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Tidying up - For Untidy People

Keeping my space clean never held much value in my mind for a very long time. However, once you do clean your space the benefits become much more defined. I would not say I am an expert in keeping organized. But, there are a few strategies that I have found helpful in keeping a previously very disorganized house into a much cleaner one.

Organize, do not clean

For many many years my family would have the once-a-year spring cleaning. I always dreaded it and it would take many hours of cleaning up until our house looked amazing. The problem was, there weren't any organizational solutions. Things didn’t have a space they belonged and so although the house looked clean, open any cabinet or drawer and you would think otherwise. Due to this, all the hard work would fall apart in a matter of days.

There are several ways you can go about doing this. The most important principle is just to make sure everything has a space, and try to maximize the convenience. For example, at first I told my sister that we should put our sparring bags in our rooms. However, that required walking up the stairs and carrying our bulky bag around the house. Now, instead, there is a spot for our bags in the closet right next to the front door making it much more likely that they get put away instead of on the couch.

Labels - Do not underestimate the power of labels. You can have a perfectly organized box supposedly for winter clothes, or anything else, but if it isn’t labeled it will quickly become just a random box with stuff. Labels make it very obvious when you are putting something in a place it shouldn’t go, and make it easy to know where things should go. I just got a pack of 128 labels for $2.26 on Amazon.

Boxes - If there aren’t specific places for different things it will be 100x harder to keep everything organized. It even means that you can stay relatively organized and know where everything is even while still throwing stuff into the boxes. Even if the boxes themselves aren’t very tidy, its contents will be in the correct box and so you’ll still know where everything is and where everything goes.

Some examples are in your fridge purchasing some clear bins to have some sorting of food. As well is in drawers having boxes as dividers that have a purpose so you can see everything and not have everything tangled together. Another use case is just storage for things that usually float around your house and get stuck in random places. You should just think about what tends to be left out and in random places in your house. For us this was oftentimes plastic bags, pencils, pens, etc. but it may be different for you.


Create spaces for things that are near where you use them since then it will also be convenient to put them back. Some ways I’ve done this are: getting organizational solutions to put on doors; moving the spices, oil and cooking utensils next to the stove; storing dog leashes, umbrellas, sunscreen, hats and masks right near the door to easily grab and put back; and more!

Daily Maintenance

Keeping your house clean after thoroughly organizing is just all about maintenance. This is the hardest part and the one my family has struggled the most with. I want to emphasize the importance of organizing in order to do this successfully. Although cleaning every day sounds terrible if you don’t enjoy it, it really doesn’t have to take any time at all. If you spend 10 minutes every day just putting stuff away then you are preventing 6 hours of cleaning once everything has piled up.

All you have to do is set the habit and then you just start cleaning without even thinking about it. You might think that you’re not the “cleaning” type of person…that’s certainly what I thought. But not that I’ve worked it into a habit I actually enjoy cleaning and get excited about new organizational solutions for our home. I think the main hurdle for me was shifting my paradigm to stop thinking that I just wasn’t a “clean person.”

Your daily maintenance will depend a lot on what tends to get messy in your house. For my household it was pretty much everything that piled up because nothing was organized. But a big pain point was the dishes. Now I try to minimize that by just doing 5 to 10 minutes of dish washing after every meal. It seriously makes everything so much easier since it doesn’t pile up and you don’t get the feeling of dread from a sink full of dishes.

Throwing away things

A big reason why cleaning can be such a struggle is because we have so much stuff. Although there may be many things you don’t want to throw away, chances are, there are plenty of things that you would be perfectly happy to donate. Just reducing the amount of things you have to clean is a sure way to make things easier on you. My suggestion is to just start going through all your stuff with a trash bag in hand and you’ll fill up a few bags in no time.

If you’re having trouble deciding what to throw away (or donate) just ask whether you have used something in the past 6 months. That will make it very obvious what definitely can go. For some things, like pencils, that are useful but you probably have too many of, just make a pile of those things that you have and make a reasonable estimate of how much you actually need. You can either throw them away, donate the rest, or put them in a storage place. These things can include, clothes, shoes, pens or other art supplies, utensils, cups, plates, and more.

Clear rules and expectations

Something especially important when you live with other people are clear rules and expectations. If you are planning to have a more organized home, you’ll have to have at least some amount of participation from everyone else. Even if it’s just an agreement to at least not make things messy five minutes after you cleaned it. Make sure that the list of rules and responsibilities are clear and somewhere visible so you can hold people accountable.

Keeping your house clean can also only apply to public spaces that guests see when visiting your home. It’s not always reasonable to expect everyone to keep their private spaces clean the same way.

I created a Canva design listing the rules and responsibilities and printed it out to put in our dining room. Some things that are helpful to include are: rules, everyone’s responsibilities, daily chores, weekly chores, monthly chores, and certain days for certain chores. Here is an example of what I did:

These are just a few strategies that I’ve found very helpful in keeping our house clean. Having an environment you enjoy being in is helpful in just allowing you to feel calm. At first it can be really hard and seem impossible but if you keep consistent effort everything will only get easier.


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