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 like super practical tips like these, you’re going to love my new book: Organizing for the Rest of Us: 100 Realistic Strategies to Keep Any House Under Control.
And if you pre-order the book, fill out this form with your pre-order information and you’ll immediately get an email with a printable Decluttering Flow Chart that leads you through my No Mess Decluttering Method! The form takes about 30 seconds to fill out, so don’t wait!
You can also listen to a podcast on this subject here!
Melinda Mitchell says
I seriously have to do #4. That situation frustrates me EVERY time I need storage. WHY haven’t I done it yet?? Cuz I’m your people!!
#6 probably won’t happen. Cuz I live in a trailer, my washer/dryer is out in the porch, 3 steps down. But worse is the 3 steps up. When my hip, sciatic issues, I only go out when it’s ABSOLUTELY necessary. Usually I don’t think it is. I can turn my undies inside out tomorrow. I get my helpers (2 ex husbands) to wash/ then switch/ then bring in the laundry. And for some unknown reason, they refuse to fold! What’s up with that???
How have I missed #9?? That’s genius! And also the ONLY way I’d ever scrub the tub! I have to use a bath bench anyway, so won’t be much to it.
So pretend that when they bring it in, it’s straight from the dryer, and then fold it. Sitting down.
So, I see the point of folding laundry right out of the dryer, but I’be got my excuses. My laundry room is outside. I can’t leave my kids inside long enough to fold all of that laundry, etc.
Then you said there wouldn’t be a pile of laundry on my sofa ever again. I’ ve got to figure out a way to try folding out of the dryer now!
As a long time Nony acolyte, the dishes math also applies to laundry. Folding/hanging a single load of laundry takes me at most 3-5 minutes, while stacking on top of the washer leads to an hour long project, lost clothes and damaged walls when the clothes push the tiny lint can off….
Plus, doing it regularly means less clothes to wash/manage. I make it extra simple by having far too many socks, so on a weekly basis I do a load of darks and load of lights, and then wash load of just socks once a month. The spouse does bedding/towels while I’m at work.
Just keep trying, you’ll find a way to.make it work!
Bring the kids with you. They can maybe help carry some of the folded laundry back inside.
Sorry, this comment was meant for Jessica, just up above.
Lydia purple says
I have the laundry room outside too. So I take the load back to the house and fold it immediately. I actually fold in the closet. (My 4 kids share a closet as their „dressing room“ so if the load is mostly kids clothes I fold there. If it‘s hubby and my clothes I fold in our bedroom. The point is to fold and put away the load right away, it takes about 5 minutes.
Katie B. of Housewife How-Tos says
Fantastic tips, Nony! I couldn’t agree more about doing the dishes. If I don’t do them every night, I wake up to a disgusting kitchen that puts me in an awful mood all morning.
Hi there! I was just wondering if you could write more posts showing how you declutter and clean, like you used to do. I really enjoyed those and think they can be very motivating. I get that you want to promote your book and your products, but lately, I’ve found that you repeat yourself a lot (I’ve been reading you for a while, now!) and that you spend a lot of time promoting and less time showing your actual journey in being a slob that comes clean 😉
I hope you don’t take this the wrong way! Best regards from Portugal! 😉
JOANN WATKINS says
Oh Dana, Dana, Dana……I love you! I have beat myself for years wondering how other women kept their homes neat and inviting. Knowing…..wishing our home would be just as neat and organized. There were times it would be the way I wanted it and I would swear it would stay that way…then the next thing I knew it was a mess again. When reading your book on my Kindle I could have cried….there was someone who understood me….I was not alone! Thank you so much for writing this book. I think I get it at the ripe old age of 70….better late than never . …Right?
Dana White says
I love this!!!!
Thank you so much for putting this all in one post!
I’ve been running the dishwasher every night ever since you suggested it – but forgot last night. It has messed up our morning routine because my 8yo is horrified that he will have his regular “pack breakfast dishes into dishwasher” routine ruined by my left-behind dinner dishes. Sigh.
Christie Karras says
I love #10 so much! For years I had 2 vegetable peelers, one was great, the other was crap. For YEARS I would get annoyed when I grabbed the crappy one by accident. Last fall I got the brilliant idea to get rid of the terrible peeler, and life has been so much better. I no longer feel rage when I grab the wrong peeler, what was wrong with me all those years? LOL
Dana White says
This is hilarious! And I TOTALLY understand!
Thank you! Your blog and writings have been extremely helpful and entertaining! I just want to confirm that if I preorder your new book that I can start the 5 day clutter shakedown when it is convenient to me. Is that correct? Or will Have to start it right away?
Oh my goodness – yes #10, and why did it take reading it here for me to realize this. What is wrong with me that I have a house full of pens that don’t work and never throw them away?!!
And the kicker- we’re also not supposed to sit down for an hour to test every pen in the house! She wants us to deal with it in the moment and not save up for a project. 😱
Doreen Walgren says
if you store containers with lids, don’t they get moldy? I can’t ever seem to get them completely dry.
