Few people know this about me, but I am a messy person and a clutter-free home does not come easy to me. I think I was born that way. And for me at least, decluttering was not something that came naturally. No matter what I did the rooms in my home were never neat and tidy. Ho matter what I did, there always seemed to be stuff everywhere.
I wasn’t a slob so much as just a messy person. I would (could) never put things away when I was done with them. I found it so much easier to just leave things where I finished using them until my rooms looked like complete disaster areas.
The rooms weren’t cluttered so much as just full of things that needed to be put away.
And the problem was, for me at least, putting things away was a complete waste of time.
When I was a young mother I had this friend whose home was always spotless. I am talking never EVER anything out of place. There were never toys strewn all over her yard and her kitchen was visitor ready all the time.
Seriously, no matter when I would stop by her kitchen would always be spotless. I remember being in awe when I was there. She had 4 kids just like I did. She had pets, a husband, and a lot of things.
Yet her home was always put together all the time. It was really annoying.
Back then I thought it was just my makeup. The way I was built. Even when I was a teenager I remember my room would be so bad at times I had to get things off of my bed just to get into it. My mother would threaten me to clean it and after an entire Saturday spent cleaning, it would be perfectly spotless from floor to ceiling.
The funny thing was I loved having my room neat and organized. But it would never last. Like clockwork, my room would be a cluttered mess by the following week. It wasn’t so much a mess as it was full of things that simply needed to be put away.
They say it takes 21 days to create a new habit and for me, my new habit was to put my stuff away when I was done using it. And if I hated to take that extra step to return things to their home maybe if I set up a few shortcuts I could find a way to make it easier keeping my room and home a bit less messy.
How to Have a Clutter-Free Home
1. Get Control of Your Paper
One of the biggest problems for a messy person is mail. There is just so much of it and it keeps coming into our homes every single day.
I found that by having a mail system I could more easily keep the paper under control. When our kids were young we had a simple family command center in our kitchen. A place that allowed me and the kids to hold important school papers so they did not get lost in the messiness of our kitchen counters.
When the kids were older I moved our mail system into our office giving each of our boys their own bin on a bookshelf. This allowed me to toss in papers, magazines, or notes for each without having to worry that it would become lost or misplaced. The boys all knew (and still know) to check that bin every single day to be sure there is nothing inside that needs their attention.
This included hubby. He too has his own basket where I can toss any paper that pertains to him as soon as I come across it. I can’t even tell you how much this simple system has changed our paper issue. By sorting out the mail that belongs to each person what I am left with is bills and junk.
Bills then go directly into my desk to be dealt with on Sundays and junk goes directly into the shredder.
What used to mess up more than one room in our home, now seems almost nonexistent. And the best part is the mail takes just seconds to deal with making this system a top 5 favorite in our home.
2. Get Control of Your Kitchen Sink
There is nothing I hate quite as much as a sink full of dirty dishes. And with a dishwasher, there is no reason for it either. Yet, even today, my sink tends to have at least something in it waiting to be washed at all times.
I decided to try an experiment that completely changed my kitchen mess.
I read somewhere that if you own fewer dishes you will be forced to wash them more often. This was so simple and really made sense to me. If I owned less then I would have less to put away.
I decided to give it a try. I took ⅓ of my cups, bowls, and dishes and packed them up into a box. I then put that box in the basement just in case this idea totally backfired on me.
The funny thing is, it completely worked.
If I wanted to be sure I had enough dishes for each day I needed to load and run my dishwasher each night. This forced me to clean my kitchen after every dinnertime meal. (gasp) Something I never did before.
FYI – Most messy people are professional procrastinators and have the ability to put off chores until they are long past their due date.
Nothing gives the appearance of a clutter-free home like an empty kitchen sink.
3. Get Control of Your Clutter
Ugh, clutter. One word that can cover so so much. It can be trash, junk, paper, clothes, dishes, toys, tools, just about anything that is lying out in the open instead of hiding behind a drawer or cabinet.
