The Lazy Girl’s Guide to the Minimalism Challenge

Are you drowning in piles of clutter and undone laundry? Do you ever wonder which pile of laundry is clean and which is still dirty? Does it seem impossible to keep up with cleaning your home while your family is still living there? 

If so, then you’re in the right place. I’m going to dig into some of the super simple systems that have helped me to stay on top of the clutter. I am certainly not one of those people who love to organize, and you will never find me alphabetizing my spices on a Saturday afternoon. So, if you’re looking for that, I’m sure you’ll find it on Pinterest!

But if you’re looking for easy-to-implement tips that won’t take you all day, then keep reading. I’ve got your lazy girl’s guide to minimalism right here. 

Shine your sink

This may seem like the most ludicrous first step in tackling the challenge of decluttering your home. And trust me, when I first heard it I was beyond skeptical. I couldn’t understand how this first step could possibly help me with my piles upon piles of paperwork and mountains of laundry. 

But after going through the necessary steps of denial and anger and resentment towards this first step, I finally relented. I figured I would go ahead and tackle this first step just to show that crazy FlyLady that this step did not in fact help me in embarking on this minimalism challenge.

And you know what I found out? 

That next morning when I got up and went into the kitchen to make my coffee, I was so impressed with how nice my kitchen looked that it put me in such a great mood for the rest of the morning. And believe me, I am not a morning person, so this was no easy feat.  

So, if you’re ready to dive into minimalism, you need to start with shining your sink. I know you’re probably still super skeptical. But do it anyway as defiance to show me that I’m wrong. 

You know how when you’re trying to lose weight and you start going to the gym. Do you come home and immediately dive into a box of donuts? No! Because mentally you know that it will undo all that hard work you just did at the gym. You actually want to eat healthier because you want to see results from your hard work.

The same is true with shining your sink. Once you do this first step, you can’t help but then start to declutter the countertops. And if your countertops are as full of piles as mine used to be then you can easily see how this one simple step will start to make a difference. And that feeling will naturally start to spread throughout your home. So, just take a leap of faith and get started with shining your sink, you can find the detailed instructions for the best way to do it here. 

Focus on the hotspots

Don’t worry about the boxes in the back corner of the basement or the piles of paper shoved in the bottom drawer of your hutch (ask me how I know they’re there!). Instead, focus on the hotspots. These are the places in your home with the most traffic and where most people tend to dump their stuff. Think about the doorway to the garage that always ends up with shoes and backpacks. Or the first section of your kitchen counter that you come up to when you first walk into your home each evening. 

You know that spot where you drop your purse, empty coffee cup, keys, mail, and that last-minute loaf of garlic bread you picked up on your way home. 

Yeah, that spot. Clean it off. 

Then move into the living room and clear off the spot that always seems to be a magnet for the remotes, magazines, and coffee cups. Start clearing there. Don’t take the time to lament over how the kid’s toys always seem to migrate out here no matter how many times you ask them to keep them in their room. Don’t worry, we’ll get to that step eventually. But today, we’re focusing on the lazy girl’s guide to minimalism! And that doesn’t include deep cleaning or mass clearing. It just includes the quick and simple tasks that will give you the best bang for your buck. 

So, keep moving through your home. You can identify the hot spots in each room by looking at them from an outside point of view. Where do you first gravitate towards in that room to put down whatever it is you have in your hands? Where do you tend to spend the most time in that room which inevitably leads to leftover plates, cups, toys, or craft supplies? These are the spots you’re focusing on. The high traffic spots that always seem to be a magnet for stuff that doesn’t belong there. Look for those spots and clear them off, return the stuff to their rightful home. Now, you’re well on your way to a much cleaner and more peaceful home.  

Focus on your daily habits

The biggest tip I have for successfully keeping life as minimal as possible is daily maintenance. Which can be a hard tip to get behind. Especially, when I want to take the lazy way out. 

There are some mornings when I just don’t want to make my bed. So, I do what any adult would do – I rebel and don’t do it because there’s nobody to tell me to do it. 

