How to Keep Your House Clutter Free During Ridiculously Stressful Times

Amid the stress and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems like more people are organizing their homes as a way to gain control. In many ways, now is the perfect time to get your house in order. After all, you can’t leave to escape the mess.

Keeping your house clutter-free is tough under normal circumstances. Throw a pandemic and home renovation in the mix, however, and it becomes almost impossible.

I’m encountering this issue with my ongoing bedroom renovation. I moved everything out of my room — including the contents of my closet — which was a significant challenge.

I knew this would have been the best time to do a major inventory of everything in the space and purge anything I don’t need or use, but I didn’t want to add that massive project on top of my ever-increasing to-do list. Because of my procrastination, my stuff is now crammed into a much smaller space. In short, it’s become even more challenging to stay organized!

And then there are my kids. As most parents know, children create their own tornadoes of clutter that leave hairbrushes, hair ties, and backpacks in their wake. My kids have also been cooped up at home, which has only caused our clutter to multiply. On top of that, we have multiple junk drawers that don’t get cleaned regularly; I can’t tell you how many bottles of lotion I’ve bought over the years only to realize I already had some in one of my drawers.

Messes, unsurprisingly, can create a lot of stress. Researchers found that messes can negatively impact mental health — especially among women — because they can increase the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. I can attest to this, as my family’s mood has taken a hit during this chaotic time. Add in the stress of the pandemic, and I might need to start taking up yoga and meditation to calm down.

Even though I know things will return to normal once the renovation is complete and the COVID-19 pandemic passes, not knowing the location of some items and living with unnecessary clutter has me on edge. If you’re going through a remodel or just struggling to stay on top of the clutter in your home during this pandemic, follow these steps:

1. Label everything. One of the most important things my remodel taught me is how much time you can save by labeling every box, bag, and bin. Nothing is a bigger waste of valuable time than rifling through boxes to figure out where you put your belts. This also allows other people to find items, which means they won’t be asking you where you put things. Remember to pack all similar items together — clothes with clothes, bathroom products with bathroom products, etc. — to make the unpacking process that much easier. When you put things away, you won’t have to race back and forth between rooms trying to figure out what goes where.

2. Tidy constantly. I once read that you should spend 15 minutes every day cleaning up your home. I know cleaning is the last thing I want to do after a long day of working and taking care of my kids, but taking a little time allows you to stay on top of clutter. This means that same clutter won’t overwhelm your space — especially since we’re all on lockdown for the time being. As you declutter, put the items you don’t need in a box to donate to charity. This will help you avoid feeling bad about getting rid of items because you’ll know that they’re going to people who need them more than you.

3. Embrace chaos. Whether you’re renovating or doing a deep clean with your newfound free time, don’t be afraid to lean into the chaos and purge any items you don’t need. It may seem like you’re just adding to the clutter, but the temporary mess will be worth it when your space is freed up afterward.

A word of warning: If the thought of this is way too overwhelming, don’t do it. You don’t want to compound your stress or impede the project unnecessarily.

The most important thing to remember is that your space won’t always be perfectly clean and clutter-free — and that’s OK! Life is messy right now, and your space will reflect that at times. If you stay on top of the mess by doing something small every day, you’ll eventually see the clutter decrease as your peace-of-mind increases.

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