10 Easy Ways to Have a Neater Home in the New Year


Don’t worry. I’m not over-simplifying or assuming your home is a few tweaks away from perfection. But these ten simple things that I’ve learned the (very) hard way over the past seven years of my own deslobification process have had a big impact. A much bigger impact that I would have ever believed possible.

1. Do your dishes. I could go on and on (and I do go on and on in my book), but this is THE task that, when done daily, made the biggest impact on my home. Go here to understand how it works: Why I Have to Run the Dishwasher EVERY Night. If you don’t have a dishwasher, read this: 5 Truths about a Clean Kitchen that are Still True if You Don’t Have a Dishwasher. 

2. Reduce the flow of paper coming into your home. As bills or financial reports arrive in the mail, go online and choose the digital delivery option.  Most of these pieces of mail include instructions on how to switch to digital delivery right on the envelope or the report itself. More paper-clutter-reducing ideas: How to Reduce Paper Clutter

3. Declutter your dishes until they all fit inside your cabinets. At the same time.  This one separates the why-would-anyone-have-more-dishes-than-fit-in-their-cabinets types from my target audience. If you’ve ever been frustrated that on the rare occasion when your dishes are done (like, every single last one) there isn’t room for all of them to be put away, you’re my people. If the thought of decluttering plates or coffee cups sends panic through your soul because you fear running out, just focus on #1. Once you get that figured out, this will make so much more sense. For more on this general concept that I had to learn the hard way, listen to this: Containers and Limits and How They’ll Change Your Life! Podcast

4.  Store your food containers with the lids on. Really. It will make your life so much easier. I explain the ins and outs of why here: Strange Organizing Solutions that Work: Storing Food Containers.

5. Create a Donate Spot. Grab an empty box and mark it DONATE. Choose a place for it (by the back door, in the garage, wherever it’s not in the way but is still easily accessible). As the kids mention they don’t like a toy or that their sleeves are suddenly two inches shorter than they were last week, have them throw the suddenly-unloved item immediately into the Donate Box. More on this: What a Lifestyle of Decluttering Looks Like – Podcast

6. Fold clothes straight out of the dryer. I resisted this for YEARS. I came up with every logical reason not to do it this way. But y’all, this simple thing is a game-changer. When I fold straight out of the dryer, I don’t have piles of clean laundry on my couch. My living room looks way better without piles of clean laundry on my couch. Really. Read more here: The Laundry Management Method that is Rocking My World

7. Hang instead of fold. When I’m doing #6, my clothes don’t get wrinkled. If I hang them instead of folding, they stay wrinkle-free. Need more words on this topic? Clothing Management – Hanging vs Folding

8. Whenever you think of it, do a 5 Minute Pickup. Set a timer and spend 5 minutes picking things up and putting them away. If you don’t believe this will make enough of a difference to be worth your time, try it anyway. You have nothing to lose but 5 minutes. And this is the very best way to start getting the kids involved: Family Pick Up Time

9. Buy a soap-in-the-handle dish scrubber, mark it “BATHROOM ONLY” with a permanent marker, and hang it on a hook or over the door in your shower. Scrub a little here and there as you shower. Read more here: Making Shower Cleaning as EASY as Possible and How to Clean the Shower Without Getting Your Clothes Wet.

10. Throw away (or recycle if you have an available and established recycling routine) pens that don’t work. As soon as you realize they don’t work. I have no idea why this is so UNnatural to me, but it is. More on this: Planning to be Desperate and 2 Second Task – Throw Away the Pen

There you go. Ten simple, easy, pretty-much-duh-but-why-don’t-I-do-these-things-naturally ways to have a tidier home in the new year. Pick one or two or do them all. Any one of these things will make your life easier. 

If you need a guide to getting your home under control and keeping it under control, you need my new book: How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind! It is the handbook you need to go from completely overwhelmed to I’ve-got-this, no matter your starting point. I love this review that was recently posted on Amazon:

This book has changed my life!!! Finally someone who gets me. This isn’t just a collection of organizing ideas that you can find on Pinterest. This book changes your whole approach. The most helpful part for me was how she says to deal with the guilt of getting rid of stuff. I feel as if Dana was in my head as I read this. She had already written the counter-argument to every argument I had started to say in my head while reading. I’ve already ordered a second copy for my mom for Christmas.

If you want to keep the decluttering momentum going, join 30 Days of Decluttering Inspiration. It’s free!

You can also listen to a podcast on this subject here!




How Many T-Shirts/Shorts/Pairs-of-Undies Do You Need?


One of the most common decluttering questions I hear is: How many (fill in the blank with whatever item they’re currently stressing over) do I need?

It’s a logical question.

I’ve asked it many times in my own home.

Many, many times. How many hangers should I have? How many t-shirts do I need? How many pairs of shoes should I keep? How many boxes of cereal should I buy when our favorite brand goes on sale?

In the past, I’d go through several phases in my quest to find the answer to this common decluttering struggle.

Phase One: Stare into space. Think really, really hard. Come up with nothing.

Phase Two: Try to do math in my head. Number of days when I wear undies (ummm, all the days) times (or divided by?) how often I do laundry minus something-or-other. Give up. Math and I don’t mix.

Phase Three: Get logical and decisive. There’s no such thing as too many undies! Really. Undies are totally necessary things. Why am I even asking myself such a dumb question? (Write undies on a shopping list.)

