Decluttering my house has been a new routine that started with committing to wake up 5 minutes earlier every morning three years ago. This habit and routine enabled me to add other life giving habits. Habit begets habit. This post will share how 5 minutes a day can be life changing.
How 5 Minutes a day can be life changing
I’m not the most disciplined person. Routines are generally hard for me to keep. Three years ago however, I knew I needed to build in structure to my days in order to greet my kids feeling centered versus harried. I began a morning routine. I started by waking up 5 minutes earlier than usual. I was able to continue that morning routine for several months. 5 minutes eventually turned into longer stretches of time.
Exercising at least 2 times a week
After I began my morning routine, my family joined the YMCA and my youngest son and I would spend 2-3 mornings at the YMCA. I would take a fitness class and he would play in the childcare room. He wasn’t always happy about that, but I knew that it was time for me to take care of myself physically. That became a regular part of our weekly routine.
I share those habits of spiritual and physical care because they have brought me to the place where I can tackle my physical clutter with regularity and determination. Several years ago I tried shining my sink, but I wasn’t used to routines and they didn’t stick.
Making self-care a priority
Looking back, it was so important that I started with a habit that I was in control of. If I didn’t wake up five minutes earlier or go to the gym, no one else was affected but me. Reducing clutter in our house is difficult with an active family living life together.
The habits were not easy to maintain, but by starting small, they were attainable and gave myself a sense of accomplishment. I also gave myself grace when I hit snooze or skipped a day at the gym. The next day was a fresh start.
And last, but not least, decluttering
As I declutter the house, I know it is a marathon rather than a sprint. Here is our Clutter Free Zone:
It has been clutter free for the past two weeks. Of course, the rest of our counters usually look like this:
Ahhh, baby steps…
I told my husband the reason why we are keeping the counter clutter free and he has respected it. This is significant friends. I am decluttering our house as a solo mission. When I have tried to declutter in the past, he visibly looked nervous and would go through the bags of items pulling things out after I loaded them in the van. He’s more comfortable with my donation runs nowadays, but is not actively participating.
I am following the advice of starting with my things and leading by example. There is plenty to keep me busy in the main parts of the house. Someday though, I hope to take back the basement – with my husband. Based on my recent experience, I know that the habit of keeping our clutter free zone clear will lead to the habit of keeping other areas clear. So until then, we’re keeping our clutter free zone, clutter free…together.
How about you? I’d love to hear how it works in your home. Do you keep a clutter free zone while you declutter? Do you have a spouse on board with your intention to simplify?
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I know how you feel, my husband isn’t as on board with decluttering as I am. The morning routine is critical. I have an autoimmune condition and I’ve found a morning routine makes a huge difference to how I ‘feel’ each day as well as how my digestion and energy work over the day.
It does make a big difference doesn’t it Carla? Thanks for sharing. Have you seen your husband change with time?
In the last 5 or so months I have also been getting up earlier, often 1 hour earlier than I used to. This has made a huge difference to my family, and it is something I should have done long ago! Each morning pans out a little differently, but I’m hoping to add some exercise in soon. It’s so good to feel that there is some leeway time in the mornings, instead of waking and hitting the ground running. I’m enjoying your blog and will follow your decluttering with interest. I have decluttered in the past but this year am getting rid of more than previous years, it seems. Yey! Slowing letting go of my attachment to certain stuff …
Thank you for sharing Fiona! Yes, I’ve found a morning routine so helpful. It’s not always perfect but once the habits are established its easy to get right back to the routine.
Growing up with my domestic goddess of a mother, our entire home was a clutter free zone. At the time I took it for granted, enjoying the order of a neat home without any of the effort. It spoiled me for being able to function in mess, and since I’m domestically challenged it naturally led me to minimalism (less stuff=less potential mess). It is tough, especially with 2 toddlers, but I’ve found that my Mom’s advice to clean as you go has lead to the best results for me. Sure it seems like an exercise in futility (especially when you are picking up the same basket of toys for the 4th time in as many hours), but it leaves the evening open for relaxing (I’m up at 4:30am for work so early morning me time is not an option sadly).
My husband is my biggest supporter and biggest challenge in this endeavor. Growing up in rural Mongolia sharing a 400sqft home with at least 7 other family members at any given time, he knows first hand how little space and stuff people truly need. However, he has trouble getting rid of anything that might possibly be needed at anytime in the future, so we accumulate a lot of random stuff that then gets purged every time we move! He is slowly learning that, in the US at least, most things can be easily (and relatively cheaply) acquired down the road so it has tempered his packrat tendencies a bit.
How fortunate that you had such a wonderful example in your mom, Anu. Thanks for sharing a bit of your story.
Love your thoughts here! I’ve been wanting to be more intentional in my life and you’ve certainly inspired me 🙂
This is such a great post! These are really great tips that I need to implement ASAP! Thank you Angela for sharing them!
Thanks for reading Erica!
I try to be clutter free but it’s so hard sometimes. It just starts piling up! You can keep me motivated!
It is hard Holly – I’m still working on it!
I love the idea of a clutter free zone, and letting everyone know about it. I’m not big on clutter and I’ve thrown much away… if they notice they re not too happy. LOL. The rule in my house is if you leave it out, it’s probably going to go away. It’s hard to keep clutter free with 4 kids, but we manage best we can. I do have certain parts of the house that I keep more tidy than others.
