Wednesday, May 24, 2017

How I Maintain a Clutter-Free and Organized Home

Last Monday I talked about how I style my home to still feel as simple, clean, and calm as I like it. I also mentioned that I'd spend today answering how I maintain my clutter-free spaces and keep everything organized.  How does a minimalist not revert back to her previous non-minimalist ways, so to speak.

When my house is uncluttered, organized and clean, everything in my life improves from my happiness levels to my productivity levels, so I actively try to keep my home as organized as possible.  The couple strategies I have in place for maintenance include:

Make a daily to do list.  Lists work well for me because I don't like leaving things unchecked off at the end of the day.  It also helps me organized my thoughts so I can keep track of particular things I want to declutter or organize.  Since I already did the massive declutters and have the organizational systems in place that I want, it's a matter of keeping up with it. I prefer to do this in just a few minutes each day, rather than save it all up for the weekend and try to do a bunch of spaces at once.  I would get too annoyed and overwhelmed at the chaos in the meantime.  So the daily to do list works best for me.

Keep a running donation box.  So much of the clutter that stays in our house is 'I'll take it to the donation center soon' clutter.  I suggest keeping a running donation box either near the front door or in your car.  Every time you see something you realize isn't serving you anymore, you can move it directly into the box.  Once the box is getting full, take it to a donation center.  This way, there's an actual plan for the clutter and it won't stay sitting in the same spot to be dealt with later.  Clutter always creeps back in, I don't think purging is a one and done deal.  It's something you have to stay on top of and having this box always ready is a good way to remind you to constantly be reassessing your items and looking for what doesn't suit your needs any longer.

End paper clutter.  Just stop keeping paper altogether, because nothing else seems as innocuous but causes so much trouble.  Paper clutter attracts more paper clutter like no other type of mess.  You don't even realize how big a problem it is until you have a huge stack and need to go through every. single. scrap.  It could potentially take hours, so you put it off and the piles grow.  I'm taking mail, like bills and catalogs, paper statements, receipts.  The key here is to refuse as much as possible in the first place by removing yourself from mailing lists, switching to paperless billing and statements, and refusing receipts.  For the very few things left that you might want to keep, scan them with a phone app like CamScanner and save everything digitally.

One in one out rule.  It's the simplest and most effective way to resist the urge to accumulate again and be able to maintain the clutter free space you created.  It's as basic as it sounds: for every one new item you bring into your home, one similar item has to leave.  If you buy new shoes, get rid of an old pair.  If you buy 5 new books, donate 5 old ones.  Don't even let those new things mingle in with your current belongings until you figure out what will be leaving in their place.  I like this way of thinking not only because it keeps the level of items in my home at exactly the same number without much effort on my part, but also because it makes me truly elvaluate the new things I'm considering bringing in.  I have to be honest whether I actually need it and whether I love it enough to let something I already own go in it's place.  To apply it to the entire house takes a lot of discipline but if you start by just applying it to problem areas like clothes or makeup, it really will save you sanity and money.

Don't leave messes for the next day.  One of the main things that keeps my home organized all the time is that I don't leave messes from today to be dealt with tomorrow.  Putting off simple things is an invitation to chaos.  So every night I make it a point to do a very quick clean up.  Any dishes get put in the dishwasher, the blankets and pillows get straightened on the couch, laundry goes to the right spot, I just generally reset anything to it's proper spot before the next day begins.  Leaving it all will just let it build up and turn it into a much more difficult task by the end of the week.  Doing it daily is easy and I wake up much more positive and motivated when my space is in order.

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