Most of us have been spending more time at home at the moment, and that’s having one of two effects. Either your home is now tidy, repainted, DIY’d to the hilt and has never looked so good, or you’re standing looking at a sea of detritus filling your rooms from wall to wall.
If you’re sharing your space with more family members than usual and you’re all trying to eat, work and live in the same space at the same time, it can be tricky to stay on top of things. You may wake up regularly filled with zeal and determined to get everything under control, only to have it looking exactly the same a few days later. It’s relatively easy to have a big push on getting everything tidied up – the trick, in our experience, is keeping it like that longterm! We’ve put together some tips and tricks that will help you get organised and stay like that.
Be realistic. If you have four children under five and a houseful of rescue animals, it’s unlikely your house is every going to look like a show home. Grab a pen and paper and take a walk round the house, and decide which are the bits that really annoy you. For example, if you can’t bear an untidy hallway as that’s the gateway to the rest of the house, then focus a little more attention on that area. Put up pegs for coats, add a shoe storage rack and introduce a hall table with pretty storage bowls on it for holding car keys and pocket clutter.
Get everyone involved. You may sometimes feel like you’re King Canute trying to turn back the tide, as you’re the only person trying to make an impact on the clutter. Decide what’s non negotiable and what doesn’t matter as much – for example, communal areas to be left clean and tidy.
Change your habits. It’s easy for clutter to build up until tackling it feels like a huge job. Make sure that each room has strategic storage options such as bowls, shelves, storage stools or cupboards, and then train yourself to put each object away as you’ve finished with it. Once you’ve finished reading a magazine, decide whether or not you’re likely to ever need to refer to it again and if not, put it aside to give to a friend. Taking a few seconds to make a decision each time is much quicker than tackling years’ worth of old magazines and papers, most of which will no longer be relevant to anyone.
Create an ‘odds and ends’ box. Most of us have various small items on surfaces around the house that we’re so used to we don’t even notice any more, such as a desk overflowing with pens or a kitchen worktop covered with non-kitchen detritus. Get a large, sturdy cardboard box, and put everything that doesn’t have a regular home into it. If you end up going back to the box for something, then that something deserves to be found a proper home somewhere else. Anything that stays in the box for weeks probably isn’t serving any purpose and can be disposed of or given to charity.
Be organised about new purchases. If you buy anything new for your home, try and think beforehand where it will go and how you’ll reorganise to fit it in. If you buy new clothes, try then on as soon as you can and set aside anything you don’t want to keep for immediate return. If you buy (for example) a new black polo neck shirt to replace an old one, take the old one out of the wardrobe and put it either in the charity box or the bin immediately.
Our final tip is: don’t aim for perfection! Most of us have busy lives and shouldn’t be aiming to run our houses like museums – they’re for living in, after all. The aim is to find an attainable routine that works for you and leaves you with a result that you’re happy with on a daily basis.0