Isn’t it hard with children? I’ve noticed that once an area is cleared my kids have an easier time keeping it orderly ( like the entryway we just decluttered!)
Ashley Tukiainen says
Such a healthy thing to do! and you’re so right, habit begets habit
I started doing this a few years ago too, Angela, and it has really been freeing! Through the years we gather and collect so much “stuff” and much of these things are things that we don’t really need. I made an Excel list of everything I wanted to do and it was quite long. I just gook it a room at a time but I did sections of each room and it made it easier for me because I could see things slowly changing and getting cleaner and neater! If for some reason I didn’t get it done, I bumped it to the next day on my list. Thanks for the reminder to make it a habit, not just a once in a lifetime project!
Becky that’s excellent! That encourages me as well. Thanks.
Adrienne Turner says
I LOVE this post! I’m a teacher and over Christmas break, I decluttered one room in our house each day. I may not have gotten through the whole room but I felt so much better afterwards. It’s addicting! If it weren’t for my husband, I probably would have thrown away almost everything in our house! Thanks for the great post!
Adrienne, thanks for dropping by! Decluttering is definitely rewarding. Sounds like you had a very productive Christmas break!
I’m separated, so it’s just me now. So much easier to de-clutter! And yes, 1 clean area seems to beget another. I’ve heard it called the “penicillin ” method. Drop by drop you are inoculating your home against clutter.
That’s a great metaphor! Thanks for dropping by Melinda!
Stella Lee@ Purfylle says
I too am on a solo mission and trying to lead by example. It’s a challenge we can manage. We’ll get there one small clean space at a time.
I have never thought of having a clutter-free zone. It may be helpful!. Thanks for the idea. My husband isn’t necessary AGAINST decluttering, but I’m not sure he is FOR it. 😉
Hi Emily! We are still maintaining it after these few months so that’s encouraging! It has helped us- hope it helps you! My husband is the same way.
My clutter free zone is our living room. We have an 1800sq ft manufactured home, and our living room is the first place you see when entering the house. When we bought this house I requested that this one room remain clutter free. This makes it a relaxing place to be and a springboard for decluttering other areas. When something gets left out in the living room it is pretty obvious, and makes cleaning it up simplified.
In general the rule here is 15 minutes at a time to declutter each day! I even set a timer. It is shorter than you think.
Thanks for sharing with us your families journey!
A clutter free space is so important! Life can get hectic and cluttered – but I’m finding keeping a no clutter zone is so helpful. We try and do 5 minute pickups weekly in our living room too. Makes such a difference!
Gaye @CalmHealthySexy says
Hi Angela – This will be my featured post at this week’s Let’s Get Real Party.
That’s great! Thanks Gaye!
I’m a declutter fan! I declutter whenever I can, toys, household items, clothes, you name it! I need it to keep control of my house I guess. I’m a very organized person, but still, stuff piles up if you don’t take control, hey? And you’re so right about how important it is to make “yourself” a priority! So important!
I’ve enjoyed reading your post, thank you! I found you over at The Cottage Market!
Thanks Katrin! Good for you! I wish organizing came naturally to me – but alas, I’m learning. Thanks for stopping by and commenting
Kristy as Giftie Etcetera says
I like the leading by example part. I’ve been pointing out to my kids when I do chores alongside them. They are much more cooperative when they realize that moms have chores, too.
So true Kristy. It takes the whole family to keep the house in order!
What a wonderful post. Sometimes I also feel like decluttering is the solo Lisa show. I think everyone likes the idea, but the implementation has been a bit harder to get everyone on board with. Thanks for posting this! Lisa @ wiggles and whimsy
It is so true Lisa. My husband is coming on board a bit more now, which is definitely encouraging. Thank you reading and commenting!
Jamie @ Medium Sized Family says
I love this!! I have been wanting to get myself up early, but have never succeeded. I do not do mornings well at all. But I think I could do 5 minutes! I’m totally going to try this tomorrow morning. Thanks so much for sharing.
Thanks for reading Jamie! I’m a big believer in 5 minute changes with habits.
Decluttering…yessss!!! I keep trying to do it and then the junk piles up again and again. Argggg!!! Just have to keep at it.
Tricia Vaughn says
I would love for my husband to want to de-clutter! Instead I think he feels more comfortable with clutter!!! Nah I think he’s just lazy. Great post I so need to work on this!
It’s a struggle Tricia, that cannot be denied! I have to focus on the progress we’ve made and not the amount of work that still needs to be done. Keep it up – baby steps!
My husband is HUGE of keeping our home clutter free. For as much as it annoys me, it’s also one of the things I love about him too. He keeps us from buying/keeping things that we honestly don’t need/use. It also keeps our home from feeling cramped.
I like the five minutes a day trend. I need to start taking my time five minutes at a time. This reminds me of that show on Netflix where the woman takes her life 10 seconds at a time. (I’m drawing a blank on the name of it right now.)
I’ve never heard of that show Crystal, but yes – 5 minutes at a time can really make a difference with any type of change you’re trying to make. Let me know if you give it a go!