Habits can be hard to form and even harder to reverse. If you had a cluttered childhood, the tide can feel forever turned against you in your quest to maintain a clean house. Don’t surrender yet to life among the mess, but grab your bins and labels and follow in the footsteps of these tidy pros.
Make the Bed Every Day
Your mom really did have a reason for requesting that you make your bed in the morning. The most successful habits are generally started with little steps. This simple routine builds the foundation for a host of other tidy habits. Mastering this small success will build the confidence that you, too, can become a cleaning machine.
Typically one of the largest furnishings in the bedroom, the bed throws its weight around in the cleaning conversation. “I can’t point out another thing that makes your bedroom look as untidy as a messy bed,” says Harriet Jones, cleaning and maintenance supervisor for Go Cleaners London. Just like putting on a fresh shirt can transform your outfit and perspective, pulling up your sheets and tucking in your comforter can change the mood of your bedroom from messy to neat. So use your bed for sleeping only, not for extra dresser space.
Clean on the Go
Mountains of mess often begin as quite manageable molehills. This principle can apply to any area of your home. For many professionals, dressing for work each day leaves the bedroom floor a disaster, littered with mismatched shirts, socks and sweaters. Save your weekends from large-scale cleaning interventions by rehanging unused clothes right away and by tossing dirty outfits in the hamper before you dive into bed.
Organizing guru Rachel Rosenthal of Rachel-Company.com recommends unloading and putting away groceries and packages as soon as they’re carried through the front door. “It’s so easy to leave them in the entryway or unpack partially, but getting the bulky bags and boxes out of the way will reduce the visual clutter and make you less likely to add more to the pile,” she says.
Find a Home for Everything
“A place for everything, and everything in its place,” reads the maxim from “Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management.” Not having a place to put things is the opposite of tidy. “Create a home for every item,” advises Kirsten Fisher, founder of Imagine Home Organization, LLC. “If it doesn’t have a place it ‘goes’, it will sit out and create mess,” she adds.
Think you don’t have enough room to store everything? Think again, and more strategically this time. Take some time to survey each room and think about how the space is being used. You might need to purchase some items to structure a system for organization. Still feeling crowded? Test-drive the next tidy habit below to free up space for your belongings.
Use the Trash Can
Jamie Novak of Novak Organizing LLC has tons of trashcans and uses them regularly. “Lots of messes are just trash or recycling that needs to be tossed,” she says. Make it a game with your family or roommates to fill up one trash can or recycling bin a day. With this practice, discover the comfortable space between having too little and holding onto too much.
Make It Simple
Be strategic in placing similar products in spaces that make it easy to keep your home clean. “For example, storing garbage bags near trashcans, makes it very convenient to take out the trash,” says Tekla Wlodarcyzk Núñez of MotherEarthCleaners.com. Put paper towels and cleaning supplies in a basket in your bathroom closet. The easier the process, the more likely you are to follow through on your plans for a tidy home.
Maintain an Entryway Catchall
While our experts did recommend creating a specific place for everything you own, many items are frequently on the move, taking up a temporary space in your home. Novak offers the solution of a selected area for multiple belongings that you grab on your way in and out of the front door.
“You need a space to store items going out with you like sunglasses, books to return to the library, bills to mail and so on,” says Novak. If not first dropped neatly in baskets inside home entrances, you may find these items end up all over the kitchen table or your living room floor. And don’t cheat—catchall bins can quickly overflow with miscellaneous junk if you’re not careful.
“I won’t do it now because I will have to do it tomorrow anyway” is a common excuse that keeps people living with the same messes, says Conor Craig of the Oven Clean Team. Tidy people accept the fact that some messes are remade every day but know it’s still worth cleaning them up. It may be helpful to create a cleaning schedule organized by daily, weekly and monthly responsibilities. Involve your family members or roommates in the planning process and delegate tasks to encourage engagement in the cleaning plan.
A well-organized home is not the only benefit of practicing tidy habits. “Being tidy can also translate to the rest of your life,” says Danielle Levenfus of OrganizeWizely.com. The same principles of self-discipline, systematic thinking and consistency can also be applied to other areas of life. Practicing healthy routines is a great way to facilitate growth in ordering ourselves, our families and our communities.
Do you have any tips for staying tidy? Join the cleaning conversation by posting in the comments section below!
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