I love the idea of having a clean, minimalist home, especially since we're living in an apartment and are short on space. I have long been convinced that this will never be my reality though because I am so LAZY! I spend all of my time admiring other people's homes on Pinterest and Instagram instead of working to get my home to look that way. Being pregnant and having a toddler definitely doesn't help this problem, and most days I consider it a success if I get one chore done around the house (I know...pathetic!)
This past weekend, I decided I'd had enough and I dove head first into de-cluttering and organizing our space to make cleaning during the week simpler and less of a chore. I got my equally lazy (in the chores department) husband to help out and I was amazed what we accomplished in only a weekend! It's been a week now since the big de-clutter and not only has the house been clean every day, but meals have been made, dishes have been done, laundry has been put away and I have been SO MUCH HAPPIER. Getting rid of everything made a huge difference in the overall feel of our place. We have less dishes so it's less work to clean the kitchen, our closets aren't as full so putting clean laundry away is easier, our extra throw pillows and blankets are gone so making the bed is simpler. We've had all of our windows and doors open this week allowing more natural light and fresh air into our home which does amazing things for our spirits. The list goes on.
YOU GUYS. Anyone can follow these steps and make this their reality! I tailored this post towards people who naturally have a hard time getting motivated to clean (like hubby and I) so that even the least experienced can find success in de-cluttering. Now get up off the couch, turn off Netflix, and let's get going!!
Tips for Staying Motivated:
1. Pick the day in advance: Everyone involved in this process needs to be mentally prepared for the task. Seriously. We decided on a Saturday which is the day that we normally relax and just watch T.V., so we had to gear up for a day of hard work and mentally be in a productive and proactive mood.
2. Start small, then go big, then small again. We started out in the kitchen because our kitchen is tiny and there isn't a lot of stuff in there. We decided what we were going to get rid of, boxed it up, and moved it out of the apartment in probably an hour. This quick turnaround helped us stay motivated and not get overwhelmed right off the bat. The second place we went was the bedroom, which has kind of turned into the room where we store all of the junk we don't want people to see. This room took much longer because there was more to sort through and reorganize, but we already knew we could handle it because we had succeeded in the kitchen, so mentally we were able to push through and finish. After this huge project, we needed a break so we tackled the hutch in our living room which was mostly throwing away old papers and reorganizing a few drawers. This switching back and forth between big and small tasks helped us stay on track and not get exhausted to where we would just give up.
3. Take small breaks throughout the day. When we needed a break, we took one! We'd watch a 20 minute show on Netflix, take Reagan on a walk around the apartment complex, or run to the grocery store for donuts. Setting a time limit on these activities helped us stay on track, but taking the small breaks gave us a chance to rest and be even more motivated when we came back.
Tips for Deciding what to Toss/Keep:
1. Make three piles: Toss, Keep, and Maybe. Some articles I read about de-cluttering suggested making upwards of five or six different piles when trying to decide what to keep and what to toss. For me, that was too many piles to keep track of and honestly I don't even have the space for that. Instead, what worked for us was making a definitely toss pile, a definitely keep pile, and an I'm not sure pile. After we boxed up the toss items and put away the keep items, we went through our maybe piles together and talked each other through whether or not to keep it. This method was especially helpful in our closets because for some reason, clothes are the hardest things for both of us to toss. I've also found that when I explain to someone why I'm keeping an item that it either sounds ridiculous and I only realize it after saying it out loud, or the significance of the item really comes out and I realize how much I want to keep it.
2. Get rid of doubles: Especially in the kitchen! We had six rubber spatulas, four wooden spoons, and measuring cups for days. Keep one of everything and get rid of the rest! I know when I have multiples of an item, I really let the dirty dishes pile up because I can get a clean one out instead of cleaning the dirty one.
3. Toss all the sample/travel sized bottles. I don't know what it is about hotel shampoo and conditioner bottles, but I always grab tons of them while on vacation just to have them clutter up our medicine cabinet for years. Seriously, I never use them. I can't be the only one who does this, throw away all the free samples, travel sized shampoos, and random, expired things hiding in your medicine cabinets.
Tips for Organizing your New Space
1. Move the heavy furniture: Take advantage of this time when you're in the mood to move the big pieces of furniture to better fit your new space. For us, this meant moving our dresser drawers into our closets and moving our bed so it was now centered in the room. We also moved our dining table back into the center of the room after eliminating the boxes and strollers that were shoving it into the corner. Figure out beforehand how you want your rooms to look, so you have even more motivation to get rid of things and finish the tasks at hand--knowing you'll have your dream room at the end of it is an excellent motivator!
2. Accessibility: This is especially important in the kitchen and in the closets. Make sure you have ample space in your kitchen cupboards so putting clean dishes away is an easier task. We donated a box of dinner plates that have been sitting in our cupboard, untouched, for TWO YEARS. Since freeing up all that vertical cupboard space, we've actually started using our dishes
more often (instead of paper plates) and wash and put them away immediately because it isn't a struggle trying to shove one more plate in that tiny cupboard. The same idea goes for closets. We have shelving in our closets where we store t-shirts and workout clothes, but most of the time it's a balancing game seeing if we can’t throw one more shirt onto that unfolded pile way up in the closet. Since eliminating the items I no longer wear, it's so much easier to see what I have, fold up clean clothes, and store them according to how often I'll need to access them. Then when I need a specific shirt, I'm not ruffling through a massive pile of wrinkled clothes, I know exactly what I need and where it is!
3. Go with the flow: Arrange things in a way that makes sense and helps complete your tasks efficiently. In the kitchen, put your cooking utensils somewhere within arm’s reach of the stove, stack cutting boards by the knives and empty counter space, and keep all of your measuring cups/spoons together. Keep your cleaning supplies in a bucket or caddy with a handle and all the sponges, paper towels, and gloves that you need inside. Keep these by the vacuum and broom so you can grab everything at once instead of talking yourself out of a chore once one is finished. In the bathroom, keep your morning routine essentials close to the sink but hidden away so you don't see clutter first thing in the morning. Likewise, move the laundry basket out of the bedroom so dirty laundry isn't what you wake up to everyday. These small changes in where you keep items can make a huge difference!
I cannot reiterate enough how much happier and less stressed I've been this week. Not only has our place been clean but it's taken less energy and stress to keep it that way than ever before. Our bedroom used to be the room that I avoided at all costs because it was constantly piled with junk, but now it's my favorite room, and I love just hanging out in there during the day! As the ultimate lazy girl, cleaning was always something that I dreaded but by simply eliminating the excess in our home, my attitude has shifted from some huge task I have to accomplish to lots of small things I do as a part of my normal routine. I'm planning on repeating this process monthly just to make sure we don't revert back to the place we were before!
Let me know if you have struggled with similar mentalities and how you tackled them, or what tips have helped you live minimally in your home! I love hearing from you!
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