When it comes to clutter, I am definitely a visual person. If I see stacks of plates, notes scattered across my desk, or piles of clothing on my chair — “aka the laundry chair” — I have a hard time focusing on the task at hand. That’s why I like to clean as I go, often spending a few minutes clearing whatever mess I see (like dishes in the sink). However, I do have an exception to this rule. Sometimes, things pile up because life happens, and that’s completely fine in my book. I truly believe that it’s important to not let the clutter ruin your day, especially when you’re in the midst of something great.
Whether you are making a big move, entertaining friends and family visiting from out of state, or starting a new job (like me! Hi, I’m the new Cleaning & Organizing Editor here at Apartment Therapy, nice to meet you!), it’s OK if some chores get put on the back burner. You’re enjoying life and hitting some major milestones, so the mess can wait just a little bit longer.
But, when you’re ready to organize and get into the cleaning spirit — I sure am! — here are three habits I like to adopt in order to not only have a cleaner space, but also a clearer mind. These habits have helped me feel more at peace with my place and not rushed to have that 100 percent perfectly clean home all the time.
Many people may be apprehensive to start cleaning because they are imagining all the major items they need to get done like clearing out the garage, rearranging the closet, or deep cleaning the kitchen. But the best way to get into the habit of cleaning is to start small, I’ve found. Completing a simple task every day is an easy way to start an appreciation for tidiness. I like to ask myself: What can I do right now that can instantly clean a part of my home? It can be as simple as making my bed or tidying up my desk. Starting small will help you to grow what you think you’re capable of, and eventually, you’ll know what you can do now or save for later without stressing about it.
While starting small may seem easy enough, it could potentially snowball into an endless day of doing an abundant amount of small tasks here and there. (I have fallen for that trap, time and time again!) I recommend being intentional with your cleaning. If you say you’ll do one thing, do it and nothing else. If you commit to three things, then do just the three tasks. It’s all about setting boundaries and goals. Another thing that can help you be more intentional is setting a timer. Whether it’s for 10 minutes or half an hour, create a pocket of time where you are cleaning a particular area of the home. Once the timer goes off, stop. I love doing this when I have a full day of activities, but still want to feel like I’ve accomplished some cleaning in my home.
When you’re equipped with the first two tips, you can start making a simple cleaning routine. Routines help set you up for success and allow you to organize your day. Consider a morning routine, where you always make the bed and pack lunch; a weekly one that falls on a Friday, so you’re set up for a nice, relaxing weekend; or even something you do daily and all together as a family. When I’m done with work for the day, I like to shut down my laptop and put it away, clean my desk, and tidy my room, removing any coffee cups and plates that have accumulated throughout my morning and afternoon. This allows me to separate my work and home, which is especially important when working remotely.
I hope these ideas help you get into a habit of cleaning, too. One that’ll put your mind at ease with less stress and messes. Tell me which little habits have yielded big results for you.