How to organize a?

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50 Ways to Make Your Home More Organized, More Attractive, and More Efficient

The modern home is far bigger than the home of just 30 years ago – and far more cluttered! How can that happen? Basically, our demand for stuff is outstripping our ability to buy space – no wonder self-storage is one of the leading growth industries in the United States.

Questions about runaway consumerism aside, what all this excess stuff means for most of us is more time spent maintaining our living spaces to keep some semblance of order in our lives. Most of us don’t want to spend our evenings and weekends – and more for work-at-home types – knee-deep in clutter, never sure where anything is, and constantly stepping over all those things that, for one reason or another, we just had to have.

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We fight a constant battle against clutter around Chez Dustin. Besides my partner and I, there are her three children, all under 13. Plus, her brother and his two kids have been staying with us while he sorts out some family matters, forcing our usual border-skirmishes against clutter to escalate into an all-out war.

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That’s why I asked you, our readers, to share some of your tips in one of the contests in the Great Big Summer Giveaway. I had a blast going through your tips, tricks, and advice for keeping the home organized, and today, I’m going to present the cream of the crop.

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General Household Tips

  1. Hide a cluttered bookshelf with a spring-loaded curtain rod and a set of curtains. (Liz)
  2. Use filing cabinets for a TV stand. (Doug)
  3. Use clear plastic shoeboxes to store knick-knacks and other odds and ends. (jenny)
  4. Organize your house by task so that the things most relevant to each job are where you’re most likely to use them. This might be obvious for things like laundry and crafts, but what about a mail station, homework area, or just storing linens in the laundry room? (gs49, Lorie)
  5. Figure out where things normally get dropped and set up an appropriate place for them as close as possible to that point. This will improve the chance that they’ll end up where they belong, and decrease the distance the things that don’t make it home have to go to be put back. (Paula)
  6. Label it! Labeling is not just for file folders – get a label-maker (or several) and keep it handy all around the house. Kitchen shelves, storage containers, bookshelves, coat racks — there are millions of places where a smart label can forestall endless amounts of clutter. My variation of jenny’s clear shoebox idea above (#3) is to use plastic pencil boxes for all manner of tiny stuff; they lock slightly to make tidy stacks on my shelves, and a lovely label on the front keeps everything instantly accessible. (Tassia)
  7. Designate a “launchpad”. This is an area in your house, preferably near the door, where coats, jackets, shoes, backpacks, purses, keys, and everything else you need to find easily next time you leave the house stays. Think of it a transition-zone between outside and inside — almost like an airlock. (Kate, Christian247, jason, Luke L., Sandy)
  8. Set up a “bucket” at your “launchpad (a milk crate, basket, or an actual bucket) for each person “. (Laura Warner)
  9. Use a 4-tier “Stadium Rack” for spices, allowing you to always see everything easily without taking up much space. (Jeff)
  10. Set up “clutter bags” in every room. Keep a reusable shopping bag — there are plenty of attractive ones available for super-cheap these days — in every room; when stuff from elsewhere around the house starts building up, throw it into the clutter bag until you can sort it out. (Allan)
  11. Store trashbags inside the trash can, under the current liner. That way, you (or whoever takes the trash out) have a fresh bag handy every single time. (Robert)
  12. Set up a shared online calendar between you and your partner, and allow access to your close family, child-care providers, and anyone else who might need to know where you are at any given moment — or what events are coming up that they might need to plan for. (David)
  13. Use behind-the-door shoe holders for storage of tiny or awkward stuff. The cloth kind have 20 or so pockets that are ideal for craft supplies, cleaning products, tools, and office materials. (Aaron, Shari)
  14. Take care of dishes immediately after meals. (Brenden)
  15. Run the dishwasher frequently. Large households often never get to that mythical state where the clean dishes are put away, the dirty ones are in the dishwasher, and nothing is stacked up in the sink. Modern dishwashers are designed to detect the size of the load, so there’s no reason to wait until the washer is full to run your dishes. (michael kastler; Note from Dustin: I wonder about the electricity needs of this, though!)
  16. Take pictures of sentimental objects before giving them away or throwing them out. Like that T-shirt from that concert you want to when you were 20 years younger, 3 sizes smaller, and quite a bit more stoned. You know you won’t ever wear it again, but hold onto it because of the memories. (michael kastler)
  17. Set up a library/rental box. Store your library books and rented videos in a box in your living room or other place near where you’ll use them, and keep your library cards and video rental cards there as well. That way, you’ll always be reminded if anything’s due when you go to collect your rental cards. (Paul)
  18. Color-code your family. Assign a color to everyone in the house, and buy everything for them in that color: towels, toothbrushes, cups, water bottles, lunch boxes, slippers, whatever. (OngoingDebacle)
  19. Keep your “go bag” in the car. For example, all the stuff for family outings (aside from food) can be stored in the truck, freeing up space in the house and keeping it with you for spontaneous fun time. (Linda F.)
  20. Use an accordion organizer to sort kids’ project paper. Sort by color and/or type of paper. (Kam A.)
  21. Use bed risers to increase the space under your bed. (Carolyn)
  22. Use drawers, not counters, for storing bathroom stuff. (Luke) Or keep all your toiletries in one box or basket on the counter — easy to move for cleaning the counter. (spn)
  23. Use a corkboard and pushpins to hang jewelry. Keeps everything visible but out of the way. (Angelina)
  24. Use a travel jewelry organizer that goes over a hangar. Also keeps jewelry visible and out of the way — and thieves aren’t likely to look for your jewelry among your hung clothes. (Amy)
  25. Keep a basket by the stairs and add out-of-place items to it. When the basket’s full, take it upstairs and put everything away.(Elizabeth M.)
  26. Fill a box with stuff you’re unsure of and pack it for a year. Make sure you put the date on teh outside. If you don’t use anything in the box for an antire year, you don’t need it and can get rid of it. (April)
  27. Put a whiteboard in your garage where you’ll see it when you come home and when you get ready to leave. Put todo lists, reminders, and otehr important information on it. (Sam Klein)
  28. Find creative uses for containers. For example, ice cube trays are great for storing all sorts of tiny objects — any they stack easily. (Groovymarlin)
  29. Keep a rack by the door for keys. But make sure they’re not visible from the front door/window. (Shelle, TechieBird)
  30. Pull bookshelves out slightly to hide cords for gadgets in the back. (Layne)

