I once created a cute sign to hang in my room that read “Cleanliness is Next to Godliness.” I certainly had good intentions, but when my bed was unmade, the closet doors wouldn’t shut, the desk was covered in clutter and the clutter covered in dust, the irony was hard to miss.
I don’t know why it took me so long to figure this out, but I now know that it is much more pleasant to be in a clean space than a messy space.
We’re all busy and nobody is perfect, so here are a few lazy-man’s tips to keeping your space clean. It will make you and those you live with much happier.
1. The Junk Drawer (or bin, or cupboard, etc)
We all know that messes are going to happen. It is inevitable. Sometimes you are just in a hurry and don’t put something away. Sometimes you just don’t know where to put something. The key is, to have that “catch-all” place be somewhere out of sight. Instead of having a chair that collects all the purses/jackets/papers that you don’t want to deal with, make it something out of sight. Try a bin, a box, a closet, a drawer – get creative! That way, only you know about the mess 😉 It’ll be our little secret.
2. A Minute a Day Goes a Long Way
This mantra could apply to anything you do, but is especially notable with cleanliness. If instead of leaving your clothes on the floor, you take the one minute it would take to put it away, imagine how much happier you will be later! Try chipping away at a large looming task with a minute a day. By doing a little at a time, any task can become much more manageable. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, has “The One Minute Rule.” She says, “It’s very simple: I must do any task that can be finished in one minute. Hang up my coat, read a letter and toss it, fill in a form, answer an email … and so on.” Another fun way to make use of your minute is to set a timer and see how much you can complete. This was a favorite of mine growing up when emptying the dishwasher. My mom would set a timer for one minute and we would rush to get all the dishes put away. It made an undesirable task fun! And yes, in case you were wondering, it CAN be done in a minute.
3. Messes Collect Messes.
In college, every room was required to have a desk. I promise I did study (really, I did Mom!), but I never used the desk. Basically, if I was in a hurry, I would just set my mess on it. It was a very nice, flat surface that could hold a lot of mess. This was especially the case with “reject outfits” (the ones that didn’t make the cut with the first try on – you always knew how hard a morning was by how big the pile was). When the desk had something on it, it gave me free reign to put something else on it. It became an unspoken rule between me and my roommate. Once the pile began, the clothes accumulated each day. It was the same with the general cleanliness of the room. I found that if I kept my side clean, my roommate was more likely to do the same. It worked the same for when I let my side get messy. By eliminating messes in their early stages, you prevent the entropy that is bound to happen.
4. Eliminate the Unnecessary
The hardest way to keep your stuff organized is if you have too much of it. If you always have to be stuffing your socks in and can’t shut the drawer after doing the laundry, you have a problem. Likely, if you go through and eliminate the ones with holes, the ones you’ve had for 5 years or the ones you only wear when you are out of other socks, you are going to have a much better time when you close your drawer. Through her book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo has started a bit of decluttering craze. If you haven’t read the book, here is one tip that is especially useful when considering elimination. Evaluate each object on the basis of whether it sparks joy for you or not. If an object no longer brings you joy, you can thank it for what joy it once brought you and get rid of it guilt free. Perhaps you only wore a shirt once and you feel too guilty to get rid of it? It is alright! Thank it for bringing you joy with that one wear. Let it have a new life now and be at peace. Instead of thinking, “what should I get rid of?” you can think, “why should I keep this?” If you don’t have a reason to keep it, let it go and smile as your drawers finally glide closed easily.
What simple things have you tried to keep the clutter at bay? Have you tried any of these tips before? If so, share your experience!