If you were to ask my mom what my room was like when I was younger, she would laugh and describe a pathless floor covered in clothes and crafty things abound.
I can’t tell you how many times I was threatened with a garbage bag: “Faith Holly (note the middle name usage), if you don’t clean your room right now, I’m going in there with a garbage bag and you’ll never see that stuff again.”
Now, you would think that would be an effective threat to a kid with a love for the mounds of stuff that I constantly drowned myself in, but here I sit knowing that I never took it to heart.
Being an “adult” changes you
It wasn’t until I was around 19 or 20 that I finally started to realize that my habits were basically unacceptable.
I tried many different ways to “organize” all the stuff that I accumulated, tried to find the newest and easiest ways to put everything in its place to facilitate a clutter-free and tidy life. But, it wasn’t until I had my own apartment, a place all to myself, that I started to implement what I had learned book after blog post after YouTube video about organization.
It was time to live in a sanitary and humanly habitable environment.
Home sweet homes
One of the most important things that I have learned was to create is “homes” for things. I don’t mean cute little tiny houses where things live like little nymph fairies. I mean places where things live: the place where stuff goes every time.
Clean up is a cinch
If you’re running through your living room trying to put everything away that has amazingly exploded all over the place, it is going to take you way longer to stuff stuff away in a jiffy if you don’t have an assigned place for things.
Now, imagine that all your throws go into the storage ottoman, the extra coasters go in the drawer of the end table, your nail stuff goes in the cabinet above that, and the tote of crafty supplies goes in the third shelf on the right hand side of your utility closet. Well, by golly, that sure does sound like a quick clean up!
Everybody all together now: LESS! CLUTTER!
That’s right, assigning homes for your belongings is also going to knock down your clutter! Don’t have a space for it? Well, you may actually have too much stuff.
As I embarked onward into the world of living with less, it became so much more apparent that it wasn’t that I didn’t have the organizational skills to keep everything organized. I was an organization master. What I did realize is that my inability to create homes for all my things was due to everything just being over-crowded! Mooove….explicit word….get out the way!!
Right now, I could list off everything that I have under my bathroom sink without so much as a hard “hmmmmmm”, because I know exactly what is in there and the home that I have created for it. As I decreased my belongings it became easier and easier to create homes for things and it has significantly decreased decision fatigue trying to remember where things are and where they go.
The Danger “Zones”
Just a Top Gun reference. There is no real danger here… Unless you think that being ultra organized is playing with danger. 😉
Like “Homes”, you should also have “Zones”. (Still thinking about that poetry gig.) These cool little buggers are what keep all the things that are the same in one spot that makes sense.
All the office supply stuff? In the desk drawers or all in the same tote in the closet where it’s easy to get to. Nail stuff? Where do you do your nails? In the living room! Well, then all the nail stuff goes in one spot in the end table in the living room. Hair stuff? All under the sink in the bathroom. You don’t keep a spatula in the bathroom, why keep your extra craft supplies under the bed in the bedroom? You scrapbooking in your bunny nightie? It just doesn’t make sense.
Make things easy to take out and, more importantly, put away
By having zones for things, it makes it easier to take things out and put them away. Basically:
Keep your stuff where you use it.
When I am fancying the thought of giving myself a manicure (which has been much less lately now that I have given up on the dream of long, pretty nails) I just plop down on the floor in my living room and open the end table cabinet. VWAHLAH. All my nail stuff is right there for me to veg in front of the TV to file, shape, and gloss away!
You can avoid the running around “like a chicken with your head cut off” for things
For instance, as I’m getting ready in the morning, I have my clothes and my jewelry all in one spot in my bedroom, because that all happens at one time and in one place, on purpose. Now, it’d be way harder to get ready if I had some of my clothes in a different room, some jewelry in the bathroom, and the rest in my bedroom where I’m getting ready in the first place. WHERE IS MY BELT?! (I know that I am over exaggerating… but you get the point.) With everything all in one spot, it’s so much easier to do it all, have it all, and make the big ones.
If I was crafting or doing homework or reading or eating or anything that a kid under 16 was doing, there was a trail of turmoil left in my wake. Beads, markers, paper, notebooks, scissors, bowls, books, silverware, there was no exception to my habitual path of destruction. Faith Trails is the affectionate name for the trails of stuff that I used to leave behind when I was younger.
I’ve obviously come a long way…
Get in the habit
But, as I said, being an adult changes you.
One of the hardest things that I have ever had to do to get to where I am now is just this: I had to get in the habit of cleaning up after myself.
Yes, yes, I know, this is a “Duh, Faith, take your bowl to the sink when you’re done.” Well, after finally being formally diagnosed with ADHD (how I write is starting to make more sense now, huh?) I figured out how to draw my attention back to where it needed to be and that was on what I was doing just two minutes ago. That thing that I still needed to clean up after.
When you get in the habit of cleaning up after yourself right away, you realize that you actually have to clean up less at a time because, guess what, everything is already in its place and put away! The dishes from dinner? Rinsed and in the dishwasher. Your crafting stuff after striking upon a moment of creative wonder? Back in the closet in the center of the second shelf where it belongs. It’s already done.
Breathe in the fresh clean, clutter-free air
I love, let me said it again, love going to sleep and waking up to a spic and span apartment. There is nothing like getting ready for the day not dreading cleaning up your dishes from the night before, not having to stare at the carnage left behind from a wild night of pedicure fun, or looking down onto a floor covered in clothes from your latest minimalist wardrobe creative closet runway show… (When you have less clothes, you get to have more fun being creative with your outfits!)
I always leave my apartment clean for when I come home from a long day at work so that I can take a deep breath when I walk in the door. Walking into my apartment is always a joy. Someone wants to come over? Already clean for company! About to leave for vacation? Already clean for the cat sitter! (And by cat sitter, I mean my awesome, neighbor best friend…)
The Great Transformation
So, here I am! From Total Slob to Clutter-Free Queen. It’s been a long time coming, but I have seen the other side and it is good. (Any Beevis and Butthead fans out there?)
These are just some of my own tips and tricks for keeping my place “boyfriend’s parents are coming over” ready at all times.
What do you do to maintain order in your home? How do you keep the clutter at bay? Share with me in the comments. 🙂