What is the purpose of decluttering and organising your home? It’s to make your life simpler, less stressful, less annoying, easier. You want to be happy in your home!
A crucial part of decluttering your home is establishing systems to make sure it stays that way. It’s what I do automatically as I work with my clients. No one wants to be a slave to their stuff!
That’s why I’ve created the Make-It-Easy Method for everyone to follow. It’s just 4 steps.
The Make-It-Easy Method.
Once you have decluttered a space, it fits your vision and you’re happy with it, it’s important for your future wellbeing (and reduction of household conflict) for it to be effortlessly maintained. Or, realistically, causes YOU minimal effort to maintain.
Bear in mind, if some household members don’t understand why they need to do something differently, or it’s adding another complexity to their own busy life, they are less likely to take it on board in a consistent way. In some cases domestic systems are so far from being a priority in the mind of some household members it’s very difficult to engage them in active change.
So, we make it as easy as possible for the change in system to happen. Ideally it will be so simple that it happens automatically, without prompting or fixing it up later. If possible, getting everyone involved in designing a new way of doing things will create the very best results.
The Golden Rule when creating a new system is… Make-It-Easy. For yourself when you’re tired or busy AND for other members of the household, so you get to consistently see the results you want.
Instead of introducing several new systems at once, choose either the one that is most important to you and your household or the one that you think will be the easiest to introduce. You may need to be fully responsible for the upkeep of other systems for a while, but we are being strategic here! Introduce new ways of doing things gradually, one at a time.
It’s amazing the difference small changes can make in the smooth running and maintenance of a clutter-free home.
Follow these steps to design your own maintenance systems:
Why does clutter accumulate? You already know what’s happening because it’s a problem, but WHY is it happening?
Distraction. We can be tired, busy or not feeling well. Everyone has their own priorities in life, from teens intent on their devices to your partner who just wants to relax. Most of us will do the easiest and fastest thing possible with whatever is in our hands in order to move on to what we really want to do.
Memory. Some of us just have poor memories and some don’t prioritise domestic matters, so the problem is not at the front of their mind. The default in this case, is what ever is easiest.
Effort. Our capacity to perform yet another task can simply be at it’s absolute maximum. The energy levels and motivation of those involved will need to be accommodated.
Before you start tackling a clutter-causing problem think of different ways that you might solve that problem.
Customise. Work WITH the other members of your household or your own habits & preferences. Make any new actions very obvious, so everyone knows what needs to be done. Start with the easiest possible remedy.
Relocate. Often we have paths or processes that develop without thought and are often not the most efficient or easiest way of handling the Things that are causing clutter. If you can, make a change to the place or path of the person or process.
Delegate. Get willing helpers involved. This is a good opportunity to get household members involved in designing the new process, however small and simple. Talk to them about why this change is needed and ask for ideas.
Make sure the Things that are left after decluttering are assigned a place that is convenient to access. Or, rearrange the path or process to include them.
Habits. Use current household habits to your advantage or start a new habit. Inserting a new anti-clutter element into a path or process is a little easier than the repetition that is required to develop a new habit. You can use the new element to then introduce the new habit.
Convenience. Make it so easy it’s effortless. The new system will require a little thought at first but if you have designed it to be as simple as possible it will soon take up very little mental energy.
Storage. Be strategic and realistic with your storage. Consider how your household might use the style of storage and it’s contents. The more convenient it is to use the storage the more successful your new system will be at keeping clutter under control.
Let your household know what the new clutter control system is and why you need it. You know the methods of communication that don’t work with your household. Try another method.
The Meeting. Get everyone together for Show & Tell. This is your opportunity to teach everyone how to use the new system and to make sure everyone understands its purpose. Listen to feedback, you will learn more about how each person might use the new system.
The Casual Comment. For the more… difficult members of the household, you may need a more subtle way of introducing new information into their awareness. Sometimes not making it a big thing gets better engagement.
When To Let Go. Sometimes it’s just not possible to get engagement. Make it as easy on yourself as possible to make the new system work within your capacity.
Remember, these changes are about making your home more organised so YOUR life is easier. Your goal is to have a happier home, a place that serves you, not you spending your precious time and energy serving your home.