Design & Home

Overwhelmed by Everything You Want to Organize While Social Distancing at Home? Here Are Six Tips to Make Tidying Your House More Manageable.

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Coronavirus 2020

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Most of us are on the double-digit days of social distancing, and things are starting to get a little weird. What better way to distract yourself from the news cycle-slash-quarantine insanity than finally tackling that pile of high school debate club T-shirts you’ve been meaning to donate?

Nicole Anzia and Katherine DiGiovanni of the DC-based organizing group Neatnik know a lot about this—they are professional purgers, after all. The duo has launched a series of virtual organizing sessions that are free for folks out of work right now, and they’re posting a daily project on their Instagram to motivate followers, too.

Admittedly, tackling a home organizing project can seem overwhelming when you first approach it. So we asked the women to recommend ways to break up said organizing so that it feels manageable. But remember: you don’t need to stress yourself out over completing projects like this at an already stressful time, they say. Start small—they recommend setting a timer and tidying up for a set amount of time each day.

“The one thing we can control is our home environment,” says Anzia, “and just a little bit of work each day to improve our surrounding will help ease anxiety and help us feel productive.”

Here are their six tips for breaking down your journey toward an organized home into manageable chunks:

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Project of the Day #2: Absolutely everyone reading this caption can do this and it will make you feel so much better. It always makes us feel better – calmer and more under control – when we’ve taken a little bit of time to declutter. We call this the #Neatnik15 or the #Family15. If you have a family, this is a great way to pull together as a team and to teach your children a feeling of responsibility and empowerment. Here's how it works: Set a timer on your phone or the stove for 15 minutes. Everyone in the family does as much as they can for 15 minutes cleaning up, putting away, and decluttering. You can assign areas of the house or categories to each person or you can keep it more freewheeling. You would be amazed at how much you can accomplish in 15 minutes! If you don’t get it all done in 15 minutes, no problem. If you want to keep going, set the timer for another 15 minutes. If not, you’ve gotten a lot done and can do it again the tomorrow or another time. Make this a regular part of your routine and your house will be well-organized in no time! 💪👍😎 (Share your experiences with this technique on social media using #Neatnik15 #Family15 and tag us at @NeatnikDC!) • • • #neatnikdc #organizing #organization #getorganized #homeorganization #organized #declutter #organizedhome #professionalorganizer #organize #organizingtips #organizeyourlife #organizedlife #homeorganizer #decluttering #organizer #clutterfree #simplify #cleanout #organizationideas #organizinghacks #cleartheclutter #cleanup #organizingideas #springcleaning #projectoftheday #homeproject

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Make a To-Do List

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’ll launch you in the right direction. Anzia and DiGiovanni recommend making a list each morning and including everything you have to do, no matter how trivial. That includes brushing your teeth, working out, taking a shower, having lunch—your typical daily routine. Then sprinkle in some organizational tasks throughout, they say. This will make tidying seem like a typical part of your routine.

Tackle the Closet

For 20 minutes each day, face your closet. Take out clothes you know you’re never going to wear again, and then put them in a pile to donate and a pile to sell. Have bags marked and ready to store your clothes, so you won’t have any excuses when it comes time to get them out of the house (when we’re no longer social distancing, that is).

Now For the Shelves

You can tackle one shelf at a time, or one bookcase at a time, if you have multiple. Start by taking your books and knickknacks down and wiping the shelf clean, then take stock of what you have. For every shelf, find three books you’d like to donate. Repeat daily until you’ve gone through all your shelves and bookcases.

Don’t Forget the Medicine Cabinet

This applies to vanities and bathroom counter drawers, too. Take everything out, wipe down your shelves and drawers, and take stock of what you have. Throw out all expired cosmetics, samples, and products. If you have expired prescriptions, bag them so that you can dispose of them safely once you’re able to get out of the house.

Get Rid of All Those Old Magazines and Mail

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually need to hoard every issue of Bon Appetit ever created. Go through the stacks of publications in your house—if there’s an article you really want to read, tear that out and keep it, then ditch the actual magazine. Recycle everything. The same goes for your mail: Divide it into piles like “needs attention,” “needs to be filed,” and “need to be recycled.”

Make Your Bed

Just do it! It’s one thing to check off your list early in the morning, and it will most likely set you up for other good household habits, too.

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Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Associate Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She previously was the editorial assistant at Walter Magazine in Raleigh, North Carolina, and her work has appeared in Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Adams Morgan.