Bills and Business

  1. Set up a scanner and a shredder next to each other. Incoming mail goes into the scanner and then –unless you need it for your records — straight into the shredder. (Kenneth)
  2. Sort mail as it comes in. Trash it, file it, respond to it, or take action on it — don’t let it build up. (David Wright, KathyHowe)
  3. Go paperless. Scan all your important paperwork and store it on your computer. File only the papers you absolutely need hard copies of. (James, Luke L., Angela M.)
  4. Set up your bills to be due all on the same day. Most utilities will let you shift your payment date, though you will usually have to make up a month-plus the first time after the change. (Bashar)
  5. Use chip clips to hold related papers together. (steve flattem)
  6. Put all your work work on your desk and “do as you clean”. When you’re done, the desk is clean — a great motivator for people who like a clean desk. (Meryl K. Evans)
  7. Auto-pay everything. (Luke L.)
  8. Scan business cards as you get them. (Luciano)
  9. Make a nice box for receipts and put new receipts in it every night when you get home. Sort your receipts on a regular basis, or this will overflow and become yet another source of clutter. (Jason)
  10. Convert a closet into an office. With a little creativity, even a tiny closet can be transformed into a functional space — and when you’re done, close the door to hide the mess. (Jeremy)

Habits and Attitudes

  1. Learn to travel light. That way, a) you don’t have as much to carry, and b) you don’t have as big a bag to store in your house when you’re not traveling. (Steve Moyer)
  2. Close the circle. This takes a little discipline — ok, a lot of discipline — but if you can build the habit of always seeing every act through to its logical end every time, it will prevent a lot of clutter. In practical terms, this means that every time you use something, you follow through until that thing is back where it started from: eat a bowl of cereal, wash the bowl, dry it, and put it back on the shelf. Our lives tend to be built up out of a lot of little “incompletions” that lead to clutter; if you can break that habit and see see things all the way through, you’ll find a lot more improves than just your clutter situation. (Nuruddeen Lewis)
  3. Clean one room or area a day. This is less daunting than cleaning the whole house, and gives you a clear goal, instead of the “one-more-thing” syndrome that strikes when you get a mind to “do some cleaning”. (Katherine, Carolyn Wilman)
  4. Find the clutter “focal point” of each room and keep it clean. In the bedroom, make the bed and keep it clear; in the kitchen, don’t store anything in the sink. If these focal points are clean, the room will seem less cluttered. (Chris)
  5. Give it away. Make a habit of taking regular trips to the Goodwill or other donation center to give away excess stuff, and make sure that when that day comes, you’ve got a full load of stuff to get rid of. (mel)
  6. One in, one out. Make a habit of throwing out, selling, or giving away something for every new thing you bring into the house. For example, when you buy a new pair of shoes, get rid of your least favorite. Variation: One in, TWO Out! (Bon Temps, Charlie)
  7. Use “deep storage” wisely. Pack up things that you’re not going to use and store them — don’t keep stuff out when you are unlikely to ever need it. (ProductivityScience)
  8. Don’t shop “recreationally”. Go shopping for the things you need, not to kill time or “just to look”. Avoid succumbing to temptation by avoiding temptation itself! (Tracy)
  9. Never put anything on top of anything smaller than it is. For example, never put a newspaper on top of a small book or your keys. You’ll lose less stuff that way. (Cindy)
  10. Don’t make piles. Ever. (Sue)

