Blog by Beebe Cline

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10 Quick Decluttering Tasks to Support a Restful Summer

Summer is in full swing and it’s time to enjoy it. As a professional organizer, I’ve found that for my clients (as well as for myself), a clean, clutter-free, organized environment makes for a tranquil environment. One way to make your home a place where you can relax, rejuvenate and recharge is to stay on top of small cleaning and decluttering tasks. Here are the quick daily tasks I recommend to set the stage for easy summertime living.

What to Do Each Morning

1. Make Your Bed

Try to make your bed each morning before you become distracted by the demands of the day. Even if the rest of your room is less than tidy, having your bed made sets an orderly tone for the entire room.

2. Squeegee Your Shower Glass and Hang Up Your Towel

If your shower has a glass surround or door, consider using a squeegee to clean it after your morning shower. I do this daily, and it takes less than a minute. It keeps the glass looking fresh and free of water droplets and also makes cleaning it at the end of the week easier.

I also recommend hanging your wet towel neatly using the full length of the towel rack. This keeps it smelling fresher as it will dry more quickly than a doubled-over towel. As a bonus, this practice reduces the need to launder your towel as often.

3. Put Away Toiletries and Wipe the Counter

Every morning before you leave the bathroom, clear away hair and makeup products and wipe the counter. This may sound like a lot of work, but if you get into the habit, it takes only a few minutes.

I store my makeup in a clear plastic drawer organizer. When I’m done with my morning routine, I simply place the products back in the organizer and tuck it away. I keep a separate, under-the-sink organizer for hairspray, mousse, a blow dryer and other hair products. After a quick wipe of the counter, I’m ready to go. I follow a similar process each evening after my nighttime beauty regimen.

4. Load Coffee Cups, Bowls and Dishes

Try to get in the habit of putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher when you use them so clutter doesn’t build up. If your dishwasher is full (of clean or dirty dishes), at least rinse and stack dirty dishes in the sink. Unload clean dishes from the dishwasher as soon as you have the time.

5. Wipe Crumbs Off Your Counters and Table

Complete a table and countertop wipe-down before you leave the kitchen each morning. Also quickly close any open cabinet doors and drawers. This takes only a few seconds but works wonders in maintaining a tidy kitchen.

1. Stash Keys, Wallet, Phone and Bag

The main thing is to always store your must-have items for the day in the same location. I store my keys and phone in a small basket on the kitchen counter. I’ve placed the basket beneath an outlet I use to charge my phone. My purse hangs on a hook nearby. Because I always put these items in this specific location, I never need to hunt for them in the morning and can get out of the house quickly.

If you’re bothered by cord clutter as I am, one fantastic way to hide it is with a cabinet or drawer that has a built-in electrical plug or USB port. Ideally the drawer or cabinet should be large enough to store a phone, laptop, keys, wallet, purse or computer bag.

2. Recycle Junk Mail

Mail is a major source of clutter in many of my clients’ homes. To keep junk mail from littering your countertops, consider tossing it into your recycling bin before you enter the house. Place other mail in an inbox or basket near your front door or on your desk for processing.

Also consider creating a system for efficiently sorting your mail. You may also want to look into ways to reduce the quantity of mail you receive. See the article below for suggestions.

3. Hang Up Jackets or Sweatshirts

When you enter the house, try to resist the urge to throw your jacket over the back of a chair or on a bannister. Place it in the coat closet or, if your home doesn’t have one near the entry, consider installing a hook rack or coat tree to keep jackets from cluttering your home.

4. Hang Up Your Clean Clothes

Many of us change into our pajamas or comfy yoga pants right when we get home from work. Clearly, dirty clothes can go straight into the hamper. But many of my clients don’t quite know what to do with clothes they want to wear a second time before washing. They don’t feel comfortable putting not-quite-clean clothes back in a drawer with freshly laundered ones. So they might drape these items over chairs or pile them on top of dressers, causing disarray.

Instead, I recommend purchasing a small laundry basket to keep these wear-again clothes separated from freshly laundered items. My basket sits on my closet floor and contains neatly folded clothes I plan to wear one more time.

5. Remove Family Room Clutter

Every night before going to bed, I make a quick scan of my family room. I put any dishes or cups in the dishwasher or kitchen sink. I place magazines and books in a basket beside the couch. I fold throw blankets and straighten up the couch pillows. This takes only a few minutes and it feels very calming to start the next morning with a tidy space.

Get in the habit of capturing loose bits of time. One relatively simple way to stay on top of clutter-busting tasks is to use short blocks of downtime to complete quick jobs. For example, I microwave my oatmeal for two minutes and 20 seconds. That’s enough time to empty the top rack of the dishwasher and start unloading the utensils. I can usually finish the job while I wait for my coffee to brew. I have fun challenging myself to see how much I can get done in short bursts of time. If I’m waiting for the toast to pop up, I might wipe the counter. While waiting for water to boil, I might sweep the floor.
Tackle two-minute tasks immediately. Another strategy I recommend is completing any task that will take two minutes or less as soon as you notice it. For example, wipe off a smudge on the refrigerator or pick something off the floor right away instead of waiting for the weekend to clean everything at once. This will keep clutter from building up and will cut down on the amount of time you spend cleaning at the end of the week.

Do some foundational cleaning work. While your 10 daily tasks will help you maintain a clean and uncluttered home this summer, you may need to tackle some one-time tasks to get clutter under control in the first place. For example, you might start with something fun like sprucing up your outdoor space. Sweep your patio or deck and thoroughly clean your barbecue. Dispose of broken planters, garden tools and hoses. Refresh pots with colorful flowers. Replace faded or torn outdoor pillows.

If you have school-age children, encourage them to clean out and put away their backpacks. Recycle old schoolwork, saving just a few special projects. Consider photographing the rest and then tossing it. Get rid of broken crayons, dried-out pens and other unusable school supplies. Don’t forget sports bags and equipment. Wash uniforms and clean off cleats and equipment. Fill your child’s bag with clean uniforms and equipment for the next season. No one likes opening a sports bag to find a mildewed towel or stinky shoes.

Finally, consider prepping a beach or pool bag filled with sunscreen, towels, goggles, hats, water bottles and toys. Keep the bag in a handy place so you can quickly be on your way to enjoy the sun and water.