Does it feel like no matter how frequently you tidy up and organize your home, there’s still so much stuff lying around, waiting to be put away…but you no longer have space? Here are some ways to declutter your home, clean up better, and keep your home tidy for longer. Try them on for size, and little by little, turn them into habits that you can include in your daily or weekly routine. All these ideas are simple, easy, and don’t take too much of your time; they’ll even save you more time in the long run.
1. Assign a junk drawer. Make that two.
Let’s face it: There are a lot of things you want to keep, even if they no longer serve any purpose or are not even pleasing to look at. We all have that inner pack rat, and one of the culprits is sentiment. Assign one drawer (not a cabinet, so the things that must be stored here are tiny and just really the ones you cannot, under any circumstances, let go) for these things. Just one. The other drawer is for the times when you haven’t quite decluttered your living room or dining area, and then some friends pop in or you have to stop in the middle of decluttering to do more urgent tasks—you can put those few items into Junk Drawer #2 in the meantime. Make sure to empty it the moment you can.
2. Divide the decluttering goal into smaller, easier to manage tasks you can accomplish in a month.
This blogger created a “Declutter Workbook” that helps you declutter room by room, furniture by furniture, over the course of a month, so you’re not overwhelmed and yet you are able to clean up everything. It lets you print out the schedule so it’s easier to follow.
You start out with emptying one junk drawer; then the next day purging your closet of items you no longer wear; and then going through your collections of movies, accessories, shoes, books, linen, board games and electronic games, and toys, and donating those that are no longer used, one day at a time. You go from one room to the next—the kitchen, the bathroom, the bedroom, even your car—cleaning out cabinets, drawers, tables, and compartments. There’s one day for your refrigerator, a separate one for the freezer, one for the TV stand, another for your medicine cabinet, and yet another one for your mail pile. You will even go through little things like the contents of your wallet, your makeup kit, and your purse, so everything you use on a daily basis is organized.
3. Turn tidiness and cleaning as you go a daily habit.
Don’t only clean when your house is such a mess; you’ll only be overwhelmed with the task and come up with a quick fix that will never stick, and your home will always go back to being untidy. After you’ve accomplished Tip #2, maintain a clean and well-organized home by making it a habit to tidy up the room as you go. Fold blankets each morning, hang and fold clothes the moment you get them back from the laundry, store the groceries the moment you arrive home, do the dishes after each meal and put them away, wipe down the bathroom after use, remove crumbs and dirt from counters and tables, and sweep the floors daily. Start this habit early in your kids by getting them to put back their toys in their shelves and box after use or at least before bed.
4. Grab the Marie Kondo book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, and follow her simple-enough strategy for purging your life of things you really don’t need but have a hard time letting go.
If Tips #1 and #2 still haven’t worked for you because you still think everything is worth keeping (which means you will soon run out of space to keep them, if you haven’t yet), then you might want to read up on how you can reprogram this pack-rat instinct altogether through this Japanese tidying expert’s philosophy. She makes you understand why you even hold onto all these things and find it hard to let go, then she walks you through how you can actually do it. It boils down to if something no longer makes you feel happy or feel good about yourself, then it’s time to let that thing go. Easy enough, right? Just grab the book if you don’t believe us.
5. Invest in storage.
We have a whole different article that lists items that will help you organize every room in your home—from over-the-toilet space savers for your bathroom to a storage ottoman for your living room and a canvas under-bed storage basket for your bedroom. If you have purged your drawers and cabinets yet there’s still so much stuff, and you don’t have enough room to put them away, then it’s time you either made smarter use of your storage space or simply add more—check out our article to know which ones to get.
6. Own less stuff.
If the previous five tips are proving to be less effective and still hard for you to maintain, you must nip the problem in the bud: Just stop collecting too much stuff! It’s those things you bought at an impulse that clutter your home to begin with. If you no longer have the space, time, or patience to organize the things you already have—especially since they usually go back to chaos a week or two after you painstakingly did so—just simplify the things you own, and your life in the process, so you have less or none to declutter in the first place.