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9 Lesser-Known Tips for Getting & Staying Organized

Being organized offers a slew of benefits. It gives you peace of mind and saves you money, since “you can find and use what you own instead of buying more,” said Jamie Novak, author of several books on organizing, including The Get Organized Answer Book, 1000 Best Quick and Easy Time-Saving Strategies and 1000 Best Quick and Easy Organizing Secrets.

It also helps you stay connected to others. “When you’re disorganized you miss events and stop inviting people over your home.”

It helps you feel more confident and capable. And it saves you time, she said. A lot of it. In fact, “the average person wastes almost an hour a day searching for misplaced items like house keys, reading glasses and important pieces of paper.”

But you might already know that. What you might be less familiar with is how to actually stay organized, especially if you’re pressed for time (like most of us are).

Below you’ll find nine expert tips to help you start organizing your space and keep it organized.

1. Define what organization means for you.

There’s no one size fits all when it comes to organization. That’s why professional organizer Emily Wilska encourages clients to create their own definition of being organized, instead of adopting what they see in magazines, on TV or in other homes.

For instance, maybe your primary focus isn’t aesthetics but function, she said. Maybe you need a system that helps you get out the door quicker. Or you need an organized kitchen because you love to cook. Or you need organizational systems that are easy enough for your kids and spouse to maintain.

2. Start with what motivates you.

Starting is often the hardest part, so go with what’s motivating to you. For instance, some people are motivated by tackling the toughest task first, said Wilska, owner of The Organized Life and author of the book Organizing Your Home: Decluttering Solutions and Storage Ideas.

If that’s you, start with something that annoys you daily, such as the messy table in the hallway you pass on your way outside.

“Others might want an easy win to ease into a larger or more difficult project.” If that’s you, pick something that’s going to be meaningful but won’t take much time, she said. This might be cleaning out a junk drawer or organizing your mantle.

3. Create an organizing playlist.

“Music can get you moving,” so listening to a playlist can be motivating, Novak said. If you’re picking up for 10 minutes, that’s just two or three of your favorite songs, she said.

4. Create deadlines.

Deadlines are great motivators for filling at least one bag, Novak said. She suggested creating a deadline by calling a charity to pick up your donations or scheduling an appointment to drop them off.

5. Get it out of your house.

A critical part of the organizing process is dispersing whatever you don’t want, Wilska said. When you’re sorting and decide to get rid of something, get it out of the house, whether it’s into the recycling bin or to Goodwill, she said.

That’s because when you put it in the hall closet, you just watch “it get reabsorbed into that space it can start to feel like why did I even bother?” Try dedicating 15 minutes a month for dropping things off, she said.

6. Avoid being a “weekend warrior.”

On TV we often see people devoting an entire weekend to organizing a room or years’ worth of clutter, Wilska said. The problem is that this “quickly becomes overwhelming and exhausting.”

And, if you don’t finish, you feel like you’ve wasted the whole weekend and the last thing you want to do is start cleaning again, she said. Instead, clean small areas in small chunks of 30 minutes to 3 hours tops.

7. Be mindful of new things.

“Every item we have in our space we have to give some time, attention, effort and energy to,” Wilska said. It’s easier to control what things come into our homes than to have to go through them, clean them, store them, make decisions on whether to keep them, and then eventually find another home for them, she said.

“A really crucial part of being organized over the long term is to develop a consciousness over what we continue to acquire.”

So the next time you’re getting ready to buy something, Wilska suggested asking yourself: “What’s the actual use I have for this item? Where is it going to go? Do I have something else that does the same thing?” Some people find it helpful to wait 24 hours before buying.

8. Have help.

It’s easier to start organizing and stick with it when you have someone keeping you accountable. Novak suggested seeking someone who’s also trying to get organized, such as a friend, colleague or neighbor.

“Set up a weekly time to connect by phone to tell each other what you’re going to work on … Check back with each other to confirm the project has been completed.”

9. Reward yourself.

A good way to maintain momentum when you’re organizing is to reward yourself, according to both experts.

