I believe that keeping a tidy and clutter-free home is all about creating good habits that you incorporate into your life and routine. For me, the Swedish word lagom is a perfect way to think in terms of your home (if you don’t know, it means “just the right amount”). Lagom is all about creating a happier and more balanced everyday life, and a big part of this is to create daily habits that work for you and your home. But before you set your daily habits into motion, the first thing I would recommend is to declutter your home. Time to get rid of excess to create a clean, calm environment you can easily stay on top of. Because if you start with a simple and minimal base, it is so much easier to keep it neat and organised.
This year we moved into our new home and it is the perfect excuse to get organised. Moving is always a great way to get on top of everything, to go through all your belongings and declutter. Because I have moved quite a few times over the years, I am quite good at letting things go. With my previous last big move, from London to Milan, I ended up giving away a lot of my belongings to friends or charity shops as well as selling all the furniture. It felt good to let go, to start fresh and to simply own less. After that move, I have been very conscious about what I buy making sure it is truly things I need and will use. I also have a clearout of my closet regularly to get rid of unwanted or unworn clothes. My rule is, if it hasn’t been worn or used in the last 6 months, it should probably go.
So first up, a few tips I have gathered along the way to declutter:
- While going through your wardrobe or things, keep three piles: sell, donate & keep.
- If a clothing item has not been worn for the last 6 months, why keep it?
- Do not stock-pile items like candles or napkins. Usually, these items tend to cumulate and we forget how much we have which can result in buying more even if we do not need it…
- While getting rid of things, be sure to not be too hard on yourself – keep a box for special memories you simply cannot part ways with.
- Storage is key! In the bedroom, make sure you have space to put seasonal items to minimise the clothes visible in your closet. I, for instance, have under-bed storage and larger boxes on top of my wardrobe where I keep what I do not need at the moment. Then every autumn and spring I change out my wardrobe with the items I will need for the seasons ahead, although some items will be ‘all year round’.
With the declutter done, here are my tips for creating daily habits which will help you maintain a tidy and happy home.
Daily habits for a tidy home:
- Make sure you always tidy up after yourself. For me, it is important to start the day with a tidy home so after breakfast I make sure I put away everything in the kitchen, take out of / restock the dishwasher, quickly tidy all surfaces from clutter and make the bed. It makes your mind feel much less chaotic if your home is tidy, and especially if you work from home like I do it eliminates that urge to clean during office hours.
- Set aside 20 minutes each day for cleaning or tidying, this way it will not bee too much at once and it feels more doable. I try to have designated days for different things that need to be done during the week, and at the weekend we try to do a big clean. If it helps, make a list with what you need to achieve and spread it out so that you can easily get an overview and tick off once it’s done (who doesn’t love to tick off?..) For instance, I love having Friday as my “clean-sheet day” to start fresh when the weekend comes.
- Clean as you go. This is a habit that will make your life easier in many ways, and a great way to use your time wisely. If you are walking from one room to the other for instance, take items with you and tidy up on the way. If you go into the kitchen and put on the kettle, quickly wipe off the table or counter as you wait for it to brew. Do a bit of ironing while you watch an episode of your favourite show on tv. Or while having a phone-call, why not do this while you dust off a few surfaces, fold clothes or take out of the dishwasher while you chat? I have a little dust glove which I love – it is perfect for walking around the home and quickly get dust off while I go. Once you have managed to get these things to come naturally to you, it will make the tidying up tasks less daunting because it will be happening almost automatically.
- The 5 minutes rule. I spoke about this one in my productivity and organising tips to help you create a calm and inspiring space to work article, but it is just as relevant in terms of having a tidy home. I love this rule because it is so easy. If there is something you know will only take 5 minutes to do, then instead of sitting there thinking about it, simply get it done. The quicker you do it, the more time you free up to do other things and less time you spend thinking about doing it. Win – win. If you do not do it there and then, it might be in the back of your mind and make you feel stressed and overwhelmed. This is a rule I use in life in general, not just when it comes to tidying, and it helps me to eliminate unnecessary stress which can easily build up by numerous of small tasks that you feel you will never get to the end of.
- Try to get one load of laundry done each day. I say try to because I know not everyone has time to do it every day, but speaking from my own experience I tend to feel stressed and like I’m falling behind if I go days without doing it. My rule is to do one load each day during the week so that when the weekend comes I won’t have to think about laundry.
- Keep cleaning products close to where you use them. This means you do not have to run around trying to find the right product and can easily get the room clean while you are there (which goes back to my ‘clean as you go’ point.)
- The importance of prioritising. We all need that there are so much that needs to be done and not enough time, so make sure you prioritise in terms of tidying and cleaning. I would suggest starting with places like the kitchen sink, dining table and bathroom which tends to get messiest, and if that means you did not get time to dust off the shelf I the living room or wash the windows that day then who cares? There is always another day… which brings me to:
- Last but not least, remember to be happy with “clean enough”! Not everything has to be done. So even though there is a bit of dust here and there, a pile of laundry that should have been ironed or a bit of mess do not put yourself down because of it and instead think that you have done your best.
What are your top tips for keeping a tidy home? Any daily habits you find useful that you want to share?
If you need more advice, I highly recommend reading the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Japanese tidiness expert Marie Kondo, or to watch her Netflix special Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.
// Photo credit: Ingrid Opstad