Updated: Dec 17, 2020
As a professional organizer, I've walked through a lot of disorganized homes and I've worked alongside many people who struggle with keeping their home decluttered + organized. While there are specific nuances with each home, each family and each person there are three things I see consistently in every disorganized home Neat Little Nest visits.
Too much stuff
The first thing I look for when I walk into a client's home for the first time is to see if there is a volume issue. I can tell this just by looking around. You see, when you have more stuff than your space will allow, even the best systems will be taxed beyond their capabilities and clutter ends up piling up everywhere.
One way to determine for yourself if you have too much stuff is to simply ask yourself (or ask someone who knows you well) if you have more stuff than you can manage. If the answer (the real answer) is yes, then listen to the answer and decide to do something about it. Everyone has a different limit to the amount of things they can manage, so there is no shame in realizing you are past your limit.
When you have more stuff than you can manage, it is time to reduce (aka declutter) to the point where you can manage your stuff with confidence within the parameters of your home's space constraints.
The three main principles we follow when decluttering with our Neat Little Nest clients:
Sort through your items category by category (and subcategory when necessary) rather than room by room.
Focus on what you want to keep vs. what you want to get rid of
Use "joy" and "service" as the filters to determine what you keep
If you're ready to declutter, grab yourself our free downloadable decluttering checklist.
If you want even more details on how to declutter + organize, check out our recent Spring Decluttering + Cleaning blog post.
Lack of clear systems
The second thing I look for when I walk into a client's home is to see if the space is lacking organizational systems. I am able to view a lack of systems just from walking around the space, but I often need to ask additional clarifying questions to really determine if the lack of clear systems is the major challenge.
One insight I'm always searching for in my conversations with new clients is if the items in the space all have a clear "home". If they do not, then it is a tipoff to me that one source of their clutter is likely a lack of a system.
For example, if you have too much paper in the kitchen, there is likely a lack of system for bringing mail into the home. When you have extremely cluttered bathroom cabinets or cluttered pantry shelves, often providing bins and creating clear homes where subcategories of items live organically creates the system.
Remember, systems should be simple enough for you and others in your home to understand and easy to manage so that maintaining them doesn't become a source of stress.
Decluttering + Organizing doesn't need to be intimidating. Setting up a few basic systems provides you and others you share a home with a roadmap to know where your things "home" is.
You're not putting your stuff back
If you've decluttered and created a place for everything and your space is still untidy a majority of the time, then it's likely that you're not putting your things back when you are done using them.
Putting your stuff back truly is the secret to keeping a home tidy. The key to your success in this area is to grow and stretch yourself. If you're a parent and you're not putting your own things back, it is very likely your children might model the same behavior.
Routinely finding homes for items is something that can become a habit and habits are of course learned and rooted in mindfulness (and repetition). I offer it is about slowing down just enough and giving yourself a dedicated time (such as end of day) to put things away. There will be times when you are rushed or overwhelmed and that is where the power of routines can help.
Check out an additional two of my favorite ways to help you keep your home tidy day after day, week after week.
Just like with other areas of your life, when you're trying to make changes in your habits, it takes commitment and time. Decluttering + organizing go hand and hand, and the wonderful news is that you can start whenever the motivation strikes and take small steps to move forward. If any of these areas speak to you about why your home may feel cluttered, pick one to work on over the next few weeks, as progress not perfection is the yardstick by which to measure your decluttering + organizing journey.
Photo credit: Jes Lahay Photography
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