Getting rid of clutter is great – but just as important is staying decluttered and being clutter free. Let's say that you crossed all the tasks off your list related to your home and clutter. Sounds great – and it is! But if that was the end goal and we never followed up or took any actions after that point we would quickly find ourselves back in a home full of clutter. Keeping your home and life organized is a skill unto itself and is just as important, if not more important, as cutting out the clutter in the first place.
Don't let this distract you from attaining a more organized home, workplace, or other space; however, keep in mind that “one big clean” is not the end goal. The final goal should be to occupy a space that you feel comfortable with and find it relatively easy to maintain. The end result, once you have gotten rid of most of your clutter, is to enjoy your home and space while spending a minimum amount of time maintaining it.
Most people, myself included, don't want to organize their home and then spend hours a day maintaining it. Occasionally spending some extended periods of time cleaning, organizing, and getting rid of clutter is fine (holidays, spring cleaning, etc), it just needs to be realistic and not something that we rely on to keep us clutter free.
I have 3 tips that I use to stay decluttered on a regular basis and recommend them for anyone to use:
- If you see one or two things laying out, put it away or hang it up – this is a big one! Taking the five or ten seconds to put something away the first time you see it is an incredibly powerful habit, but it does take time to develop.
- Set aside 30 minutes a week to pick up – this can be general cleaning or specific to clutter. The point is to make it a short period of time (maybe 15 minutes for you, maybe an hour) that you use once a week to take care of the bigger things that you couldn't do in under a minute. Keeping it to a specific day helps get you in the habit of making sure you take the time to pick up.
- Make note of where you can improve – do you have a collection area for mail? Does your entryway need a shoe rack? Are you tossing things into the garage just to keep them out of the house? Making notes of possible issues will help you get in control before things get out of balance.
I make use of these 3 ideas on a regular basis. By far the hardest to implement is “putting things away when you see them”. It also has the highest payoff. If you can start doing this even once or twice a day you will start to see changes. That shirt that was on the ground next to the bed? Gone! The magazine on the counter that hasn't been touched? Recycled! It's easy once you get into the habit and over time has a big impact on clutter and organization.
Remember, once you have gotten rid of the clutter you need to have a plan in place. The good news is that it isn't difficult so long as you prepare ahead of time.