Here are some terrific ideas (rules/habits) for keeping your house in order... many of which I learned from my mom and follow to this day!
By Amy Howell
Homes don’t clean themselves. But these easy-peasy rules "wake and make" as they call it, will make you feel like they do.
Here's the thing you may have noticed about houses: They don't clean themselves. Which is unfortunate, because if houses cleaned themselves you could spend less time cleaning yours, and more time doing something fun! A few simple daily habits could make it seem like you've got a self-cleaning house. Rules like . . .
#1 Dedicate 20 Minutes a Day Every Day You don't need to set aside 20 hours one day to get things in order. You only need 20 minutes every day. Focus on taking clutter in just one room. You might only pare down a single drawer or shelf, but "it will make you feel accomplished at the end of the day, and at the end of a week, you will see how much you can declutter," says professional organizer Helena Alkhas. #2 Follow a "One-Minute" Rule Small tasks add up quickly when you're saving them to do all at once. So if it takes less than a minute to complete, do it immediately. Put that cup in the dishwasher rather than the sink. Break down that Amazon box for recycling right after you unbox your goodie. #3 Start a Load of Laundry Before Work If you have a full load in the hamper, toss it in the washer while you're getting ready for work. When you get home, you'll already feel ahead of schedule with just drying and a little fluffing and folding to do. Beware of running the dryer while you're out; a linty dryer hose is a fire risk. Better to NOT RUN IT AT ALL when you're not home.
#4 Always Leave a Room With Something in Hand
Whatever room you're in, chances are there's a toy, cup, blanket or T-shirt that needs to be delivered back to another room. Oh hey, conveniently, you're always walking into other rooms. Why not pickup a hitchhiker or two? Every time you leave a room, take a quick scan for anything that belongs where you're going, and you'll start habitually keeping clutter under control. #5 Deal With Your Mail Every Time You Bring It In With so much of your important mail going straight to your inbox, sometimes you've got days of fliers and junk mail to wade through every time you make it to the mailbox. To banish paper clutter from your home — and make sure you catch anything actually worth reading — immediately sort through your mail, recycling the nonsense and putting the keepers in an assigned spot. #6 Tidy Up During Downtime In the five minutes it takes to nuke your lunch, you can unload and possibly reload the dishwasher, or wipe off the countertops and appliances. You'll be surprised how much order you can restore to your home during these normally wasted waiting-on-something moments. #7 Make Your Bed as Soon as You Get Up
There's a reason the Marines start the day with this simple task — also known as "wake and make." According to retired Admiral William H. McRaven, author of "Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life . . . and Maybe the World," "It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed." #8 Stop Dirt and Clutter at the Door Establish a house rule that shoes, bags, jackets, and "pocket items" — your keys, sunglasses, wallet, and phone — are stowed in a drop zone at the door. Make this easy to enforce by assigning one hook and open shelf for every member of the family — double that for those with lots of extracurriculars, Alkhas says. #9 Empty the Dishwasher Every Morning
The conquest of a homemade dinner (OK, a "home-prepared" dinner, most days) feels short-lived when you're left with a mountain of dishes and no place to put them. Take a couple minutes every morning to empty the dishwasher and you'll stay ahead of the game. #10 Conduct a Nightly Tidy-Up Every night, take a laundry basket on a tour of your house and pick up anything that's out of place. "You don't have to put it away now. If you want, plan to do it on Saturday and it won't take much time at all," Alkhas says. If there are more than two people in your household, separate the day's clutter into assigned baskets for each family member to put away daily or weekly. With this routine, Alkas adds, "you'll wake up to a living room that's decluttered and a kitchen that is tidy, and you can start your day fresh."
Amy Howell Hirt has written about home design for 13 years. Her work has been published by outlets including "The Home Depot," "USA Today," and Yahoo! Homes. She previously served as home and garden writer and columnist for "The Cincinnati Enquirer."