10 more uncluttering things to do every day

Today we welcome Sherri Kruger, editor of Zen Family Habits, as a guest writer on Unclutterer. She also has a personal development site dedicated to sharing simple tips to enjoy life.

Last July, Erin wrote “10 uncluttering things to do every day.” I was proudly doing a few things on her list, but as usual there were a couple I hadn’t considered. This got me thinking about what other things I could do daily to reduce the clutter around our home.

Here are 10 more uncluttering things you can do each day.

  1. Reset your home each evening. This doesn’t have to take long, but it’s really effective. Spend 5 or 10 minutes on a quick run-through of your home. Straighten books and knickknacks, return dishes to the kitchen, and hang up jackets. Don’t strive for perfection, this is just a quick pick up.
  2. Never leave a room empty handed. Look around you. Are there things that don’t belong? When you leave the room, for whatever reason, be sure to grab a glass and return it to the kitchen, or whatever the case may be.
  3. When you’re done with something, put it away. Right away. Clutter arises when we take something out, use it for awhile and neglect to return it to its proper home. Remember the Unclutterer’s gospel, “A place for everything, and everything in its place.”
  4. Hit the laundry basket. Every time. It may seem easier to simply let your clothes fall where they may, but this only creates clutter. Take 30 seconds to hang up your clothes or put them in the laundry basket. Erin recommends getting ready for bed an hour before you plan so you’re not exhausted when handling your clothes.
  5. Take out the garbage. Perhaps garbage day occurs only once a week, but emptying the garbage nightly, even if not entirely full, is a great habit start. Over-flowing bins are not attractive.
  6. Vacuum everyday. Vacuuming ensures everything is up off the floor. Essentially, you’re doing a nightly reset during the day making it even easier to keep on top of clutter.
  7. Clear out your e-mail inbox. Hundreds of e-mail messages in your inbox can be incredibly overwhelming. Take time at the end of each day to clear out your inbox. When you come back in the morning, it’ll be a lot less daunting.
  8. Cut out the non-essentials. Re-evaluate the necessity of your involvement in groups, clubs, committees or boards. Limit yourself to participating in things that are important to you and make you happy.
  9. Do just one thing each day. Pick a drawer, closet, or shelf that’s driving you nuts. Focus on doing one little thing to move yourself closer to the clutter free state you’re Seeking. Ask yourself: Is this really important? Can I get this again relatively easily?
  10. One thing out everyday. Walk through your home with a critical eye. Look for one thing you don’t need, use, or want. Keep a couple of boxes by the garage or front door for temporary storage.

I hope this inspires you to do a little bit every day to keep ahead of the clutter and move toward a calmer and simpler life.

98 Comments for “10 more uncluttering things to do every day”

  1. posted by Leah on

    great except for #5 — who empties their garbage every single day? I’d work on reducing that garbage stream. Growing up, our family of 5 took out the garbage perhaps 3 times a week, and we thought that was a lot.

  2. posted by Becki on

    I used to keep a very tidy/orderly house until I had a husband, four kids, & a dog. Once they’re all gone, maybe my house will be clean again! Until then, I do the best I can!

  3. posted by Deb in Portland OR on

    We moved into a tiny, 100 year old 900 sq foot home with little storage space. Downsized from 1700 sq feet. I appreciate any tips I can get because I am lousy at staying organized and decluttered!

    I am glad I found this blog, because sometimes I feel I am on the verge of insanity. It’s dealing with mail & paperwork that particularly drives me nuts, plus our 2 large hairy dogs that follow me from room to room. I digress – but the old bathroom door doesn’t close quite right, so the dogs often give me a ‘Lenny & Squiggy’ greeting when I am in there. Delightful.

    Very good and easy ideas are #s 2 and 3 – those 2 ideas alone are major declutterers. I am going to focus on those for sure!

  4. posted by WilliamB on

    Several items on the list annoyed me also then I read the comments and calmed down a bit and am irked by only one thing about the list: it doesn’t explicitly say “Pick which ones work for you.” Without that the tone becomes “You MUST do all of these!” I know she wrote “things you can do” but judging by the comments, wasn’t enough to counter the rest of the article.

