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5 Keys to Decluttering

Updated: Dec 12, 2020

For me, a clean area helps me reduce my thoughts. Organization is key to this. In the following article, I’m going to list a few ways to keep organized once you’ve gotten there as it’s all too easy to fall back into the habit of disorganization once things are clean.

Intermountain Healthcare has a great article on the impacts of organization on mental health. It says it can improve sleep, reduce stress, and even improve relationships. It absolutely does those things for me! And knowing the health benefits of organization allows me to push through even on the days I don’t want to organize. Here are some simple ways to keep at it:

1. Put away something when you’re done using it.

This seems like a simple rule. But, it can be hard to put in place at first. In my home it applies to all residents. Myself when I am done cooking before I move on to something else. My husband when he is working on a project with power tools. And my son when he is playing with a toy. We all must put these items back where they belong before moving on to the next thing. This avoids a large mess to try and tackle at the end of the day, or an even bigger mess at the end of the week.

2. Make a nightly routine of resetting the house (no matter what that means to you).

As an example, my nightly routine includes washing all dishes in the sink, kitchen counters wiped down, putting anything astray back where it belonged, making sure all doors are locked and all lights are off. That is my way of resetting the house so in the morning it’s ‘ready to go’ and I’m not trying to move around any clutter to start my day.

A nightly resetting routine doesn’t have to be that complicated. Maybe for you it’s making sure things are out of the way before you wake up. Maybe it’s simply making sure the floor is clear. Maybe it’s making sure your bedrooms are put back into place so you wake up into organization. Whatever it is for you, make a routine of it before you go to bed. It’s one that will stick with you because you won’t be able to sleep until it’s done.

3. Keep cleaning days separate from organizing days.

You’re probably wondering why? Aren’t they the same thing?

No, they absolutely are not.

Organization is the act of putting things away where they belong. Cleaning is getting out a vacuums and duster and scrubbing away grime from your home. Both are extremely important, however, if you try to stack them on top of each other, most often they both won’t be completed. I’ve learned trying to organize your house at the end of the week instead of as it happens is a loosing battle. It created a mile high amount of anxiety for me and often when I finally got my house organized, I did NOT want to clean it as well. Keeping these things separate gives me more energy to focus on cleaning my house when the time comes. And it’s easier because for the most part, things are already picked up.

4. Look for ways to hide clutter (boxes, shelves, etc.) so every item has a ‘place’.

This is my biggest key to organization! There is no way to create an organized space if you do not have places to put the things you own. That may mean investing in some shelving or boxes. I prefer things I can shut. If you don’t have a lot of spare cash on hand these things can be found at second hand stores and are usually just as good. Either way I recommend having something in each room where you can ‘put away’ things for that room. You decide what it is and how it fits into the ascetic of your room.

The act of putting things away once they are done being used is so much easier when the place it goes is in that same room. Do yourself have a favor and make sure everything in that room has a place where it is if not hidden, at least out of the way. This makes the room feel more open and less crowded and gives you a chance to keep things tucked away where they belong.

There is something to be said for creating organization within those shelves and drawers for your sanity. I can’t put things away in a specific drawer unless they have a specific place within that drawer. Perhaps that’s too extreme for you. No worries if it is. But it’s an important note that not only is it important that items need to have their own place, but also that you should know where that place is so you’re not desperately searching for something when you need it.

5. Declutter once a year.

Once a year go through your home room by room, get rid of anything you haven’t touched that year or trash/clutter that may have collected there. And trust me, things do pile up. Usually end up having around one junk drawer per room by the end of the year. Things pile up as they come into your house and you don’t have a good ‘place’ for them. That is entirely okay and realistic. But, it’s important to acknowledge this and make an effort once a year to clear out anything that isn’t needed or wanted.

By wanted I actually mean something quite specific. Sure you may want an item, but if you haven’t touched it in a year (unless it’s a memoir or a photo book, or a good book itself), should you really be keeping it? Ask yourself that seriously. And then, ask yourself another question, if you do keep it, will you use it next year? Generally, the answer to both questions is a no you can find another home for it. Whether that means tossing it out or sending it to a second hand store, that’s up to you.

These tips are all well and fine. But the trick is finding time. For me I try to dedicate 30 minutes a day to organization. This often happens in small intervals throughout the day (putting away something before getting something else out) and at the end of the night when I ‘reset’ my home. Between these two conscious efforts, I am able to keep my house organized and clear of clutter.

I don’t see these things as stepping out to do more. I see these things as ways to take care of myself and my health. When my house is cluttered, my stress levels is immediately higher. And if that’s paired with a stressful week at work? It’s not a great combination. So for me, it’s worth this 30 minutes a day throughout the day to organize my living environment so my stress level is that much lower.

In conclusion, I’d say it’s worth the effort of organizing to help improve mental health. Especially with the research backing it. And I personally truly enjoy the way my home feels and looks clutter free. Would you?

Happy decluttering!

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