Simple Clutter-Free Habits to Do in Just a Minute

I used to own too much stuff.  It made my home feel crowded and stressful, and since I like things to be tidy, I spent hours every week sorting, arranging, organizing, and cleaning my belongings.

Then I began decluttering, and the situation gradually improved.

Decluttering can take a lot of time and effort.  It requires a ton of decision-making.  But the end result brings such ease and relief that you never want to go back to your old cluttered existence!  

That's why it's important to develop some new habits so that clutter doesn't creep back into your home and undo all your good work.  Creating the habits takes some discipline, but the good news is that most of them only take about one minute.  (Really!)

sunny living room corner

So what are you waiting for?  Pick one and start practicing it today, adding others as you're able.  Your home will be relaxed and tidy, and you'll be able to spend your time in ways that bring more enjoyment.

17 simple habits that keep your home clutter-free

1.  Everything has a place.

You want to be able to access and put away everything you need when you need it.  And your new mantra is "Don't just put it down, put it away."

2.  One in, one out.

If you're still decluttering, better make this "one in, two or three out."  But once you've removed everything you don't need or love, this minimalist habit is super simple.  Buy new shoes, get rid of an old pair.  Buy a new toaster... you get the idea.

That said – beware!  A lot of people use this rule to justify a lifestyle that is far from minimalist.  "One in, one out" can be a trap if you aren't careful.

  • It doesn't give you any reason to examine your shopping behaviors.
  • It doesn't keep you from being a slave to the latest trends.
  • It lets you keep acquiring as long as you keep getting rid of old stuff.
  • It doesn't encourage you to buy quality items, care for them and use them as long as possible, and only replace what's necessary.

If you want to declutter once and for all, you have to overcome your shopping addiction.

3.  Uninstall apps and turn off notifications.

All of those reminders about sales and deals are designed to get you to shop, NOT to save you money!  And it's too easy to buy things with just one click.

You can't stay uncluttered if you don't control the flood of items entering your home.  Wait 24 hours (or more) before you buy anything that isn't food, basic toiletries, or gas.  Give yourself time to be intentional about your purchases.

4.  Follow the "one minute rule."

About chores, think "If it only takes a minute, do it now."  It drove me crazy when my Dad used to say that, but I appreciate it now.

5.  Keep an "out" box.

Keep a box in a handy spot – by the back door, in the coat closet, in the garage, or somewhere else – so that every time you see something that should be decluttered you have a place to put it.  Once a month, or whenever the box is full, sell, donate, or toss everything in it.  Add this task to your calendar so you don't wind up with boxes of stuff you plan to get rid of "someday."  (Ask me how I know!)

6.  Make your bed.

I'm not your mom, but I can promise that this habit will start your day right.  Your bed is the focal point of your room, and making it completely changes the atmosphere and inspires you to keep the rest of your space clutter-free.

If it takes you longer than a minute or two to do the job, consider removing some of the excess d├ęcor that's slowing you down.  Dust ruffles, shams, and eight artfully arranged pillows might be more trouble than they're worth.

7.  Maintain the bathroom.

The bathroom counter can collect a lot of items as you get ready each morning, so make sure you've decluttered things you don't use and made a place for the products you need.  Return items to their cupboard, drawer, or basket as you finish with them.  Then wipe the mirror and sink with your hand towel, replace it with a clean one, and enjoy your closer-to-spa-like bathroom.

make your bed

8.  Keep flat surfaces clear. 

Flat surfaces collect things, and clutter grows when you leave it untended.  Ideally, keep just one or two items on any flat surface, such as a lamp, photo, plant, fruit bowl, etc.  When you notice that items are collecting, put things away or recycle/toss them.

9.  Clear floors.

The floor is for rugs and furniture, not backpacks, sports equipment, cases of soda, or discarded toys.  End the low-level frustration of crowded, unsafe walkways, and make vacuuming easier too.

10.  Create a landing strip.

When you enter your home, you need a spot for your shoes, jacket, keys, sunglasses, phone, and purse or wallet.  That way they don't get spread all over the house, and you never wonder where you put them.

11.  Handle the mail.

Piles grow, remember?  Handle mail immediately.

  • Recycle junk (shred if it contains personal information).
  • Pay bills (automate as many as possible to save time and trees).
  • File what you need to keep.
  • Keep an action folder for items that require more effort to resolve.
  • Respond to invitations and note them on your calendar, then recycle.
  • Have a place for magazines, recycle the old issue when the new one comes, and consider getting what you want online.

