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By Joan Reeves aka SlingWords
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10 Sane Steps to Clutter Free Home

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This is a stock photo, but years ago I had a friend whose home looked this way.

No kidding. The first time I visited her, I thought her house had been ransacked.

She had me follow her to her makeshift home office to show me something. I walked down the hall, skirting piles of dirty laundry in the doorways of her kids’ bedrooms, I was stunned to see the bedrooms looked like this photo.

She was a wonderful person, but she had a high-pressure job as did her husband. Their life had gotten out of balance because she confessed she and her husband were both “untidy” and when the kids came along, they kept on living the same untidy lifestyle. The end result by the time the kids were in elementary school was what I saw that day.

Clutter Vs. Clean

I’ll let you in on a secret. No matter how clean a house may be, if there’s clutter everywhere, the perception is that the house is dirty.

My house is organized and clutter-free because I wouldn’t be able to work at home if it wasn’t. I’d be constantly nagged by “stuff” that needed to be cleaned up. My house is also fairly clean if you don’t count the dust that’s easy to spot. But everyone is always saying things like, “How do you keep your house so clean?”

Clutter and untidyness are habits. Habits can be changed. It’s relatively easy to train yourself and your family to eliminate the daily clutter bombing that goes on in most households. 

Everything listed below applies to training yourself and your family.

1. Make your bed every morning.

I’ve always done this and wasn’t surprised to see this habit touted by motivational speakers as a way to feel you have immediately accomplished something for the day. The emotional boost you get from walking through the bedroom that looks put together is satisfying, and, yes, I think empowering. Serene surroundings can calm your frustration.

2. Take care of snack dishes and glasses immediately.

When you use a dish or a glass for a snack, immediately take it to th kitchen sink, rinse it, and put it in the dishwasher. Even kids can do this. This might take 30-45 seconds, but it saves a lot of time because you won’t have to go through the house gathering a glass here, a plate there.

Dishes left out draw insects. Food or drink residue hardens in the dish which means more time needed to soak them or scrub it out. It also saves emotional energy because you don’t look around and feel depressed by seeing dirty dishes everywhere.

3. Clear the table immediately after each meal.

Each person carries his/her plate, glass, and flatware to the kitchen, rinses it, and places it in the dishwasher. If your kids are too young to do this all by themselves, make a game of it. Give them something they can carry in a clean-up parade to the kitchen. You and hubby take turns rinsing and let the kids load in the eash things like the flatware into the basket in the bottom rack or the plastic ware. This trains them to grow up clutter-free.

4. Always leave your kitchen clean at night.

That’ll pay off each morning when you go into the kitchen and don’t have to look at a pile of dirty dishes. Load the dishwasher if you haven’t developed habits #2 and #3. Wipe the  counters and stove clean and pick up or sweep debris on the floor. There’s something extremely satisfying about going into the kitchen the next morning and not seeing a sink full of dirty dishes and food debris on the counters and stove. That gets your day off to a good start.

5. Have a drop station next to where you enter your house.

This can be a Console Table, a cabinet, or even a bookshelf next to where you most commonly enter your home. 

Put a basket, decorative bowl or platter on top and place your keys, glasses, sunglasses, whatever you need to get going in the morning in it so you never have to conduct a scavenger hunt before you leave the house each morning.

6. When you enter your home, immediately take your essentials to an established place.

Essentials are coat, purse, briefcase, backpack, or whatever you need when you leave the house. Set aside a place where it can be secure and easily located the next morning. That might be a chair in the bedroom, your home office, a coat closet with a hook for your purse, etc. Doing this avoids another time-wasting scavenger hunt.

7. Establish a mail station.

Place a decorative basket or whatever on the drop station table. When you bring in your mail, drop it there rather than stand and go through everything and leave it scattered on the table top. Make a 20 minute routine when getting home. Place your keys, etc. at the drop station, place mail in the basket, put away your essentials, and change clothes if that’s what you usually do. Talk to the kids for a bit. After that 20 minutes, take 15 minutes to deal with the mail.

8. Deal with the mail each day.

The secret to mail handling is to handle it only once if possible. Take your basket from the mail station to an established place in your home. A small home office is ideal. This is where you will handle the mail, pay bills, read correspondence. If you’re simply using the kitchen table, get some matching decorative boxes or baskets that stack together.

You can find inexpensive to expensive baskets, bins, and boxes. Shown here is a 4-pack of stackable baskets that’s about $30.00. 

Find something that fits your taste and your budget. Label them: Bills to Pay, Action Needed, To Be Filed, and Personal. Those are the basics. 

Go through each piece of mail. Toss the junk immediately. If it’s something that interests you, put it in Action Needed. If you haven’t acted upon it in a month, throw it out.

Clip a bill to be paid to its envelope. Where the stamp goes on the envelop, mark the date you need to mail it with payment, usually 7-10 days before due. If paying online, write the date it’s due so you can pay it on time. Paid bills go in To Be Filed. So do bank statements and other important papers that affect your money, job, home, life, etc. (See my follow-up post next week about how to set up a simple home office.)

If something you received requires a response of some kind, it goes in Action Needed.

For personal correspondence, greeting cards, gifts, etc. put anything that requires a reply in Personal. Once you’re replied with a thank you note or whatever, place anything you want to keep for sentimental reasons in a decorative box you can keep on or near the desk or a shelf where it looks attractive.

9. Set up a drop station for things that may be carried into the house.

 This could be for kids’ backpacks, jackets, etc. or things you purchase and bring home that end up piled on the kitchen table or counters. This is my pet peeve. I hate, hate, hate to have to clear the table off before we can eat or have to clear the counter before I can do food prep. My Darling Hubby is terrible about this. I finally moved a long storage bench into our wide entryway and asked him to start putting the tools he brings in or magazines or things he’s bought other than groceries on the bench. That way we can relocate the items each time we walk past the foyer.

10. Take the trash out every evening or sooner if needed.

Have you ever walked into someone’s house that smelled like dirty diapers or kitchen garbage? Yuck. Don’t be that person. Your house may be clean, but the perception is that it’s filthy if it smells.

Already Lost the Battle?

You can still win the war. If your home is already a monument to clutter and disorganization, take your calendar out and make a date with your family for one hour each week to go through closets and cupboards and get organized. Make it a family project and tackle one place at a time. Reward all who participate with a game night, movie rental, special dessert, more time online, or whatever kids and hubby will like.

Takeaway Truth

There’s an old adage that says, “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” That’s the mantra of being clutter free. 

Why not make a decorative sign with a fancy script that says that and hang it in the ktichen as a reminder to what you’re wanting to achieve.

Joan Reeves aka SlingWords: The Word Slinging Adventures of Joan Reeves


Source: https://slingwords.blogspot.com/2022/09/10-sane-steps-to-clutter-free-home.html


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