And back in my seriously bad messy days, an open surface was just calling for me to use it. To toss my bag or that pile of books in my arms. To sort the day’s mail or to work on a project. To lay down my phone charger or toss my empty water bottle.
It was so much easier for me (or so I thought) to drop the stuff in my arms rather than put each item away. I would get to it later I would say but later simply got buried under more things until that open surface spilled out onto the chairs and finally the floor below.
The problem was putting things away after I finished using them was just not going to happen for me. It goes against my messy nature and no matter how hard I try I still find myself tossing the scissors on the kitchen table instead of putting in the drawer where I found it.
I needed to find a shortcut to make this work for my messy self. A way to at least get things together now so I could put them away all in one shot later.
That is when I created the term “drop basket”. This was my super simple fix to my extremely annoying habit.
How it works.
In each of my main rooms, I have a basket. One where I can toss in things when I finished using them. No matter what it is, if I just don’t want to take the time to put it away I can simply put it into the closest drop basket.
At the end of the day, I try to empty each basket putting things away all in one shot. Believe it or not, this one tip was a complete game-changer for me. By creating a short cut I was able to keep not only my kitchen table mess-free but just about every open surface in my home.
The best part was lost items no longer haunted me like they used to. If I needed something and could not find it, my first place to look was always in my drop baskets. And that was usually where that item would be found, saving me so much time and frustration. Another win-win for this simple tip.
4. Get Control of Your Laundry
If you are a messy person then you probably hate to do laundry. Just because it is something that always needs to be done.
Every single day.
To help I needed to come up with a shortcut. A way to make things a bit easier so I wouldn’t postpone it to the point that my kids were looking for socks on their bedroom floor not caring if they matched or not.
Using the drop basket idea I decided to put a clothes basket in each of my kid’s rooms. This not only kept them from tossing dirty clothes right where they took them off but it also helped me to grab things more quickly without having to scavenger hunt each bedroom looking for missing soccer uniforms or cub scout ties.
The best part was, once I put those dirty clothes baskets in each bedroom I literally cut my laundry time in half. I guess I never realized that most of my laundry chore was spent in the gathering phase. Now that all the dirty clothes were in baskets I could just grab and go saving me quite a bit of time and frustration.
5. Get Control of the Day’s Messiness
Life is messy, I totally get it. And there are no tips to fix any of that. But there are things you can do to erase the messiness of the day so you are not slapped in the face with it when you wake up in the morning.
I like to call this a Room Reset.
And this one tip has turned my home from hot mess to tidy literally overnight.
A room reset is basically taking time at the end of the day to reset a room to its neat state. I am not talking a scrub and polish every night before bed. I am just talking about the clutter. The stuff that is lying all around the room.
And the best part is I have a way to make the room reset take just a few minutes every time you do it.
Arm yourself with a sturdy clothes basket and use it to gather up all the clutter in the room that needs to be put away. This would include dishes, food, clothes, papers, toys just about anything that was being used, worn, or eaten during the day. I like to “walk” the room with my basket and do a quick pick up of all the open surfaces.
Now, I am not talking about all the stuff and clutter in the room, just the things you used that one day. Your goal is to reset the room to the way it was when you started. Sure it won’t fix the full clutter of that room but it will keep it from getting any worse. This way you can begin to work on the clutter knowing no matter what the day brings you will keep it from getting any messier than it is now.
There is nothing wrong with being a messy person, I am still messy at heart. I just needed to find a way to make it easier for me to be neat too.
With these simple tips, you too can still be messy without your entire home being cluttered and disorganized. Keep it simple, remove the excess, set up shortcuts, and relax. You totally got this.
Now that you know how to have a clutter-free home, let’s get you ready to tackle your first room by setting up a Decluttering KIT. This simple basket will contain all the tools you need to declutter and organize a room making it easy to start when you are motivated to get busy!