Can’t Keep Up? One Sure-Fire Way to Tidy Your House – Fast.

So you live in a hovel
{via Steph Dix}


Generally speaking, our house is relatively clean and somewhat tidy.

As a parent of tiny but destructive tornadoes young kids this is about all I can hope for, while still maintaining my:

A) sanity
B) sense of humour
C) spontaneity

To manage this state of mostly-clean-most-of-the-time, I have spent months paring back our belongings, I clean up big messes as I go and tidy up before or just after the kids go to bed at night. I do a little bit of cleaning most days and will put at least one load of washing on almost every morning.

Boring, yes. But it also stops our house from resembling a turn of the century opium den. And not one of the “nice” ones.

That is, until we have a weekend like the one just gone.

A trip away, Sparky’s birthday, a stream of visitors and no housework at all. It was two blissful days and nights of good food, wonderful company and happy kids.

Ideally, I would have done the cleaning before we left. Ideally, I would have tidied up so we weren’t faced with the mess upon our return on Sunday afternoon. Ideally, I would not have left a load of wet towels in the washing machine.

But sometimes, life isn’t ideal. Sometimes you’ve gotta go with the flow.

And sometimes you’re faced with a house that resembles a turn of the century opium den come Monday morning.

It’s Too Much.

You may feel overwhelmed at the enormity of the mess. You may decide that drinking coffee and browsing Pinterest is a much better use of your time. You may procrastinate upon your procrastination.

But in the end, you will still need to get it sorted. Why not do it now, and do it fast?

What To Do?

Why, you Clutter Bust, of course! All you need is a little time, some energy and an empty laundry basket.

Grab your basket and choose a room. Any room will do.

1. Out loud, start counting slowly from 30 down to 0.

(Yes, you will feel like a dork. But there’s nothing like an old-fashioned countdown to get you moving.) And in that time, pick up anything that does not belong in that room. Put it in the basket and keep moving. Speed is the name of the game here.

2. Continue room to room.

Give yourself 30 seconds in each space to grab anything that does not belong. 60 seconds if the room is really heavy on the mess.

3. For maximum impact, target flat surfaces like:

  • shelves
  • coffee tables
  • desks
  • dressing tables
  • countertops
  • dining table

You may be surprised by how quickly the basket fills.

4. Once you are finished and have a nice sweat up (ha!) it’s time to sort.

Take the basket to your now clear dining table. Sort each item into piles, with one pile per room, a pile for the bin and a pile for things that simply do not have a home.

5. Once you have worked through the basket, it’s time to put everything back in its place.

If you have kids or a partner, enlist their help at this point. As each pile is returned to its room, take the extra minute to put things back in their correct place. Your newly tidied home will thank you for it!


This simple clutter bust is a very superficial fix.

It won’t answer the questions of why you have the clutter or disorganisation in the first place.

But it will help you wrangle back control of your home, before things get worse. And, if our home is anything to go by, even worse than opium den is… well, it’s pretty damn bad.


A quick fix like this is rarely the long-term solution, but for those days when it’s all too much, the Clutter Bust is a super helpful way to get your relatively clean, somewhat tidy house back in action.

What’s your favourite speedy housework tip? One that saves your bacon five minutes before guests arrive?



There’s no doubt life can be fast. Often too fast. Too much. Too stressful. Too overwhelming. On days like that we will tell ourselves there’s no time to slow down.
But there’s always time for a little slow, even on the busiest day. Join us for 365 Days of Slow and commit to a moment of slow, every day for a year. Learn more and sign up right here.

13 Responses to Can’t Keep Up? One Sure-Fire Way to Tidy Your House – Fast.

  1. Actually I live in a farmyard Brooke – well, that’s what if feels like thanks to my three kids and hubby who is also a tad messy!

    I try to throw things away whenever no one will notice.

    The less you have the better. But of course I still have too much. That’s why I love moving abroad and travel. It’s the perfect excuse to get rid of everything and nothing makes you feel freer!

    • Ha! Farmyard is an apt term some days here! Particularly with the chickens and the dog and the endless stream of dirt and mud from the garden…

      And I agree – there’s nothing quite like moving or travel that motivates you to lighten the load.

      Hmmm, perhaps a year abroad is what we should be planning next…

  2. My tip is to wear ‘mop’ type slippers if you have wooden floorboards, then you clean as you walk around! Just pop them in the washing machine afterwards.
    We’ve moved around a lot, country to country. Can definitely recommend moving as a way to simplify clutter.
    Love your blog, both the content and design :)

  3. This is exactly what I do! The laundry basket is my best friend!

    Removing clutter often gives me the motivation to do a more thorough clean – you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

  4. I need to clutter bust our backyard. It looks like the chimpanzee enclosure at the zoo. It’s inhabitants also closely resemble said primates ;).

    I do the same thing though, race around with a big tub picking everything up so they can spread it all over the place again!

  5. I am new to your writing and I am loving the emails and blog posts!

    When my kids were young, the laundry basket saved us many times when people were stopping by. Now that they are in their 20’s I find that the mess is mostly mine…projects, hobbies, etc.

    I am currently going through our house and bringing everything we don’t use down to the basement to decide where it will live next, because it’s just too much. We’re bagging up clothing, getting rid of extra TV’s and ditching the air conditioners. So that helps a lot.

    The day to day thing that I practice? Each time I go into a room, I straighten, dust, fold, put away something. If I am home on the computer for the day – I get up every 1/2 hour or so to do a small task. If the bed is made and the kitchen table and dishes are clean, most everything else is a pretty quick fix. Of course it all started with seriously cutting down on what we have in the house.

  6. I think the Clutter Bust is great because it gets you started. For me, once I start cleaning, I can consider the task 85% done. Barring too many kid interruptions (with 3 under 5 interruptions are expected), I’ll generally keep working until the room is clean. But I’ll put of starting forever.

    And, along the lines of the above comments, I keep pushing my husband to apply for jobs in other cities in part to force me to to get rid of a lot of junk (but mostly because we want to raise our kids elsewhere). I’m getting rid of it slowly, but I’d really love to have a do-or-die deadline (like moving) on the task.

  7. How timely for me to find your blog now (via styling you). I have recently moved, and while the necessities are unpacked, I’m finding it overwhelming proceeding with getting the rest of it done. Think I will try your approach. Thanks

  8. We spend our summers living aboard a 29 foot sailboat, which is surprisingly comfortable…And housework only takes 5 minutes! We did a huge decluttering after our first summer, when we returned home, and we still get rid of a little more every year. Simplifying does save a surprising amount of time.

    • Bethany, that sounds so incredibly blissful! And the perfect reason for an enormous declutter.

  9. I do something similar – but have a washing basket for each bedroom and a miscl. basket. I ultimately end up with about five baskets in each bedroom waiting to be sorted. I don’t mind because at least the clutter is out of the way.

    • I think that’s part of the battle, isn’t it? Getting the clutter out of eyesight. I know it still needs to be dealt with, but when things reach breaking point, any improvement will do. x