Take a moment to visualize the various surfaces in your home. Are they totally free of clutter? Or have they become inadvertent homes to your coins, keys, and unopened junk mail?
When you treat tabletops and counters as catch-alls for your miscellanea, it prevents them from fulfilling their actual purposes. Your nightstand houses unmailed letters. The kitchen counter becomes a bookshelf. Your home office is hidden under a mountain of sticky notes. And the dining table gets used for everything except, well, dining.
Not that you need to worry about any of that anymore, though. Below, we explain how and why to keep those four surfaces free of clutter.
After all, less stuff is more space, and more space is more freedom.
c/o Honey We’re Home
Why: Studies show that too much stuff piled up in the bedroom prevents restful sleep. Your brain processes that clutter as a task to deal with, making it difficult for you to relax.
The bedroom should be your haven, not a home for sweaters that took a detour on their way to the closet. Plus, paper clutter – especially if it’s related to work – blurs the line between home and office.
How: Start by emptying the nightstand completely and dusting off the top, instructs The Spruce. Scan any documents with an app like Scanbot, and recycle the documents when you’re done. Then dispose of any trash, and put items that belong elsewhere in their proper spots.
To ensure maximum relaxation, limit the items on your nightstand to just the bare essentials: a lamp (or Lililite if you’re cramped for space), a glass of water, an alarm clock, and whatever book you’re reading.
Consider keeping lavender essential oil, which studies show quells insomnia, in your drawer. If you wear rings and/or necklaces, toss them into a small bowl or tray before you snooze.
Have enough surface space for a plant?
Opt for jasmine or aloe, which improve sleep and air quality, respectively.
Why: If the kitchen is the heart of the home, then the counter is its artery – and you don’t want to get that clogged! Keep the counter clear, so it’s easier for you to prep your meals. Cutting up carrots is less of a juggling act when you actually have room for a colander and cutting board.
Plus, fewer items means less to lift when cleaning. And the cleaner your kitchen is, the less enticing it’ll be to pesky invaders.
How: First, relocate anything that doesn’t belong. Hang your bag and keys on their designated hallway hooks, and put cookbooks back up on the shelf.
Then, it’s all about setting up a good system. Does unopened mail find its way next to the kettle? Open letters over the recycling bin instead, and toss them once you’ve scanned anything important.
Pressed for Space?
Store cooking utensils, mugs, spices, and other small items on a pegboard backsplash. They’ll be out of the way and easy to access.
Reserve your countertop for appliances you actually use every day, like your coffee maker and toaster. And store bulky, underused appliances under the counter (bye bye, bread maker).
When in doubt, follow this rule of thumb: If a task takes less than two minutes, do it now.
Putting dishes in the dishwasher, wiping the counter down, and returning items to their proper places takes less time than you think. Especially if you do it in spurts.
Why: Studies show that working in a space loaded with paper and other clutter can decrease your productivity. How? Despite all the emphasis our society places on multitasking, we humans are terrible at it. All those sticky notes and papers compete with your never-ending to-do list for your attention.
The result: You’re spread thin. And it’ll take you longer to get a single job done.
How: Easy! Release yourself from the paper distractions. Use Scanbot to scan and digitally save contracts, receipts, business cards, and all kinds of other documents. You can even upload a photo of whiteboard notes from your work meeting for future reference.
Then, rather than piling those multi-page docs on your desk, you can upload them to your favorite cloud storage service. No need to shuffle around in some cabinet drawer. With Scanbot, you can easily find what you need in just a few taps.
This will leave room on your desk for items that encourage productivity, such as coffee, a glass of water, your music player of choice, and noise-canceling headphones.
Why: “Dinner’s ready!” becomes less appetizing when you have to clear your dining table of shopping bags, homework, and half-read magazines before you can eat. By the time you’ve finished clearing the table, putting stuff away, and plopping down your placemats, chances are your food has already gotten cold.
How: First, identify any objects on your table that don’t belong there. If the table sometimes doubles as a work station for you or your kids, use a rolling cart to easily store and find your goods. You’ll be less inclined to use the table as your makeshift desk, leaving it clear for hot dinner.
Also, it might help to have a not-flat place for each item you tend to toss on the table. Take note of what you normally shed the minute you walk in the door: Groceries? Fido’s leash? Your coat? Hang those items on hooks instead of tossing them onto the table.
Then going forward, clear and set the table every evening, or after each meal. Once you get in the habit, it’ll be easier for you to keep the table reserved for its intended purpose: the place to gather with loved ones and enjoy a meal.
This post was written by MakeSpace, a full-service storage company that picks up, stores, and delivers your stuff so you never have to visit a self-storage unit.