In an ideal world, your home would be a nurturing sanctuary, a safe haven against life’s daily stresses. However, if your home is cluttered and untidy, it might end up adding to your problems. Although cleaning up your house can feel like a large and daunting task, you can actually accomplish it in small, manageable steps. Read on to find out how.
Organize Every Room
An organized house is one in which every item you own has a designated place — even if that place is “in storage.” It’s really important that you organize every room in your house, item by item. For one thing, you’ll be taking items into different rooms, so you need to know where to return them. But more importantly, what’s the point of having a clean and relaxing living room if you end up throwing everything in the bedroom just to get it out of the way? You’ll just end up stressed at night, instead of in the evenings! You don’t have to organize your home in one go if you don’t want — you can do it piecemeal. Every time you pick up, use, or can’t find an item, decide where it will live. As Karen Kingston points out, it’s best to put similar items together, and store items close to where you’ll use them. If after organizing, you have items you still want to keep but no longer have space for, consider renting a self-storage unit until you’re ready to make a decision.
Although some possessions around the house can help make your house a home and allow you to express your identity, excessive clutter can lead to feelings of distress and contribute to dysfunctional home environments. On the other hand, a tidy, decluttered house can help you feel more relaxed and can give you more mental energy. The best way to go about this is to declutter in quick sweeps every day — just pick a room and spend 10 minutes returning items to their place. As you do this, ask yourself if each item is something that you actually need. Keep a bag or box somewhere for items that you no longer need, and regularly get rid of these items — either by selling them, or giving them away to charities or thrift shops.
Adopt Daily Habits
In each room, choose a tidiness habit that you’ll do every day, no matter what. As Martha Stewart recommends, a good choice for the bedroom is to make the bed. In the house entrance, sort the mail every day. In the kitchen, give the floor a quick sweep. In the living room, clear the floor and coffee table of any clutter. You get the idea. The idea behind these simple habits is that tidiness creates tidiness — if you make a little effort to do one thing, you’ll naturally find yourself doing a little bit more. Habits also guide your future actions — when you’re about to leave that book on the sofa, you’ll change your mind and put it back on the shelf because you don’t want to make extra work for your future self.
Add Plants and Scents
Once your house is organized, decluttered, and you’re spending a little time each day keeping it that way, you can take further steps to improve your home environment. Studies show that indoor plants and fresh flowers can increase feelings of relaxation, reduce mental fatigue, and even improve interactions between people. Interestingly, you can get these same benefits with artificial plants, as long as they are realistic copies, and pictures of nature may also have a similar effect. You can also try getting a scent diffuser — researchers have found that scents such as lavender can actually increase feelings of trust. You can buy a lavender scent diffuser for as low as $11.
There’s no better time to start building new, positive habits than right now. Pick a room, and as soon as you finish reading this post, switch off your computer, go to that room, and complete your first 10-minute decluttering sweep, choosing a designated place for each item as you do so. Ready? Go!