Updated: May 31, 2021
Do you ever step into a room and feel overwhelmed by how much you need to tidy? Have you ever spent a lot of time and energy finally getting a space in order only to neglect it again and have it return to the way it was? Here are some small actions that can be done to help reduce clutter and get a space in order. When done consistently, it’s just a matter of time until bigger changes can be seen!
Focus on one area.
Rather than trying to tidy up an entire room, focus on one area at a time. For example, rather than focusing on a whole bedroom, focus on the top of one nightstand. Once this is tidy, move on to the nightstand’s drawer. In the kitchen, focus on one counter or one drawer.
Focusing on one section helps to keep us from getting overwhelmed. It also takes less time to complete one section rather than an entire room, and it's gratifying to see a change. This “small win” helps to give us motivation to keep going and move on to the next small win.
“Don’t put things down, put them away.”
Another way we can think of this is to “complete the transaction." When handling an item, it's easy to put it down and think that we will just deal with it later. It could be mail, old receipts, clothing, etc. Repeat this many times, and what’s left is a cluttered room. Prevent the clutter from happening by putting things away rather than merely putting them down. For example, put the item in its home, in the garbage or recycling, in the shredder, or in a "to donate" box.
Have a designated spot for items that don't have a home.
If you run into items that don't already have a home, and you can't easily decide on a home for them, place them in a designated spot - in a box or in a pile, etc. As much as possible, minimize the number of items in this spot.
The idea is to not get stuck trying to deal with an item. It's often better to move on and continue organizing and tidying up. You can find a home for these items at a later time. When you do get around to it, focus on one item at a time.
Take 10 minutes to tidy up everyday.
Choose a section in your home and dedicate 10 minutes to tidying and organizing it. I like to call these short sessions “tidy bursts.” 10 minutes to organize and tidy up is very manageable and can make a difference, especially when done every day.
If it's hard to consistently set aside 10 minutes every day, try setting aside 5 minutes daily and gradually increase the time. Tidy bursts can also be split into two sessions per day, one in the morning and one in the evening. As always, find what works best for you.
Acknowledge that it takes time.
Just as it took time to make a mess, it’ll take time to tidy it up. Be patient with yourself, and don’t forget to breathe!