It’s one thing to declutter your home and feel like you made strides. It’s another thing altogether to maintain a clutter-free home. Avoiding clutter is one of the biggest issues people deal with because they’re not sure how to stay ahead of it.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, clutter builds up over time. It can be related to bad habits you have and need to overcome. Or it can be because you need to adopt an organized mindset.
Whatever your reason, it’s actually quite easy to avoid clutter. It simply comes down to implementing a few tips into your daily routine. These tips are specifically designed to help you stay ahead of clutter. This way your home remains organized and stress-free.
We have to start with the most obvious and that’s putting things away when you’re done with them. It’s as simple as that, but many people don’t do it. Why? There are a ton of reasons why.
You could be going to put it away but something or someone distracts you. You promise yourself you’ll do it later but forget.
What ends up happening is after the first time you don’t put something away, you start to believe you can do it all the time. This becomes a bad habit that you need to overcome, which is a lot harder to do than creating and maintaining a new one.
If you want to avoid clutter whenever possible, this tip is one you must start doing. Don’t wait to put something away. If it’s on your mind, get it done before something else comes up. The next tip will explain why putting something away when you’re done with it is the best course of action to take.
I’ve mentioned David Allen before. He’s the author of Getting Things Done and a productivity guru. He’s also known for telling people about what he calls the two-minute rule.
This rule is simple. If something takes less than two minutes to complete, do it now. Don’t wait. You might think, “How can I complete a task in two minutes?” But if you take some time and think about it, you’ll realize there are a ton of tasks you can finish in two minutes or less.
Here are some common two-minute tasks:
The list goes on and on.
The problem is most of these two-minute tasks are mundane chores that we know don’t take a lot of time. And yet we still don’t do them when they come up. Why? Because we’d rather do something else.
But if you shift your mindset and ask yourself before giving up on something, “Will this take me two minutes or less?” you’re going to discover that you have a lot less to do.
Avoiding clutter begins with changing some habits. Using the two-minute rule is one of the better habits you can begin doing.
Here is another simple task that also falls under the two-minute rule. When you make your bed each morning you’re doing a couple of things.
First, you’re starting your day off with a little victory. Making your bed may not seem like a big win, but it really is. Aesthetically speaking. It’s so much nicer to look at a made bed than an unmade bed.
You’re less inclined to pile clutter on it. It also gives you the motivation to keep things around it tidy. Don’t think you need to make your bed to military-grade standards. Simply straightening out the sheets and duvet is all you need to do.
If you don’t think this tip will work, give it a try. Make your bed each morning for a week and note the difference you feel when looking at it.
Another big culprit that adds to unwanted clutter is leaving things to clean at a later time. Dishes are an example of this. We get it. You work hard making all sorts of meals and you’re exhausted. So instead of doing the dishes, you leave them for later or tomorrow.
This is normal and many, many people do it. But challenge yourself. Instead of leaving dishes to pile up for later, work on washing them after every meal. Put what you can in the dishwasher and handwash the rest. Afterward, dry them and put them away.
When you start doing this, it’s going to feel like a waste of time. But when you’re getting ready for bed and you see an empty sink, it’s going to immediately improve your mood. Why? Because everything is done. There won’t be anything waiting for you in the morning.
And since dish clutter is often the most despised, this tip will keep things under control. That is the ultimate goal of avoiding clutter. Doing what you can to keep things from piling up before you have a chance to deal with them.
Evening routines, like morning routines, are great for letting your mind know it’s almost time for bed. The activities you do during this time can either help or hinder your sleep. For example, too much screen time before bed will hinder your sleep. But dimming the lights and turning screens off will help it.
One activity that is perfect for evening routines is a nightly reset. This is nothing more than 5 to 10 minutes of cleaning. Not deep cleaning. More like a quick tidy-up. It’s a chance for you to go from room to room and clear away any clutter.
Put things away that you didn’t do before. Clean the sink by putting dishes in the dishwasher or wash them by hand. Pick up any clothes off the floor and hang them up or put them in the hamper.
When you do a nightly reset, you’re going to naturally sleep better. This is because you know that you did everything you could to make tomorrow morning easier. You won’t have clothes strewn about the floor. You won’t have a massive pile of dishes to worry about.
You cleaned things up as best as you could. Make it a family affair and get everyone involved. Before bed, encourage kids to tidy up their bedrooms. Ask your spouse to clear any clutter from the living room while you do the kitchen. A nightly reset is a perfect way to start your next morning off on a win.
The final tip of this post — and another two-minute task — is to deal with the mail immediately. We all get mail we don’t want. But that doesn’t mean we should let it pile up on precious real estate like the dining room table or the corner of a kitchen counter.
When you come home and bring the mail inside, sort it right away. Make different piles for different pieces. For example, once you’re done sorting, recycle the junk pile as soon as possible. Bring the pile that contains important stuff like bills to the place where you tend to pay them.
If sorting mail as soon as you walk in the door is impossible because you have to deal with getting your kids ready for after-school activities, then have a box or basket you can put it all in. Then once a day or at least once a week, sit down for 10 minutes and sort through it.
Don’t let mail pile up where it doesn’t belong and don’t wait too long to sort it. Make a plan to deal with mail either right away or once a week. It’s another way to avoid clutter, especially paper clutter, from filling up your home.
While it may not always be possible to avoid clutter completely, you can learn to control it. Adding one or more of these tips into your life will help. When you do, you’ll see a significant difference in how much clutter you do or don’t have.
One of the services I provide includes Decluttering & Downsizing. If you’re looking to eliminate the overwhelm, contact me today, and let’s schedule a chat. It can be daunting to tackle a major declutter on your own. We’re happy to help.
How do you stay ahead of clutter? Do you follow any of these tips? Do you plan to start doing any of them? Let us know in the comments below your feelings towards clutter.
Photo: Samantha Gades
August 5, 2022