Instead of rewarding yourself with things, such as a new gadget or pair of shoes, “do something nice and out of the ordinary,” Wilska said. This might mean going to lunch with a friend, hosting others at your home, buying fresh flowers or seeing a movie, she said.

Novak suggested other rewards such as getting coffee out or watching your favorite show.

If you do need new organizing gadgets, avoid getting them right away. Do the tough stuff of organizing first. Then use the gadgets as a reward after you’re done, Wilska said.

9 Lesser-Known Tips for Getting & Staying Organized

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Life can be so hectic these days, so hectic that everything feels messy and it’s like everything’s happening all at once. But that’s just not the case.

It’s time we all admit that we need help in organizing our lives. It’s going to be a chore to do all this, but staying organized makes life easier in the long run. Just think about how easy it’ll be to find stuff you need and avoid last minute hassles.

Here are 20 tips that’ll show you how to organize your life at home, work and everything in between.

1. Write Everything Down And Don’t Rely On Your Memory

We can all agree most of us have a tough time remembering things. If you want to remember things, put it in writing, or in a digital notebook like Evernote.

Keeping your to-do, lists and other information written somewhere allows you to look back at it anytime, even when you’ve hit your head and forgotten your own name.

2. Make Back-Ups Of Everything

Back up your computer files and have duplicates made for your car and home keys. Scan your IDs, passports and bank details, too then put it all in a secured folder in your computer. Keep the original and photocopies of your financial records, birth certificates, land titles and insurance in one folder, preferably tucked away in a safe.

3. Practice Mise En Place (Putting In Place)

Chefs are extremely organized people, in and out of the kitchen. Their secret? They have a place for everything. They sort out their clothes, wrapping paper, crafts, cleaning materials, basically everything, and keep them in labeled containers or closets at home. In the kitchen, they’re trained to organize their work space well so that their every moved is conserved and they know exactly where all the ingredients are.

Doing this will take time, but after a while you’ll see how easy it is to find what you need when everything in your place has a home.

4. Scan And Back-up Your Photos

Worried about losing the last copy of your childhood photos? Tired of all the bulky picture books in your coffee table? Have the pictures scanned to save space and make sure you don’t lose these precious memories. You can even have them scanned at a local printing shop.

Michael at Contrastly rounded up the 9 back-up solutions for photographers, check it out.

5. Clean Up Regularly

The best way to remain organized is to allot certain hours of day the de-cluttering and cleaning up. (Tweet this quote) It doesn’t have to be a large chunk of time either, as 15 to 30 minutes a day is enough.

6. Keep The Hotspots Clean

Every house and office has a hotspot for clutter. Usual suspects are the sink, dining table, cubicle, night stand, and bedroom drawers. Take note of these places and tidy them up daily.

7. Get A Money Management App

One downside of being unorganized is overspending your money and relying on credit cards until pay day.

You can easily avoid this by getting a money management app like Quicken or Mint.

Use these apps to record your monthly bills and document your spending. This way, you can get reminders sent to you before your bill is due so you can deposit money to your account. You can also see how much money you’ve already spent so you’ll know exactly where your money goes and how you can cut back.

8. Recycle And Donate

Is your closet full of unopened bags and clothes that still have their tags on? Is your book shelf full of unread books?

Chances are if you haven’t read, worn, or used whatever it is, then you’re probably not going to use it at all. Donate them to a charity or sell them on Ebay. Goodwill has tons of donation centers and Disabled American Veterans (DAV) can even pick up your donations.

9. Donate Or Throw One Thing Before Buying Something

Try this experiment: before buying one thing, throw out something old or something you don’t use. Or, if you’re a really terrible pack rat, just throw out 1 old thing a day until you can’t find any more items to throw. Do that for a month and I guarantee you’ll have less clutter in your life.

10. Check The Expiration Dates Of Canned Goods And Medicine You’ve Stocked

Expired canned goods and medicines won’t just taste bad, it’s also bad for your health. Dispose of it immediately to minimize the clutter in your cabinets, and make room for new supplies.

Not sure about an item’s expiration date? Check out EatbyDate, they have an excellent database of food expiration dates.

11. Learn To Delegate Cleaning And Organizing Tasks

It’ll be easier to declutter your home if it’s a team effort. Go through your to-do list and find tasks you can delegate to your spouse and kids. Create a list of responsibilities for each member of the family and distribute it to them. Review the list with them every week to make sure everything gets done.

Teach your kids how to get organized so you don’t have to pick up after them every day. For your spouse, maybe it’s mowing the lawn or making sure all the wires behind the TV and laptops are not tangled.

Molly Maid has an age-appropriate cleaning checklist you can .

12. Create A Centralized Family Or Work Information Center

To keep up with schedules and tasks, you need to coordinate with your family and co-workers.

