Overwhelmed? 9 Quick Tips for Keeping Your Home Feeling Serene and Organized.

Every Wednesday is Tip Day.
Feeling overwhelmed? Nine tips for keeping your home feeling serene and organized.

Because of the subject of my next book, Happier at Home, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about—you guessed it!—how to be happier at home. Here are a few very simple suggestions. These aren’t the most profound things you can do to make your home feel more serene and organized, but they’re steps you can take fairly quickly.

1. Be wary of bargains, sales, hand-me-downs and give-away. Do you really need this thing? Or love it? Beware: because of the “endowment effect,” we value things more once we own them. Once that thing enters your home, it will be tough to get it out again.

2. Never label anything “Miscellaneous.”

3. Remember: most decisions don’t require extensive research. Aim to be a satificer, not a maximizer.

4. Don’t let yourself fall into “empty.” Keep cash in the house. Keep gas in your tank. Keep an extra roll of toilet paper squirreled away. Keep your phone charged.

5. Don’t keep excessive amounts of anything. Those glass vases that come from florists. Those ketchup packets that come with take-out food. A house with two adults probably doesn’t need fifteen mismatched souvenir coffee cups.

6. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Lower the bar. Actually spending ten minutes clearing off one shelf is better than fantasizing about spending a weekend cleaning out the basement.

7. Clean while you cook (literally and metaphorically).

8. Put things away in a specific place. It’s much easier to find things later, and it’s oddly satisfying to slot things into their precise places. “Ah, this particular basket on this shelf is the place for the AAA batteries.”

9. Make your bed. I know it sounds trivial, but it’s a bigger happiness booster than you’d expect.

* Hey everyone: a New York City-based production company is looking for people who’ve been inspired to start their own Happiness Projects—and who want to share their stories. Does this describe you? Do you live in the greater NYC/tri-state area? Could you spend a few hours filming, at a convenient time?

If so, email a brief description of yourself, your Happiness Project, and how your life has changed as a result to THNKcasting@radicalmedia.com.


    I like this on Facebook! 🙂

  • RebeccaRoss
  • Terra

    If I feel overwhelmed by cleaning (as I sometimes do), I start with what to me is the biggest eyesore, something that gets under my skin to look at. For example, I can’t stand in when my sofa bed has coats strewn on it, and clutter, so I tidy and arrange it first. The rest is easy after that. Dishes too (no dishwasher), I organize them first, which pleases my mind, then I do the ones that will make the biggest difference regarding space.

  • Evelina

    Instead of throwing away stuff, couldn’t you simply tell the restaurant to give you less? That’s what I do with wasabi, which we don’t eat at all. I simply kindly ask not to give it to me, otherwise it would be wasted…

  • I do the same when I clean. I always start in one corner, and then move around the room going from one corner to the next. 🙂

  • I agree with all of these and I usually accomplish many. For me the ones that rang most true were #6, 7 and 9. It is very important that we remember not to let our idea of perfection get in our own way. This happens so often and without our even realizing it at all. You are so right when you say “spending 10 minutes cleaning off one shelf is better than fantasizing about spending the weekend cleaning the basement. The little things all add up.
    As for #7, clean while you cook. This is something that I have made a habit of doing and it has really helped. I find the kitchen is the hardest room in the house to keep clean, and it is a room that make an overall difference. When I have a clean kitchen my home feels more comfortable and looks tidier overall. The same goes for #9, making your bed is a good habit and it always makes a room appear more organized.

    Great tips, as always.

  • DLJ

    Pretty perfect list. Thanks!

  • Yes! I’ve been seeing the “Comparison is the thief of joy” all over the place lately and it has finally sunk in to a point that I can apply it to myself. Another one is focusing on what is unfair, everything then piles up and all aspects of life can seem hopeless.

  • I have been wanting to do my cleaning alone. But it was such a mess when I do it on my own. I would be needing some cleaning experts for my regular cleaning. Can you suggest any cleaning company to help me out?