface prone to accumulating clutter, especially in the kids’ room. Create a storage system in their room and make sure they put away toys and other belongings regularly.
5. KEEP A DONATION BOX HANDY
How many times have you taken that old jeans and told yourself that you will get to the donating part soon? And then you put it back in the closet adding to the physical and mental clutter.
What I hate is the sinking feeling of adding to the to-do list when I know I am not gonna get to it any soon. I read this tip on getting a donation box some time ago, and it has been a game-changer for me.
You don’t need any fancy box, but any cardboard carton box lying in your home will do.
Whenever you come across an item that you want to donate, put it in this box right away. And when it’s time to purge, say goodbye to it.
This helps you to deal with excess stuff as it accumulates and keep your mind free of the nagging worry of not dealing with clutter. Another benefit is that you can put any item in this box including clothes, toys, books, etc as you come across each item. So you don’t have to wait till you go through each category.
For example, if you don’t want that old T-shirt anymore, put it straight away in this box. Got new toys for kids? Ask them to donate an old toy that they are not interested in anymore and put it in the box. This way, you can get rid of stuff as you come across each one, be it any category.
6. LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS
I have a rule when it comes to shopping: Never buy an item if I don’t have space to store it.
So whenever I feel the need to make an impulse purchase when there is a sale or when I am in a beautiful home decor store, I ask two questions to myself:
- Do I “need” it or “want” it?
- Do I have the space to keep it without creating clutter?
When it comes to buying new clothes for me or my family I first think about whether we have the space to store it. The same thinking goes to kids’ toys, books, cosmetics, kitchen appliances etc. I let the size of my home decide how much stuff I should buy rather than trying to satisfy all my material needs. And you don’t really use all those kitchen gadgets anyway.
And if you really need to buy a new furniture or a gadget, think about whether you can give away any unused old ones. Your house will have space to breathe and you will be happier.
7. PUT THE APPLIANCES AWAY AFTER EACH USE
You might use the iron box only for a few minutes a day. But it lies on the tabletop for the whole day adding to the visual clutter.
If you don’t use an appliance more than once a day, start the habit of putting it away in the shelf after each use.
Most appliances can find a place in your shelves and if you can’t find a place, may be you are hoarding too many unwanted stuff in there (ahem……).
8. FOLLOW THE TWO-MINUTE RULE TO STOP PROCRASTINATION
I learned about the two-minute rule first from David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done”, famously known as “the GTD method”. This is a simple, yet effective rule that has helped me since I read the book.
According to the two-minute rule, if a task takes less than two minutes, do it now.
You can apply this rule practically to any area of your life. Most of the tasks that we procrastinate on is easy, but our minds make it seem difficult and enormous. Have you ever noticed how fast can we finish decluttering that drawer once you start? Yet, you have been putting it off thinking it’s hard and time-consuming.
Yesterday, I decluttered kids’ toys storage station and it took me hardly 10-15 minutes, contrary to the belief I had that it would take at least an hour.
So, how can you implement the two-minute rule as part of your daily decluttering habit?
Do not procrastinate the decluttering tasks that will take you less than two minutes. Here are some tasks that you can do using two-minute rule:
- Put away the laundered clothes immediately after folding
- Remove the clutter from flat surfaces daily
- Take the old magazines from the table and put them away for donation
- Toss the broken toys away
- Check the expiry date of food items in the refrigerator and throw away the expired ones
- Do the same with expired cosmetics
- Deal with snail-mails immediately when you receive them, either put them in the paper organizer or toss the junk marketing mails in the dust bin.
There must be so many decluttering tasks around the house that you have been wanting to get to. It’s when you think about the whole task as such you tend to procrastinate. Instead, implement the two-minute rule and handle each task one-by-one as you come across them every single day.
9. DECLUTTER AS YOU GO
This goes hand-in-hand with the two-minute rule. Make it a habit to declutter on the go. Whenever you enter or leave a room, take a quick glance to see if anything is out of place.
Put it back in its place immediately. Clean the kitchen counter as you leave the kitchen. Straighten the pillows, keep the magazine and TV remote in their places when you leave the living room. Do this for every room.
It can seem like you are constantly decluttering from morning to night. But when you do it daily, the load becomes lighter and the house remains tidy.
And most importantly, ask your spouse and kids to do the same. Because you don’t want to be the only person doing the job.
10. CREATE A SHOPPING BUDGET TO PREVENT HOARDING
Do you get the impulse need to purchase “something” when your paycheck arrives? Or is it just me?
Mindless shopping, online or offline, adds clutter to your home. What I have been doing now is to create a monthly budget for shopping and trying to stick to it every month. I don’t buy all the items on my wishlist every month, but purposefully postpone some items to the next month.
Sometimes when the time comes, I would have second guessed my purchase and decide against buying it. So that’s money and clutter saved for me. It helps me to get some days in between when the idea first forms in my mind and the purchase date, which helps in deciding whether I really need that fancy kitchen appliance right now or later or if it’s just a “desire” that I want to fulfill to make me feel good.
Yeah, being a classic INFJ, I think a lot before making any decision. Though it’s tiring, it has helped me at least in avoiding a lot of clutter.
So this is my list of 10 best habits to form if you want a clutter-free home. I welcome all good ideas on the topic, so please respond with your best decluttering tips in the comments section below.
For more reading:
- 100+ things to get rid of today for a cleaner looking home
- 17 genius vinegar cleaning hacks that you probably didn’t know
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