Spending More Time at Home? [17 Tips and Projects]

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Written by: Madison Smith | Best Company Editorial Team

Last Updated: September 18th, 2020

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If you find yourself twiddling your thumbs with extra time spent at home, perhaps you need a small push to help make your days at home more meaningful and productive. Cleaning, organizing, and DIYing offer endless at-home activities to help keep your mental and physical spirits high.

Below are 17 ideas to help you fill your spare time with some meaningful activities.

Master organizing tips

1. Organize messy areas

Organized fridge and closet

Jenna Haefelin, professional organizer and owner of SPIFF:

"Now is the time to purge! Trust me, you’ll want to after sitting home for a while! Try tidying up sink cabinets, closets, and your pantry:

  • Under the sinkClear out what you don’t need — move excess items, if you have any, in the basement or a cleaning closet. Organize the remaining ítems with stacking drawer options and turntables. Keep it simple and label! 
  • Closet Matching hangers are a must! Place a quick online order for some hangers, 100+ are usually sufficient. Fold items that lay nicely (ex: chunky sweaters and jeans, not flimsy shirts) and hang up the rest. If you only have shelving, invest in some lined baskets with labels — file fold your clothes, color coordinated, so you can easily see what you have.
  • Pantry Stackable canister options mixed with baskets is my go to for the pantry. Consider what is functional for you and your home. For example, kids snacks would be more accessible in baskets vs a canister." 

2. Declutter cramped spaces

Vinay Amin, health expert and CEO of Eu Natural:

"Now is the perfect time to get to all those little annoying projects done that you only remember when you are in the middle of something else.

That cluttered space in:

  • The kitchen junk drawer
  • Under the bathroom sink
  • The top shelf of the hall closet
  • The spice containers

— are all the perfect fodder for your new found extra time at home.

Bonus: If you have already tackled those cluttered areas, I would suggest trying out new and different furniture/room/decor arrangements. You may not be able to obtain supplies for other DIY projects, but you already have everything you need to simply try out a new look in your living room or home office."

Better yet, don’t let those areas keep piling up as commonly cluttered areas. Make it a daily, weekly, or monthly habit to regular keep these areas clean and neat.

3. Working from home? Take a second look at your desk

desk

Sofia Wilson, CEO of Daily Detox Hacks:

"Ask yourself, 'What will have the most impact?'

For me, my answer was my living environment. I had been busy and my house had become neglected with excess clutter. I started a project to declutter my desk and I felt great after, increasing my productivity with my newly organized desk space.

The great thing about this type of action is that you feel great afterward and it really does not cost much to reorganize and find a home for you excess things. I recommend using containers that you already own before you give into the urge to buy more containers."

4. Good, better, best: Closet edition

Abe Navas, general manager of house cleaning service Emily's Maids:

"Do you feel like your closet is never quite tidy enough? 

Shoes tend to make closets feel especially messy. If you are the kind that has many shoes, then let’s start there — I have the perfect DIY solution for decluttering your closet, a DIY shoe shelf.

Stop putting your shoes one on top of the other. A shelf is easy to create, very customizable, and a fun project that you could extend to a couple of weeks. Take the opportunity to rearrange your closet to be more space-efficient with your new, custom shoe rack.”

5. Know when it’s time to let go

closet

Amanda Clark, owner of full-service home organizing company Ever So Organized:

"When deciding what items to let go during your closet purge, ask yourself these questions:

  • When was the last time this was worn? If it's been over a year, it's time to let it go. 
  • Would I purchase this again if given the choice? 
  • Would I want to run into an ex while wearing this? 
  • Not willing to leave the house for a Goodwill run right now?

Also, take some time to really go through your clothes and shoes to see what you don’t need. Most people wear 20% of their clothes and shoes 80% of the time. Find those 80% of items you don’t often use and either sell or donate them.

Instead, order a free bag from ThredUp. You fill it up and leave it out for your USPS carrier to pick it up. ThredUp will pay you for items they sell and donate the rest for you. Win, win!" 

In-home projects

indoor

6. Bring the outdoors in

Matt Daigle, CEO and founder of home improvement company Rise:

"Ever wonder why windows and plants make you so happy? Apparently it's only natural that humans look to nature, hence the love of biophilic design in the home. Here are some easy ways to boost your mood by bringing the outdoors in:

  • Add plants, plants, and more plants in your home! Succulents are easy in-home plants. Plants help filter the air in your house and can make your home smell better too.
  • Improve your view of the outside by granting more access to your windows — remove obstructions like furniture and unnecessary wall coverings.
  • Build your next shelf, table, or accent wall with natural materials like wood or stone.
  • The sound of water makes us happy. Making a small indoor water fountain is a very quick one-day project." 

