I was recently teaching a class on how to maintain a clutter-free home and in it I presented a list of ideas and techniques. At one point, a woman raised her hand and asked, somewhat skeptically, “How much time do you spend doing this every day?” It was a question I hadn’t really considered before. Most of us want a more organized home, but we don’t want to spend all of our waking hours decluttering, filing, and putting things away. So what is a reasonable amount of time to spend every day? The answer, for you, will depend on a few things:
1. What is the current state of your home? If you do not have any systems in place for storing your things or dealing with new items that enter your home, you will need to spend some time setting them up. Once you implement rules for dealing with your stuff, maintenance becomes much easier and may only require a few minutes a day to keep up. If you need some tips for getting started, check out this post.
2. How long have you been accumulating? If it’s been decades since you purged the storage areas of your home, they will require a commitment of time to get them under control. Don’t get down on yourself for putting it off, but do make a plan to address the clutter. Take a look at your calendar for the next month and block out a few longer sessions (I would recommend 1-2 hours at a time) to spend going through those spaces and making decisions about what to keep and what to toss. Click here for a list of questions that can help you pare down.
3. What are your standards for organization? Some people are annoyed by the smallest things left out of place, while most of us have standards that are a bit more relaxed. Think about your own expectations for your home, but keep in mind they can change. I disagree with broad generalizations like, “I’m not an organized person.” Keeping a tidy home involves a set of skills that anyone can learn. For example, here is a process you can follow for cleaning out your clothes closet.
4. What is realistic given your current situation? I live alone, so any mess or clutter is attributable only to me. If you have a busier household, and especially if you have small kids, expecting your home to be perfectly tidy all the time is probably not realistic. Maybe you are experiencing some health challenges, or you are a caregiver to someone else. Give yourself a break, and do the best you can with the time you have available. Some things are more important than a perfectly organized home.
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