Any family looking to maintain a minimalist lifestyle is going to rely heavily on routines to keep down family clutter. Now, I’m not a traditional routine-loving person. In fact, I spent a great many years of my young adult life downright rejecting any form of monotony, ESPECIALLY routines.
I still battle with timelines and dangerously ride the line of chronic tardiness.
However. There are some areas of my life where I have decided that routines give me an amount of control that I was lacking in my frivolous abolishment of monotony. One such area is leading minimalist lifestyle for myself and my family.
Some of the routines that I have chosen really feel more like games or challenges. Heat-mapping my belongings like a Russian spy. Separating the weak from the heard like a mighty hunter and boxing them up for donation.
If you’re even considering a minimalist lifestyle then you have to concede the need for firm routines.
If you’re looking for actual tips for 10-minute decluttering you can find that in another article. Here are some my personally most successful routines that I’ve established.
Let’s dive into 5 epic routines to keep down family clutter.
This is a minor addiction of mine. I love when researchers perform studies that show how much time people spend in certain areas of their home.
In one study done by UCLA, they found that the majority of their subjects had large master bedrooms but only used a small fraction of the space.
I don’t have that kind of equipment but I’m intrigued by the idea of identifying what I use and letting the facts guide my decisions.
Turn around hangers
Chances are if you’ve done much looking, you’ve seen something about the hanger trick I recently found out that it had been featured on Oprah at one point.
The concept is that you face all of the hangers in your closet backward and, as you wear items, put them back in facing forward.
I started doing this a while back, using the opposite technique- I turn them backward as I wear them instead of starting off with all hangers turned around.
However, I do see the value in starting off with all hangers facing the opposite direction. That way, if you get lazy or forgetful later on down the line, you don’t mess up your progress by forgetting to flip your hanger.
Either way, I would say the outcome is the same. This hanger trick has the added benefit of maintaining awareness. Our brains aren’t used to seeing those backward hangers- that’s not how it’s supposed to be. So, you’ll be reminded constantly of the belongings you aren’t wearing.
Left to right
Similar to the backward hanger trick, I use heat mapping techniques throughout my home by separating my items from left to right.
For example, with my facial products, I start with them all in a neat stack. As I use items I move them to the right of the stack with a defined separation between the areas.
As I use more an more items they end up in the right stack with the unused items still to the left. This is pretty simple and not at all time-consuming.
I do this with medicines, cleaning products, bathroom products, and any other area that I feel needs to be a little managed or monitored.
For example, you could use this same technique with towels and dishcloths, tools, shoes, accessories, jewelry, cooking utensils, toys…like, anything.
It’s super simple and, again, you have the added benefit of awareness to either use the things you aren’t using or to maybe remove them.
You could do front to back instead of left to right, but I don’t recommend this because pushing things to the back can lead to forgetting about them which is the opposite of what you want.
Separate the weak from the heard
This is literally how I think about almost all of my decluttering ventures. I’m separating the weak from the heard, removing the dead weight from the value group.
It reminds me of that song by Beyonce, To the left, to the left, everything you own in a box to the left.” Because all of those untouched items in the ‘left’ pile are going in a box.
After you’ve heat-mapped your belongings for a sufficient amount of time, you box up the weaklings and remove them from the heard. This is how I love to think about routines to keep down family clutter.
Now, what you do with them can vary. You can go straight to recycle, trash, donate, or you can do what Joshua Becker calls ‘leveling’ and relocate the items for a set amount of time to experiment with losing them.
I only recommend the latter if you’re really not sure and uncomfortable about an item. Remember, finding your balance in minimalism is all about experimentation. You’re a scientist and this is all an experiment.
Make a big gesture
There comes a time when you need to make some big brave gestures just to stretch the bounds of your experimentation.
If our greatest minds kept things comfortable and within normal bounds, we wouldn’t have any of the incredible inventions that we have today.
So, once you’ve experimented with your balance in minimalism for a bit and you begin to feel cozy and comfortable, try to stretch yourself with a single big gesture at a time. A single…big gesture…at a time. Not everything all at once.
Generally, this is a 50% gesture, like removing 50% of your wardrobe and setting it aside to see if you really even get the urge to reach into that box. If you don’t then that’s 50% less clutter in your closet.
If there’s an area where you really want to go big, but 50% doesn’t really work, then try a number limit. For example, each person in the home gets 2 towels that are theirs to tend to. The rest go in the box.
You can see how these changes will massively improve laundry day.
Routines to keep down family clutter do not always consist of removing items. Oftentimes it involves resisting new items.
I’m going to introduce you to a little thing called ‘delayed gratification’. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. It’s the enemy of impulse.
Here’s the trick, it’s a lot easier to ‘wishlist it’ than to abandon the impulse altogether. It’s really a trick of the mind.
Here’s how it works: you’re browsing Amazon for some totally legitimate thing you need when you see this awesome new thing that you didn’t know you needed until now! Rather than strictly telling yourself “NO” -which is a negative- click that ‘wishlist it’ button- which sounds more like a magical fairy compartment for all of your shopping wishes.
Now you know that this is always saved for you if you still want it a week from now. The funny thing is after that week has passed so has the impulse.
Keep it in rotation
Everything at once is never a good thing. For example, hanging all of your kid’s artwork at the same time is cluttering and distracting while hanging a few is nice and draws in appreciation for the piece.
The same can be said for many things. Seasonal wardrobes, kid toys, sporting equipment. Everything doesn’t need to be out and about at once. Let’s take a few key examples.
Rotating kid toys is something that a lot of us probably thought we invented until we found that others had been recommending it for years! It’s just a good practice.
Kids have a short attention span and get bored with monotony pretty quickly. Have you ever gone to clean out your kid’s toybox and all of a sudden all of these toys they never play with are their “favorite”?
Chose about 5 toys per week for your kiddo to play with and then rotate them to a new 5 the following week. This will keep their creativity fresh since they likely play with each toy differently, and will make cleaning and organizing the toys easier.
It also has the added bonus of encouraged decluttering by your kid. How? Well, if this week’s rotation isn’t something that your kid is too fond of he or she will be sure to mention that and will be eager to offer it up for donation.
Regarding seasonal wardrobes, you don’t need to keep a year’s worth of clothes in your closet. If you have your items parsed down to a reasonable number it should be pretty easy to store off-season clothing in a container. This will give you more room in your closet and much less clutter.
Routines to keep down family clutter
There are many more routines to keep down family clutter, such as manning the focal points first- making beds, keeping floors clean- or the good ole 1-in-1-out rule, but these 5 are definitely the most clutter-specific epic routines to develop for any family.
Have you tried any of these routines? Do you have your own routines to keep down family clutter? Share your thoughts below in the comments!