It's more than just negative self-talk (which can be a really effective motivator for me, although it is not nice--I would never say to my friends or children the things I say to myself), this house IS kind of messy and out-of-control pretty much everywhere I look.
Rather than wallow in gloom, though, I have a few easy steps that I know I can take that will make a difference in how I feel about how this place looks.
1. Put something away. Toss something out.
Notice what is NOT on this counter: no box of cereal yet to be returned to the pantry, no half-finished lamp project or costume that needs to be stitched up, and no yesterday's newspaper. Put something away. Toss something out. These tasks take less than a minute but make a big difference in how your space feels. Plus, they compound. So once you put away the cereal box, you see yesterday's newspaper and can put that in the recycling or garbage. Before you know it, your counter is clear!
2. Make a decision & take action.
In the last tip, I mentioned the half-finished lamp project and the costume that needed to be stitched up. There are times when these types of projects overtake my house, either because I don't have the time to finish them or I haven't decided yet what to do about them. While the ideal situation is to "make a decision & take action" even deciding to move the project to a less conspicuous spot can be a good solution. For now, the lamp is in a corner of my bedroom (where it will eventually "live" once the project is finished) and the costume is in the laundry room near my needle and thread.
3. Return things to where they belong.
I bet this gal is going to hang her coat in the closet and not drape it over that blue couch (speaking of hanging, the source article has a great tip about hanging art in unusual spots around your home). Have a place for things and put them there. If you are struggling to figure out where things should go, start to pay attention to where you use whatever it is and what's available. For example, we had a huge mess of chargers on a kitchen counter AND we had an empty drawer in a nearby table. Voila! A charging drawer.
4. Organize your entry.
5. Fold it, fluff it, straighten it up.
If you love to snuggle under a blanket or afghan, don't leave it in a pile. Fold it. And fluff the throw pillows or couch cushions. Not only does it look neater, but it will preserve the life of the sofa or armchair. Move on to straightening the items on your end tables, and before you know it, your living room or family room is neat and tidy!
6. Pick it up. Clear the floor.
7. Make the beds and open the curtains.
On the best of mornings I make my bed and the kids make their own. Even little Bela can pull the covers up and straighten her pillows. It's just one of those little routines that you can feel good about.
And, it doesn't feel like the day has started until I've opened the curtains to let the sunshine in!
Each of these steps takes only a minute or two to accomplish. But when done together as you wait for your coffee to brew in the morning, or at night before you hit the hay (minus #7, of course), or even all throughout the day, it will make a huge difference in how you experience your home.
**My month-long blogging extravaganza "31 Days to Lovely Little Spaces" begins on Monday. Join me here as I transform some of the less functional spaces in our home.