    My work and household schedule give me less than 90 min free time per day. There’s simply not enough time to do the second-tier items. The biggest nonessential I cut out was … cleaning! I’d rather be involved in my community than vacuum any day.

    Speaking of vacuuming, have any of you tried a carpet sweeper? Your grandmothers or great grandmothers probably used one. http://tiny.cc/CarpetSweeper is a typical one. It makes touch up carpet cleaning convenient.

    Actually, there are a lot of old-fashioned brushes that can still make our lives easier. I use a clothing brush to remove stains from my clothes. It doesn’t work on everything, but usually it does. Saves me a LOT of trips to the dry cleaners. Good for the pocketbook and environment as well.

  5. posted by Rosa on

    WilliamB, we have a Bissell sweeper and I love it. I got it for my toddler who wanted to vacuum – the Bissel has a segmented handle, so we just took out one segment to make it child-height. It’s quieter than a vacuum, and works very well on short-pile and wood floors, which is about 95% of my house. He keeps it in his own closet so I didn’t have to find a place to store it, too.

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  7. posted by FIREWEED on

    As someone who has worked carpet laying, it is not true that vacuuming prematurely ages carpeting—it does the opposite. Letting things get ground into the carpect is waht ages it, so vacuuming every day is wonderful if you have the time—at least on the high traffic areas.

  8. posted by ellen on

    My favorite way to deal with the trash is to empty every can every morning. I take such pleasure in starting the day without any trash after breakfast and tidying up. I wash my dishes, grabbing any left out glasses or whatever. My sink is sparkly clean and empty for part of the day that way. Counters are clear and stove is wiped clean.

    My email is usually jammed as I procrastinate and keep them around to reread.

  9. posted by Mara on

    nice list! 1-4: check. 5 & 6: weekly for us. 7-9: check. 10: this one goes in bursts of 5 or 6 things at once. the “hot buttons” responses gave me a chuckle. i’m sure nobody intends to be a minimalism nazi. sorta defeats the purpose.

  10. posted by Caitlan on

    lately everything i read reminds me to make saving for essure a priority.

  11. posted by irsihbell on

    Why get all in a “kerfuffle”?(love that) Just do what you can live with, and call it good. I think this was just a guideline, obviously no one always needs to do all these things everyday. If your house is fairly clean to begin with, (i’m guessing it is or you wouldn’t be on this site)straightening up is not a big deal, and shouldn’t cut into your spare time more than 10 minutes. Who can’t spare 10 minutes, honestly? 5 mins in the a.m. and 5 mins in the p.m. If you’re okay with it, why care what others think/say?

  12. posted by irsihbell on

    p.s. In my experience wood/tile floors need to swept/cleaned/vacuumed as often if not more than carpeted floors.

  13. posted by Ian Palangio on

    Need help getting your Email inbox to zero each day. If you are an Outlook user, check out my personal and email management approach called PIFEM. Honestly, I don’t know how I’d do email any other way….


  14. posted by lynn on

    You write “vacuum everyday”. Should read “vacuum every day”

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  16. posted by Blogroll 03/10 « Zeugenberg.de on

    [...] Blogroll 03/10 Veröffentlicht in Keine Kategorie von dae am 14. März 2010 10 more uncluttering things to do every day [...]

  17. posted by Unclutter, ofwel: blijf de rotzooi de baas « Dee'tjes on

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  18. posted by Andrea on

    Definitely hot buttons!

    I can see Ms.D’s point about the gender implications of the message, and I think that she’s probably right as her point applies to the extroverted among us. However, the point that these are suggestions, not prescriptions, is well taken, also. To me the issue is that in gender roles we are still in a transitional period. Someone’ basic approach–choice or covert social prescription–can be influenced by a number of factors, including age, location, and job. One person might therefore not be as subject to unspoken but rigid expectations, and thus see the list as purely an issue of choice. Another person might be far more vulnerable to expectations, and see the idea of choice as yet another form of covert pressure.

