If you are O.C.D. or super organized, just skip this post. It’s not for you. Or better yet…forward it to that person in your life who drives you absolutely bonkers with their ability to live in clutter.
I am that hot mess friend. Well…at least I was. I have gotten so much better. I am never going to be the person who can maintain a color-coded calendar, even though I have tried several times. Shopping for the cute pens and pretty journal is so much fun, but keeping up with it just isn’t happening.
Over the last few years I have managed to go from functional chaos (with many things still slipping through the cracks) to actually living a mostly organized lifestyle. I know where all my things are, and there is a system to everything in my life. I can actually have company drop in unannounced and not be embarrassed by the state of my home.
Just like I teach in my twelve week course, Create Peace, everything changes when you change one small habit at a time. As Tom Ziglar says, “the fastest way to success is to replace bad habits with good habits.” Here are the top 5 habits I have created over the last 5 years that have brought so much peace into my life:
1. Everything has ONE place to belong
Previously, things just landed somewhere. There was a little rhyme and reason, but scissors could be in one of three places. Which means, when I needed a pair I was wandering around the house to any of their potential homes. I would regularly lose 15-20 minutes per day looking for my car keys. They were always wherever I happened to set them down the last time I came home.
In 2015 I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and learned that all items should only have one place to belong. Now we have a key rack installed on the first wall you see when you come in, and that is the only place all keys are kept. There is only one drawer where all scissors belong. And so forth. There is no more searching. Either something was put back where it belongs or it’s lost. There aren’t other options for where it could be kept.
2. Get Rid of Stuff
I have both Marie Kondo and The Minimalists to thank for this one. With tips from both of them, I learned how to let go of things that just don’t need a place in our home. I’ll share my favorite nugget from each author.
From Marie I learned to ask if the item brings me joy. It sounds silly asking if a three-year-old juicer brought me joy, but the reality was every time I looked at it, I felt stress. It was so much work to clean after I used it, so I always used the Ninja since it’s so simple. Therefore, the juicer had to go. It added guilt (for lack of use) and stress (for the intense cleaning) in my life. I gave it to a friend.
From the Minimalists, I learned how to let go of items I only kept for sentimental value. They have an awesome challenge where they encourage people to box up their whole house like they are moving, and then only take out things as they use them. The average person only uses 20% of what they own in a 30 day period. I realized so many unused items were taking up space. We were just going to keep them in a box and then move those boxes from room to room and home to home. So I have looked for ways to digitize the memory or give it away to someone. If it doesn’t add value in my life, then I don’t need to hang on to it.
It’s a WHOLE lot easier to keep a clean house when there is simply less stuff in it.
3. Cube Shelves and Bins
If you have been to our home then you know cubes are everywhere. Nearly every room in our home has cube shelves and bins in them. Our home feels much cleaner without clutter on display. Very few items actually sit out. Almost everything is tucked behind a cabinet, drawer or storage bin. It takes little effort to put things away, and keeps the home feeling organized.
4. The habit of never making the mess to begin with
As an Enneagram 7 this one is SO HARD FOR ME. We like to move on quickly to the next thing. But, I choose to feel the very uncomfortable emotion of following something through to the end and cleaning up a mess before I go to the next thing.
Can you hear the pain in my words? This is SO HARD guys. We sevens like to do a thing, check the box and move on to the next exciting thing. Little details at the end are THE ABSOLUTE WORST.
Acknowledging this is just my brain, and not actually something that’s serving me, helps me to put the cap back on the toothpaste and put the toothpaste back where it belongs before exiting the bathroom. It forces me to hang back up the sweater I decided against instead of throwing it on the bed so I can more quickly try on the next item. The easiest way to keep my house clean is to avoid leaving a trail behind me.
5. Being Home More
Previously, I would keep a robust calendar and allow it to get filled to the brim. I couldn’t understand why my house stayed so messy, but the problem was I was never home. Now, we heavily prioritize being home.
During the week, we each try to be home in the evenings. It’s highly unusual that one of us is gone more than one weeknight each. It happens occasionally, but it always creates stress.
It’s rare to do something on a Sunday. Sundays are when we catch up the laundry, grocery shop, meal prep, make sure all the bedrooms are cleaned, etc. By the time the kids are in bed at 7:30pm on a Sunday night, my husband and I like to sit down to a fully organized, clean home and listen to the knock-off brand Roomba do its thing while Alexa plays jazz music. Yes, we actually do that. We have become old fuddy duddies who spend our evenings listening to jazz music in a quiet, clean house. And it brings us immense joy.
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