Feeling like your home is out of control? Here’s what you can do when your home’s a mess.
It’s happened again. You look around your house and … whoa. You feel tense just at the sight of the mess. If surfaces happen to be cleaned, you know what’s hiding behind closet doors and in drawers.
If someone knocked on your door and asked for a specific item – or worse yet, a document or piece of mail – you know it would take you a really long to find it, if you even knew where to begin looking.
In the stuff battle, your home is the battleground and you’re losing.
Why so messy?
If you’re feeling choked out by the mess that is your home, you need to realize you may not be completely at fault:
- Other people living in your home might not clean up after their own messes, making it impossible for you to keep up with the chaos.
- A major change to your life – a move, an accident, the death of a loved one, an illness – might have taken all your time, energy, and attention.
- If you or a family member are involved in something with an unusually large time commitment, you might simply never be at home.
- As the busyness of life happens and you’re dealing with a full-time job or raising young children, you simply may not have time or energy to dig into a huge cleaning project at the end of the day.
Making a Change
Even if your huge mess is explainable, you can’t keep living this way. Technically you could, but it will rob you of peace and weigh you down with a mental burden.
So your house is a mess. And you know you don’t want to keep living with that mess. The big question is this: what do you do? What can you do when your home’s a mess?
My solution isn’t quick. And it’s not effortless. Like exercise or healthy eating, if there’s no pain, there’s no gain. You do need to do some sort of work around your home to get things manageable again.
The good news, though, is that it’s not impossible. In fact, it’s even simple. But it will take time and consistent effort.
The rollercoaster ride of a clean home
My own homemaking is a bit like a rollercoaster ride – throughout the years there have been all sorts of ups and downs. As much as I might like a super boring, flat sort of ride where everything in my home stays the same every single day, every single season, that just doesn’t happen.
I’m sure you can relate with a recent example: Christmas.
Before Christmas day, everything in my home looked great. Decorations made my home look cozy and festive, all the presents finally were wrapped and arranged under my family’s Christmas tree.
And then Christmas morning hit. My kids appreciated the wrapped gifts for about 7.5 seconds flat, then ripped everything open, and started playing with their new gifts.
The aftermath wasn’t pretty. Packaging was strewn all across the floor. Wrapping paper and bows and gift bags were scattered everywhere. And when I finally did clean up the paper mess by mid-morning, all the new gifts could be found in random places all around our living room and dining room days later.
What had once been a beautiful holiday sight now turned to rubble – and stayed that way. For several days as we came and went to different parties, we’d come home and look at the mess of new gifts – and do absolutely nothing about them.
The high of my clean holiday home plummeted to a low. And the only way to dig out of that pit was to spend time doing the hard work of cleaning up.
Getting Things Under Control
The highs and lows of my homemaking come with regularity – January almost always is spent as a month getting things back under control. In fact, during some years, I even take the time to work on a quarterly deep clean and organization session. When I have the time to attempt that, it takes about one week every three months to make sure everything’s straightened up again.
But when I can’t commit to a quarterly clean, it takes a lot more time and effort to get my house under control again. Instead of dreading this fact, I’ve learned to accept it as part of life, knowing that the end result will be amazing and so much worth my work.
Just in case you feel like you’re over your head and drowning in the mess that is your home, I’d like to help you out with an easy-to-follow technique that will help you get things in your home under control. (I’ve used this method in my own home for years, and made adjustments after reading Emilie Barnes and Sheri Torelli’s book, More Hours in My Day: Proven Ways to Organize Your Home, Your Family, and Yourself.)
If your home is a huge mess, this may take a while – but with just 15 minutes of work every day, things will improve. I promise.
The 5-Step Process to Tackling Your Messy Home
1. First, you’ll need to commit to spending 15 minutes on your home five to six days a week. Look at your schedule and figure out when you’d like your days of rest to be – and when you can devote a chunk of time to your home.
2. Next, nail down exactly when you’ll spend that 15 minutes. Once you know when you can spend the time, make an appointment with yourself. If you prefer digital reminders, set an alarm on your smart phone. If you’re a paper planner sort of gal, write it down.
3. Once you know when you’ll do your work, the next step is figuring out exactly where you’ll start. You’re going to methodically work around your home, so pick one room. You might want to pick your messiest room so you’ll notice a huge difference. Or, if working through that disaster seems too overwhelming, choose your neatest room.
4. After you’ve chosen your room, you’ll spend your scheduled 15-minute cleaning appointment cleaning just one small area of the room. You might start with a single bookshelf. Or one drawer. Keep your work to just one small area, and plan to work through decluttering and organizing that one small area for just 10 minutes.
As you’re working on that one small space, it’s a great idea to set a timer for this cleaning time, so you’re working against the clock and so your cleaning time doesn’t stretch longer than you’d like.
5. Once your 10 minutes is up, spend the last 5 minutes putting everything away and making sure that small space is all cleaned up.
And that’s it.
Small Steps Make a Huge Change
You’ll repeat the process one small space after another, day after day, five to six days a week. While you may not feel like you’re accomplishing much at first, just look at what you’ll accomplish by the end of a week!
For a minute, I’d like you to think of your refrigerator. If you open your refrigerator door right now, you might notice that everything’s a disorganized mess but you know you don’t have time to devote to getting all of it under control. By working on that refrigerator shelf by shelf throughout a week, it will be clean – but you won’t feel overwhelmed by the process.
By breaking the enormity of your home into small, doable cleaning projects, you’ll be able to get your home under control space by space, room by room.
And, depending on how large or messy your home is, it might take you a month – or a few months – to get everything under control. The fantastic news, though, is that it will be under control – and that you’ll have worked through the entire process just 15 minutes a day.
If you’re planning to start cleaning your messy home, what room will you start cleaning first? When do you plan on scheduling your 15 minutes of cleaning each day?
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All images courtesy of Deposit Photos and Kaboompics.