Good cleaning habits can help you become a more successful person. No, but really.
In the same way that people who live in clean homes get better sleep, you’re more likely to get into your kitchen and cook (and actually enjoy it) if it’s a calm, clean, and organized space.
This is because there’s a psychological impact of physical cleanliness–namely, when you maintain a clean space and don’t see clutter everywhere you look, your mind is less prone to feel like such a jumbled mess. If you’ve ever worked from home and couldn’t sit down at your computer until you put away your laundry and made your bed first, you can attest to the above.
So what does this have to do with successful people? I view committing to cleanliness as basically committing to anti-laziness. It takes work to maintain a tidy space–hard work. Think about the most successful people you know… I bet quite a few of them have those busy-as-hell lives but somehow manage to maintain a presentably clean car, tidy home, and organized office.
It’s not a coincidence, and it doesn’t happen automatically. This is something that everyone, no matter how Type-A, has to work toward. But maintaining a clean kitchen–likely the hardest-working room in the house–is definitely worth it.
Consider incorporating some (or all) of these tips and habits into your routine. I’ve found that sticking to little rituals like these not only helps me to develop and keep a clean space that I love, but it also creates a feeling of empowerment and sense of zen. After all, your home should be your happy place.
#1. Make time to make food.
We’ve all had moments where we’ve whipped up something quickly and run out the door only to return to a giant mess a few hours later. Sometimes, you have to–and that’s completely understandable. But don’t allow this to be your “normal.” You’re conditioning your mind to associate cooking with stress, and the thought of getting into the kitchen becomes an increasing source of dread–just another necessary chore. Be it simplifying your recipe selections, meal prepping on the weekends, or leaning a little harder on trusted grocery store convenience items, make an effort to ensure you’ll have adequate time to prepare your food. Read through the recipe before you get into the kitchen, set out your ingredients, pour yourself a glass of wine, and turn on some music before you start. Even if you don’t love cooking by nature, you may start to enjoy it a little bit more after taking steps to create a peaceful atmosphere.
#2. Simplify what you put on display.
Keep your counter tops and open shelving aesthetically pleasing and, most importantly, functional by keeping any appliances, tools, or other items that aren’t regularly used off of them. The items on display are what characterize your kitchen–don’t characterize it with clutter. While overhead racks may be a great way to stow pots and pans, it’s incredibly liberating to stash things you don’t reach for frequently out of site and completely rid yourself of equipment you never use.
#3. Put the garbage out every day (or every other day).
Even if it’s not overflowing, take out your kitchen trash on a regular basis throughout the week. This is a simple ritual that keeps your kitchen smelling and feeling a little fresher (bonus points for emptying your other household waste baskets into the kitchen garbage before taking it out!).
#4. Streamline your storage.
Worthwhile weekend project: take a look and make sure you’re utilizing cabinets and cupboards in the best way for storing kitchen essentials. Even if you don’t have a lot of storage space, there are tons of smart kitchen organizational hacks out there–you’re just one Pinterest click away. My favorite? Invest in lots of large glass jars (think beyond the Mason) for storing ingredients like pasta, flour, salt, and coffee. Removing items from their irregular packaging and placing them in vessels you’ve selected allows you to better see and take stock of what you actually have in your pantry. Also, it just looks pretty.
#5. Clean out your “junk” drawer and sort your plastic containers monthly.
These are the two messiest drawers in your kitchen, right? Even though you can’t constantly see the wreckage within, you know it’s there. Either you can’t get the junk drawer open because something got caught or you can’t get the plastic container drawer closed because lids keep flying out. We’ve all been there, but they’re just two drawers, and if you can make a habit of cleaning out and organizing these small spaces regularly, you’ll be more likely to tackle the big stuff after.
#6. Take your time.
When I’m in a hurry, I splatter my sauce, get flour everywhere, and basically make a big ol’ mess in the kitchen. It’s intuitive: Intentionally forcing yourself to physically work at a slower pace will inherently lead you to work more carefully and efficiently, which will keep you from dirtying up your kitchen as much as when you’re in a rush. It will also allow you to develop stronger muscle memory with common kitchen tasks so that you will gradually be able to do them quickly and neatly–like second nature.
#7. Return and restore order.
It’s well and good if you prefer to lay out all of your ingredients before starting, but when you’re done cooking, or even when you have down time during a recipe, start putting spice bottles, boxes, and bags back where they belong. Once the meal is ready, take a break and allow yourself to sit down and enjoy it–but once you’re done, don’t put the putting away off. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a jars and bottles living on your counter for a month.
#8. Make (and stick to) grocery lists.
This could alternately be titled, “Clean out the refrigerator and pantry once a month.” Because, really, they go hand-in-hand. Before you head to the grocery, take take inventory of your refrigerator and pantry to figure out what you really need. When you don’t know what you have on hand, you buy in excess and end up over-cluttering your cabinets and, ultimately, throwing out more food.
#9. Don’t go to sleep with dirty dishes in the sink.
This little ritual of mine may actually help you to sleep better–not only because you know you’re going to bed with a clean kitchen, but because warm, soapy water and scrubbing dishes always makes me tired. Ha. But seriously, when you wake up to and leave behind a clean kitchen, you’ll be much more ready to take on the work day. #success