Ever wonder how messy or tidy your house really is? A lot of time we are in survival mode that we don’t have a chance to objectively look around and assess the condition of our homes.

Take a few minutes to read through the following ten levels of tidiness. Then walk around yourself and look at it as if you were a stranger walking into your home for the first time. What level of tidiness is your home?

The Ten Levels of Tidiness

100% – Perfection

Don’t strive for this. Perfection doesn’t exist. I once watched a TV show about compulsive cleaners who spent 4-6 hours per day cleaning their house (in addition to working full-time jobs). Even with their level of detail, lab samples showed lots of bacteria in their bathrooms and on their kitchen counters.

You know why? Because bacteria and dirt are a part of life. If you strive for perfection, you will end up exhausted, stressed and always short of hitting the mark.

Related: Learn 5 awesome tips to declutter your life.

Then Ten Levels of Tidiness

90% – Show ready

If you’ve ever put your house on the market, you know what it’s like to have a “show ready” house. You clean the corners, under the bed, in the closets — you know, all those places that have never seen a dust rag until your house is on the market.

Occasionally you’ll meet those magical clean people who keep their house like this all the time. This can either be a blessing or a curse. To some, cleaning and living in a clean and tidy space gives them great joy and pride.

For others, they feel a sense of anxiety and can’t relax until all of their cleaning chores are done. They may even lie away at night thinking about the things that could use a freshen up.

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80% – Ready for guests

Your house is kept tidy on a routine basis. Counters and tables are clear and functional. If your mother-in-law showed up unannounced, you wouldn’t be humiliated, although discerning MILs could probably find some areas that haven’t been dusted or some minor clutter in the back of a closet.

70% – Tidy

Your house is tidy except for a couple of piles on the kitchen table or kitchen counter. You may have a box or two in storage that is filled with unidentified stuff.

The Ten Levels of Tidiness

60% – Not bad

You wouldn’t be mortified if guests showed up unexpectedly, but you would secretly be worrying about that pile of dirty dishes by your sink or the bath toys strewn all about your bathroom. You have a few piles of papers that you’ve been meaning to go through a couple of boxes in the closet filled with random items you stuffed away to quickly tidy up before company came over.

50% – Halfway

You’re not the messiest person you know, but you’re also not the tidiest. You have enough space in your kitchen to cook simple menus, but not much room to spare. When you eat at the kitchen table, it’s among piles of books and toys that are shoved aside to create room.

40% – Cluttered

Every table and counter is filled with clutter and it can take you over an hour just to clean up the dishes. Your floors are relatively clear, other than a stack of magazines or books here and a couple of boxes there.

Learn more: How to Kick Anxiety and Clutter Out of Your Life

30% – Stacking up

Every horizontal surface is filled with stuff. You often misplace items and don’t have a clue half of the items that are piled on your tables and shoved into closets. Boxes and bins are stacked up in the corners of the room, making the clutter livable but also making these items inaccessible.

The Ten Levels of Tidiness

20% – Jammed packed

Your closets are full, your kitchen cabinets are full. Every horizontal surface is cluttered with stuff, making it difficult to do simple things like eat at the kitchen table or pay bills. There is a space carved out on the couch for you and your family to sit, but that’s about it. You have one or several rooms in your house that are unusable.

10% – Hoarding

Many living areas in your house are unusable. You’re not able to perform functions such as cooking or sitting down at the table to eat. You may have to rearrange things so that you can sleep or bathe.

Hoarding can come from good intentions (“I’ll get around to that some day”) or from a need to control something when things feel out of control.

It may happen because you’re sentimental and have a really good memory of who gave you what and when. This is compounded if someone special to you passed away.

Click here to grab a free decluttering checklist and sign up for the newsletter.

My story

When I first started my decluttering journey, my house was at 30%. Every table and counter was piled with stuff, and it would take over an hour to tackle all of the dirty dishes stacked on the counter. Our bedroom had a massive pile of stuff on the floor and dog fur rolled like tumbleweeds through our living room.

Every day is a work in progress and now my house can range anywhere from 60% to 80%. It’s functional and I would need no more than a 3 hour mother-in-law warning.

It’s not perfect. It’s not even show ready.  I have young kids and two elderly dogs that shed…a lot. My plate is full.

But you know what? My house is tidy and efficient enough to support my full plate.

We can roll around on the floor or build sheet forts on a whim in the living room. We can finger paint at the kitchen table. We can eat family dinners together.

What this means for you

Were you surprised to find out your house’s level of tidiness?

You may have been pleasantly surprised to realize that your home is much more in order than you thought. (Great! Now, stop being so hard on yourself! You rock!)

Or you may have been horrified to realize how low your house “ranks.” Let all that guilt go.

The point of this scale is not to compare yourself to your neighbors, your mother or social media. The point is to find your starting point so you can track progress.

We all see these Pinterest-perfect houses that are meticulously staged for the camera, and we think that anything less than that is unacceptable. I’m here to tell you that’s B.S.

Having a messy house does not mean you’re lazy or you don’t care. It just means you have a messy house. That’s it.

As you enter your decluttering and tidying journey, keep in mind where you started. (You may even want to take pictures.)

When I started decluttering, my house was at 30%. Now it’s typically around 60% to 80%. If I followed the perfectionism model, I’d be failing.

But I choose to focus on progress, not perfection. And I’ve come a pretty long way. My house has come a pretty long way.

When I feel overwhelmed by the mess and the clutter, I remind myself that even when my house is at its messiest now, it’s still cleaner than what used to be normal.

Focus on progress. You will never reach perfection in this lifetime, but you can definitely see a heck of a lot of progress.

Click here to grab a free decluttering checklist and sign up for the newsletter.

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2 Comments on The Ten Levels of Tidiness — Get Control of the Clutter

  1. I need help! Cannot wait to begin decluttering!

    • Lauren | This Simplified Home says:

      Yay, Sharon! What area do you think you’ll start on first?

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