We’ve all been there. It’s the end of another long day, you just finished helping the kids with the last of their homework, dinner was quick and messy and there is still cleanup to do. It’s almost 8pm and your energy is spent; all you want to do is sit on the couch and close your eyes for a minute or watch the latest episode of American Ninja Warrior.
Go ahead, take a few minutes and relax. Now gather your inner strength, get up off the couch and do these five things to help you start tomorrow off with a less stressed mind and less cluttered home.
1. Put away all clothing.
It’s easy to throw a load of laundry in to wash and switch it over to dry, but folding the clothes, hanging them up and putting them away is where it can start piling up. Each evening, take a few minutes and fold your clean clothes, putting them in your drawers or hanging them up. This extends to putting dirty clothes in the hampers and shoes back where they belong. Clothes tend to take up a lot of visual and physical space, put them where they belong to keep your space decluttered.
2. Tidy the kitchen.
Most people do basic cleaning after each meal, loading the dishwasher and wiping down the table and counters, but taking the tidying just a little bit further can make a big difference. Spend five more minutes sweeping or wiping the front of a few cupboards or the refrigerator handles. Doing just one or two extra things each night will not only keep your kitchen clean, but it will gradually become even cleaner.
3. Ten minute pick up.
Take ten minutes and have everyone who shares your home pick up any random items they see including shoes, purses, backpacks, electronics, paperwork, toys, etc. that have been left out and put them in their proper places. If you have reluctant children, you can always let them know that if they won’t help, all items you pick up for them will be kept in a box until they do an extra chore to earn it back.
4. Go through mail and paperwork.
Paper and mail seem to pile up everyday and can quickly become an ordeal if not gone through regularly. Some items, like permission slips for school field trips or appointment reminder cards can be signed or calendared in just a few minutes, allowing you to cut the stack down in just a few minutes. Most mail in our mailboxes today is junk mail and can be discarded. Take some time each night and you’ll find your paperwork pile won’t be nearly as daunting.
5. Clean off the bathroom counter.
Mornings are much calmer and flow smoothly when the personal space you use to get ready is clear and open, ready to start a fresh day with you. Take a few minutes each night and clear off your bathroom counter. The makeup, toothbrush, hair brushes, styling products and blow dryer, put all of it away to give your mind a more gentle awakening in the morning as you start a new day caring for yourself.
This is all great on paper, but you’re just too tired to pull this off every evening, right? We’ve all been there, that point where you feel like you just can’t do anything except fall into bed or stay sitting right there on the couch the rest of the night.
Find that inner strength, listen to that voice deep down that tells you it will be worth it, that you can get up and get it done. It’s there. If you need to, start out by committing to doing these things one evening a week, once you see how much easier and calmer the following morning becomes, you can try for two evenings, then three, until it becomes a part of your evening habits.
But start tonight, and spend an extra few minutes doing these five things and you will be refreshed to see how your morning tomorrow is calmer and your home less cluttered. The benefits will repeat and grow until you find your evening actions to be a welcome routine that helps you wind down with relaxed anticipation for the next day.
Laura Spawn writes regularly for her blog, Simply Clearly on intentional living, decluttering and simplifying life. For more help with decluttering, sign up for her free 5 Day Decluttering Mini-Course.