    For example, I saw this blog as creating suggestions, not pressure on women. I am an older single academic with a non-traditional schedule and highly personal, idiosyncratic friends from a number of cultures, and by nature I am highly introverted. My house is in a lower-income working class neighborhood; it is small, older, and definitely will never make House Beautiful. As for a social life, MsD’s account of her community involvements makes me come over cranky and tired just reading it! So I read the blog as offering choice. My friend P, however, is a SAHM in a traditional marriagewith a more socially conservative man (read conservative with a small C, please!); she has a much more upscale and more traditionally decorated home, is an extrovert and is very involved in church activities and committees. (She’s often out six evenings a week, which would also make me feel cranky; I need at least two days a week when I don’t have to leave the house or go ANYWHERE!) When I forwarded this blog text to her, she reacted as MsD did, seeing the text as one more voice telling her she had to be the perfect Traditional Woman. In other words, the people who see this blog as choice AND as covert pressure are both right, at least in terms of audience response, regardless of auctorial intent.

  19. Avatar of

    posted by Claycat on

    Thanks for adding Sherri’s post, Erin! She is a favorite of mine, and I found Unclutterer through her blog, Serene Journey.

  20. posted by Ms. Brooklyn on

    Anyone who wants to vacuum every day can have it, but it simply will not be happening in the Brooklyn household. I have enough to do without attempting overkill.

    Unless it’s stinky, I see no purpose in emptying non-full garbage cans. Again, it’s overkill.

    The rest of this seems pretty sensible, though.

  21. posted by jaammj on

    in our opinion the best is number four!
    Great idea!
    Thnaks for adding!

  22. posted by Theora55 on

    Here are my edit:
    2. Never take the stairs empty handed.
    4. Take out the garbage. My town uses pay-per-bag imprinted trash bags for pickup. I use plastic bags from shopping for garbage. I don’t take it out every day, but I do take it out any time it’s smelly or wet. On garbage day, it’s easy to fill 1 trash bag with several tied-off smaller bags. Even though I usually remember to use tote bags for groceries, plastic bags are plentiful.
    6. Sweep the kitchen every day.
    7 Take responsibility for your community. Take joy in community involvement, and only stay active when it’s meaningful. Even if it’s as simple as picking up litter when you take a walk, you can make your community better.

  23. posted by links for 2010-03-15 « LAN b4 Time on

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  24. posted by amess on

    I only wish my wife adhered to some of the things you mentioned above.

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  26. posted by JoeTaxpayer on

    Nice list.
    Far easier to keep it going than to attack the big problem in the first place. I’m still working on my mess.

  27. posted by mdm on

    Part of my decluttering effort is to “declutter” my to do list.

    So instead of vacuuming every day, I do it every three days — that works for us– instead of wiping down the bathroom sink every day, I do it every OTHER day, —

    Experiment with the tipping point of how much/how little makes the difference. I use 1/2 of the recommended laundry detergent — clothes still come out clean. I use 1/2 a dryer sheet. Etc.

  28. posted by bob on

    @MissPrism – To say that “Men are very rarely criticised or shamed about their housekeeping, and almost never excluded from public life.” and “Most housework, including uncluttering, is done by women.” might be true in your world, but making such broad statements is simply sexist.

  29. posted by MissPrism on

    Which world do you live in, then, Bob? Mine’s Earth. Beautiful place, lots of potential, but unfair attitudes persist whoever tries to pretend they don’t.

    Look at the data on how many hours of housework women and men do (even if both have full time jobs outside the home). Look at whom the advertising of cleaning products is aimed. Listen to Erin’s own account, above, of being told she was not fit to marry if she didn’t do housework. People think, say and do sexist things. Pointing this fact out is not sexist – it’s the first step in mending the problem.

  30. posted by bob on

    I live in a world where I share responsibility and don’t like being prejudged for being a man. The link you sent showed me two things: 1) those results are based on what they *think* they are doing (and not necessarily what they’re doing), and 2) woman are partially responsible for men doing less work around the house. If it’s true that “… women, not just men, define their own roles in terms of their domestic responsibilities…” then it’s no wonder advertisers will market towards them. Whose fault is that? Can women be faulted for doing too much housework?