Use a synchronized calendar app, where every member of your team or family can enter new updates, schedules and tasks that every member can see. Doing this avoids conflicting schedules and keeps everyone informed of each other’s activities and whereabouts. You can also do this using big whiteboards.

13. Practice Putting Things Away Immediately

All your hard work creating a dedicated space for your stuff will be wasted if you don’t actually implement it. Things can pile up quickly, sometimes in as little as a few hours if you have kids.

Keep the calm and organized ambiance of your home (and life) by putting things away, immediately after you’re done using them. This practice only takes a few minutes but it’ll save you a lot of cleaning time later on.

14. Create A List Of Your Passwords In A Safe App Or Offline File

Passwords are very important in keeping your privacy and security. Unfortunately, using the same password for everything is bad, while having a lot of different passwords is secure but difficult to remember.

Centralize your passwords and sensitive data using an app that allows you to create one password to secure all your other passwords, like LastPass.

Here’s an easy to follow tutorial for LastPass by SwamiofSuccess:

15. Unsubscribe From Unread Email Newsletters, Magazines And Other Subscriptions

If you subscribe to a number of newsletters, blogs and other online publications, but haven’t read a single email from them in 3 months, just unsubscribe. You probably won’t read any of their content, anyway. While you’re at it, unsubscribe from unread magazines, catalogues and junk mail. It’s just a waste of money and space, especially if you don’t read them.

16. Create An Inventory And Don’t Over Stock Supplies

Make an inventory of home cleaning and toiletry supplies, so you don’t run out and don’t overstock either. You might think overstocking is good, but if you don’t have enough storage then all those extra supplies are just wasting your precious space. The same tip is applicable for office supplies, canned goods and toiletries.

Scroll down to get a free pantry organizing checklist.

17. Label Stored Food and Perishables

When was the last time you found an unrecognizable Tupperware of food in your freezer? Sometimes it’s not just cooked food — juice, condiments and sandwich spreads go unnoticed until one day you’re wondering what that mysterious green goo is. Minimize food wastage by putting a label on all items in your fridge, complete with expiration date, name and quantity or size.

Print your own food labels or get inspiration here.

18. Create Daily, Weekly And Monthly Schedules for Cleaning

Organize your cleaning schedule. It’s extremely exhausting to have a “cleaning day” where you clean everything all at once. Distribute tasks evenly, so for example, dish washing could be done daily; while vacuuming could be scheduled weekly and cleaning the windows done monthly.

19. Get A Task Management App on Your Smartphone

Download Trello, or any other task management app on your smartphone so you don’t forget random errands and tasks.

20. Create a Weekend Bucket List

Keep a list of activities that you want to do, so you can consult this list on boring weekends instead of wasting your time figuring out what to do—or just giving up and watching reruns at home.

Whichever of these tasks you decide to do, remember that you can’t completely organize your life in one go. It’s a long, never-ending process so be patient. Just decide to get organized now then take baby steps until you see some semblance of order in your life. Soon enough, you will be making a habit out of it all.

Photo credits: Sarah Gilbert, Amanda Westmont, Laura Levesque, Rob Boudon, and iCustomLabel

Look for simple clutter control solutions. Often, there’s an easy solution to even stubborn clutter problems. “One of my clients could never remember where she put her keys,” says Laura Leist, a professional organizer in Seattle, and president of the National Association of Professional Organizers. “I suggested that she put a hook by the front door, so she could hang her keys up every time she walked in the door. And it worked.” Leist is also a fan of lazy Susan turntables for organizing pantries or laundry rooms, can risers, drawer dividers, and bins and baskets to group items in bathrooms and linen closets. To add storage space in a crowded room, consider adding a shelf just below the ceiling. Overrun with CDs? Take them out of their jewel boxes and store them in a CD binder.

Think home organization “kits.” Buy some clear plastic shoebox-sized containers, and use them to create kits where you store all the items you need for a particular task. For instance, you could create a shoeshine kit, a bill-paying kit, a manicure kit, and so on. That way, you can easily find everything you need to accomplish everyday tasks.

Stick to a schedule. Some spaces, like kitchen counters, need daily de-cluttering. Others can be tackled weekly or monthly. When that time comes, be systematic. Take all the items in a defined area (a cabinet, a desk drawer), and spread them out so you can see what you’re facing. If you’re de-cluttering the drawer where you keep kitchen utensils, for example, spread them on the counter, and then sort into two piles: utensils you use regularly and those you don’t use. Be patient — effective de-cluttering takes time. “People tend to underestimate how much time it will take,” says Leist. If it looks like a two-hour job, budget four. And don’t get discouraged if de-cluttering takes longer than you think it should.

