Here are some tips that I learnt (the hard way) that helped me keep my home clean and tidy, and running smoothly, with a minimum of effort. Please note that some of these were developed because I currently live in a very small apartment with almost no manoeuvring space!
1. Do the dishes as soon as possible, at least once a day. Seriously, this may sound silly, or even obvious, but whether you live alone or with more than just yourself, doing the dishes at least once a day will change your outlook on the kitchen. It’s easy to say,’ But there’s only a couple of cups and plates and some utensils and a pot in there, I’ll just do them tomorrow!’ but tomorrow the pile will have doubled, and your will to do them will have lessened. Looking at a pile of dirty dishes is very discouraging, and it can be very tempting to keep putting it off. If you do the dishes every night, after supper, it will become routine and will just take 10 mns or so to do! Nothing makes me feel more awkward in my home than a sink full of dirty dishes!
2. Outline the chores that have to be done around the house. I'm not talking about things that have to be done daily, like cooking and making the bed, but rather things like laundry and washing the bathtub and cleaning mirrors, etc. Make a weekly schedule that separates these chores evenly per day, doubling them up if you feel that it is needed, for example I do laundry and bathroom twice a week. To each their own, but separating the chores like this will not only ensure that you don’t forget any by oversight, but also that you don’t feel like you don’t know what has to be done, or feeling overwhelmed by trying to do everything in one day.
3. When buying snacks to make lunches, you can do two things to save you space and time. One, empty all the snacks in one container in the pantry, thus taking out all the cardboard boxes that they are in (don’t forget to recycle!) and putting them all in one space so you can see all your choice in one go and they are easy of reach. Two, cut up the veggies and put them into individual snackie bags. I do this with carrots, celery, broccoli and cauliflower. It is much easier to do this all at once and spend 30 mns arranging your snacks than cut some a little every morning. I also tried with cucumber, but they tend to dry out fast, so I only do one cucumber at a time (fills about three baggies). I have also tried with fruits but they brown or dry out too fast, so I just take the entire fruit rather than cut it up to size. This can be applicable to nuts, cheese, whatever you take as snacks along your day!
4. Make a meal plan! My mother never made a meal plan, she had it all planned out in her head, and it worked perfectly for her. However, I found out that I cannot do that. I wasted money at the grocery store and on eating out (what a waste of money!) because I either didn’t know what to make for supper, hadn’t taken out anything to defrost, or was just too stressed to even bother trying to think about anything. I made a list of all my staple meals (those are the meals I regularly make) and added leftovers four times plus new dish twice. Then I separated everything according to grocery specials and just plugged in the dish to a day and voila! I have my monthly meal plan done. Took all of 20 mns maximum, saved so much money and stress, and before going to bed I just look at my calendar, see what is on the menu and take out whatever I need from the freezer. It also helped us empty the fridge of leftovers rather than letting it go to waste and made us discover new foods (I'm trying to plug in vegetarian meals at least once a month, wish me luck!)
5. Baskets, containers, and folders are your friends. I had clutter all the time until I discovered the beauty of containers. I now have a Christmas box with all my decorations in one spot, a folder for all my bills with paid/to be paid separation, a folder for all the receipts of everything separated in categories, a basket for unopened mail, etc etc. This took away so much of my clutter, especially papers just floating around that never seemed to have a permanent home! Organizing your space continuously and effortlessly because of having a space for everything rather than ‘Just leave it on the counter/bed/table’ will go a looong way in keeping a living space clutter free!
There is so much more, but I think that those 5 tips is what really helped me out the most over time! Hope it is helpful!