Tricks for Tidying Up

woman wearing white blouse washing dish on the faucet

Spending more time at home means we’re not only creating more clutter, but we’re seeing that clutter more often … and it can really add up to make you feel stressed and overwhelmed. 

“Tidy” doesn’t have to mean “spotless.” It just means you feel a sense of control over your stuff and your space. 

These ten tips will help you keep your space more tidy so you can breathe easier. 

1 – Make your bed 

Even for people who aren’t usually in the habit of making the bed (you’re just going to mess it up again!), getting it done first thing in the morning will give you the satisfaction of seeing something beautiful and settled every time you go past or into your room. Because the bed is such a feature, having it neat makes a big difference, even if the entire room isn’t tidy. 

2 – Be a basket case 

Carry a laundry basket or any other basket (or box or bag) room to room and pick up everything that’s out of place. This doesn’t mean you should tackle stacks of paper; it literally means just pick up the things that have migrated. Then put the things where they go. Don’t put the basket down until everything’s where it belongs. Focusing just on picking things up will help you avoid spending time doing other chores. This is a surprisingly fast way to get a huge payoff.

3 – Vacuum 

If you’re going to spend time doing an actual cleaning task but not a full cleaning, vacuuming is a great choice. A clean carpet makes the whole room feel more fresh. It’s a good bang for your buck if you’re looking for a quick to-do that will give you a good return. (This doesn’t mean you should start with the floors when you are doing a thorough cleaning, though! They’re usually best left for last.) 

4 – Do double duty

Find the chores you can do while other things are happening. Or look for the few minutes in the day when you’re waiting for something to happen. For example, empty the dishwasher while you brew your coffee; it’ll be set to fill the rest of the day and you’re in the kitchen anyway. Five minutes between Zoom meetings? Wipe down the bathroom counter. 

5 – Wipe down glass and mirrors 

Spots and splatters on mirrors and windows tend to make the whole room feel messier. The good news is the reverse is also true! A quick shine-up has a big impact. While it’s not the chore with the least amount of effort required, it’s got a big payoff for the amount of time it takes. 

6 – Keep cleaning supplies where you need them 

Lots of people keep all their supplies in a central location, like the laundry room. If you’re looking to maximize short clean-ups, though, you’re better off storing your products where you use them. Bathroom cleaners in the bathroom, kitchen cleaners in the kitchen. It’s a small change, but it will make you much more likely to spend a couple of minutes on a mess when you notice it instead of letting it sit. 

7 – Clean specific surfaces

Rather than trying to clean a whole room or your whole home, break it down into surfaces and tackle one by one. Narrow your focus to just your desk, just the kitchen counter, just the coffee table, etc. Do as many as you can, but even one a day is a task well done! 

8 – Deal with mail right away 

Prevent paper piles by sorting your mail as soon as you bring it inside. There are really only two categories: recycle and file. This doesn’t mean you have to take action on the “keepers” right away, just have a neat place to put them until you’re ready. A file folder on your desk, maybe? Magazine organizers are also great for this use. It’s smart to sort them into general categories: coupons, catalogs, bills, medical, etc.

 9 – Don’t go to bed with a full sink 

Some people don’t mind waking up with dishes to do, but if you’re looking for a sense of calm, spending the short time it takes to deal with dinner dishes in the evening is worth a lot for the sense of order that follows in the morning. Bonus points if you scrub down the sink after doing the dishes. Even if the rest of your kitchen isn’t sparkling, seeing that clean sink has a big mental effect. 

10 – Go easy on yourself

It’s OK to adjust your standards and decide what little messes you’re going to live with. If it’s not bothering you, what’s the harm? And if something is bothering you, remember that cleaning it up is a way of treating yourself well. In the past, inviting people into your space might’ve been a catalyst for cleaning and feeling proud of your home. Now, getting to enjoy it yourself is the reason to do it. 

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