I truly believe being productive and organized isn’t something you’re “born” with, but something we can all achieve, even with a busy life, with just some small mindset and lifestyle shifts. I know this because I’ve done it myself. It wasn’t that long ago that I was actually a pretty messy and disorganized person myself.
I’m going to share with you some of my personal tricks I use to help keep my home more organized and clutter free.
Be Realistic With Your Clutter Free Expectations
My first secret to having a clutter free home is that my home isn’t always clutter free. Ohhhh heck no girl. Listen with a two year old and a baby and a business to run and, my home definitely isn’t always clutter free. Areas in my house can get disorganized and messy and they can do so incredibly FAST. I will NEVER stop being amazed at how quickly my kitchen can go from spotless to utter disaster.
Now the reason I share this is because I think sometimes when areas in our home get cluttered and disorganized it makes us overwhelmed and we feel like we’re just not an organized person. BUT the way I’ve learned to look at it is being organized and clutter free is that it doesn’t mean you NEVER have clutter or never get disorganized. When things get messy it just means you’re living life and that happens.
So that’s why my real secret to staying clutter free isn’t that things never get disorganized but instead knowing that even though things get messy and disorganized I can always get it sorted out and in order again. It’s letting go of this impossible standard that I think we get from social media that our homes need to be perfect all the time, and It’s accepting that I can be someone who is organized even when not every little thing in my house is perfectly tidy all the time.
I recently read the book Atomic Habits by James Clear, and one of the most interesting things he said in the book was that in order to adopt a new habit we have to BELIEVE we’re someone who does that habit.
For example, if you want to work out more, you need to believe you’re’ someone who cares about health and fitness. If you want to eat healthier you need to believe you’re the type of person who cares about eating clean. I think the same applies here. If you want to stay clutter free you need to believe you’re someone who is organized and tidy – even if your house isn’t always pinterest perfect.
Decluttering Takes Less Time Than You Think
The next big secret to living clutter free is Realize decluttering can actually be really quick. Another big reason most of us get overwhelmed at the idea of decluttering is we think it has to be this all or nothing thing. We HAVE to organize the whole kitchen. We have to declutter our entire closet. It feels utterly overwhelming and we think we’ll never have time and so we put it off and put it off and put it off. Instead try shifting your decluttering mindset. Instead of making plans to do big declutters less often, do small declutters more often.
(So don’t say I’m going to organize the entire kitchen this month or I’m going to purge my whole closet this weekend!) Give yourself little small attainable goals. Today I’ll organize the junk drawer, tomorrow I’ll declutter under the sink, when I pick up the kid’s playroom I’ll pick 2-3 things to donate.
My best decluttering trick is to tackle small tasks multiple times a week instead of aiming for huge decluttering tasks once a month.
Stop Making Excuses
My next secret is to stop making excuses for why you can’t be organized. Ok, I know, sounds harsh, but hear me out. It’s so easy to come up with excuses on why we can’t get rid of the clutter. Our house is too small, we don’t have any storage, we don’t have the time, our husbands are messy, I’ll get organized when I buy new shelves..etc etc etc. These are all valid issues, but not roadblocks to your success in being more organized.
Listen, my house is less than 1200 square feet and there isn’t a single closet or pantry on the main floor. I have 2 young kids and a husband who, although he really does try and help out, he tends to not be as organized as me
BUT anyways, the point is even with these challenges you can still live less cluttered and more organized. The goal should be Progress not perfection. Sometimes we get caught up thinking being organized needs to be all or nothing and if it’s not pinterest worthy it’s not good. THAT IS SO FALSE. It doesn’t have to be perfect or aesthetically beautiful to be organized. You need to start where you are with what you have.
For example, I’m tackling this cupboard in our sunroom that has become a dumping ground for all sorts of random stuff, mostly our collection Athelic Brewery beers, which is our favorite non alcoholic beer. This cupboard is NOT the ideal place to organize this stuff. It’s not very big, the shelves are awkward depths. A nice built in pantry would be great here, but it’s not what I have. I need to work with what I have and make it serve me the best I can.
