When you look around your house and see piles and messes and a half inch of dust on every flat surface, does it ever make you want to go hide somewhere with a carton of chocolate ice cream and a large spoon? (Not that I know what that’s like…just asking for a friend. *cough, cough*)
Wouldn’t it be nice to have one of those houses that seems to clean itself? You know, the ones you see in magazines and on Instagram, with furniture that’s used for sitting on (instead of stacking on) and sparkling kitchen counters that aren’t covered by six months worth of grocery ads and mail and batteries (please tell me why random batteries always migrate to the kitchen counter!?).
But in the real world, just getting your house to a basic level of kinda-sorta-clean-enough-to-not-be-embarrassing can be downright overwhelming. Especially when everywhere you look there’s one more reminder of the countless ways you’ve dropped the ball (and the laundry, and paperwork, and shopping bags full of junk you never got around to putting away).
And all that stuff that seems to be absolutely everywhere can make you feel rather…stuck.
You don’t have to live with the guilt and chaos!
Even though you may feel like you’re completely stuck with an impossible amount of clutter, you also probably know deep down that you can’t go on living like that. You can’t keep waking up in a house that gives you a knot in your stomach. Seriously, that’s no way to live!
Now, I get that this might not be your first rodeo. I understand that you’ve likely tried a time or two (or ten???) to get your entire house cleaned up and organized, and it just didn’t work.
Maybe you pushed yourself to the brink of sheer exhaustion on a rainy Saturday afternoon, only to have your house go back to its same old rebellious ways just two days later.
Or you wasted your whole vacation trying to get your home whipped into shape once and for all, but you ended up with a bigger mess (and even more guilt and frustration) than when you started.
Or if you’re anything like me, you decided to do a major decluttering next week. Which turned into next month. Then evolved into over summer break. And finally settled into when I have the time to do it right. (Newsflash: That day may never arrive. Ask me how I know.)
There’s an easier way to declutter your house
What if I told you that you didn’t have to give up your vacation, or complete an elaborate plan, or tear apart every inch of your house in order to deal with your clutter and have a clean and peaceful home?
And that even if you have health problems, kids, pets, or a full-time job, you can still clean up your home…and keep it clean.
I know it sounds impossible, but hear me out. (What have you got to lose?)
I’m here to tell you that the “impossible” is actually possible. You just need to know how to get the job done in a way that doesn’t make you want to pull your hair out.
And you don’t even have to turn into a raving-mad clean-freak or suddenly have the energy of a four-year-old hyped up on Mountain Dew and gummy worms to make it happen.
Ready for the super secret magic formula?
Here’s the best way to clean up your house:
- Work on one small area at a time
- Give yourself permission to stop after 15-20 minutes
It sounds too easy, right? Let me show you how (and why) it works…
Why You Should Work Small for Bigger Progress
If you decide that today is THE day to make a dent on your messy living room, so you put away a couple books from the end table (which is still covered in newspapers) and pick up the shoes (where a bunch of jackets are still scattered across the floor), you won’t be able to see that you did anything at all to clean up. And you’ll still do that that guilt-inspired shoulder slump (plus audible sigh) every time you walk into the room.
However, if you spend the same amount of time cleaning off the entire top of the end table, you’ll be able to see exactly what you accomplished and know where to start back up the next time you work on the room. You might even find yourself breaking into a little half-smile every time you walk into the living room and see that clean space you created (*cue happy dance*).
And by choosing just one small space, you’ll be able to maintain your progress more easily once you get it cleaned up. Whereas, if you pick up some random books and shoes, what will keep you from setting down more books or tossing your shoes into the same corner the next time?
Plus, when you give yourself permission to work for just a few minutes at a time, rather than waiting till you have extra time AND excess energy on the same day (’cause when has that ever happened?), you’re more likely to actually get the job done – and feel good about it – before you fizzle out.
Declutter Your House and Keep It Clean
Still have doubts? Not sure how you can make it work in YOUR home?
I get it. After all, you probably don’t have just a little bit of clutter scattered across the living room. Nope. You might have clutter covering every inch of your house (or at least it feels that way).
So what are you supposed to do then?!?
While I truly believe this method works regardless of how cluttered (or not-quite-as-cluttered) your house may be, even a simple system for conquering your clutter can feel pretty overwhelming when you’re standing in the middle of a mess.
That’s exactly why I wrote 31 Days to an Everyday Clean Home. It can help you know just where to start cleaning up your home and how to keep moving forward. This ebook is full of tips and tricks for getting rid of clutter and keeping it gone for good.
