Recently I’ve been thinking quite a lot about organisation and clutter in my home. Specifically the impact it has upon my happiness and stress level. As humans we have a tendency to self-organise. However I must admit, I have a tendency to procrastinate as well as a propensity to be sentimental about objects. As a result, my home has lots of things scattered/piled about. Nothing outrageous enough to make a television show about but I definitely have way too much stuff. That coupled with a handsome husband and darling daughter (who is all of one year old) my house has reached the point where I am motivated enough to do something about it.
Since the ‘problem’ is not a new one, I have done a stack of reading on how to keep a tidy home, home organisation, speed cleaning and such. It is very easy to lose hours in Pinterest! I’ve cherry picked a few ideas (it’s how I roll you may prefer to stick to hard and fast rules. Here’s the ones that I find work for me.
If I have learnt anything in the last five years of studying it’s that large tasks – such as a thesis or house organisation need to be broken up into manageable sized chunks. This makes the task more clear and seem achievable while capitalising on the the motivation achieved by completing smaller tasks along the way! It reduces my stress as my never-ending “To Do List” gets smaller. This week I tackled the hutch (display cabinet with in my living room). The hutch tends to be a transitional home, home to things that need to go in the shed, paperwork, christmas and birthday cards etc. This week I relocated the items appropriately. So presently – hopefully indefinitely – it will only be home to the few decor items and box of tissues allocated to it.
While I am not a “New Years Resolution” kind of person generally, this year after reading a blog titled “200 Things to Throw Away” (find it here) I decided one way to tackle house organisation was to throw away (or donate) 200 items this year. Not necessarily the listed ones, just 200 things. I am down 20 items so far and I can already see a difference! Usually my bedside table is covered in stuff but it has been delightfully devoid lately. As an unexpected bonus, I am far more mindful of items I bring into the house – hello savings!
It’s The Little Things
The couch on the other hand usually has a pile of washing on it… to combat this and other items hanging around like a bad smell I have taken up not leaving a room empty handed. It’s common to flutter around the house as I go about my day, getting breakfast, getting a drink, going to the bathroom, getting dressed – you get the idea. I visit nearly every room in my home MANY times a day. With this in mind, every time I go into a room I either tidy something or take something that doesn’t belong into the appropriate room. Some times it’s easy – when an item is clearly out of place, other times I challenge myself to do something I have been meaning to do but haven’t gotten around to yet. Often it doesn’t take long such as putting away the pens Little Miss One has enjoyed pulling out of the desk drawer. Regardless I feel better for having done it.
It’s Only Two Minutes
The couch-robe has also inspired an uptake of the concept “if it takes two minutes do it now”. I admit I am fairly proficient at procrastination. Things that need mending lay abandoned for lets say a good chunk of time and washing piles up. But repeating the phrase “it only takes two minutes” has helped motivate me to do lots of little things around my home! Folding clean clothes (which seems neverending!), making my bed or emptying the dishwasher. The small things helps make me feel accomplished and motivated for bigger / more tasks. The simple task of making the bed, means every time I go into my bedroom I smile and know at least I have done that today. This is particularly important when your housemate toddles around after you undoing what you’ve tidied!
Everything in its Place
In order to avoid the pile of up things on the hutch – particularly paperwork, I’m dealing with items as they come in. Each item that enters my home will have a place or be dealt with immediately. I find this rather easy with mail, if it’s a bill it goes on my desk and if it’s junk straight to the recycling. However it’s a little more challenging with other larger or less clear items. They usually have to boot something else out of it’s place to find a permanent home.
Two months into the new year and I feel less stressed as the culmination of the little habits is starting to make a big impact upon the clutter!
Weinstein, N. (2014). Human motivation and interpersonal relationships: Theory, research and applications. Springer: United Kingdom. doi: 10.1007/978-94017-8542-6
Haraty, M., McGrener, J., & Tang, C. (2015). How personal task management differs across individuals, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 88,13-37. doi:10.1016/j.ijcs.2015.11.006
Tanaka-Ellis, N. (2010). Factors limiting learners’ success in achieving task outcomes in CALL. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 4(3), 213-233. doi: 10.1080/17501229.2010.513445
Rachel Fredericks is a practising Catholic, a wife and mother of one (two if you count the 2yo puppy). She’s currently studying her Masters of Organisational Psychology as well as bringing up her darling daughter who just turned one! She enjoys good conversation, quality time with family and friends, going to the beach or a run and reading good books.