I hope you had a wonderful holiday and that you were able to relax and enjoy your time.

I’m good at enjoying myself and relaxing and not worrying about the mess that seems to explode on Christmas Day. I can smile and sip my cider and read a book and be purposeful in living in the moment and recognize that this is a unique day when mess is to be expected.

I’m all right. Until I’m not.

And that moment when I’m not doing well anymore, gives me a panicky feeling.

So what should I do? I follow the steps of my cleanup plan. Even though it’s not technically a cleanup project. It’s just cleaning up after the holiday celebrations.

But with these steps, I work through the feeling of being overwhelmed. The steps help me stay on track when being overwhelmed derails my focus.

Step One: Recycle Bin

If you didn’t have a gift-opening participant who was throwing wrapping paper and wrapping in the trash or recycling at the time (oh, how I love these folks), do it now. Don’t complain that you’re not that person. I’m not that person either. Now throw it away.

I know this seems too easy and obvious to list, and yet it has to be on the list for me. The feeling of being overwhelmed by the mess can paralyze me. I look at the total amount of craziness and don’t know where to start. I repeat to myself and my family: Just throw away garbage.

Only throwing out trash makes the room look so much better. The space that looks so much better reduces that feeling of being overwhelmed. Throwing out trash also helps me see what I’m really dealing with, as I walk around and look at individual items rather than the total mess. Knowing what I’m dealing with prepares my brain to keep going through the steps.

Step two: easy things

New things coming in means decisions have to be made. Take on the easy things before you get to the decisions that need to be made. Easy Stuff already has a permanent home elsewhere. You don’t have to decide anything about it. Get the Easy Stuff out of the way.

If you’re stressed about where in the world you’re going to store your new airfryer, you associate that stunned feeling with all the clutter. By removing the non-baffling Easy Stuff, you reduce the clutter and the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Note: Easy Stuff involves placing the dirty cider mug in the dishwasher.

Step Three: Duh Clutter

Mark one of your new boxes as a Donation Box. Insert any Duh (obvious) donations into that. Did some of your Christmas decorations get on your nerves this year? Did the dog chew the wise man’s robes? Does the handy Christmas card holder you bought in 1997 keep falling over? Did you even fill it with cards this year? If you don’t intend to fix those things (which is a good use of your time if you want to fix them now), put them in the donation box. Better to do that today rather than hope they will turn into something you like better while sitting in your attic for the next year.

Step four: ask the first clearing question

There are two clearing questions, but we’ll stick to the first one because we’re dealing with the new stuff now. This is a cleanup campaign rather than a years-long clearing mess project.

“If I needed this item, where would I look for it first?” is the first question. I know it’s hard to say where you would look for something new first, but try to follow your instincts. Put it in the first place that comes to mind when wondering where to look for it first. That way, chances are you’ll be looking for it in the first place when you need it!

And having an instinctive way of determining an item’s home is much better than standing in the center of the room staring into space. Believe me.

Step five: make it fit

This is the part moms start freaking out about from mid-November. How in the world will all these new things fit? The panic is especially bad if you are already struggling with clutter.

Keep in mind I’m not talking about solving all your problems, deep clearing. I’m talking about dealing with new things that have entered your house in the past week. It’s not easy, but it’s simple.

If you take something to the first place you would look for it (based on instinct, not trust), and there is no space in that space, make space. Make space by simply removing something.

The easiest of the easy things is garbage. See if there is any waste. Is there an empty or nearly empty package that can be left to free up the space needed? Is there a Duh donation (an obvious donation) that you can withdraw to make room for the new?

If you have a new can opener in your stocking, replace your old can opener. I know that replacing feels hard for People Like U, but that’s how a clean-up lifestyle goes. If you have new black boots, replace an older pair of black winter boots.

Or grab something. Everything that makes the space you need.

And your black trash bag and Donatable Donate Box are back with the space you’re clearing, helping you stay on track.

A warning

I know you’re in the mood to clean up. If you see the house in disarray, you do. Many new things cause the uncluttered itch to spread all over your body.

Treat your visible areas first, the ones covered in Christmas Celebration Debris. Following this plan will get you through that unpleasant task, and it probably won’t take as long as your brain tells you it will. Even if so, you’ll feel so much better about your home because you started with the visible parts first.

If you spend all day cleaning out the linen closet and then can’t find a place to sit in your living room, your cleaning energy will flow right out of your big toe. Starting in the visible area first will inspire you to tackle those other “real” clearing projects as well.

Would you like a printable flowchart of my cleanup process?

As you clean up your house this week, carry a printable flowchart of my cleanup process with you! (Or view it on your device if you don’t have a printer.)

I’m SO excited to offer this printable cleanup flowchart as a digital bonus when you pre-order my new book, due out in January!

Order Organizing for the Rest of Us: 100 Realistic Strategies That Will Keep Every Home in Check books are sold everywhere. After your pre-order go to ASlobComesClean.com/preorder to claim your bonuses. You only get the bonuses when you fill out the form! The flowchart goes straight to your email, then you can download and print it to stay on track while you work!

Here’s a post I wrote to help you decide if you need this book, and you can find a list of places to book here. (Or find the book wherever you want to order books.)

A post-Christmas clean up plan at aslobceomesclean.com