Personalized home organization
Entrepreneur, mom, & wife
Do you look around your counters at the end of the day and all you see is clutter? Does it seem like so much that you can’t get a handle on it?
Here are my 3 steps to removing countertop clutter and relieving your home of the stress that comes from all the clutter on your counters.
When you look at your counters, what ends up there? Are there dirty dishes everywhere that needs to be put away? Are there piles of papers that need to be dealt with? Are there toys without a home? Are there to dos that are left out as a reminder to do them?
Think about what is there. There are some items that live there permanently. I want you to make sure those are items you use frequently and they don’t bother you by being on the counter. For example, our coffee pot lives on the counter. It isn’t my favorite but we use it every day, so I found a spot that is a little out of the way that works for us! We also have the Baby Breeza on the counter. We have a baby and use it at least every day, sometimes a couple of times. This makes sense to keep out because when we need it, we want it ready to go. I also know that the Baby Breeza is a temporary fixture on our counters that we need in this season of life.
Then, there is clutter. Those are the items that don’t or shouldn’t live on the counter. There are two categories of “clutter” on your counters – daily mess and actual clutter.
Daily mess is what happens in a home during the day when people are living there. There are dishes that need to be done, papers that need to be dealt with from that day, backpacks that need to be put away, and more! This is the expected mess from your day.
During the day in my house, I always have dishes, kids papers, mail, toys, and bags on my countertop. The daily mess, we are not going to worry about. The key to that is create systems that clear it either as it comes in or at the end of the day.
My children have a routine when they come home from school that involves putting their lunch on the counter and putting their backpacks and shoes away. It is then my job to empty their lunch box and get it in the dishwasher. I do this while they are eating a snack so I can get our counters back to neutral before the evening begins.
When my partner get home at the end of the day, there are dirty dishes and ingredients from dinner on the counter. We work together to get this cleaned up either while the kids play (on a good day) or after they’re in bed (on a rough day) so our counters can be clean for the morning and the expected mess to start over again.
The daily mess is fine. Create some systems to get it cleaned up on a daily basis so it doesn’t get overwhelming. One of my favorite rules to follow is Gretchen Rubin’s “One Minute Rule.”
I must do a task that can be finished in one minute. Hang up my coat, read a letter and toss it, fill in a form, answer an email, note down a citation, pick up my phone messages, file a paper, put a dish in the dishwasher, replenish the diaper supply by the changing table, put the magazines away… and so on.
Taking the time to get these one minute tasks done right away helps my expected mess not pile up to the point that it takes too long to get cleaned up.
Actual clutter is the problem. These are unwanted or unneeded items, sometimes you’re just not sure what to do with them. These can also be items that don’t have a home. Clutter becomes clutter when it’s a problem. I do not enjoy seeing items on the counter that don’t live there. It stresses me out and makes me feel like I’m losing control of my home (a feeling I do NOT enjoy). To clear the clutter, we need to get rid of the items that are no longer wanted and find homes for the items that need one.
Grab an extra bin you have and take everything off your counters into the bin (maybe not dirty dishes, those can go in the sink). Grab everything, even the daily mess.
Then, sort through the bin and decide if it’s daily mess (like lunch boxes from today) or clutter (the pile of paper you’ve been meaning to go through).
Put the expected mess away where it belongs.
Go through your clutter. First, decide whether you want to keep it or not. If it stresses you out seeing it on the counter, get rid of it or put it elsewhere. If it is not something you want to keep, throw it away or donate it immediately.
If it is something you’d like to keep, decide if it needs to live on the counter or not. A pile of papers you need to go through? Find a drawer or a basket so it’s not just on the counter. The toy your child wants you to fix? Either fix it immediately or throw it away. Keeping it on the counter is just adding to the clutter and visual reminder for you child that it hasn’t been fixed. If this happens often, find a place for these items to go so you don’t have them on your counter.
Once you identify the clutter and either get rid of it or find it a home, you will only have daily mess on your counters on a daily basis. This takes creating a daily reset system to keep your counters clean throughout the day and at the end of the day.
When we have too much clutter, it makes is difficult to stay on top of the daily messes created by our families living in our homes. Everything goes together and it’s more difficult to keep your counters clean when you have clutter and daily mess on them! It seems like such a bigger chore to get everything organized and your countertops back to neutral.
When you create daily habits, the job becomes a lot faster and doesn’t seem like such a big project.
My counters stay clean throughout the day, for the most part, because of my daily resets. I take the time after breakfast and after dinner to fully reset my kitchen. This keeps my counters clear of clutter and keeps the expected mess under control.
After breakfast, I make sure all the dishes are in the sink and the counters are cleared off. This way, we start at neutral when the after school mess begins. If I am home with the baby for the day, I take another 10 minutes while she eats lunch to clear off the counters. I save all the dishes for later in the day when I have time, unless she’s happy in her high chair and I can clean a little more while she’s contained.
After school, some days I’m able to reset, some days I’m not. It’s currently the beginning of the school year and we have some big feelings in our house after a long day. My afternoon reset doesn’t typically happen until I’m cooking dinner, and that’s okay.
The daily mess happens because we are living our lives. It’s more important to me to have time to play with my kids or help them out when they’re having a tough time than have a spotless kitchen all the time. My goal is to be able to keep all of it manageable that I can get it cleaned up quickly, rather than taking my whole evening after they’re in bed to clean the common areas.
After dinner is the big reset. During the day, I just try to keep the daily mess under control. Getting the kitchen to neutral if I can, but not stressing if I’m needed elsewhere. But after dinner, we get the kitchen to neutral. All the dishes are cleaned up, dry dishes are off the counter, toys are picked up and put away.
As my kids are getting older, they are starting to take on some of the cleaning up. They are in charge of picking up their toys, bringing their plate to the sink and making sure their shoes and backpacks are put away. The adults are in charge of the rest. This keeps our expected mess to a minimum. When it comes time to clean up the kitchen, it’s not too overwhelming. We are able to get it picked up and spend our evening doing what we would like!
The biggest reason this goes so quickly is we do it every night and everything has a place. My partner and I are both able to walk through the house and put items away. Sometimes he cleans the kitchen and I pick up the baby toys or vice verse. He knows where most of the kitchen items go, and I know where he puts those that he doesn’t. He knows how to pick up the toys (if my kids can do it, so can my partner). We have bins for most of the kids stuff so it’s easy to clean up what they’ve played with.
When it comes to keeping your countertops clean, just follow the three steps.
Take Inventory of the Items on Your Counter
Decide What Kind of Items you Have
Create Daily Reset Routines to Keep Your Counters Clean
It will take some time on the front end but save time in your daily life (and isn’t that one of the main goals of being organized?).
After you take the time to clear off your countertops and bring them to a neutral that works for your family, tag me on Instagram @wildelyorganized and let me know how it went! I love seeing y’all’s projects and seeing how organization can improve your home and daily life!
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Wildely Organized 2024
Based in Houston, TX, Wildely Organized offers compassionate, professional in-home organization services that empower families to live functional lives in a space they love.
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