How much time do you spend cleaning house on a weekly basis? Do you share my dream that you could snap your fingers and the house would be perfectly clean and tidy? For most of us, cleaning house is one of those necessary evils. A clean house is essential to keep our homes safe and healthy. According to the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) getting rid of clutter eliminates 40% of housework. So it would make sense that if you want to reduce the amount of time you spend cleaning, you should reduce the amount of clutter in your house. It’s important to distinguish between cleaning and de-cluttering. To clean is to remove the dirt, grime and germs. To de-clutter is to remove the items that are no longer used or simply to return items to their designated ‘homes’. Below are 10 tips to reduce the amount of time you spend cleaning house.
1) The less you have, the quicker cleaning will be. Keep only the things that you love.
2) De-clutter daily. Have all family members pitch in. Set a timer for 10 minutes. Or create a basket for each family member for their “clutter” that must me returned to its home before watching TV or eating a snack.
3) Delegate household cleaning tasks. Kids can make their beds, empty trash, load and unload dishwasher, vacuum and dust their bedroom and clean their bathroom.
4) Keep cleaning supplies under each bathroom sink for easy access.
5) Use multi-use/all purpose products. Fewer products to purchase and store.
6) Listen to music, a podcast or talk on the phone to pass time while cleaning.
7) Clean the house on the same day each week. Establish the same routine with kids cleaning their room. Maybe Saturday mornings work for your family.
8) Host a book club or dinner club. Having people over regularly is great motivation to get your house in order.
9) Be comfortable while cleaning. Dress in comfy washable clothing.
10) Let go of perfection. Settle for “Good Enough”.
What time-saving tips do you have to keep your home clean? Please comment below.
I hear this a lot from clients. It’s hard to donate or sell things that we paid a lot for. But is it really worth that much now? It may be very valuable to you and hold some sentimental value, but the real value is most likely not as much as we think. I don’t force anyone to get rid of anything but sometimes it’s clear that the “abundance of stuff” is causing stress. Ask yourself these questions to determine whether you should keep or pass on certain things.
If I keep it, does it have a home?
Is the space it takes up worth it?
Do I love and honor this item?
Is it easily replaceable?
Will a new product be more efficient?
Do I know the true value of the item? Will it go up or down in value?
What’s the worst thing that can happen if I get rid of it?
Have I used/worn/viewed this within the last year?
Does it hold some special family sentimental value?
If I’m saving this to pass down to future generations, will they honor it? Or will they just be guilted into accepting it?
Options for creating more space by removing things things that no longer fit into your life include selling on Ebay, Craig’s List, local online and newspaper classifieds, garage sales, consignment stores, or simply donate and use as a tax deduction. Remember that other people will get more satisfaction from the items than you will.
If you’re having trouble with over-flowing clutter in your house, then maybe you haven’t adequately defined the function of your rooms. Every room, closet, nook and cranny of your home needs to have a well-defined purpose. When I go to a client’s house for the first time, I ask what the room is currently being used for. Then I ask what they WANT and NEED the room to be used for. My job is to get the room from it’s current state to the clients desired vision. As I’ve mentioned before, everything needs a home. But do you have well defined “homes” set up?
Often, the rooms in our homes are multi-functional. For example, a kitchen’s purpose is for food preparation but may also be used for eating, homework, socializing and mail sorting. Kid’s bedrooms are for sleeping but may also serve as a play area or study area depending on the age of the child.
The guest bedroom tends to be our “catch-all” space. Stress sets in when house guests are expected and the bed and floor are taken over with clutter. Define the purposes of this room and set it up accordingly. Ask yourself if you need this room to serve as storage. If so, then create desirable storage solutions.
Another consideration is under-utilizing a space. We don’t use the room for it’s intended purpose such as formal dining rooms and living areas. This isn’t a problem if there’s enough space in the rest of the house. If not, consider breaking away from the traditional use of the room and converting it to serve a different function such as a home office or a play room if you have small children.
Ask yourself these questions: What do I want this room used for? What activities do I want/need to take place in this room/ area? It’s important to assign the purposes to a room. Keep this vision and don’t allow the defined areas become over-taken by clutter that belongs elsewhere.
If you walk by a typical teenager’s room, you’re lucky if you can see the floor. It may be covered with clothes, books, backpacks and electronics. The goal of organizing your teen’s room is having a “home” for all of their belongings. It’s very important to involve your teen in this process. LIsten to them and get their input. Ask them how they best study. If space allows, create different areas for the various functions such as studying, reading, sleeping. Consider the 5 tips below to help in the process of organizing your teen’s room.
