How to Be Tidy: One Key Secret You Need to Know

Angela | Arrow
by Angela | Arrow

What does it mean to be tidy? To me, tidy means living in an environment without clutter, where things are neatly organized and in their own place, and just living in a really peaceful, inviting environment without a lot of chaos. I imagine a lot of people strive for this, but it can be overwhelming to get there.

You may even believe you are a very messy person. In reality, there’s quite a large spectrum between tidy and messy and you can fall anywhere in the middle. I’m going to give you one little secret of how to be tidy that can help you become more organized even if you are not a naturally neat person.

Your organizational style and personality

Your organizational style and personality 

I am more inclined to be tidy. I never had to be reminded to make my bed or clean my room as a kid. In contrast, my sisters needed more encouragement to be tidy.

On the website, Clutterbug, you can take a quick quiz to see what type of personality you have when it comes to organizing. Some people crave a simple, clear space and others prefer to have their things on display. 

Cricket Clutterbug

I’m a cricket

I identify as a cricket according to the Clutterbug quiz. Crickets have more natural tendencies toward being tidy. A cricket is a bit more of a perfectionist, ordered, and neat, and craves visual simplicity.

Trying to be tidy with kids

Trying to be tidy with kids

I was able to remain tidy for most of my life until we had three kids. We were constantly bringing into the home a lot of new toys, gear, gadgets, books, and clothing, all so we thought to help us parent our kids better.

Life with three kids is busy and overwhelming. I was getting more frustrated that I wasn’t as productive as I wanted to be. I was short-tempered, anxious, and quite the opposite of tidy.

Decluttering a house

Things came to a head

In 2015, things came to a head when we sold our house. We emptied out the attic, basement, and jam-packed cabinets that we hadn’t looked in for years. There was just so much stuff and mountains of things we’d accumulated.

That’s when it clicked. The sheer amount of stuff we had was adding turmoil to the already stressful situation of raising a family. We made a conscious decision to prioritize our family, their needs, and to intentionally look through our belongings and decide which things we wanted to keep or let go of.

Prioritizing tidiness

Choosing priorities

A tidy person finds joy in prioritizing their present reality. The tidy person consciously realizes they can only handle so much inventory and they will put a cap on the limit of how much they allow into their home. Inventory is not just physical belongings. Inventory is the commitments you take on and anything else you need to manage. 

The secret to being tidy

How to prioritize

If you look at life so that the present reality is most important, it helps you realize that you can’t hold onto everything from your past. You can’t keep everything just because you “might” use it in the future. This mindset will allow you to easily let go of things or engagements that aren’t in line with your values and current needs.

How to be clean and tidy

The good news…This should be good news for those of you who were not born with that clean gene. If you’re able to get your inventory down to a manageable level, you will be successful at becoming tidy. The more a person needs to manage, the more difficult things become to manage and control. 

Messy closet

What happens with messy closets

I love using the example of a closet. If you have a completely overstuffed closet and it’s a struggle to put a shirt back in there, you will get in the habit of throwing that shirt on the side of the bed or on the floor and the cycle of messiness continues. 

Tidy closet

What happens with tidy closets

By contrast, if your closet is tidy and has free space between clothing, it is no big deal to easily put the shirt away. 

The perfect level of inventory

The perfect level of inventory

What is the perfect level of inventory and belongings in your home? Only you can answer that question. It’ll take trial and error to get there. Everyone has a different comfort level. Some people would feel uncomfortable living in my simplistic, minimalist home.

How to be a tidy person

Three guiding rules

I have three guiding rules to help you stay tidy. Rule number 1 is that you should know where everything is in your home. Rule number 2 is that you should have easy access to those things. Rule number 3 is that you should be able to easily put things away. If you can’t do all three rules, then you probably still have too much stuff. 

Starting the decluttering process

Starting the decluttering process

When we started the process, we’d declutter one room, move to the second room, and come back to the first room to further declutter. Decluttering is really peeling back layers of stuff.

Start with easy categories, like clothing, beauty supplies, or kitchen items. I encourage you to find one drawer or cabinet and commit to bringing it down to a tidy, basic manageable level.

How to be tidy

A step at a time

I encourage you to find one drawer or cabinet and commit to bring it down to a tidy, basic manageable level. Take everything out of the drawer, put back everything you need, and in the next couple weeks, think about how you feel every time you open the drawer seeing that tidy space.

Ask yourself if you feel confident to keep the space tidy. Do you feel peace when you know where everything is? Those emotions will keep you tidy.

How to be tidy

The secret art of tidying up has to do with your mindset and amount of inventory more than your personality. Do you agree? How do you stay tidy? Let me know in the comments below.

Join the conversation
 1 comment
  • Carolyn Carolyn on Nov 11, 2022

    This is the first de-cluttering "tips" article I've seen with more practical advice, for me anyway. It does make more sense you will feel better about putting things away if there is actual room to put things away. I was ill a while back and things got away from me. Living with 3 (boys) men, compounded the problem in our house. Now everytime I start a room, some other disaster occurs that takes me away. I've started trying to work at least a few minutes everyday or every day I'm home, and I'm finally seeing some progress. It's slow progress, but I figure by the time I get it trimmed down I'll be ready for my Swedish Death Cleaning. LOL!!!