I’ve written about this before, and probably will again, because it is the most beneficial habit I’ve created in my life aside from decluttering what I don’t use when it comes to keeping my home clean. Following this one rule has not only cut my daily cleaning time down to an average of 30 minutes of maintenance, but keeps my home pretty much spotless and free of clutter all the time.
What is this miracle rule? Ben Franklin summed it up nicely when he said, “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” I’m going to add the phrase as soon as you are done using it on to the end of that quote.
Creating this one habit and following it as a rule religiously in our home has put an end to the seemingly endless ‘pick up’ that occurs throughout the day during the process of normal living. It seems inevitable that mail, keys and purses will get placed on the table or counter tops, kid’s backpacks will be thrown on the floor as soon as they walk in from school, shoes that you are just going to wear again tomorrow end up strewn on the floor in the closet. Yes, this may occur still at very busy times, however, if you create the habit that you put items back in their designated place as soon as you are done using them, after a while, you won’t even think about tossing them wherever there is a free surface available.
Benefits of following this rule…starting now~
Easily identify what items in your home have a designated spot, or need one. If you don’t have enough space for the item to have it’s own area, rethink about whether you really need it to begin with.
Less clutter to pick up or step over on the floor. Imagine what it would be like to never have to step over kid’s toys, book bags, or shoes strewn all over the floors in random places throughout the house. Not to mention it is dangerous to have things lying about to trip over!
More room on your counter, table or desk to actually work. Whether you are trying to fix dinner, get some paperwork done or help the kids with homework at the table, it can be really difficult if there is mail, keys, wallets or more all over the place.
Less visual clutter. If you put items away in their designated spots, you eliminate a lot of visual clutter and extra chatter in your brain that tells you things constantly like, “remember you put your keys on the bookcase” or “that stack of junk mail needs to be thrown out” or “Suzy’s permission slip needs to be signed and put back in her folder”. Taking care of things immediately gives your brain a break.
Your home is cleaner. When you have fewer items around the house, it automatically looks cleaner, and truly is cleaner. Dust won’t collect behind items thrown here and there, and clutter seems to attract clutter, so if a surface is clear, there is a much better chance it will stay that way.
Instituting the ‘everything in its place’ rule in your home can be a bit tricky, especially if it’s not just yourself who is living there. If you are sharing your space with a spouse and/or children, you can still cultivate this habit personally, and encourage everyone else to join in. Below are some tips based on what I’ve done to help myself cultivate this habit.
Creating the Habit
Make sure each item has a designated home. You can’t put something away if there is no ‘away’. This may take some time and initial decluttering effort, but before you can implement this rule, each item in your home needs a designated spot.
Give yourself an extra couple of minutes to complete tasks. This one is a big one for me. I found that one of the main reasons I didn’t put things in their proper spot to begin with was because I was in too much of a hurry to move on to my next task. Adding an extra minute or two will give you the time to slow down and put your clothes in the hamper, make your bed as soon as you get up or wipe the counter down immediately after use.
Put up a temporary reminder in trouble spots. I tend to be a visual person; visible reminders come in handy for me. If you find yourself just tossing things on the nearest surface as you walk in the door, put something intentionally on that surface to remind you to put things away instead of placing them there. Try a vase with some flowers, a basket with books or something large enough that you won’t immediately be able to set your items there. It’s just temporary until you cultivate the habit of putting your things away when you walk through the door.
Pay attention to how much time you spend on ‘pick-up’ cleaning each day. I think you’ll be surprised at how much time you spend returning items to their proper home. I know I was. There’s nothing better as an incentive for change than realizing you are doing needless busy work. I still have to spend some time doing this each day, I have three children after all, but since I have personally started putting my things away after I am done using them, my children are picking up on it as well and getting better with their own belongings.
Following this one rule has made the biggest difference in the cleanliness of my home. When the ‘stuff’ you have is put away, your home stays clean aside from maintenance housework, which really doesn’t take long if you don’t have to pick up a bunch of random items first.
Good luck and let me know what tips and tricks you’ve come up with for keeping your home clean!