I stood in front of piles of stuff last week and sighed.
Why did I buy this?
Where will I put that?
Where do I start?
I'd frozen up, overwhelmed by all the things.
Have you ever felt that way?
Somehow you know you have to tidy everything but after a full day, you just want to curl up in bed.
You want a space that feels right but you dread going through it all.
You're getting too tired to keep at it. Stuff will just pile up again anyway.
So you try the same old advice.
You know what I mean...
- separate stuff in keep, toss, and maybe piles
- get rid of stuff you haven't used in a year
- install shelves, hooks, or storage containers for extra space
We all know them because they're proven to work.
But sometimes, these tricks don't seem to solve the overwhelm. You need some new strategies to pull you out of the limbo you're in.
This No Mess Monday, I share the hacks I used to get rid of that nervous feeling and fight back.
You've probably never heard of these tips before. (And if you have, give a shout out in the comments!)
Let's get started...
1. GET TO THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM.
Ask yourself: where is the mess coming from? As you keep cleaning, what things do you keep coming across again & again? Then find solutions for your answer.
For example, most of my mess comes from papers I haven't unpacked from my travels, and clothes. For papers, I toss them in a catchall basket until I can sort through them every week. For clothes, I redid my closet so there's enough space to keep everything and I put away clothes lying around before I go to bed each night.
When you focus on what's causing the problem, you make straightening up your space happen faster. Even if you clean only the stuff you pinpointed, most of your home will look put together all the time!
2. GIVE YOUR STUFF A HOME.
When you don't know where an item belongs, you might hold it in your hand, wonder where you should keep it, and set it aside to think about later. Rinse, repeat, and you'll end up with stuff lying around that you don't know what to do with.
So assign your things a permanent home. Put your stuff down in the same place every time, whether it's a hook for your keys or a shelf for your bag.
When your space gets messy, it'll be faster to tidy up when you know where everything's supposed to go.
3. PUT ON EXERCISE CLOTHES BEFORE PURGING YOUR PLACE.
If you plan to tackle a lot of stuff, wearing your workout clothes is a surprising way to get in the mindset for it.
When you put them on, you feel energized. Like how you feel when you're about to have a good workout, except the energy is going towards your stuff.
There's just something about workout gear that makes you feel like you're stepping up your game.
4. SCHEDULE STRAIGHTENING UP YOUR SPACE REGULARLY.
Make time for cleaning in your routine. Doing a little here and there regularly without having to think about it too much simplifies the cleanup.
For example, what happens if you wash the day's dishes after dinner? You make sure all dishes are in the dryer before going to bed every night. Do this daily and you'll never have to worry about facing a kitchen counter overflowing with dirty dishes again.
Batch your chores: laundry on Saturdays, tidying up after yourself every morning, or whatever works with your day. A bit of cleaning time in your routine means you can stress less about a messy home.
5. MAKE YOUR HOME LOOK GOOD TOO.
Keeping your life organized is more fun when everything looks pretty. Use the good sheets and dishes, or DIY beautiful shelves and storage containers to keep your stuff.
And you don't have to make your home look like a magazine spread or the work of a professional organizer. Use what you find beautiful and functional for your life.
There isn't really a wrong way to do this. Like I have a friend who loves labeling everything: notebooks, cabinets, and even her phone! But I hate label makers with a passion; I find the cookie-cutter tags really boring. So my friend and I organize differently, but in ways that look good to us.
6. TURN TIDYING TIME INTO ME TIME.
You probably don't look forward to cleaning time. It feels like you won't ever finish and you could be doing more important (and fun!) things.
Why is cleaning up such a chore? you whine.
I get it, friend. It can be frustrating.
Instead, let's flip the question: How can we make cleaning less of a chore?
One way is to turn it into me time.
For example, I love listening to podcasts and learning new things from them. But I never have enough time to sit undisturbed (who does?) and listen to them.
So I started listening to podcasts while tidying. I put it on while folding clothes, going through papers, and doing laundry.
And before I knew it, I started looking forward to cleaning time. I'd find an awesome podcast episode, and get excited about listening to it while doing chores.
You can do the same, like:
- listen to music
- watch your favorite show
- savor a hot drink in your favorite cup
Think of things you like doing that can turn your tidying time into me time.
7. SWAP STUFF YOU WANT TO LET GO OF WITH FRIENDS.
Get your friends to purge their stuff, then have a fun swap party together. Play music, have some drinks, and just put everything out on the floor. Donate what doesn't get picked up at the end of the swap.
It's fun to see something you haven't used working out for a friend! And the opposite's also true: my friends have happily given me some of my favorite things.
8. PROMISE YOURSELF A REWARD FOR KEEPING THINGS TIDY.
If you really dread the idea of organizing and purging, set yourself a reward so you'll push to get it done. This works even better when it's related to what you're cleaning up.
For example, I went out with friends wearing a nice outfit I’d found under my piles after I cleaned out my closet.
You can prep a delicious lunch with the pans you just organized, get a new sweater to replace the worn out ones you got rid of, and so on. Motivate yourself to get it done with a reward to look forward to!
There's a lot of great advice on purging and keeping your stuff neat. But it doesn't do anything for you if you don't do something with it.
Cleaning up your home isn't about making it Martha Stewart-perfect. You just need it tidy enough so you can think more clearly, enjoy being at home, and focus on more important things.
So pick one hack I mentioned to try today.
You never know... You might end up with a neat space faster than you thought possible.
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