Dana White says
I’ve never had them mold.
I’ve made my word for 2019 “simplify” and I plan to put a giant ass box somewhere where I can just throw stuff in it that isn’t getting used and donate whatever has been collected at either the beginning or the end of each month. I’ve already got one ready to go for January, but I’ll admit there’s a part of me thats stressing slightly over it because I see stuff that I could easily sell for $5 or $10… ugh, its such a struggle! haha
sharon kelly says
I would also add: Do not save more food storage containers than can fit in your fridge. If I have a hard time storing them all empty, where would I put them if they were full? And, how are we going to eat it all before it spoils.
Since I managed to get my kitchen counter clear, I put the plastic containers and lids on the counter until they’re completely dry, then put them away – mind you, I always used to leave them out to dry before, but they just disappeared amidst the piles. Now with a clear counter I actually notice them and put them away the same day.
I fold clothes and sort them right out of the dryer. Also, have your empty hangars there ready to use.
I am also using your idea to reduce my emails and post office mail this year. I stand at the waste basket and sort the mail into shred, keep and throw. What a waste of time with all the junk mail.
Linda Brinks says
Thanks for so many great ideas. All very logical and practical! I recently read your book, Decluttering at the speed of Life. Excellent. Like the idea of looking at the room, drawers, or bookcase as a container. That was very helpful. Also like the input on how to gain trust if you are trying to help someone else
I’m reading a book titled, Making space, clutter free by Tracy McCubbin. She lists seven emotional clutter blocks. My stuff keeps me in the past, my stuff tells me who I am, stuff I’m avoiding, my fantasy stuff for my fantasy life, I’m not worth my good stuff, trapped with other people’s stuff and #7 the stuff I keep paying for. Sometimes there are deeper reasons why we have the stuff or pay to store the stuff. Highly recommend this book.
Sarah Catherall says
I completely agree with the idea of getting clothes put away asap. When me kids were little, I used to hang ALL their clothes (except , of course, socks and underwear). Nobody ever dumped a whole drawerful of clothes on the floor on purpose or by mistake. It takes A LOT LESS time to hang up a t-shirt than to fold it. Then there is also none of the “I don’t have anything CLEAN to wear” jazz. They can SEe that that is not true or at least warn you that they are running out of clean clothes. But you MUST have a clothing rod right near your dryer, with shirt and pant hangers standing by. Then you can put ALL of someone’s clothes away in one fell swoop (or better yet, if they are old enough, have THEM do it—in fact if they are old enough, have them wash AT LEAST their OWN clothes, too). Love to everyone, my fellow recovering slobs! You have to say one good thing about us—we are SO grateful for the smallest hint that helps us make our homes better for our families and friends🙏😮🙏🙏🙏🙏🤗🤗🤗🤗🤗🤗
I’ve had a rod for hanging empty hangers above my washer and dryer for years now. Stuff comes out of the dryer, what needs to be hung gets hung, I immediately bring those things to our closet (it’s just me and the hubs so everything goes in one closet) and…here’s the kicker….
I collect any empty hangers from the closet and bring them back to the laundry room and put them on the rod for hangers. Thus, I’m ready for the next batch of clothes that need to be hung and don’t have to go on an empty hanger hunt. I know that not everyone has a laundry room but I think there would be room for an empty hangers rod even in a closet style laundry center. But the real takeaway (that’s taken me years to learn and accept and implement) is to do the thing (whatever it is) right away and ignore my inner child that’s screaming “I don’t wanna!!!” at the top of her lungs, lol!
Cile Brooks says
ALL of these hints have been so helpful. I am 65 and proof you can teach an old dog new tricks. Keep it up!
I agree Cile! Also 65 and I just found this website a week ago. So far I’ve been making my bed every day, (this was hit or miss before, mostly miss), doing my dishes every day which also was hit or miss.
I’ve started decluttering and have a very small routine now.
I’ve read all kinds of books or posts on cleaning and decluttering but this is the first one that I believe is doable!
Even at this ripe old age I can learn new things! Good for us!
Elaine Bainbridge says
I totally agree with folding washing right away out of the dryer. With 5 dogs we always have piles of soggy muddy towels, I discovered in a charity shop they had a basket of towels, at only 1 pound each! some did have small holes but with a quick stitch would be good fit for the dogs, now I can wait until I have a full load of towels (stored in a container until wash day in the laundry room) and still have enough towels to use for the dogs, see a puddle, they are all in it! Means I can now wash our clothes twice a week and dog towels every 3rd day.
A huge time saver for me was buying new set of storage containers with four sizes and two sizes of lids. Two stacks of lids and four stacks of containers and no time searching for matches. I matched up old containers w lids and donated them.
I’ve been doing the dishes every night, and folding clothes right out of the dryer. So easy and makes a big difference! Thanks!