6 Easy Habits to Keep Your Home Clutter-Free

No one wants to spend their whole day tidying up. Our belongings are meant to support us and to enhance our lives. We don’t buy stuff so we can stress about managing it later on. But how can we keep clutter under control without participating in marathon tidying sessions?

The answer is to create simple, consistent daily habits aimed at maintaining order without exhausting ourselves.

Think about some habits you already have.. You probably take out the trash when it’s full, brush your teeth in the morning and before bed, tie your shoes when you put them on your feet. Many tasks you perform each day happen without you giving them much thought. That is because you have done them so many times they have become habitual.

Using that automatic impulse to perform a task is the key to helpful habits. Let’s use your innate ability for habit-formation to help keep your home clutter-free.

The following “rules” or “habits” can be performed easily and regularly. Remember that a habit doesn’t form overnight. Stick with it. Record your progress. Get a buddy on board to support you. If you need help reach out to one of the organizers at Imagine Home Organization.

Habits require 3 factors to take root and become automatic.

1. Repetition (The more times the more solid the habit)
2. Trigger (Something that reminds your brain it is time to perform the habit)
3. Reward (That feel good moment when you realize the result of your action)

Here are some habits to keep your home clutter-free:

1. Put things away where you will use them next

Storing items near to where you will use them will save you time. Keeping a sewing kit in the laundry room gets you one step closer to fixing that button. Having a stash of reusable bags in your car means they are there when you need them at the store.

Trigger: When putting something away, ask “Where will I use this next?”

Reward: Next time you’re at the store and your bags are with you in the car, celebrate your foresight and pat yourself on the back. One less plastic bag to waste!

2. Let it go when it breaks or fix it right away

Sadly, many items that we say we will “get to later” never become a priority. That broken watch band, or the action figure with a missing arm are likely doomed to sit in the junk drawer gathering dust forever.

Trigger: When something breaks, ask, “Am I willing to fix this right now? If not, why not let it go?”

Reward: When you open your junk drawer to discover… NO JUNK! You have effectively saved yourself the time and guilt involved with fixing (or not fixing) that item. (Note: It is GREAT to repair broken items. The point here is that if you aren’t willing to pull out the superglue now, you probably won’t be tomorrow either.)

3. Shop with intention

Limit the amount of new items coming into your home in the first place. Develop mindful shopping habits to support your organized lifestyle. Shop with a list. Don’t buy items on impulse. Appreciate items you see while you shop – refrain from bringing them all home with you. When this habit is triggered ask yourself “Do I really need to buy this?” Give yourself a waiting time. “If I still want this in 3 days I will buy it then.”

Trigger: Seeing the checkout button or standing in line at the checkout in a store.

Reward: More money in your pocket. No guilt over impulsive purchases. Less clutter in your home.

4. One minute rule

If you can complete a task in one minute or less: Do it NOW. This rule will save you tons of time and keep tasks from piling up. Plus, as you complete these brief tasks, your self-efficacy rises. You realize how productive you can be and become better motivated to take on bigger tasks.

Trigger: When faced with a task ask yourself how long it will take. If the answer is less than one minute – Time to act.

Reward: Boost in self-esteem, less piled up on your task list, less clutter, less stress.

5. Take something along with you

Each time you move from one space in your home to another – see if you can bring something with you that belongs there. Going to the kitchen? Bring that empty coffee mug that’s on your desk. Going to take the trash out – drop your kids’ sports bags in the garage on your way. Save yourself from making extra trips to re-home items. It might not seem like much, but those saved trips add up. You can save yourself hours each week by cultivating this habit.

Trigger: Getting up to move to a different room.

Reward: Saved time, fewer trips, less clutter.

6. Don’t put it down, put it away

This habit is difficult for many people. The reason is that until you create a designated home for your possessions, it is more challenging to put an item AWAY. Practice this habit with items that DO have designated homes. When you unload the dishwasher – Do you toss all your silverware on the counter, or do you separate your forks from your spoons and put them away in their spots in the silverware drawer? Ask yourself if the item at hand has a home. If it doesn’t consider taking a few minutes to create one.

Trigger: Holding an item which needs to be put away. Ask yourself “Where is this item’s home.”

Remember, putting it away shouldn’t take more than a minute – which gives you an opportunity to practice the one-minute rule as well.

Reward: Quicker cleanup and less clutter.

You CAN create these habits. You WILL see the benefits start to take shape in your home. Take note of what your space looks like today and check back in with yourself in one month. You will know you have succeeded when you perform these habits without having to think first.

Before long you will just scoop up those shoes by the front door and take them to your daughter’s room without a second thought. Habits save us time and they also make us more productive. So use them to your advantage and see how tidy your home becomes.

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