In years past, keeping a clean, organized home might’ve been tough enough. During a pandemic, with everyone doing everything at home, it can feel impossible—or downright laughable.
Maybe you’re too stressed to tackle household tasks. Or you live alone and aren’t in the mood to pick up, says Sara S. Skillen, an organizer coach, professional organizer, and author of the book, “Organizing and Big Scary Goals.”
Or perhaps it’s other factors: A lack of childcare, health condition, demanding job, or mental health issues, says K.C. Davis, LPC, a therapist and author of the book, “How to Keep House While Drowning.”
Even though it seems like multiple obstacles stand in your way, you can still create a space you want to live, work, and relax in.
To create a home that feels comfortable, calming, and safe, start by adjusting your mindset and taking a strategic approach with these five tips.
1. Swap clean for function.
Our thoughts about our homes can become stumbling blocks. For example, you hold sky-high standards. Or you see house-related tasks as pointless (“It’ll just get dirty again.”). Or you feel so overwhelmed by your home that you do nothing.
Instead of striving for a clean, tidy space, focus on having a functional one, says Davis. “We don’t exist to serve our space; our space exists to serve us.”
Consequently, think about what simple systems will support and streamline your (and your family’s) daily life. This could be anything from having a hook by the door for your keys to keeping kitchen counters clean for cooking.
2. Reframe helpful household tasks.
If you’re busy, tired, or stressed out, you’re less likely to do them. Remind yourself that your surroundings can support your goals, says Skillen. For example, organizing paperwork helps you work efficiently. Cleaning out your fridge prevents wasting healthy produce.
3. Simplify decluttering.
Having less stuff makes it easier to keep a functional space, but of course, getting rid of things isn’t that easy. Skillen suggests these tips:
- Once a week, go through your home with a trash or recycling bag, tossing any junk mail, old receipts, or broken items. Pick out one or two items from your closet or dresser to donate that you no longer wear or use. According to some estimates, says Skillen, we don’t wear 50 to 80 percent of the clothes inside our closets.
- When figuring out whether to keep an item, ask yourself: “Does this _____ make me more successful at who I am (or want to be)?”
4. Be strategic with messy spaces.
When dealing with a messy room, it’s natural to become overwhelmed and procrastinate. But remember that there are only five things in that room, says Davis: trash, dishes, laundry, things that have a place, and things that don’t have a place.
Seeing a space in this way gives you a clear-cut cleaning process to follow: Start by tossing anything that’s trash. Put dishes in the sink. Put dirty clothes in the laundry. Put away other items that have a place. For items without a place, “decide what you can do without and find homes for the things you want to keep,” says Davis.
5. Make it easy and enjoyable.
While deep cleaning is important, tasks that take one minute (or less) still add up—and require little effort. In her book “The Declutter Challenge,” professional organizer Cassandra Aarssen suggests making a list of these fast tasks so you know exactly what to do. Your list might include wiping down the kitchen counter, putting away your shoes, or hanging up your coat.
Moreover, make cleaning (somewhat) enjoyable by pairing it with something you enjoy, such as listening to an audiobook or playing your favorite music, writes Aarssen.
At a time when you need a soothing, multifunctional space the most, set yourself up for success by taking small steps—and extending some grace.