Is your house ALWAYS messy and disorganized? Are you wanting to declutter your house but just don’t know how to start?
Or, do you get started clearing out the mess only to end up with an even BIGGER MESS and feeling even more overwhelmed?
Yep, I’ve been there.
Tackling all the clutter and junk that fills our homes is not an easy task, but IF we don’t do it we end up feeling more stressed and paralyzed. And angry—I don’t know about you but when my home is disorganized I end up angry and irritable, and no one wants that!
WHILE I am a huge fan of the decluttering quick fix strategy of just tossing everything into a basket or bin, that doesn’t help you in the long run if you never address the REAL reasons why your house keeps getting messy.
Without addressing this, you can’t come up with the right solutions that work for YOUR family.
Here’s what you need to do:
1. First, Determine Your Clutter Hotspots
This might already be painfully obvious in your home, but it’s a good idea before you begin any organization project to take inventory of all the areas where clutter tends to accumulate.
These areas are called clutter hotspots, and usually you see them in areas of transition—like near the entryway, or where people tend to gather, like the kitchen counter.
So before you do anything else, grab a pen and paper and take a lap around your house and jot down some notes. You could even take pictures of each space to keep track of the type of clutter that builds up in each area.
Now that you’ve completed a clutter walkthrough, ask yourself this question:
Why does clutter accumulate there?
Sometimes the answer is obvious—like this where the kids come into the house so of course all the shoes are always piled up here—and sometimes you might need to do a little digging.
For example, one of our clutter hotspots is our living room mantel. It’s big, it’s at eye-level, and it’s an easy place to set down items we want to keep out of reach from the baby.
And since the room is surrounded by baby gates, it’s way easier to just set the Tylenol or dad’s earbuds down on the mantel than to hop over the gate to put these items back where they belong.
So take a few moments and do some soul-searching…on your clutter hotspots. Dissect what keeps causing messes.
- Is it convenience?
- Are there physical obstacles or barriers?
- Is it that these items are regularly used and always need to be readily available?
- Is it just laziness on the part of you, your husband, or your kids?
After thinking about the REAL reasons why clutter is building up in these areas, now it’s time to brainstorm some solutions that can organize the mess and keep your home clutter-free.
2. Next, Determine The Right Interventions To Keep Your Family Organized
Now one thing to remember during this process is that, well, decluttering is a PROCESS.
You and your family probably won’t become the next organizing guru overnight.
And you’ll probably still have some clutter.
BUT THAT’S OKAY.
One of the best ways to solve a disorganized home is to recognize the habits of those inside and LEAN INTO THEM.
If you know clutter is just going to happen in some of these spaces, our goal then is to just find a way to make the mess more orderly, accessible, and visually appealing.
So first think: are there any easy design interventions you can put in place?
Are there any strategies or objects that can help keep clutter at bay while also blending in with your style so that you don’t cringe every time your eyes drift over to that one corner or wall?
My favorite ideas involve baskets, and here is a great list of decorative baskets and bins that can help store all the clutter in your home in a way that doesn’t feel overwhelming.
But here’s the kicker with this strategy—after you categorize all the junk into different baskets you still need to attack what’s in those baskets.
Take your time with this. Don’t try to do it all at once. Set a timer for 10 minutes and only do what you can in those 10 minutes.
Now there are other solutions for these catch-all cluttered hotspot areas, like decorative hooks and using your walls for storage. Check out this list of great ideas for tackling clutter hotspots and determine what will work best in your house.
After you’ve determined any changes to that can be made to design to minimize the clutter, now consider what behavior interventions could be addressed to keep your home tidier.
Can you make it a rule that shoes must put away in designated bins and coats hung up before play time? Or that no video games or T.V. before the bed is made and the homework station has been straightened up?
Think of the right rules and the right incentives and consequences that would work best with your family. Keeping a tidy home shouldn’t be all on you, and these are good skills for your children to learn and are well worth any battles you might face.
And remember, there’s always going to be some clutter. If you can find ways to organize that clutter or hide it then you’ve made progress.
Be okay that some behaviors may not change. Learn to accept the imperfections in yourself and your family members, and congratulate yourselves when you do make a dent in all the mess.
3. Determine A Strategy For Sifting Through Clutter And Stick To It
After you’ve determined solutions to your clutter hotspots AND made necessary interventions to improve behavior, now it’s time to go through all the junk and declutter.
Remember— you’ve already organized the clutter to some extent in bins or baskets, or on hooks or in cubbies, so you aren’t starting from square one.
Your goal now is to tackle each clutter spot at a time until you’ve made your way throughout the whole house.
Now I don’t mean you tackle an entire clutter spot at a time. That could take hours.
Or if you’re like me, days.
I recommend you determine how much time you actually have—as well as how much of that time you actually WANT to spend—to declutter.
For me, what’s manageable is just 10-20 minutes day.
That’s it! And I stick to that goal. I set a timer and I spend that time sifting through one basket or one drawer or one section of my closet until I’ve found the appropriate place to put each item.
And remember…when you do this…you should NOT be straining to find a home for EVERY knick-knack.
This is when you purge. IF you already have one tweezer in that drawer, you don’t need a second. If you haven’t worn that belt in the past year, it goes in the Goodwill bag (and the Goodwill bag goes to Goodwill—not shoved back into the bottom of your closet!).
While you’re completing this step, try to remember that your home is a place for you to LIVE. Not a place to store all your stuff.
And make sure you give each of your family members the same time limit each day to sift through their own clutter in each hotspot area and hold them accountable.
There you have it— a system to declutter and organize your house that ACTUALLY WORKS and ISN’T overwhelming.
Now hop to it!
Already forgot where to start? Here’s a summary:
- Determine Your Clutter Hotspots
- Ask yourself:
- Why does clutter accumulate here?
- Are there any design interventions that could fix the problem?
- Are there any behavior interventions I need to motivate my family?
- Ask yourself:
- Implement any design and behavior interventions
- Determine a set amount of time to declutter—sift through cluttered areas or design intervention solutions and hold each family member accountable.
- Commit to giving away or throwing out duplicate items, items you haven’t used in 6-12 months, or items that do not bring you any joy.
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