The best advice stands the test of time. It's the kind of insight that can be distilled into few words, passed down from mothers to daughters and between best friends over coffee. And good advice is simple. Almost too simple. "Eat better and move more." "Treat others how you want to be treated." And my personal favorite, "clean a little bit each day."
The secret behind your tidiest friend's home? It's not a professional housecleaner (probably) or some exacting mix of cleansers passed down through generations. It's just that they've developed this one daily habit that seems to magically keep clutter under control. And you can do it too — it's called a surface sweep.
No matter how clean and well organized a room actually is, it can look and feel like the opposite when the surfaces are cluttered with everyday stuff. And when a room feels messy, you're more likely to add to the piles and compound the mess, setting into motion an endless cycle that too often results in just giving up and letting go. But you can fight the pattern with this intentionally fast and frantic daily exercise...
Do a surface sweep.
Choose one room in your home where the surfaces could use some attention. Set a timer for 3 minutes and dive in!
Work around your tabletops, countertops or shelves, scooping stuff up as you go. Gather together anything that's out of place and put it where it goes; glasses and mugs to the sink, magazines in the rack, junk mail in the trash... you get the idea. Work with intention and work fast, hustling to tidy up as much as you can until the timer runs out. Then stop.
This isn't about going on a full room cleaning binge. It's just a quick reset to get things under control in the speediest way possible and then move right on to whatever it is you want or need to be doing at the moment. It's a surprisingly effective tool against creeping clutter, and it has the most impact when done regularly. Start doing a 3-minute "surface sweep" once a day for the next few weeks and notice how much better you feel about your space day to day.
On that note, everyone's household is different. You may want a slightly longer regular daily "sweep" time if you have kids, for example. Feel free to bump it up by a minute each time until you hit the sweet spot, but no matter what, definitely keep it under 10 minutes. This is a quick daily habit to slip into your life to make it easier, not another dreaded task for the already too long to-do list.
Those of you who surface sweep already, please share your wisdom with us in the comments!