Try the ‘Five Things’ Method When You’re Overwhelmed by Mess

Try the ‘Five Things’ Method When You’re Overwhelmed by Mess

We talk a lot about how cleaning can be therapeutic and fun for some, but totally overwhelming for others. There are a number of methods you can use to manage your time tidying, but one in particular has gotten a lot of attention lately, in part because it leaves room for some imperfection and allows you to go at your own pace.

The “5 Things” method comes from KC Davis, author of How to Keep House While Drowning and CleanTok influencer. The licensed professional therapist has 1.5 million followers on TikTok, where she expands on her concept of Struggle Care, advising them on how to clean without becoming overwhelmed while discussing mental health issues and sharing household hacks.

What is the “5 Things” method?

Davis suggests that if keeping your home tidy feels unmanageable, you should really only focus on five things while cleaning:

  • Trash
  • Laundry
  • Dishes
  • Things that have a place
  • Things that don’t have a place

Any mess can be broken down by those categories, she says, and once you start sorting things by those classifications, you’ll feel less overpowered, no matter how much you have to tackle.

“To keep from getting overwhelmed, you have to do one at a time over the whole space,” she explains in her original video introduction to the method.

How does it work?

First, go around collecting trash, then dispose of it. Next, move around the space again, this time collecting only clothes and shoes and placing them in a basket (While actively ignoring everything else). Then, put all your dishes in the sink — but don’t worry about doing them yet. Reassess the remaining items in the area. Everything with a space should be put away now. Then pile up anything that does not have a designated place. Once the space is clear, you can decide where the stuff in the final pile should go.

Per Davis, you can break this process down over the course of days, too, if you feel like it’s too much to handle at once.

Watch the method in action here:

Davis reminds her followers that “being untidy isn’t a moral failing” and there are a number of reasons — from ADHD to having kids — that you may not have your home as clean as you think you should. Breaking the tasks down into just five categories and sticking to each until it’s done is a simple, effective way to make your space more livable. Once it’s livable, she says, you can go back through and give it a more thorough cleaning.

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