Phase Four: (weeks later, while pushing on the dresser drawer with my full body weight, unable to close it because of the abundance of undies) Ugh. I have way too many! I have got to figure out how many I should actually keep!

Repeat phases one through four. 

That endless cycle didn’t work.

So, how do I know how many of something to keep?

Really, there’s nothing to analyze or figure out.

I can keep the number of socks/undies/t-shirts that will fit in my sock/undies/t-shirt drawers.

Or the number of cereal boxes I can fit on my cereal box shelf. Or the number of hangers that will fit on the bar in my closet. Or the number of shoes that will fit on my shoe shelf.

It’s the Container Concept. No math required.

Here’s a non-hypothetical example:


My dresser drawers had (once again) gotten out of control. How did I know they were out of control? I couldn’t shut them.

Not being able to shut my drawers was the obvious clue my Slob Brain needed to alert me to the face that I had too many t-shirts/socks/undies/whatever.

I love obvious clues (especially ones that used to not be obvious to me at all).

I needed to declutter however many items needed to be removed for the drawers to be able to close. No math needed.

When I looked at it that way, I didn’t have to ask myself how desperate I would need to be to wear that very faded and a-little-stained freebie t-shirt from a fun run I didn’t even participate in back in 2009.

I just knew something had to leave the drawer, so it might as well be the thing I didn’t even like.

I purged (with very little angst) enough stuff to allow me to close the drawers easily.


I even had leftover space.

Leftover space meant that on Laundry Day, when more clothes needed to go in those drawers (clothes I had recently chosen to wear), there was room. When there wasn’t enough room in a certain drawer, I practiced the one in one out rule to make room.

Because that is the answer to the question, “How Many T-Shirts/Shorts/Pairs-of-Undies Do I Need?

I need as many as can fit in the drawer.

Any more than that and the drawer can’t close and my house has no chance of NOT being messy.

Yay for non-math-based answers!!!!

This post is an example of how a mindset change has changed my home. If you are desperate to change your mindset, and you want home management strategies that actually make sense (to us not-naturally-organized types), check out my new book, How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind.HowToManage_3D




Getting Better and Better (Little by Little)

Getting Better and Better (little by little)

Oh how I love a big reveal. I love it when things go from awful to wonderful in one day.

But real life, fortunately/unfortunately seems to be more about the small improvements. The ones that happen again and again. At random moments.

I shared my laundry room cleanout last spring. I was excited to be able to use my narrow rolling rack that I’ve had for years (through multiple washers and dryers), but that didn’t fit with the last set up we had.

I also shared the imperfect container I was using for rags. It didn’t fit neatly (or prettily) on the rolling rack, but it did the job I needed to do. It contained. I used it as a natural limit to determine how many rags I could/needed to keep.

And then one day over the summer, as I finished one container of laundry detergent pods and started on another, I realized the pod container would fit perfectly on the rack.

And was the perfect size to “contain” all of the rags.

Yay for finding the perfect container and not paying a thing for it!

But, y’all, another unexpected benefit came from this quick and practical moment.

Not only could I fit the rag container on the rack, I now had room to fit my new container of laundry pods on there as well. And that has given me unexpected joy each and every Monday since.

Once upon a time, I didn’t even consider buying detergent in pod form because it tends to be more expensive than the kind you pour. Then one day, as I was ordering what I needed, I saw that some pods were on sale and were as good a deal as the stuff I normally bought.

The minute I started using them, I fell in love. No heavy lifting of jumbo-sized, super heavy, strangely-messy-even-though-it’s-technically-a-cleaning-product containers. I just reached down, grabbed a pod, and plopped it in.

And felt joy.

I was surprised at the pleasant emotion I felt each time I went through this ritual (six or seven times every Monday) and decided I was willing to pay a few extra cents per load to experience that feeling.

But y’all, it got better. When I rearranged things for the “new” rag container and put the pod box on the shelf, I had no idea how my life would improve.

I now don’t even have to reach. I don’t bend over or twist or turn or anything. I grab a pod and drop it in, moving my hand less than a foot.

And every time I do this, I smile and maybe even giggle a little.

I know this sounds like a rather ridiculous thing to get so excited about. 

But these are the little things that I imagine would happen if I was “organized.” If I could just set things up perfectly, thinking through every last detail, life would run smoothly. Laundry would run smoothly.

Laundry would be easy.

But perfect doesn’t happen around here.

So many times, I have “organized” spaces. I have analyzed and predicted and planned. But even though I loved the after photos, the spaces would eventually go back to chaos. For years, I assumed that meant I had failed.

But, over the life of this blog, focusing on my deslobification process, I’ve realized that my goal is Better. And I’ve given myself permission to just declutter. 

Again and again if needed.

And as I do that, as I look for ways to put the Container Concept into action, as I allow myself to make tiny changes as they occur to me instead of putting off making any changes until I “have the time” to do Entire System Overhauls, things get Better.

And I find joy in Better.

What Better has given you joy lately? 


Links from this post:

The Container Concept explained in a podcast.

The Container Concept explained through the lightbulb moment when I finally grasped the concept for myself.

An Amazon affiliate link to the narrow rolly cart I love so much.

Amazon affiliate links to two kinds of laundry detergent pods I’ve loved way too passionately: All and Tide

Getting Better Little by Little



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