But what will REALLY help you are the printable checklists that are included. These lists break down your entire home into small, manageable tasks that you can work on for just a few minutes at a time.
You don’t have to figure it out on your own. You just have to print out a list and get started!
How to Declutter Your House When It’s a Complete Disaster…
Here are some more tips for putting this method into practice in your own home:
Pick someplace small. Really, really small.
When I say to work on “one small area” of your home, I’m not talking about the kitchen, or your master bedroom, or the hall bathroom.
I’m talking about one small stretch of counter in your kitchen, or the top of one piece of furniture in your bedroom, or one square foot of space on the bathroom vanity.
A whole room is just too big to work on at one time. You need to think small…and then go even smaller. Work on an area that you can deal with in just fifteen minutes or less.
Choose an area that will impact you every day.
I like nothing more than cleaning out our family’s coat closet. Because I’m weird.
But if I’m being honest, a clean coat closet doesn’t make much of a difference in the look or feel of most homes.
It would be much better to clean out a kitchen cabinet that’s opened daily, the bathroom where you get ready every morning, or the sofa where you watch TV each night. When you’re getting started on your mountains of clutter (or even “hills” of clutter), pick a space that matters so you can actually see and enjoy your progress every day.
Consider picking an area that will get your family on board.
There’s no guarantee that your family will light sparklers and throw a party just because you decide to clean something. (So don’t hold your breath.)
But they’re much more likely to notice your efforts, and maybe try to help out a little, if you work on a small project that will make life a bit easier for everyone.
Straightening the snack shelf in the pantry, your husband’s sock drawer in your bedroom, or the game cabinet in the living room, just might help your loved ones see that you’re serious about getting the house in order…and that there might be something good in it for them.
(A little warning though: Don’t get upset if your family doesn’t automatically offer to help or even seem to care. Keep making progress and find joy in creating a peaceful home you ALL can enjoy – including you!)
Work on your one small space until it’s completely clean.
Beware of getting sidetracked by other cleaning jobs that “need” done while you’re in the middle of tackling your small, designated task.
Picture this, for example: You’re cleaning off the table and go to put away the scissors in the kitchen drawer, but you realize that the drawer REALLY needs to be cleaned out first. If wham-bam-no-thank-you-ma’am you stop cleaning off the table in the middle of the job (just because the junk drawer needs cleaned first), you’ll end the day with the same old messy table and the sinking feeling that you’re never going to get it cleaned up.
Resist, I tell you. Resist.
Keep reminding yourself to work on just one thing at a time. Remember that randomly picking up doesn’t show the progress you’ve made or give you much motivation to keep going. Instead, work on your one small area until it’s absolutely, positively clean. (Don’t worry, the junk drawer will be waiting for you another day.)
Focus on what you DO accomplish instead of feeling guilty about what you DON’T get done.
Your house didn’t get messy in a day, and it won’t be cleaned up in a day, either. That’s just how the world works.
Now, I know that on TV they’re able to magically clean up a disastrous house in the span of twenty-three minutes (plus commercials). But the potential for to you clean up your entire house over the course of a day – or even a long weekend – is about as likely as me finding a perfect wall of shiplap hiding under my builder-grade drywall. Not gonna happen.
Let’s just face it that “reality TV” isn’t really reality. Am I right?
Instead of lamenting that you can’t get more cleaned up in a day, it’s important to celebrate every little success. Enjoy it. Show it off. Be proud of it, and use it as motivation to keep on chipping away.
Commit to keeping your small, newly-cleaned space clean.
One of the beauties of cleaning up one little area at a time is that you can easily see if clutter is starting to pile back up in that small space.
So, if you clean up the end table, you’ll see that lovely clean spot every time you walk into the room, and you’ll quickly notice if something has been left there that needs put away. Once you have some noticeably clean spaces (no matter how small they may be), it will be much easier to keep those tidy areas clean.
It’s so much easier to keep up with the progress you’ve made when you can actually see it!
There’s no reason to procrastinate!
I believe that you (yes, YOU!) really can have a comfortable and clutter-free home, without having to work all day to keep it clean. By working for just a few minutes a day and cleaning up one small area at a time, you can make it happen!
And if you’d like some help breaking down all that cleaning and decluttering into bite-sized tasks, be sure to check out 31 Days to an Everyday Clean Home, where you’ll get encouragement for decluttering and cleaning every area of your home…and tips for keeping it clean, too.
Plus, the printable checklists pure gold! You’ll know exactly what steps to take to make your clutter-free home a reality. Check it out HERE!