7 Simple Ways to Keep your Home Organized
When we talk about being healthy, usually exercise and nutrition come to mind. If we eat right and stay active, we will be fine. Right? There is no doubt that those two things play a big part in our health. But there are other factors that make up our overall well-being - including our mental and emotional health. While these topics can run very deep, it is safe to say that the basic things we do on a daily basis contribute to our mental and emotional health. Our environment - whether it be home, work, school, or anywhere we spend a lot of time - can have a direct impact on how we feel. And this is why it is so important to have a clean, organized living space!
For me, living in a messy house causes a great deal of emotional stress. Yet, most of the time, I live in just that. I have 2 young boys who could really use a crash course in picking up after themselves, a husband who works 12 hours a day (even though he’s upstairs in our guest bedroom-turned-office), and an 8-month-old puppy who loves to play with toys, track in mud and drool excessively! I do my best to keep up with the mess, but on a good day, it’s just ok. Over the years, however, I have learned some truths to keeping my house neat(er), so that when it comes time to polish the furniture or mop the floors, I can actually SEE the surface of whatever it is I am cleaning. And now I would like to share them with you!
1. Have a place for everything.
You’ve heard the old saying, “a place for everything and everything in its place”. This is so true. If you have something that you absolutely must keep, but you do not have a dedicated space for it, where does it go? On the counter, that’s right! And before you know it you have a pile of "stuff" that doesn’t have a home. It’s finds its new home right next to where you cook your meals or where you like to have your morning cup of tea. Or, if it’s too big for the counter, it finds itself in a corner of a room or piled up in the garage. Find a real place for it. And if you are completely out of room, chances are it’s time to do a purge anyway.
2. Put things away immediately.
Every day in my house, someone (or several someones) is guilty of leaving an item out that they used and then forgot to put away. A book here, a glass there…sooner or later you are leaving stuff out because everyone else is. Return the book to the bookshelf. Place your empty glass in the sink. Even better, put it in the dishwasher. With a few gentle reminders, the rest of the house will begin to follow and the mess will be gone. Which brings me to the next tip…
3. Run the dishwasher every night and empty it every morning.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes you forget. Or sometimes there aren’t enough dishes to warrant running it. Ok, I like to conserve water, too. But barring a half-empty washer, turn it on. If you run it at night, the dinner dishes will be sure to find their way in. This avoids a build-up of dishes in the sink, which seem to multiply exponentially once one single plate is left behind.
4. Avoid putting clean clothes in a laundry basket.
Alright, this one is may be personal. For me, it’s a mental thing. Laundry is my nemesis. It seems like it is never done. It comes off and goes in the hamper, the hamper goes to the laundry room where the clothes are washed and dried, the clothes need to be folded and put away. Repeat, repeat, repeat…When the kids were younger, I always encountered a backlog. As soon as I would start to fold the clean clothes, it would be time to get them from their nap, feed them, bathe them, etc. So I would put the clothes in the laundry basket. And for some reason, there they sat. The kids or I would pick out new clothes from the basket until it was practically empty. Even if I had the chance to fold them, putting them away eluded me. The kids would then start picking out their clothes from the basket, messing up what I had already folded so eventually it had to be folded again. I am exhausted and frustrated just thinking about this! One day I had the realization that it wasn't the laundry – it was the BASKET. The evil receptacle of inaction. So now I skip it. Clean clothes come out of the dryer, get folded (on a counter or table so my dog doesn’t eat it), and get put away without ever even touching that abyss known as the laundry basket!
5. Do not walk up-stairs empty-handed. If you live in a 1-level house or apartment, do not head to your bedroom empty-handed.
Inevitably, things will end up on a different floor. You come home and take your shoes off in the hallway. Or you get warm and take off your sweater and hang it on the chair. Things happen. But the important thing is that they all make their way home. If you are short on time now, put items that belong on another floor on the stairs. Next time you head upstairs, take what you can with you and put it in it’s proper place (see #1). Even if it isn’t your mess, bring it up. This is a group effort!
6. Go through your refrigerator weekly.
Again, this seems self-explanatory. But it’s easy for leftovers to get pushed to the back of the shelf and forgotten. After awhile, not only do you have a lot of wasted food and no room for more, there also could be something untoward living in your food’s home. Yikes! Make it a date each week, preferably on garbage night, to clean out the fridge. The same thing holds true for your pantry. You might be able to get away with cleaning the pantry semi-monthly or monthly. But things will inevitably be moved around, you won’t know what you have, and items will expire without you even realizing. It only takes a few minutes. Clean it out. And speaking of purging…
7. Get rid of it!
Remember Marie Kondo? If it doesn’t spark joy, let it go? Well also, if it doesn’t spark a memory of when you last used it - toss it! If you haven’t touched it/worn it/used it in 6 months – get rid of it. This is how clutter builds. You keep accumulating things and sooner or later you don’t even know what you have. “But it’s in good condition. Why get rid of it?”, you might say. Why not donate it to a charity? You’ll be helping out people in need, and doing a good deed for your own soul at the same time. A cluttered house is a cluttered mind is an anxious body. You don’t need it.
And that just about wraps it up. If you follow these easy tips, or even just a few of them, hopefully you will begin to notice there is very little mess around the house at any given time. And if you have kids or roommates, it is important for everyone to learn is to clean up after themselves so the responsibility doesn't fall on one person's shoulders. I’m working on this with my kids. Wish me luck!