Whether you’re working remotely, homeschooling your kids, taking some personal time to maintain work-life balance, or in between jobs, there are plenty of reasons to find yourself suddenly spending more time at home. The quarantines created by the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 served as a stark reminder of how difficult it can be to remain cooped up at home for weeks and months on end, especially if your home is a mess.
If you’re dealing with a cluttered, unorganized, or otherwise disorderly homefront, here are a few suggestions for ways that you can strategically freshen up your spaces — particularly if you have a chunk of time on your hands with which to do so.
Start By Stepping Back
Slowing down is one of the best ways to remain both mindful and purposeful in life — and it applies to home maintenance as much as anything else.
If your goal is to regain control over your living spaces, the first thing you should do is step back, take a deep breath, and calmly size up the task at hand.
Create a Plan
Once you’ve oriented your mind in a calm, collected, and positive direction, it’s time to come up with a plan. This is important, as simply tackling the first thing that you see can quickly lead to feeling overwhelmed and burned out. Instead, create a list of the tasks that you need to do, such as:
- Decluttering and organizing
- Dusting and vacuuming
- Cleaning bathrooms
- Mopping the kitchen and wiping down the counters
- Clearing out the garage
- Replacing or adding storage
You can also organize your list by the different areas of your home, such as “the living room, then the dining room, then the kitchen” and so on. As you come up with the list of tasks, prioritize them in order from the most to the least time-sensitive.
Start by Decluttering
Typically one of the first things on your list will be decluttering — and with good reason. It’s difficult to do things like vacuum or mop until you’ve removed all of the clutter out of the way.
With that said, decluttering is a daunting task, especially when you’re just beginning your cleaning efforts. Fortunately, there are many ways that you can make the decluttering process go much quicker, such as:
- Conducting an initial pass to ease the overall congestion
- Creating a decluttering system to decide if you want to keep, donate, recycle, reuse, or discard each item
- Starting with floors so you can navigate the rooms better
- Designating “catchall” areas of your home to keep things that you don’t currently have a place for
- Organizing your storage places first so that you have receptacles ready to go when you clean open spaces
Strategically decluttering your home is the first big step towards an organized, fresh space.
Deep Clean Once You’re Organized
Once everything has been put away, gotten rid of, or designated to a catchall zone, it’s time to get down to the serious cleaning.
This is the stage where you pull out the vacuum, get out the cleaners, put on the rubber gloves, and give everything a thorough once-over. Scrub the bathtub, mop the floors, sweep up the hallways, do the laundry, the list goes on and on.
It may be wise to create a second “sub-list” for this stage to ensure that you can pace yourself — this step may take a few days if you have a bigger home or a small cleaning crew — and still remember all of the different things that need to be done.
Renovate and Innovate
At this point, your space is organized and clean — but it isn’t quite fresh. Before you settle back into enjoying your home, take a look around and consider if there are any renovations or even simple innovations that you can do to spruce things up.
This can be something as small as refreshing things by rearranging the furniture or hanging a new picture or mirror on the wall.
If you’re feeling ambitious, this stage could also include giving the walls a fresh coat of paint or even tackling an area with mold, lead or asbestos to remove it for health and environmental purposes.
Don’t Forget About Curb Appeal
While you’ve already reclaimed the interior of your home at this point, it’s important to remember the outside as well.
You may not spend as much time outside as you do inside. Nevertheless, it’s still important to tend to your landscaping, mow and water the lawn, and keep your tools, toys, and other outside paraphernalia neatly put away in the shed or garage.
Don’t Rest on Your Laurels
Once you’ve reclaimed your home in a deep and truly refreshing way, don’t forget to come up with a long-term maintenance plan in order to avoid a chaotic mess in the future. While a big push to clean is fine every once in a while, daily chores and maintenance are the real bedrock that goes into creating a healthy home over the long run.
If you can declutter, clean and update your spaces, you’ll be able to use your home for both work and rest without feeling stressed out or anxious about your environment. Additionally, if you can implement a long-term maintenance plan once your home is refreshed and organized, you can continue to enjoy the benefits of a clean, healthy home far into the future.