1) Designate a charging station for cell phones, Ipods, etc.
2) Set up a desk top file for school papers that need to be kept for year-end exams and paperwork for extra-curricular activities they’re involved in.
3) Designate a study area with a clear work space and school supplies.
4) Sort clothing by like items, teach kids how to hang properly. Use baskets and organizing containers for flip flops, hats/caps.
5) Encourage teens to keep a calendar/planner whether on paper or on their phone.
Getting your teen’s room organized may be relatively easy. Keeping it organized is the tricky part. Make a checklist of tasks your child needs to complete daily and weekly to maintain their organizing systems. Most importantly, articulate the advantages of being organized and be a role model for them by respecting your space and belongings.
With summer here and kids out of school, it’s a great time to get the kids' rooms organized. This is an opportunity to teach your kids a necessary life skill of organizing! The extra time this summer will allow for new habits to be developed and in place before life gets crazy again in the fall. I’ll divide this blog topic into two parts. This week, the focus will be organizing strategies for younger kids. Next week, I will discuss keeping teens and pre-teens organized.
-Rotate toys rather than have them all out.
-Use containers that are easy for the kids to use, clear and easy-off lids.
-Little toys fall to the bottom of a large bins or toy boxes so put little items in small containers or in over-the-door shoe organizers with clear pockets.
-Label containers, drawers and shelves using words and pictures of the items that belong there so even pre-readers will be able to put away belongings.
-Place in season clothing within the child’s reach. Store out of season clothing on higher closet rods or shelves.
-Use boxes or small bins for underwear/socks whether you keep these in the dresser or on a shelf in the closet.
-Hang outfits together on the same hanger or sort by pants, shirts, dress clothes, etc.
-Laminate a checklist with responsibilities, eg-make bed, brush teeth, put dirty clothes in hamper, hang up towel. Create separate lists for morning, bedtime and “Clean your room”.
-Keepsake box-Each child needs a box to store their keepsakes. When the box begins to get full, it’s time to weed out to make room for more. Scan artwork and make into photo books. An under- the- bed storage box is great for this.
-Maintenance - Have kids pick up their toys and clothing each night before bed. Each weekend, have your kids do a more thorough clean-up. This task is much easier if they have something to look forward to after the clean-up is complete.
Remember that we must be good role models. Show your kids exactly what you mean when you ask them to clean their room. By teaching our kids to keep their belongings organized, we are also teaching them to value and respect their surroundings and their things.
Now that you’ve DESIGNATED a home for every item in your house, DIVIDED your stuff into like categories, and DONATED the rest, now what? How do you keep it like this? Maintaining your newly organized area can be the most difficult part of the process. It’s like going on a diet, exercising to reach your desired weight. But if you don’t change your eating and exercise habits after you’ve reached your goal, you’ll put the weight back on. It’s an on-going process that requires changes in your daily living. Some simple maintenance techniques will help your new organizing systems stay ORGANIZED.
1) Subtract before you add - Each time you add to your wardrobe, remove an article of clothing that hasn’t been worn recently and put into the donate bag. Keep a shopping bag in your closet specifically for this purpose.
2) 10 minute tidy- Set a timer for 10 minutes and “tidy” an area of your house. Better yet, have each family member get involved.
3) Pretend you work in a restaurant- Have you noticed that restaurant waitstaff are always bringing things things to your table and then taking something else away? As you travel from room to room, don’t go empty-handed. Deliver things that belong in another area of the house.
4) Tie a new habit to an established one - You’re in the habit of reading the newspaper on Sunday afternoon? Establish a new habit of planning the upcoming week - meals, carpools, etc. after you’ve finished reading the paper.
5) Schedule around holidays - this is good for those tasks that need to be done once a year like cleaning out the file cabinet or organizing photos. An example, associate Labor Day with organizing those photos from summer vacation.
6) Visualize where a new item will go before you purchase it. Will it have a home or is the space already too full? Do you really have space in your kitchen for the ice cream maker that’s so tempting to buy?
7) Select a container/basket for each family member. As you find micellaneous items around the house, drop into the appropriate basket - and have them return THEIR stuff to it’s home.
8) Accountability - Consult with a Professional Organizer to help with a maintenance plan. Just knowing that someone will be holding you accountable may be motivation to keep your organizing system in place and in the meantime, you will have established the new habit.