7. Write a meaningful note

Heidi Bender, owner and blogger for company Tons of Thanks:

"To help past the time, I suggest writing thank-you notes. Focusing on gratitude and sharing those feelings with others can be a very positive distraction. Start by making lists of what you are grateful for as a way to help you identify who exactly you want to thank.

Who keeps showing up in your list and needs to hear words of gratitude and appreciation from you?" 

Buy a box of 50 standard thank you cards and envelopes every month. Make it a goal to write and mail two thank you cards every business day of the month. Write a card to whomever you are thankful for: friends, family, coworkers, clients, or a random connection. People will absolutely open (and most likely keep!) a handwritten, mailed thank you card.

8. Reuse wicker baskets

Channa Alvarez, interior designer at Living Spaces:

"There’s just something about wicker storage baskets that infuses a space with so much character. If you have a set of old baskets you want to recycle and give new life to, try painting them with a color that matches your room.

With wicker baskets you can create a stylish and practical storage solution that can add a layer of color and texture to a room while helping you stay tidy."

9. Sleep a little sounder

Matt Clayton, founder of Pet Hair Patrol:

"Being stuck at home is a great opportunity to make sure your bed is clean and hygienic — especially for the 68 percent of U.S. households that own a pet! Soley washing the bed linens is not enough. All the sweat, dirt, and dander penetrates all the fabrics on your bed and ends up in your pillow, mattress, and comforter as well. To ensure maximize bed cleaning, I recommend the following:

  • Vacuum your mattress
  • Toss your pillow and comforter into the washing machine, if possible
  • Use the dryer to remove more dust and dander

Having a clean bed will help you sleep like a baby and promote your well-being!" There’s nothing better than the feeling of falling asleep in bed on clean sheets day. 

10. Easy bathroom renovation project

Lisa Torelli-Sauer, editor of home investment website Sensible Digs:

"Replacing old and discolored grout can upgrade the appearance of your bathroom or shower within a week's time.

Replacing stained/damaged grout can not only make a dingy bathroom shine, it can also prevent water damage in your home. When water seeps through run-down grout, it can cause serious damage to the floor beneath your tiles.

Grout replacement only requires a few tools and supplies, plus it is not a very difficult task to complete. You will need the following supplies: 

    • Grout (either ready-made or powdered)
    • Grout saw
    • Grout float or spreader
    • Grout finisher
    • A few soft cloths or rags
    • A large sponge
    • A bucket

Be sure to let the grout dry for at least 24 hours before you use the wet spaces again to ensure the maximum hold on the grout.

DIY cleaning hacks

clean

11. Make your own cleaning products

Jennifer Willy, Editor of travel company Etia:

"DIY cleaning products consist of on-hand ingredients that can most likely be found in your pantry. For a natural, all-purpose cleaner all you need to do is mix the ingredients below:

  • One part of white vinegar
  • One part water
  • Lemon rind and rosemary sprigs (simply for smell)

Then pour the mixture into a spray bottle and let the concoction sit for a week before using. 

After a week, you can use this to remove hard water stains, clean trash cans, wall smudges, and much more. 

Bonus: If you want to make a homemade glass cleaner, the process is very similar. This mixture requires:

  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of white/cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of rubbing alcohol with 70% concentration

Like the above-mentioned DIY cleaner, mix the ingredients together and pour it into a spray bottle." 

12. Give your couch a deep clean

Joshua Miller, Director of Technical Training at Rainbow International Restoration:

"Furniture is often the culprit behind persistent unpleasant smells in the home, as upholstery often retains odors from past stains. If the upholstery can be cleaned with water, use a water-based solution for the simplest and fastest option. 

1. Clean the spots with an easy, homemade mixture of:

  • 1 oz. dishwashing detergent
  • 12 oz. water

2. Blot to dry. 

3. Add to spray bottle:

  • 5–10 drops of essential oil (lavender can be a great choice here) in the spray bottle
  • 1 cup of water 

4. Spray and saturate the stained area with the solution. The oils will help eliminate the odor and leave a pleasant scent behind.

Pretest solution in an inconspicuous location and allow to dry to test for colorfastness before using on the rest of the upholstery."

13. Scrub-a-dub-dub your tub

bathtub

Erin Ford, writer for travel website Hotels4Teams:

“I’ve tried every cleaning supply that I could get my hands on in an attempt to get the tub white and shiny again. No matter what I used, nothing seemed to work.

That's until I discovered this immensely simple, two-ingredient bathtub cleaner:

  • Mix equal parts warmed-up white vinegar to dish soap
  • Pour evenly on the bottom of your tub. 
  • Let the mixture sit for at least an hour

When you wipe it up, it easily eradicates all soap scum! When I first found this cleaning hack on Pinterest, I thought it was too good to be true. But ever since I started using it, I haven't looked back. With this mixture around, you can bet I have a clean tub to relax in.” 

