My mantra: Get organized and stay organized. I’m sharing my five favorite tips and tricks for keeping your home organized and clutter-free.
Have you ever spent a good chunk of time organizing a drawer or a closet only to find that after a few months it looks like crap again?
The organizing part is not that hard. Staying organized is harder.
I’m not gonna sugar coat it.
Organizing is not a once and done thing.
You have to keep up with it and make it a part of your life or all the things will start to take over again.
I’ve been there. I think many of us have. Because life gets busy, we get tired and we don’t always put everything back where it should go. Staying organized takes effort! And care! And coffee! (lots of coffee…)
But it doesn’t have to be so hard.
If you remember a few simple rules.
The key is finding a system that works for you and your family. Then staying organized becomes much easier. Today I’m giving you my 5 tricks and systems that we use to get organized in our home and STAY organized.
5 Ways to Get Organized And Stay Organized
Here are the systems we use in our house to keep on top of everything. These systems work for our family, and perhaps they will work for you too.
One // Store things where you use them
This simple little rule changed my life.
Have a place for everything – but keep things where you actually use them.
You probably (hopefully) already play by this rule for some of the obvious things, like pots and pans near the stove, office supplies near your desk, laundry stuff near your washer/dryer, etc.
But what about the not-so-obvious things? That’s really what made a difference for us.
Here’s a good example. Keep bed sheets in the rooms where they are used.
We can all find a little place to store a couple of sets of sheets, whether it’s under the bed or in our closet.
This makes life so much easier when changing sheets.
You can take down the dirty ones with the rest of the laundry for the week, and immediately put on the fresh sheets.
Don’t store them in the linen closet down the hall just because you think that’s where they should go. It’s ok to break the rules!
Another good example is cleaning supplies.
I realized a long time ago that I have WAY too many cleaning products. So I started making my own or buying multipurpose products to cut down on the clutter.
Then, I bought a portable caddy with a handle to store it all.
The caddy lives under my kitchen sink where I use it the most. When I need to clean other rooms, it’s super easy to carry from room to room.
I also keep another cleaning bottle or two under the bathroom sink. The bathrooms get cleaned daily – so I can just grab and go.
We keep our paper shredder near our kitchen “mail pile” instead of tucked away in the office closet.
I can immediately dispose of paper documents this way. Come to think of it, my label maker is also stored in our kitchen drawer – where I use it the most!
TWO // ABD (Always Be Decluttering)
I’m always decluttering. Always!
Almost every room in our house has a donation basket or bag tucked in the closet. When it gets completely filled up with stuff, I take it to Goodwill to be donated.
This method works for everything. Toys, clothes, games, kitchen wares. Everything! Keep the mindset that you are always decluttering.
You may have heard of the one in, one out rule. It’s the same basic idea.
And keeping up with the decluttering is one of the things that help you stay organized.
Decluttering can be challenging for some. And I totally understand that. It can be hard to let go. If you are just starting to declutter, take it room by room.
Remember, it’s not a race.
Start with the biggest clutter bug, typically the kitchen, and just purge what you don’t use or don’t really like.
Ask yourself the following questions with each item …
- Have I used this lately? / Is this useful to me?
- Do I really love it? Does it make me happy?
Be honest with yourself and these answers.
I think we know deep down if something makes us happy. It’s that little feeling you get when you see the item.
Try to declutter like this in small windows of time.
Such as when you’re waiting for the water the boil, or for the dog to come back in, or during a commercial break.
Then, move on to other rooms and do the same. Slowly but surely, you will make your way throughout your home.
Three // Clean a Little Bit everyday
Clean a little every day (and no, it doesn’t have to perfect.)
Taking the time to clean or straighten up the house every day not only builds a good habit, but it also cuts down on the time you need to spend really cleaning.
At some point every day, I vacuum and straighten up the main floor, make beds, give the bathrooms a quick once over and clean the kitchen.
If I can do more, I do it. But if not, at least the general areas stay clean and tidy. And I’m not scrambling when a guest pops by.
One easy way to start building a clean habit?
Start by making your bed.
This sets the day off right and nothing helps a bedroom feel cleaner than a freshly made bed.
You will be so thankful you took the time to do this. Who doesn’t love climbing into a neat and tidy bed at the end of the day? Ahhhhh …
Another tip of mine is to keep a timer!
You can easily set this up on your phone or use an old-fashioned one. Take ten minutes every day to clean something or straighten up and when the timer is done, you’re off the hook.
If you want to do more, then do it. But at least you did something. The timer mentally keeps this activity doable because there is an end in sight.
Speaking of timers, another trick that has helped me immensely is to actually time how long it takes to do certain tasks.
For instance, I hate unloading the dishwasher.
But when I actually timed how long it took – all of 3 minutes – the task started to feel smaller and less annoying. Now I know that I can squeeze it in quickly before I take the kids to school. It’s not so bad!
Four // Make Lists
I am obsessed with to-do lists. I might even have lists for my lists.
It’s so hard to hold all those mental notes in our brains. Writing them down frees up your mind and keeps you sane.
Research has shown that keeping a to-do list makes you a more productive person and more effective at getting things done.
I love buying fancy and pretty to-do lists and keeping a list for each day. Prioritize your tasks for the day and try to do the most annoying things first.
There’s nothing like the feeling of crossing something off your to-do list. Nothing.
Five // Take advantage of ‘The Cloud’
Paper seems to be the biggest challenge for a lot of us in our homes. There are just so many papers! And we get more of it every single day.
One of the best ways to stay out of paper hell is to stop receiving so much of it.
Here’s how we accomplished an almost paper-free lifestyle:
- We removed ourselves from junk mailing lists and credit card offers by following the steps on this website.
- We signed up for paperless billing.
- We keep a good paper shredder handy to take care of papers immediately.
- We take advantage of the Cloud.
There are dozens of good cloud services, free and paid. Check out this website for more information about the most popular ones.
You can also get 5GB of storage for videos, documents, and other things you need to store.
If you’re not comfortable with storing personal documents in the cloud, you can use an inexpensive jump drive. Be sure to label it and keep it somewhere secure.
We have been able to free up a lot of space in our home just by using the cloud, getting off mailer lists and paying our bills online. It’s amazing and so freeing.
Related Post: How to Get Motivated to Clean
That about does it for my top five favorite tips for helping you get and stay organized.
Don’t forget that organizing is a journey, not a destination. And nobody is perfect!