Is it possible to turn off clutter? What does it even mean? Clutter can be many things. A piece of paper that doesn’t belong on the kitchen counter. An empty box sitting in the corner of your living room for days. Clutter happens every time we don’t put something back where it belongs. Turning it off means staying ahead of it.
And there are ways to stay ahead of it. Clutter doesn’t have to build up over time and take over our homes. With a little effort, we can eliminate visual clutter every single day. It’s as easy as following six simple steps.
#1. Make your bed
This step may not have anything to do with staying ahead of clutter, but it’s a game-changer. Not only does it set your day up for success, but I’ve always found it more calming to look at a made bed. Are my sheets and duvet pulled as tight as possible? No. But I do my best to make it so.
A lot of people with morning routines will often make their bed. It’s part of their routine. Why? Because when your bed is made you’re less inclined to want to pile stuff on it.
Years ago when I never used to make my bed each day, I would throw anything and everything on it. Clothes, bags, towels from showering. When it came time for bed each night, I simply threw the stuff on top of it on the floor only to repeat the cycle the next day.
Now that I make my bed each morning, I don’t want to throw anything on top of it. I’ve also made it a mission to put everything I’m done with for the day away. This leads to our next step.
#2. Put stuff back where it belongs
To turn off clutter you need to do whatever you can to eliminate it in the first place. This begins with the basic step of putting things away when you’re done with them. One of the key components to successful organization is having a home for everything. You know the saying, “A place for everything and everything in its place.”
When I’ve completed my to-do list and made the one for tomorrow, I put my bullet journal away in its home. When I no longer need my cardigan because the day has warmed up, I fold it up and put it away. When I’m done drinking coffee, I rinse my mug out or put it in the dishwasher.
Do you catch the drift?
By putting things away in their home when you’re done with them, you eliminate so much clutter. You also find things faster because you took the time to put them back in their home. Talk about a double bonus.
#3. Follow the 2-minute rule
This step was made famous by David Allen in his book, Getting Things Done. The 2-minute rule is essentially any task that takes less than two minutes to do. Instead of letting these little tasks pile up, get them done as they come up and save yourself time.
Some of these 2-minute tasks can include:
- Switching out the laundry.
- Sorting through the mail.
- Filling or emptying the dishwasher.
- Filing paperwork.
This rule is a great way to turn off clutter. Because by taking care of these tasks as they come up, you’re keeping things from piling up. Clutter isn’t just visual clutter. Clutter can also be task-oriented. Like your to-do list. A cluttered to-do list isn’t going to motivate you to want to get anything done.
The rule encourages you not to scroll through social media for two minutes. It instead encourages you to focus on banging out a quick task. Consider which one will make you feel more productive. So the next time you see your dishwasher is clean and needs to be emptied, don’t tell yourself you’ll do it later. Take care of it now.
#4. Put new purchases away immediately
Be honest: How many packages from Amazon do you get a week? How about a day? How long do you let the package sit unopened on your dining room table? Or in your living room? Chances are if it’s something you don’t need right away, you won’t rush to open it. Or you might open it, check to make sure there’s no damage then leave it in the box for a while.
I’ll admit I used to do this. I’d let packages pile up. The next thing I knew, I’d have a bunch and I wouldn’t even remember what was in them.
So I started implementing a new rule. The minute a package comes in, I open it, find a home for whatever the item is, and break down the packaging to recycle. If the item is a gift for someone, I store it where I keep my gifts for people. If it’s an article of clothing, I hang it up, though I usually wash a new piece of wardrobe before wearing it.
Whatever it is, take care of it right away. Break down the cardboard. Recycle the film plastic bag. Just get it out of the packaging and put it away.
#5. Clean as you go
This step ties in with the 2-minute rule, but it does include a few other tasks. Cleaning as you go is a habitual task. The more you do it, the more it’ll become second nature.
For example, I’ve made it a habit to clean as much of the tools I use when cooking than saving it all for later. While I can’t do this for specific pots and pans, I can at least wash any knives, cutting boards, and measuring cups used. This eliminates the number of dishes for later.
You can do the same thing at your desk. Cleaning as you go will turn off clutter from gathering on your desk. Whether you work from home or are back in the office. Are you done with a certain file for the day? Put it away. No longer need the highlighter for marking up documents? Put it away.
Do the same thing with any products you use in the bathroom on a daily basis. Don’t leave your skincare bottles out and about. Wipe them down after you complete your routine and put them away. Yes, you’ll need them again tomorrow, but by storing them together, you know where they are.
Keeping your surfaces as free of clutter as possible is stress-relieving. We are calmer when we look at clear surfaces than when we look at cluttered ones. So take a few minutes to clean as you go and watch it become a natural habit.
#6. Evening reset
You’ve come to the end of your day. It’s been long and exhausting. All you want to do is sit on the couch and scroll through social media until bed. While that sounds enticing, I want you to take a look around. Do you see any clutter?
If yes, take five to ten minutes and reset your space. A quick evening reset is a great way to turn off clutter so you won’t have to deal with it in the morning.
Even if you followed the 2-minute rule, chances are you left a few stones unturned. That’s ok. We get distracted by more important things like kids and preparing meals. But once the kids are asleep and the dishes are washed, let’s take a walk.
Pop in each room of your house. If you find anything that doesn’t belong, put it where it does. Fold any clothes you find or put them in the hamper. Wipe down your kitchen surfaces. Sort through any mail you didn’t do earlier.
By resetting your space before you go to bed, you’ll feel less stressed. Why? Because you know you won’t have to deal with it tomorrow morning. Going to bed knowing your space is free of clutter is one less thing on your mind.
And don’t worry. You’ll still have plenty of time to relax before bed. If you follow these six steps, your evening reset should take no more than ten minutes.
So those are my six simple steps for staying ahead of clutter. Now I want to know what are some of your secrets for keeping on top of clutter? Do you do any of the tricks I listed above? Let me know in the comments.
And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for daily tips and a peek into my simple and intentional living journey.