Whatever happens, try not to feel embarrassed about clutter. It’s important to remember that organizing need not be perfect, and that “good enough” really is. “When you’re on your deathbed, you’re not going to wish that you had found the perfect organizing container,” says Robertson. “The important thing is being able to spend more time with family and friends.” De-cluttering helps make that happen.

One question I often get asked is “how do you keep your house so clean and organized all of the time?” My first response is always that it is most certainly not clean all of the time. I have three kids and life happens in our house. As we all know, life is messy.
We are definitely proof of that around here. 🙂 (Our kitchen on a typical afternoon before I’ve cleaned it. Yes.. those are socks on the counter.)

While my house is far from perfect, I do think that over the years I’ve learned how to keep things organized and mostly clean most of the time. Today I’m going to spill my secrets and tell you exactly how I do it!

Secret #1 – I have some help. I first hired house cleaners to help me clean in my previous house years ago when I was pregnant with my second child. I don’t mind cleaning at all and had always done all of our housework, but I was having serious back problems in my 3rd trimester and just couldn’t bend over to scrub and deep clean. My husband was working around the clock getting his career established and couldn’t help much, so we looked at our budget and found things we could cut so that we could afford some help with the deep cleaning. It was a sacrifice at first, but so worth it! Together the cleaners and I could clean in hours what it would take me four days to do alone. Ever since then I’ve loved having some help with the deep cleaning and it’s something we make sure to prioritize when we figure out our budget. I always joke that I’d give up a lot of things before I’d give up my cleaners (date nights, Netflix, cookie dough..) Yeah.. I love my cleaners that much. 😉 I wish I could say that having hired help made it so that my house stayed perfectly clean all of the time, but that’s hardly the case. In fact, a lot of times my husband will come home from work and see our messy house and say “didn’t the cleaners come today?” Um yes babe.. but that was six hours ago.. Ha! But it does ensure that once a week or once every other week (depending on our schedule) my house gets a good deep cleaning.

Secret #2 – I have a cleaning routine. There are a few things I do daily and weekly so that our house never gets completely out of control. I do most of my laundry on Mondays and Fridays. Monday because I like to have it caught up by Tuesday (my main cleaning day) and then I do laundry again on Friday as part of my Week Ahead Prep. Tuesday mornings I wake up at 6:00, get ready and pick up my bathroom. Then I throw a set of sheets in my washer. I wake my kids around 6:45 and get them ready for school and dropped off by 8:00. Around 9:00 on most Tuesdays my cleaners come and we get to work! They start deep cleaning in my bathroom (which is why I pick it up first thing that morning) and then for the next two hours they basically follow me through my house. I hit each room putting things away where they go, loading and washing any dishes in the kitchen, straightening the pantry, going through papers that need to be tossed, etc.

{Master Bathroom Shelves/Tub}

My cleaners hit each room behind me and do the deep cleaning.. wiping, scrubbing and dusting. I keep rotating all of our sheets in the wash and help them make the beds and then when everything is done but the mopping I leave (usually to grab some groceries or exercise quick) and my cleaners finish by mopping my wood floors. I come back about an hour later to a very clean house (highlight of my week!).

{Family room and sources}

Then I often use the next two hours before my kids are home from school to style and decorate and take pictures for my blog like this one. 🙂 I take random pictures all week long, but if I’m doing any full room shots I usually take them on Tuesdays during those 2 peaceful hours that the house is spotless and quiet. Then my kids come home from school and before long my house looks like this…
It drives me crazy but I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂

Secret #3 – I spend a set amount of time cleaning each day. Aside from Tuesday, my main cleaning day, I spend about 45-60 minutes each day on housework. This might be too much for some people and too little for others. For me I’ve found that I need to spend about an hour cleaning every day to stay on top of things. Each day the time I clean is different depending on what we have going on, but at some point I always take some time to quickly move through our main rooms and pick up. Then if I have extra time I work on scrubbing something that needs it (like our fridge or a bathroom) or I work on decluttering/organizing spaces throughout the house. By doing this daily our house never gets too out of control and overwhelming.

{Powder Bathroom and sources}

Secret #4 – When I clean I attack one room at a time and don’t lose focus. It’s so easy for me to get sidetracked when I’m cleaning! I’ve found that I get more accomplished if I focus on one room at at time and keep working until it’s done. If I pick up something from the kitchen that belongs in the office and then when I get there I start tidying up my office, before long I’m all over the place starting everything and not really finishing anything. By focusing on one room at a time I always get a least a few spaces completely clean.

