If you’re the sort of person who just seems to create mess wherever they go, then keeping your living space in order may feel like a close-to-impossible task. Many chronically messy people have a hard time imagining how they might muster the time and energy to clean up their living spaces—to say nothing of continuing to keep those spaces clean from day to day. In contrast, you may often find it tempting to just step out of your clothes and leave them on the floor or to put off household chores until the last possible moment.
However, while keeping your home tidy may seem like a huge, laborious undertaking, the truth is that it doesn’t have to be. There are many simple but effective tidying habits you can practice to become neater gradually, rather than pressuring yourself to transform into a hardcore neat freak all at once. Here are four good habits that will make you a neater person:
Don’t Let Your Chores Pile Up
Most people hate cleaning because they’ve let the mess pile up in their spaces over time, and now it all seems like too much trouble to tidy up. If you leave your laundry undone for multiple weeks, for example, you’ll end up with a monstrous pile of dirty clothes that will be a huge hassle to wash. And even if you do manage to get those clothes clean, you’ll also have to fold them and put them away—a task that will take many times the time and effort than it would have if you’d done your laundry earlier, with a smaller load.
Instead of waiting until you absolutely need to do a particular household chore, bite the bullet and tackle it while it’s still manageable. You can apply this mindset to any cleaning task, whether it’s laundry, dusting, dishes, or reorganizing the shelves and cabinets around your house. Once you start attending to these tasks as soon as you need to instead of putting them off, you’ll get them done much faster and more easily.
Getting good appliances and cleaning equipment can also help you resist the urge to procrastinate on chores. Returning to the prior example, you won’t be motivated to do your laundry if you know you’ll be spending long minutes wrestling with a run-down, wonky washing machine. Switching out your old washer for a quality top load washing machine will give you one less excuse to put off doing your laundry.
Set Smaller Cleaning Goals
Once you decide to work on being neater, you shouldn’t feel like you have to tackle your whole house or apartment all at once. Set too ambitious a tidying goal, and you may just find yourself exhausted by the scope of work ahead of you before you even start. Instead, cut yourself some slack by setting smaller goals that are easy to achieve. These goals can involve specific, simple tasks like doing a laundry load each Saturday or washing your car at the end of the month. Once you practice doing these tasks consistently, they’ll eventually become habits, and you’ll be able to set yourself new goals.
Another approach you can take is to tidy up the rooms in your house section by section. If you’d like to put your bedroom in order, for example, set aside a day for organizing your desk, another day for your vanity, another day for your closets, and so on. That way, you won’t be overwhelmed by just how much you have to clean.
Designate a Specific Place for All Your Items
There’s no denying that it just feels easier to drop your keys, handbag, jacket, and other items in a pile wherever you’re standing and pick them up when you need them again. However, making a habit of this will leave your space looking cluttered and messy in the long run. Worse yet, you may have a harder time finding things you need because you weren’t conscientious about where you left them last.
To kick this bad habit, give everything you own a “home,” whether it’s a specific container, a drawer, a bin, or some other place. Then condition yourself to return items to their designated places after you’re done using them—and don’t deviate from this system, no matter what. If you have a clear idea of where your things should be kept, you’ll have an easier time putting them away.
Having too many things to keep track of makes it much harder to keep your home tidy. Limiting what you own to only things you really need, enjoy, or use on a regular basis is a great way to prevent your spaces from getting too cluttered. One easy way to keep yourself from hoarding items is to impose a “one in, one out” rule on yourself. Whenever you buy a new thing, such as a book, a shirt, a coffee mug, or anything else, take the opportunity to get rid of an old thing that you no longer use. Consider selling or donating items that are still in good condition instead of just throwing them out, as they may just be able to benefit their new owners.
As you get used to these habits and incorporate them into your daily life, you’ll find that your space will naturally become tidier and more organized as a result of your efforts. With patience and practice, you’ll be able to enjoy a neater and more comfortable home in no time.