You’ve done everything right. You listened to your professional organizer. You decluttered and organized your stuff. Now the real question is how do you keep things organized?
The last thing you want is for all your hard work to be undone by something as simple as a misplaced pile of papers. You didn’t spend hours finding a home for everything only for those items to take up space in another room.
This is why I’ve developed ten strategies to help you stay organized. By following all or most of the tips listed below, I guarantee you your home will remain in order.
1. Be consistent.
This is the most important rule when it comes to organizing. That’s why it’s number one. Consistency is key to maintaining an organized home. You can’t expect to declutter and organize once and hope your home stays that way.
We’re always bringing new stuff into our homes. Whether we know it or not.
You'll need to set aside time every day to put things where they belong. Doing this ensures a clutter-free home. It doesn’t have to take long. In fact, this strategy leads right into the second tip on our list.
2. Practice 5-minute organizing.
I talk a lot about David Alan’s book Getting Things Done. I mention it because the man knows what he’s talking about. When it comes to organizing his advice is not to let procrastination get the best of you.
He claims if something takes less than two minutes to do, get it done! Don’t let those little tasks build up. If you do, they’re going to take longer and waste a lot of time.
I’ll give you three extra minutes. Organize an area of your home for five minutes each day. Doing this every day will start to become a habit. It'll become more natural. A part of your daily to-do list. While organizing, make sure you do number three on this list.
3. Store items where you use them.
The days can get away from us. It happens. We can’t control when it does. However, we can control what we do after things calm down.
How many times have you taken something out of a room with the intent to use it? But then you put it down and forget about it. When you go to find the item it’s not in its proper place. So annoying, right?!
Use your five-minute organizing time to bring items back where they belong. If you brought nail polish over to your desk to touch up your nails between meetings, bring the polish back to its home. Whether it’s the bathroom or your bedroom, put it back.
4. Declutter regularly by creating a cleaning schedule.
New items will come into your home. It’s bound to happen. Whether they’re gifts or impulse purchases, you’re going to have to deal with new pieces of clutter.
Decide on a decluttering/cleaning schedule. If you find you bring in a lot of new items, schedule to declutter your home every three months. If you plan on trying out and sticking to a minimalistic lifestyle, declutter twice or once a year.
After the holidays is a great time to declutter. The weeks between spring and summer is another good time. Create a schedule that works for you.
5. Steer clear of bargains.
We’ve all been there. You’re standing in line waiting to pay when you see a stack of journals for $1 each. They’re on clearance. You love a fresh new journal and it’s only a dollar. You buy three. A year later you find them buried at the bottom of a desk drawer.
It’s hard to resist a good clearance sale, a bargain bin, or impulse purchases. You look at the item and know you need it. Maybe not today, but someday. “Someday” is a trick of the mind.
If you buy things with “someday” in mind you’re only adding unnecessary clutter to your home. Because — I’m sorry to say — “someday” usually means “never.” Don’t take up precious space with something you think you might need. Instead, save it for something you know you will need.
Don’t think you have to tackle organizing by yourself. It can be a daunting task. Get your family involved. Sit down and explain to them your declutter and cleaning schedule. Let them know what you expect from them.
For example, to teach your kids about the importance of organization, challenge them to pick up their toys before bedtime. If they do this every day for one week, promise a big reward. When it comes time to declutter your home, ask them to give up one to three toys each.
Tell your significant other how they can help. By bringing your whole family into the mix, you’re all learning valuable organizing lessons.
7. Write it down.
This is another thing David Alan talks about in Getting Things Done and something I agree with. Writing down what we need to do puts us at a higher percentage rate of accomplishing that task. By keeping it in our heads and not writing it down, we’re more prone to forget.
If you want to spend your five-minute organizing time in the laundry room, write it down. Put a star next to it. Highlight it. Note its significance.
If you have a few things you want to organize this week, add them to the list. You can even create a list called “Five-Minute Organizing To Do” and work off of that every day.
8. Do one thing at a time.
This should go without saying, but sometimes we forget that we’re only human. We have two arms. The best way to maintain an organized home is to do one thing at a time. One room at a time.
Here’s a little tip: At the beginning of each week look around the house. Note the areas that need some attention. Write them down on your “Five-Minute Organizing To Do” list. Focus on those first.
Don’t try and do too much in one day. You have plenty of other things to do. Organizing should not take over your life. It should become a daily part of it, yes, but not your whole day.
9. Finish a task before starting a new one.
This tip goes hand in hand with number eight. When organizing — whether it’s five minutes or a day — make sure you finish what you’re working on before moving on.
Don’t start organizing your bedroom only to stop mid-way to work on your kitchen. By doing this you’re tricking your mind into thinking your bedroom is done. So when you see that pile of laundry sitting there three days later you’ll think it’s normal.
Always finish a task before moving on to the next one. This is not only important when it comes to organizing, but to productivity as well.
10. One in, one out.
Finally, when doing your daily organizing practice, go back to the golden rule of “one in, one out.” With so many of us working and schooling from home, we’ve no doubt brought things into the home that we have plenty of already.
When decluttering, take note of things you have double of. Pile them together and ask yourself, “Do I really need two of these?” Pair down whatever you can. And remember what you bring into the house. If you already have something similar, donate the old and keep the new.
One in, one out. It’s a rule that’ll never go out of style in the organizing world.
Don’t panic if you don’t stick to all of these exactly. Organizing — like most things in life — is different for everyone.
Pick the strategies that work best for you and help your home STAY organized.
Even professional organizers aren’t organized all the time. We need to rely on this list of strategies too. We know life can get in the way sometimes. But if you strive to follow these tips and tricks your home will stay organized and your mind will stay clear.
When you work with me, you’ll receive custom strategies to accomplish your organizing goals. I’ll help you hold yourself accountable and — more importantly — stay motivated. Schedule your complimentary 15-minute talk today. You can keep your home organized and I can show you how.