How to Stay Organized
There’s nothing like the peace we feel when our space is organized. We have more time, we can find what we need, and we don’t spend money replacing things we already own. Experiencing these benefits often provides the motivation needed to stay organized. Yet, even with the best of intentions, life happens, and organization gradually unravels over time.
The real truth is that organizing is not a one and done activity. Our homes and lives are dynamic – things come in and go out, and projects, play, and creating occurs. That’s all normal! Don’t despair! There’s no magic wand, but, luckily, no fairy godmother is needed! An organized state CAN become the norm when you employ some simple habits that help you to STAY organized!
Be Vigilant With What Comes In To Your Home
The bottom line is that there’s simply less to keep up with when new things never make it into your home in the first place. Birthday party swag, clothes, holiday and birthday gifts, school paperwork, mail, and the latest thing-a-ma-jiggy that was on major sale all creep in, and they all add up. Before you know it, clutter accumulates.
This doesn’t mean we need to adopt a scrooge attitude. Gifts thoughtfully given can be graciously received, kids’ artwork can be admired and displayed, and new clothes purchased and appreciated. The objective here is to bring awareness and intentionality into what we bring into our space.
- Discard junk mail immediately – directly into an outdoor recycle bin, if possible, on your walk from the mailbox to your house.
- Keep a list of wardrobe needs so that if you come across a sale, you can look for a targeted piece instead of an impulse purchase.
- If a gift giver is looking for gift ideas, you could suggest experiences instead of things.
Employ the 1-In-1-Out Rule
This tip is an oldie, but a goodie. I’ve written about this before, and I’m sure I will again. For each new item that you welcome in to your home, find 1 thing to move out. That way, you remain in a neutral state rather than one of accretion. This practice also serves as a helpful litmus test when contemplating whether to make a purchase.
- This doesn’t need to be like for like. Meaning, if you bring in a new pair of jeans, it doesn’t mean you necessarily should get rid of an old pair of jeans. Just find something that you no longer use, need or want.
- This tip works best when your home is already decluttered. If your spaces are currently overflowing, you can modify this to be 1-in-2 (or more) out, so you will free up space over time.
Put Everything In Its Place
The golden rule of organizing….a place for everything and everything in its place. This, of course, doesn’t mean that each object remains in its home 100% of the time. We use our things, as we should! It just means that there is a single place identified where an object lives (home base, if you will). And, once we are done using the object, it goes back where we found it.
Kids can absolutely participate in this, too. It’s a habit. If and when things get cluttered and chaotic throughout the day, they can still be put away as part of a nightly pick up routine. Or, at a particularly point in the day. “Once the legos are picked up, we can go outside to play!”
Do a Nightly Reset
This doesn’t take much time, but the payoff is huge. It entails moving quickly from room to room, returning items to their homes, picking up, finishing up the dishes, setting out clothes and resetting your space for the next day. You’re setting yourself up for a smooth morning ahead. No need to carry yesterday’s baggage (clutter, messy dishes, mindset) forward to the next day.
Use Your Tools
When you’re adopting new behaviors (nightly reset, for example), they won’t feel automatic at first. It takes a few weeks for something to become a habit. So, until this time, build in some steps and accountability to set yourself up for success. Leverage whatever calendar tool you use to set reminders to do these things. Then, at some point, once your new habits are established, you won’t need alerts. The new activities will be integrated into your day, habitually, just like brushing your teeth.
Identify Pain Points and Solutions
What are those times of the day or circumstances that contribute to clutter or disorganization? A common one is after school, when backpacks and outerwear get dumped, and snacks get pulled out and left out. Or when there’s a morning or afternoon at home and the kids are playing, hopping from activity to activity, leaving a wake behind them.
Each of these has a solution, one that every member in your household can play a part in. Backpacks can be hung up, and kids can play with one thing at a time, for example. Think of how teachers handle classroom management – having systems and expectations in place for kids to pick up as they go, and to be responsible for their own things. These take some consistency to set up, but if young kids can do this at school, they can do it at home, too.
Call a Professional
This is not intended to be a shameless plug! The organizing profession exists for a reason. Organizers can help you stay on track – just like a workout partner or trainer helps you stay on track with an exercise program. We can help with a periodic reset or a full home overhaul – whatever you need to get and STAY organized!