12.  Do the dishes.

Piles of dirty dishes make the entire kitchen look grubby and awful.

  • When cooking, keep a sink full of soapy water for utensils, cutting boards, mixing bowls, colanders, etc., and wash up while food simmers or bakes.  
  • If you have a dishwasher, teach everyone to put their own dishes in as soon as they've finished with them.  
  • If you don't, enlist everyone's help to wash, dry, and put away dishes.  Make it part of your dinner ritual, before you go on to homework, TV, or other pursuits.

Washing dishes takes more than a minute, but it doesn't take long when everyone helps.  Reset your kitchen by putting things away and wiping stovetop, counters, and the table.  You will really appreciate your ready-for-use kitchen every morning.

13.  Take out trash and recycling.

Sometimes it becomes a sort of game to see who can shove one more thing into a full can to avoid being the person who has to empty it.  But this chore only takes a minute or two.  When you see it's full, don't hesitate to take it out.

14.  Clean the fridge.

Take a few minutes once a week to toss bad food and wipe down the fridge, inside and out.  If you place like items together, you can see what you have and avoid overbuying.  Designate one area for leftovers and you'll do better at remembering to use them before they spoil.  This not only saves money, but creates much less waste.

15.  Hang it up or put it out.

When you remove your clothes, immediately hang or fold and put away what is still wearable, and put dirty clothes in a laundry basket or hamper.  Keep the hamper in your closet if the laundry area is far from your room – anything to keep clothes off the floor or chairs!

16.  Do an evening reset.

Make this part of your bedtime ritual.  Put away remotes/controllers, paperwork, or whatever you've been using.  If you keep supplies for a hobby in one container, it will be so easy to replace everything neatly.  If you have kids, teach them the same habit, and return your rooms to their uncluttered state.

Sometimes you have a project that is ongoing and can't be packed away every evening.  At least confine the materials for that to one area.

17.   Micro-clean.

No one likes spending half a day cleaning house, so try doing micro-tasks (five minutes or so) in different areas of your home on different days.  Here are some examples:

  • Put disinfectant in the toilet and let it sit while you clean the bathroom mirror and sink.  Brush the toilet and flush.
  • Spray cleaner in the shower/tub and let it sit while you sweep the bathroom floor and empty the trash.  Wipe down the tub and squeegee the shower door.
  • Dust the (cleared off) tabletops in your living room or bedroom with a damp cloth, then dry.  Water plants.
  • Sweep and/or mop the kitchen floor.
  • Change sheets and towels and start a load of laundry.
  • Vacuum the bedrooms or the living room and hall.

Yes, sometimes you need to do deeper cleaning.  If you have a larger house (and more people living there), everyone can do micro-cleaning each day.

You'll love the results.

Keeping your home clean and clutter-free doesn't need to be overwhelming.  Maintaining these habits is really worth the effort!

Are you just starting your decluttering journey?  Do you feel like you need a "cheat sheet" to keep you on task?  A beautiful, spacious, uncluttered home may seem like an impossible dream, but it doesn't have to be.

I've written a pocket-size A to Z guide to decluttering that breaks the process into manageable tasks.  It's the roadmap you've needed – delivered in bite-size pieces to help you achieve the larger, cleaner, more organized home you're longing for.

* This blog is reader-supported.  If you buy through my links, I may earn a small commission.

Updated August 2023


  1. One critically valuable outcome of doing these things is that it creates a stress-free environment - ok, maybe not free from stress - but now your environment is not a contributor to stress. This aspect is not discussed much - but it's part of on-going mental health and maintenance. Putting that differently: an unmade bed and even a pile of clean dishes that are drying - create anxiety for me. Thank you for elucidating these clearly. I didn't 'get it' until the last few years (I'm 66); but I really do appreciate it now.

    1. "Now your environment is not a contributor to stress." Exactly!

    2. I’m like Unknown, and I’m 69! Anytime I see clutter anywhere I feel like my skin is crawling. I grew up in clutter, but I didn’t realize the problem because that’s what I knew. I’m trying very hard to get a handle on things, but I’m not the only person in my household. Pray for me!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Easy "Multiply Your Savings" Plan

Why You Should Make "Less is More" Your Mantra for Life

10 Ways to Declutter: A Step-by-Step Guide

10 Minimalist Habits No One Talks Enough About

How My "Little House" Fantasies Helped Me Downsize