Constantly Look To Solve Your Organization Problems
My next secret to living clutter free is to constantly be looking to solve the disorganization problems in your house. Here’s the thing, sometimes we organize a space and it works for us for a little while but eventually it’s no longer serving us the way it’s organized. You want to get into the habit of identifying organizational structures that no longer serve you and fixing them instead of just continuing to use them the way they are. You can always find these places that are serving you as well, because they are the ones that get disorganized the fastest.
Let me give you an example, we have this cupboard in our kitchen. It’s very multi-purpose. It holds everything from tupperwares, mugs, our Nespresso pods, vitamins, and even some of my kid’s art supplies. Like I said, we don’t have any closets so I have to get creative with storage. I had it nice and organized right before I went into labor and had my daughter 8 weeks ago and well..now it looks like this.
Yea…not too pretty.
But I can also look at this cupboard and see that there are some organizational structures that are serving me and some that aren’t. In general the first shelf isn’t too bad. The shelf risers I have here are working well to help me hold my mugs and tupperwares and with just a 3 minute tidy they are back to normal.
Now the next shelf is exploding. I have a bin for my Nespresso pods but it doesn’t hold them all and my vitamins are all overflowing from the bin they belong in. So, this structure isn’t exactly working for me anymore. I need to identify the problem which is 1. My bin isn’t big enough for all my Nespresso pods and 2. I’m not good at putting my daily vitamins back in the bin.
So to solve this I’m tweaking my structure. First, I’m adding another bin for Nespresso pods and I’m separating them by regular and decaf to make finding what I want easier. Since my husband and I tend to drink regular more often and then have decaf in the evening.
Then, I put my vitamins and medicines back in the bin, but this time I left out the ones I take daily. I realized going into the bin every day was causing me to not put anything back. So instead, I’m leaving the ones I need every day out for easy access and the rest are tucked away.
And on the top shelf I’m bringing in another tupperware, these flip top tupperwares are one of my favorites for storage, to help me get my kids art supplies better organized and tidy.
The point is, with just a few very small tweaks and a project that took me less than 20 minutes, I was able to re-organize this cupboard we use multiple times throughout the day, to better serve us.
Let Go Of The Hoarder Mentality
My next trick is to let go of the hoarder mentality. We all have this a little. Even if you’re not a hoarder by any stretch of the imagination. We often end up with more than we need because we like having choices. We think we MIGHT need this, or we want to have it as an option. But in reality this kind of abundance actually weighs us down. This is something I talk about a lot in my closet decluttering post. But the point is we often end up with too many of something simply because we think we might need it and we like having different options. But, do I really need 4 different spatulas? Do I need 3 pairs of black dress shoes? Do I need multiple bread loaf pans when I cook bread maybe once a year? The answer to all of these is, probably not. As you declutter little areas in your home, keep this hoarder mentality in check. Why am I really holding on to this? Is it something I use regularly or am I keeping it “just in case.” How many similar items do I have? Do I really need multiple of this?
Decluttering Is A Constant State
My final trick is a concept I’ve talked about before but it’s just the idea that you should look at being clutter free as being in the constant state of decluttering. Like I said in tip two, it’s not about doing a few big declutters every few months. You really want to get into the habit of constantly decluttering, like something you’re just doing everyday, kind of all the time. As you put away laundry, take anything that you don’t like or doesn’t fit to donate. When you break down a box from an online order you put it right in the recycling or right in your trunk to take to the dump, instead of letting it pile up in your garage. When you are putting away some office supplies you notice if there are any old pens or pads of paper you don’t need anymore. When you’re tidying the bathroom you throw away toiletries you haven’t used in 4-6 months.
I love this concept because while, yes, you’ll still have times you need to sit down and do big declutters of areas that have just gotten totally disorganised, it helps immensely to keep clutter minimal. And, so when you do go to organize and declutter a space you’ll be able to do it 10x quicker. Plus, it really helps you get into the mentality of asking yourself “do I need this” “does this serve me” on a daily basis, which really helps it become more of who you are. It develops being clutter free as a habit, and overtime will make you more prone to staying clutter free.
I just want to circle back around to tip 1. REMEMBER being organized and clutter free doesn’t mean you’re doing every one of these tips perfectly every day. Things will get disorganized. You will have cardboard piled up in your garage or your closet will get untidy. The tips are here to help and guide you. Don’t forget… progress over perfection!