But, in all seriousness, somewhere around midday I realize that the visual clutter distracts me every time I walk in my room and see the comforter in a big messy pile at the foot of the bed. And so, at some point in the day, I break down and make my bed. This one simple step every day really does give my room a sense of calm, which I truly believe is what minimalism is all about at the end of the day.

As you start to work towards achieving that minimalistic feeling in your home, there are three things that I suggest you focus on: 

  1. When you get it out, put it away. 
  2. Make your bed every day
  3. Do a load of laundry every day

Are these the sexy and exciting tips you expected when you started reading this article? If not, you’re in good company. Well, that is if you consider me good company! It’s so easy to let our inner child rebel and not want to do these things. And trust me, I absolutely do not do all three things every single day. But for the most part, most days, these things do happen. 

For some reason, that last tip is the one I hear the most pushback from when talking to my friends IRL. And, honestly, I don’t know why. Unless you have to go to a laundromat or some other shared laundry room in your building, there is no reason you can’t do one load a day. And it will make such a huge difference in making your home feel less like a ransacked dressing room at Macy’s on Black Friday. 

It’s not like I’m asking you to go down to the river and beat your clothes against a rock to clean them! Throw a small load in the washer in the morning before you leave for work. It’s okay for it to sit for the day until you get home. Then you simply move it to the dryer when you get home. And finally, before bed fold and put away that one load. It won’t be much, because they’re small loads.

Unless you work 24 hours shifts at the fire station, leaving clothes in the washer will be fine. I used to work 12-hour night shifts at the hospital and I still did this. Each evening before I left, I made sure the dishwasher and the washing machine were both full and running before I left. And it made such a huge difference to not come home to a messy kitchen and exploded bedroom. 

The best part is that once you get caught up on laundry and you’re only running a small load each day, it’s a breeze when it’s all done and you can quickly run around putting everything away. And once your kids are over the age of four, they can help with this. I should write an article about this, I don’t know why I get such a reaction every time I mention doing a load of laundry every day. 

Start small and build up to the minimalism challenge

So, you’ve shined your sink and cleared off the hotspots. You’re working towards building up healthy daily habits that will make it easier to maintain a minimalist home. How do you dive deep into clearing the clutter and enjoying a minimalist home? 

Well, you start with the easy stuff, the surface clutter. Then move on to the next harder items such as clothes and books. Finally move to the bigger spots such as your attic or basement. And as you move up the hierarchy of harder items and larger messes it will get easier each time. 

Clearing the clutter is like peeling the layers off an onion. You don’t want to jump straight into slicing and dicing all your stuff. Instead, take it off one layer at a time. 

FlyLady calls them baby steps. You can read my take on her book about the subject here. 

Once you get the surface clutter cleared out, that one step alone will make your home feel so much lighter. You will feel so much more relaxed and at peace hanging out in your home. You won’t even want to escape to Target to buy more things!

For me, working towards a minimalist home isn’t something that I can achieve on a long weekend. And I don’t think it’s healthy for us to constantly try to do that. I know that it sells TV shows and we all watch in wonder as a home is transformed in 72 hours. But honestly, it doesn’t solve the root problem of changing our daily habits, stopping the deluge of new stuff coming in, and figuring out the best systems for our own homes. 

The minimalist life is a journey, not a destination. 

This is an experience to be fully appreciated. You are changing some lifelong habits and digging out of some deep sentimental clutter. Let it take time. Let the change sink in as you peel each layer. Then dive back in to peel off some more. Each time that you do this you will feel that rush of seeing your home clean and clear from clutter. So, trust the process and let it be a journey that you fully experience rather than rush through. 

Keep it lazy with routines

When you started this article, you probably thought I would link to all sorts of expensive organizing things. But at the end of the day, the real reason our homes are a mess is that we haven’t created the right systems to keep up with it. 

And if you want to keep up with the mess that your family continues to bring in your home, then you need daily habits that keep your hot spots clear. 

Because let’s face it, the kids aren’t going to stop bringing home cute artwork. And despite the fact that my little one seems to always be running around naked, we still seem to go through a ton of laundry! 

So in the meantime, this tired momma doesn’t want to spend her entire weekend cleaning and doing marathon loads of laundry. And to keep it easy I have found that building up my daily routines is what allows me to keep it lazy.