The other day I was putting away an extension cord. I opened the closet, looked up at the container, which is higher than I can reach, and almost tossed it on the floor and closed the door.
Robert Collier said, “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” Staying organized requires many small efforts.
We're often better at this at work—returning files to file drawers, shredding documents rather than making a pile by the desk, leaving common areas clean after use, etc. We expect public places like grocery stores to abide by a standard of excellence that often exceeds our own at home.
We don’t want to have to search through a pile of canned goods at the store to find the Cream of Chicken Soup. It should be on the soup shelf next to the Cream of Mushroom with a label underneath, right?
It’s not that we WANT to search through piles of random stuff in our own homes but, neither do we want to do that which prevents the piles and keeps things organized. It’s those “small efforts” Collier referenced that have big effects when it comes to keeping clutter to a minimum.
What stopped me from wanting to put away the extension cord? Getting a step stool from the laundry room. How hard is that? Not very. Sometimes the small effort is having the right product in place. Other times, it’s practicing a simple routine.
Here are five Timely Tips to combat clutter.
Timely Tips for Big Effects
Step Stools– This is a simple fix to the “it’s too high to put away” excuse. Purchase a few of the plastic fold-up step stools that can slide into a 2-inch space, like the one pictured above. Strategically place them in or very near closets with high shelving. Slide one between the fridge and cabinet in the kitchen and between the washer and dryer if you have tall cabinets there. You’ll be empowered to make the small effort to put away the high stuff.
Recycling Bins– Are there magazines, newspapers, catalogs, and ads piled around your easy chair? Is the entry table stacked with recyclable mail? Do empty soda cans amass on the kitchen counter? What about your home office desk or bathroom? Do each of these areas have a receptacle for items that need recycling? It doesn’t have to be a big blue bin with the recycle emblem stamped on the side. Choose baskets or containers that looks appropriate for the location and place them wherever you tend to create recyclable materials. Check out how Chas used Dollar Store wall art to decorate her recycle bin: Chas' Crazy Creations.
Remove Stuff From Bags– You already have a routine of taking your groceries out of their bags before putting them in the fridge. Copy that routine for everything else you buy. Whenever you toss a shopping bag of stuff into the pantry, closet, or drawer, you’re likely to forget what’s in it, not be able to find the stuff when you need it, and ultimately create clutter by purchasing more to replace it. Small effort – remove stuff from bags and place it intentionally where it belongs.
Ten-minute Tidy– Take ten minutes before you go to bed to tidy up your living space. You know, the little pile you dumped on a chair when you returned home, a few dishes on the countertop, the popcorn bowl on the coffee table. Done daily, a few minutes of tidying means no major, overwhelming task at the end of the week, month, or year. Truly big effects, for a small effort.
Two-minute Rule–You use the scotch tape in the other room and leave it there. You dump a load of clean laundry on the sofa and walk away. You pull three tops from the closet before deciding which one to wear and leave the others on the corner of the bed. The Two-Minute Rule ends the “leave it here for now” clutter. Simple and to the point: If it takes less than two minutes, DO IT NOW!