9 Quick Tips for Creating Outer Order at Home

For most people, outer order contributes to inner calm. Here are a few very simple suggestions about how to make your home feel more serene and organized from Gretchen Rubin's book, Happier at Home. These aren't the most profound things you can do to be happier at home, but they're steps you can take fairly quickly.

1. Be wary of bargains, sales, hand-me-downs, and give-away. Do you really need this thing? Or love it? Beware: because of the "endowment effect," we value things more once we own them. Once that thing enters your home, it will be tough to get it out again.

2. Never label anything “Miscellaneous.

3. Don’t keep excessive amounts of anything. Those glass vases that come from florists. Those ketchup packets that come with take-out food. A house with two adults probably doesn’t need fifteen mismatched souvenir coffee cups.

4. Remember: most decisions don’t require extensive research. Aim to be a satisficer, not a maximizer (satisficers make a decision or take action once their criteria are met, while maximizers want to make the optimal decision and examine every option)

5. Don’t let yourself fall into “empty.” Keep cash in the house. Keep gas in your tank. Keep an extra roll of toilet paper squirreled away. Keep your phone charged.

6. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Lower the bar. Actually spending ten minutes clearing off one shelf is better than fantasizing about spending a weekend cleaning out the basement.

7. Clean while you cook (literally and metaphorically).

8. Put things away in a specific place. It's much easier to find things later, and it's oddly satisfying to slot things into their precise places. "Ah, this particular basket on this shelf is the place for the AAA batteries."

9. Make your bed. It may sound trivial, but it's a bigger happiness booster than you'd expect.

Find more clutter-clearing strategies in Gretchen Rubin's book Outer Order, Inner Calm, and some tips that didn't make it into the book here.

9 Quick Tips for Creating Outer Order at Home