{Office and sources}

Secret #5 – While I’m doing my daily clean-up, I’m constantly getting rid of things. I think this is the number one secret to keeping your home clean and organized! Less stuff in your house means less stuff you have to manage. While I’m cleaning if I come across clothes we aren’t wearing, kitchen supplies I don’t cook with, toys my kids have out grown, decor that is outdated.. I toss it in a good will bag in the garage and don’t look back! Aside from a few sentimental items, I seriously have NO problem getting rid of things. I always have a few black sacks in my garage that are ongoing “take to good will bags.” Often friends will say to me “I need you to come and organize my house!” I always tell them they’d actually hate that because I would make them toss 80% of what they own.

My husband teases me about this all the time. He’ll say “babe – where is that new shirt I bought? Have you already tossed it?”

Or..

“Have you seen my cell phone and keys? Oh wait.. I didn’t check the black sack in the garage.”

At least he amuses himself. 😉

Secret #6 – I have a place for most things we keep. I work really hard to only keep what we use and love. Then I make sure that everything we use and love has a happy home. I also make sure my kids and husband know where things belong so that when it’s time to clean up we all know where everything needs to go.

{Organized Medicine Cabinet}

{Organized Craft/School Supplies}

{Organized Playroom}

{Miscellaneous Toys in the Family Room} *Quick Tip: If you find you have random items around your house that don’t have a home, corral them in a cute basket. 🙂

{Organized Camera Drawer}

I remember the day I realized that my camera equipment was spread out throughout my house in random drawers and closets. It took no time to consolidate it and put it all together in one drawer and what a difference that made! LOVE having this stuff all together. I never have to search to find something I need when it’s time to take pictures and after I’m done, everything gets put away in this drawer. Do my organized spaces always look this perfectly perfect? No. But while the cameras might not be perfectly lined up, they are always corralled in this drawer where I can find them. That’s part of the beauty of organization isn’t it? Being able to find what you need. 🙂

Secret #7 – I try to not procrastinate putting things away immediately. Really keeping your house organized is about two things: not having too much stuff, and setting good habits. If you get in the habit of putting your things away immediately instead of procrastinating and just tossing them on the floor, counter, bed, etc. your house will stay cleaner. Our family (like most I’m sure) is a work in progress in this area, but it’s something I’m always striving for and trying to teach my kids.

{Organizing Outfits for School}

Secret #8 – I rarely go to bed with a messy kitchen. Regardless of how crazy my day has been or how late I’m up, I almost always make sure our kitchen is totally clean before I go to bed (I usually clean it one final time before I sit down to blog at night). I put everything away, scrub my sinks, vacuum and spot mop my wood floors. This isn’t always easy. Because of constant snacks and meals sometimes I feel like I clean our kitchen 10 times a day! But nothing beats waking up to a clean kitchen. It just starts my day off right! So regardless of how tired I am, I try to make sure the kitchen is clean before I go to bed.

{Kitchen and sources}

Secret #9 – I involve my kids. Since my kids were little I’ve worked hard to involve them in our house work and I’ve taught them how to clean. I don’t think kids just know how to clean. It’s something we have to show and teach them. Sometimes we have to show and teach them thousands of times. 😉 It’s certainly easier to just do it yourself, but I try to fight the urge to do this when my kids are around and can help. Growing up my siblings and I always had daily chores so I do the same thing with my kids. When they were little I tried to make cleaning a game. We’d turn on music or play “clean and freeze” or “who can pick up 10 things in this room?” Whatever I could come up with to make it fun. I also made Star Charts for them to give them some motivation.

{Star Charts}

Some older pics of my girls cleaning. Clearly we cleaned best in fancy dresses. 🙂 (Miss those days!)

Now that my kids are a bit older I use daily chore charts and lists to keep us on track.

{Chore Charts}

El helping me give our mudroom a major clean out after the end of the school year.

The after! {Organized Mudroom}

Secret #10 – I make cleaning a happy event. I really like things to be clean and orderly and while I don’t like to admit this to my husband, I actually enjoy cleaning. Not always. There are certainly some chores I dread and some days I’m not in the mood to clean, but for the most part I love to get lost in housework and organizing. I make it a happy time of day for myself by turning on some good music, lighting a candle and by using cleaning products I love. (You can still pick up a few of my favorites for free here)! Details and my favorite cleaning products are in this post.). It’s very therapeutic for me to just clean and let my mind wander. I love the smell of good cleaning products, a candle burning and the sound of my dishwasher running. I feel the most content and happy when my house is clean and because of this, I usually look forward to some time spent each day tidying up.

Quick Recap! 10 Secrets that will help you keep your house clean and organized once and for all!