    In fairness, you have an unfair attitude towards men. We’re not all slobs and some of us actually do housework. How can you be “hugely uneasy” with the advice to vacuum more, as if the advice somehow unfairly targets women? The blog post didn’t mention anything about gender, and men can just as easily do that chore. Don’t forget these are just suggestions on a blog. Pick and choose what works for you.

  31. posted by Amy on

    Ok, I’m in the minority here, but I think that vacuuming every day and taking the trash out every day are great ideas and I will try to start them.

    Trash in my household is an issue. Right now we have a full trash bag taken out of the bin and it’s been sitting there for three days while the new one gets full. Now the bag is heavy enough that I don’t feel like taking it out on my way to work, especially in work clothes. I’ve been contemplating switching to a small waste basket in the kitchen and taking out small bags every day. If I do it every day it’s a routine. If I do it as needed, it’s a CHORE.

    I can attest that vacuuming everyday makes a big difference in the house. When I was on maternity leave with my first, I was watching a friends baby as a favor for a few months until they worked out childcare arrangements. I picked up everyday and ran the vacuum in the main living area everyday before they arrived, just so the house seemed clean. It only took a few minutes because I only did the main living space and it was kept up daily. Again, if something is done everyday, it is less work and it becomes a routine, not a chore.

    I am trying to unclutter my life in order to give myself back my weekends. I am tired of spending half of Saturday cleaning when I’d rather be going out to breakfast or to the farmers market. I, for one, appreciate the tips.

  32. posted by carolyn on

    “I only wish my wife adhered to some of the things you mentioned above.”

    Amess, maybe your wife is saying the same thing about you.

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  37. posted by Melissa A. on

    Wow, some people take these lists very seriously. Do what works for you. Personally, I’m a woman and didn’t find the list offensive. But I also live alone so I’m the only person to do any housework and I wouldn’t want to share my home with anyone else. I’m also a homebody and totally get that sometimes people can be spread a little thin. If someone wants to hang out at home all the time, so be it.

  38. posted by My 5 links for the week « Juggling Motherhood on

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  39. posted by Meeks on

    I am really starting to understand that keeping clutter under control is daily thing! It is doing a little a lot! But it actually becomes less effort, because we are constantly doing little things (hopefully in the end, without even thinking) that we no longer have HUGE unmanagable tasks because we have left things become toooo uncluttered. Thanks for sharing this. I have put a link back to this post in “My 5 links for the week.”

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  42. posted by Leslie on

    Thanks to Sherri for the clarification – I also balked at the idea of taking out the garbage every night whether it was full or not and vacuuming every day. I have no toddlers and a small rabbit (who does shed a lot, but she’s confined to one area of the house most of the time). I aspire to vacuum once a week. If I ever get all the clutter off the floor, I expect that will be easier.

    @Erin: I once had a lady at church tell me I’d better learn to cook if I expected to get a husband (Actually, I can cook, I just REALLY REALLY don’t like to). Guess what my husband does for a living and at home? Cooks! :)

  43. posted by machstem on

    #6 seems a little excessive…I mean, we have a vacuum downstairs, and to bring it upstairs simply to pass over once,seems like wasted energy to me. The others are very common sense, and yet we rarely see it in most households.

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  47. posted by Katie on

    I’m surprised what a hot topic the rubbish issue is :-) I just had to add a comment as I’m a very environmentally conscious person and I take out what little rubbish I have daily.

    The trick is that I use small plastic bags that come from wrapped newspapers sent to my work environment. (Everybody at work now knows I collect these so I will never run out lol). Not only are the bags being reused, but because they are small they are perfect for my daily rubbish needs.

    It also helps keep the cockroaches at bay as any time I don’t take rubbish out daily they pay me a visit. As for the time factor I just drop off the rubbish in my large (communal) bin as I leave the house so it takes no time at all. Of course this wouldn’t work for everybody but its perfect for me.

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