So, you’ve spent many hours getting rid of the clutter in your kitchen, your family room and your bedroom. Well done! This means that you can sit down, put your feet up and never have to worry about clutter again right? Wrong!
I’m sorry but unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. I don’t want to make you feel bad, that’s not my goal, but I do want you to have realistic expectations about what happens after you declutter.
Why can’t you declutter once and control clutter forever?
Think about the other tasks you complete in your home.
You can’t do the dishes on Monday and expect to never have to do them again this week. If you cook and eat, you create dirty dishes.
You can’t drop your clothes and shoes around the house wherever you took them off and not expect to have a mess of laundry lying around at the end of the week.
You can’t brush your teeth once a week and expect to have a pearly white smile.
To expect these things to be possible is being unrealistic. Decluttering is the same.
Life is messy.
When we live in a house, we cause it to become untidy. It’s a byproduct of life. The floors will get dirty, the clothes will need washing, our belongings will become scattered.
The aim for us is to maintain a certain level of tidiness without going overboard about it and making everyone scared to let their hair down and relax.
There is a certain ebb and flow in a home. People come and go. They put their belongings down, they pick them up again, they move them around. These things naturally create mess and clutter in the home if left unchecked.
However, with a bit of careful, consistent tidying and decluttering, we never again need to be overwhelmed and spend any considerable length of time decluttering our homes.
Consistency is the key here.
There are a number of rules that are extremely important to control clutter and prevent it from causing further issues.
- Don’t put it down, put it away.
This means that every time you want to put something out of your hands, you should put it where it belongs, immediately.
Take your car keys for example. They should never be dropped on the kitchen counter, popped on the arm of the sofa or placed on the kitchen table.
Where is it you are supposed to keep them? Is it on a hook by the door, a bowl on the bedside table or back in your bag? If you put them in this spot every time you put them down, they will never ever be lost. You will always know exactly where to find them as soon as you need them.
The same goes for any item you own.
- Don’t take your shoes off where you sat down and just leave them there. As soon as you get up, pick them up and put them away.
- Dishes go straight into the dishwasher or sink, not left in the study or on the kitchen table.
- Laundry is put away into closets and drawers as soon as it is dry, not left in the family room for a week.
Any item that is taken out and used needs to be returned once we have finished with it.
Now, you might be thinking that you don’t actually have a consistent ‘home’ for some of these things. Maybe you don’t right now but this brings us to point number two.
- Designate a home for all of your belongings.
Where does something usually live?
If it doesn’t have a home just now, where could it live? You get to decide. Experiment with a likely location and see if it works for you. You can always change it if it’s not quite right.
- Decide if the children’s toys will live in the family room or their bedrooms.
- Decide if the laundry basket lives in the laundry, the bathroom or the bedroom .
- Think about whether the best place for the bills is on the fridge, a pinup board or in a file on a shelf.
It really does not matter where you keep things. What is important is that you have a home for all of your belongings and that you return these items to that home as soon as you have finished using them.
I cannot stress enough the importance of regular mini tidying sessions to control clutter.
This brings us to rule number three.
- Tidy up every day.
I realise that the last thing you may feel like doing after a long day is to come home and work some more, but believe me it will be worth it. Those small minutes spent setting things right each day, will save you hours of cleaning up in the future.
- Deal with the dishes as soon as the meal is ended.
- Sort the laundry as soon as the washing is dry.
- Manage the mail as soon as it comes in the house.
It is the accumulation of these small, everyday tasks that, when left undone, amount to an increase in the everyday clutter in our homes.
Therefore it is the accumulation of these small, everyday tasks that, when completed in a timely fashion, amount to a reduction in the everyday clutter in our homes.
In order to control clutter and not return to your previous cluttered state, it is important to follow these three simple rules.
- Don’t put it down, put it away.
- Designate a home for all of your belongings and return items there.
- Tidy up a little bit every day.
Do these things and you will always be able to control clutter in your home and your life.
Learn more on the Decluttering 101 Ultimate Guide page.
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