Outdoor Projects

trees

14. Try out your green thumb

Shawn Breyer, owner of Atlanta House Buyers:

Head to your local nursery to try out your green thumb.Going to the local nursery not only lets you support small businesses in your community, they also provide better service and lower prices than the big box stores.

"When you are buying plants for your home, make sure that it suits your lifestyle:

  • If you have bad allergies, don't buy flowering plants, but do buy air purifying plants. 
  • If your home is dark because you keep your blinds shut then don't buy plants that need full sun. Buy plants that thrive in the shade. 

No matter what your lifestyle is, you can find plants that can enhance your life and wellbeing. 

If you have old plants that have not received new soil in one to three years, then consider buying larger pots for them and re-soil the plants. As old soil runs out of nutrients, the plants will stop growing. Plants can outgrow their containers as well. Giving a plant a larger container and new soil can allow it to be more healthy and grow larger."

Don’t have a green thumb at all? Not to worry! Try something quick and easy like adding fresh mulch to an existing flower or garden bed.

15. Give the earth some love

Brent Campton, director of partnerships at recycling company Hillside:

“In the same way that people are thinking about how to have more resilient practices at home like water filters and bidets, starting a composting pile is a great family activity that will also support the planet. 

As long as you have space in your backyard, there’s a way to do it without spending a dime, without any smells or bugs (apart from your curious dog), and with things you have already laying around the home. Check out this great video for a step-by-step process on how to start composting in your backyard.” 

A great tip to make composting even easier is to have a dedicated box or container in your kitchen - preferably somewhere that’s out the way - that allows you to collect your kitchen composting materials. That way, you can collect your leftovers and scraps over a period of a few days and make one trip to the compositing piling, without having to go outside every time you have leftovers.

16. Spring-clean the exterior of your home

Sara Bendrick, landscape contractor, author, and TV personality for STIHL:

“Homeowners and renters should head outside for a few minutes a day to exert some control over their outdoor spaces. Working outside has proven therapeutic benefits, and it’s the perfect time to do some of those outdoor tasks. Below are five garden tasks that you can start tackling today:

  • Clean your gutters
  • Pressure wash
  • Clear weeds and debris
  • Get planting
  • Start composting"

17. At-Home pest prevention

Arrow Exterminators team, pest control company:

“Pest-proofing the home does not always have to be a professional endeavour. Below I've provided a list of activities people can do from the comfort of their own home in order to prevent pests as the weather changes:

Kitchen:

  • Do a quick inventory of food and make sure everything is stored in airtight containers

Bedrooms and bathrooms: 

  • Run fans and dehumidifiers to eliminate damp conditions

Living spaces: 

  • Wipe down and clean the furniture
  • Give the family pet a bath and ensure their flea and tick prevention is current

 Garage: 

  • Reorganize seasonal items in airtight plastic storage bins, storing them off the floor if possible
  • Sweep or blow dirt and debris out of the garage as much as possible. Dust, dirt, grass, and all sorts of things accumulate on your garage floor.

Outdoors: 

  • Seal all cracks and small openings around the foundation of the home, including entry points for wires and pipes
  • Eliminate sources of standing water and moisture
  • Clean (and keep clean) garbage collection areas and ensure all receptacles are tightly closed
  • Trim back branches and shrubbery away from the house"

Bonus: 18 self-care tips

In addition, here are 18 quick bonus tips provided by Liana Pavane, digital wellness coach and founder of TTYL. Here she gives an array of ideas on how to spend your time at home. This list will inspire you take care of yourself — mentally, physically, and emotionally:

  1. Get fresh air as much as possible, even if it's just for a walk around the block or sitting on your balcony/backyard if you have one.
  2. Keep your body active by going outside for a walk, run, or even following a YouTube workout video. Have an indoor cycling bike? Even better.
  3. Keep a schedule for yourself and keep up with your normal routines. Don't allow yourself to sleep in too much or binge too much as a means of distraction.
  4. Put upbeat music on and have your own dance party!
  5. Break out a sheet of blank paper (or coloring book if you have one) and doodle your heart out.
  6. Download a meditation app (like Insight Timer or Headspace) and hold space for yourself.
  7. Create a vision board with old magazines.
  8. Declutter/organize your space! Giveaway clothes and throw out unnecessary items.
  9. Practice a foreign language for 10 minutes a day.
  10. Read a new book (or a few!)
  11. Start a giant puzzle.
  12. Go around your house and order anything that needs replacing/fixing.
  13. Write out your fears to get them off your chest, read them, and rip them up.
  14. Light a candle and take a hot bath (bubbles optional!)
  15. Have a FaceTime sesh with all your family or friends (maybe try Zoom!)
  16. If you have roommates, have a game night!
  17. Make a decadent meal for yourself that you never had time to do before.
  18. Sleep! Catch up on those zzzz's

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