Last week we talked about how to keep the house under control by doing small things often. Putting the dishes straight into the dishwasher, tidying up the children’s toys as soon as they have finished playing with them, straightening up the bathroom when you have finished using it. These small things can prevent the bigger situation of having a huge mess you have to spend hours cleaning up.
But what if you haven’t been taking those small steps to tidy up the house every day? What if you are already feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work you have to do?
Don’t despair, you are not alone and you are in the right place.
The first step
The most important thing to do when you are in this situation is to stop making things worse. It will be almost impossible to get things under control if you are just trying to sort out the messes you created today. What you want to achieve is a situation where you have the time to tackle the backlog of tidying up, not wasting time on sorting out any new messes.
Make a commitment today that you will not make anything worse by leaving today’s dishes undone, the bed unmade or the mail lying around on the bench. Take a couple of moments longer to put something back in its correct spot or to tidy up that little mess you made getting lunch ready. It will be worth it in the long run.
Remember that if you don’t have time to do it properly the first time, you will never have the time to redo it later.
This is a great quote. I like to remind myself about this when I am super busy and I am tempted to leave something undone ‘just this once’.
So, step number 1 :Thou shalt not create any more mess.
The second step
The next step of course is to tackle the mess that is already there.
If the thought of spending hours tidying the house makes you feel exhausted, don’t despair. Just spend 5 minutes on your way out the door in the morning sorting out one tiny spot. It won’t look like anything is happening at first but just like a rolling stone gathers momentum as it travels down the hill, so your tidying up will also.
Remember that you are making sure you don’t create any extra messes so any work you do is going to stay done. When you do this, you will find that even 5 minutes can result in a dramatic improvement. You begin to see the headway you are making and all of a sudden it doesn’t feel so much like a chore anymore.
I find it very energising when I begin to see some progress being made. Often that’s what we are really tackling when we have a job like this. It’s not really that we don’t have the time to tackle it, it’s that we don’t have the motivation.
My best tip for this is to make sure that you don’t bite off too much in one go. There is nothing worse than starting out super enthusiasticly and then running out of steam in the middle of the task. I have found myself emptying out a whole cupboard thinking I could get it all sorted out quickly, only to despair when I discovered how long it was really going to take to finish.
I don’t make that mistake anymore. Now I break that cupboard down into sections and tackle only one at a time. This way I can finish when I have had enough and come back to it at another time without having a huge mess sitting like a monster looking at me every time I walk past.
So, step number 2: Thou shalt tidy one small area at a time.
Remember to make no new mess, take small steps towards reducing any long term clutter and begin to make some headway towards a tidier home.
For a more detailed step-by-step explanation of my decluttering process, download your free copy of the Decluttering Workbook here.