You know what it's like. You clean the counters in a frenzy, pick up the random stuff, match all the shoes together, and finish with a neatly folded dish towel. It's done, your space is clean! You can relax. A mission has been accomplished.
Now, fast forward 12 hours.
How did everything get messy again?? Why are there shoes in the hallway? Coins on the counter, dishes in the living room, more stuff in more places…Serenity now!
You might be frustrated. You are not alone.
Let's start with the "bad" news - wait, we’ll rephrase that. Let's start with the harder-to-accept news: messes are perpetual, and there's basically nothing you can do about it. Mess is a natural force. And it's okay! Repeat after us: It’s okay for messes to happen, over and over again, forever.
Perfection does not exist, after all. But you might not even care about perfection, you simply want to stop picking up crap on a never-ending cycle.
Here’s some better news: there is a simple habit that will change your perception of perpetual messes. To be clear, simple doesn't always mean easy. But you can be on your way to a life that is less chaotic and full of more things that you love, and fewer of the things you don't.
The Habit That Will Change Your Life
Okay, the habit: a 10-Minute Tidy, every night. Set a timer, and set a "trigger" if you need to, such as when you put on your pj's, or maybe when it gets dark outside, or right at 8pm, whatever works. The “when” doesn't matter so much; it's the consistency that’s important.
Ten minutes, every night. Don’t extend it to 20 and skip tomorrow and then do 30 so that you can take off for the weekend, oh no. Ten minutes, every night. You're going to tidy up.
What should you tidy? This is truly the best part: it doesn't matter! All that matters is you’re being productive and you are doing it every single night for 10 minutes. You might tidy the dishes, the living room, the entryway, the mail, your bathroom counter, the kid's toys, or the tupperware drawer. Just go at it for 10 minutes.
There are a few reasons why the 10-Minute Tidy makes messes bearable and No Big Deal:
You'll finish every day by #winning.
Something will be clean when you wake up tomorrow.
You'll get better and more efficient as you go, meaning that you'll start seeing progress daily, which will encourage you to keep it up.
Your family will see that tidying is important to you, they'll learn from you, and maybe they’ll pick up your awesome habit.*
Messes throughout the day will stop irking you so terribly. You have your 10-Minute Tidy coming up, which you can rely upon.
The consistency will help you build confidence in yourself. Really.
*It's okay (and encouraged) to spend your 10 minutes teaching your children how to tidy their own spaces, but don't start there. You need to first establish the example yourself, then you teach by example, and THEN you teach by actually teaching – by taking their hands and showing them how.
Now for a caveat. The 10-Minute Tidy is something we recommend to anyone, at any time. However, if you are currently in a state of total overwhelm, and you can't park in the garage or find your keys or shove any cabinet closed before something falls out on you, then it would be wise to do a full home decluttering. You might want to hire a professional organizer to help you, or you might want to dedicate a couple of weekends to do it yourself. Seriously, if being home makes you feel scattered, anxious, and anything but relaxed, it will be hard to feel productive with your 10-Minute Tidy.
Remember, messes happen. It's how you choose to react that will make or break your stress level.