Dear Lifehacker, I’m messy. There, I said it. I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember. I guess it’s never really bothered me until recently. Now I can’t stand the sight of my mess, but no matter what I try, I can’t seem to break the habit. I’ll do a massive clean-up, and then within 48 hours I’ve left a mess laying around again. I think my partner is ready to murder me too! Does Lifehacker and/or the community have any tips to become a clean freak? Thanks, Messy Dude
Messy house picture from Shutterstock
We’ll share a few thoughts for how you can avoid your life being so messy shortly. But the most important point is this: no approach to staying mess-free is going to work unless you actually have a reason for wanting to be mess-free. If you don’t have a solid motivation for changing your habits, then you’ll quickly slip back into your “natural” state — and in your case, that state is filled with clutter.
You mention that your partner isn’t happy with your sloppy habits, and that could serve as a useful incentive. Another good reason to stop being so messy is to stop wasting time: if you have to spend ages looking for something every time you need it, that chews up time you could use elsewhere. If you’re embarrassed by the state of your house when other people visit, be sure to invite people over regularly. Pick a reason that resonates with you and remind yourself of it every time you’re tidying.
Psychology aside, here are some practical suggestions on how to make your life less messy.
Spend 15 minutes a day tidying, every day The problem with a “massive clean-up” is that it doesn’t build any maintenance habits. Rather than relying on massive blitzes, schedule 15 minutes every day tidying. Initially, this may seem less impressive, but in the long run, you’ll see much better results.
Tackle one room at a time On a related note, trying to tidy your whole house in one burst in unrealistic. Work on fixing one room at a time instead — the tidiness of one room can help motivate you to work on the next one.
Throw out the stuff you don’t use or need It’s hard to stay tidy when you simply own too much stuff. Check out our guidelines on how to declutter and what to get rid of. For more tips, there’s our top 10 ways to get rid of clutter.
Put things away, don’t put them down Clutter often occurs because we walk into a room and put something down on the first available surface, rather than where it “belongs”. Cultivate the habit of always putting things back where they belong when you’re finished with them — don’t just leave them lying around.
Those are our basic ideas: we’d love to hear more from readers in the comments.
Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our [contact text=”contact form”].