1 – If you are in a place where you can afford to, hire some help. (If you can’t afford help or just don’t need it (we’ve been in that boat too!) I think it helps to have a main “cleaning day” once or twice a week when you deep clean all the bathrooms, wash sheets and mop/vacuum the floors.)

2 – Establish a cleaning routine that works for you and your schedule.

3 – Spend a set amount of time picking up each day to stay on top of things.

4 – When cleaning, attack one room at a time and don’t lose focus!

5 – Constantly get rid of things!

6 – Create a place for the things you do keep.

7 – Don’t procrastinate. Put things away where they go immediately.

8 – Clean your kitchen each evening before bed.

9 – Involve your kids in the cleaning and organizing.

10 – Make cleaning fun! It really can be. 🙂

Like I said at the beginning of this post, we live in our house and a lot of days if you stopped by to visit things wouldn’t be perfectly clean. But over the years these 10 things have definitely helped me stay on top of my house work so that we can enjoy a mostly clean house most of the time.

I don’t know about you, but I can live with that.

🙂

p.s. The offer to get some of my favorite cleaning supplies for FREE only lasts a few more days! Head here to sign up or here to read more about this in my post on cleaning supplies!

(affiliate links used)

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These simple habits will help you stay organized and be more productive, and they’re so easy to implement into your daily routine!

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about habits. I’m realizing more and more that habits are so important because they are our natural default, what we resort to when we are going through the motions of our days. Forming good habits and sticking to them over time can build phenomenal long term results (whereas repeated bad habits over time will do the opposite– yikes)!

Today I thought I’d share 10 little habits that I’ve either gotten into already or am trying to get into that will help make life more productive and organized. These are all easy things to do that I think help my days (and eventually weeks and months and years!) run more smoothly.

10 Simple Habits that Will Help You Stay Organized

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

1. Make the Bed

I never used to be a bed maker. I figured that I was just going to get into it again the next night anyway, so why bother? But more recently, I began making the bed each morning, and I cannot believe the difference it has made. More than just making my bedroom look nicer, I feel like it gives me a positive start to the day– I’m beginning with order and a peaceful looking space, and it really helps to set a great tone for the rest of the day.

2. Clean Up the Kitchen and Quickly Straighten the House

If making my bed is the thing I want to make sure I do right when I wake up in the morning, cleaning up the kitchen and straightening the house are the things I want to make sure we’ve done before we go to bed at night. Our whole family comes together to make this one happen. After dinner, Donnie is the one who takes on the dishes and cleans up the kitchen (He is a keeper!) while the boys and I do a quick pickup around the rest of the house. (Admittedly, this is much easier now that they’re 9 and 6 than it was when they were, say, 3 and 1.)

(Now if only I could find a way to have beautiful fresh flowers casually laying in my sink looking beautiful all the time… 🤔😂)

Like making the bed, having a neat and tidy house before my head hits the pillow really puts me in the right mindset for keeping the rest of life organized and I absolutely LOVE waking up, going downstairs, and being greeted by a living area that is clean and picked up.

3. Finish One Task before Moving On to the Next

Okay, all my creatives out there will relate to me on this one. You’re doing a project, you put the finishing touches on it and then all of the sudden you feel the urgent need to move on to the next task ASAP, leaving all of your project materials strewn about to be dealt with later. Or you make lunch for your kids and as soon as you give them their plates you realize that you forgot to respond to that email, so you head to your computer, answer the email, browse around on Facebook, pin a couple of things on Pinterest and forget all about the mess you left in the kitchen from making lunch. Anybody with me? I do this ALL. THE. TIME.

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Because I’m constantly hopping from thing to thing to thing, I get to the end of the day and my house looks like a tornado has blown through, and I wonder how in the world it got that way. I am currently trying to retrain myself to finish a task all the way through– INCLUDING CLEAN UP– before I move onto the next thing. When I do this successfully, I can plop down on the couch in the evening and be surrounded by a neat, clean, inviting space rather than mass chaos. It only takes a few more minutes, but it makes a huge difference later!

4. Use Your Wait Time

I used to be good at this before I had a smart phone. If I was heating something up in the microwave, I would use those few minutes to unload the dishwasher or wipe down the counters. Now that I have the whole world wide web at my fingertips, I am tempted to check email or browse Instagram instead of tending to the tasks that would help me keep my house in order. I am amazed at what I can get done while I’m waiting for my kids to get their shoes on or waiting for something to finish up in the oven when I commit to using my wait time wisely.

5. Follow the “One In, One Out” Rule

In our house, if we bring in something new, something else has to go. I’ve realized that even a little bit of clutter can make the house feel like a big mess! I am constantly purging and throwing things away or donating them so that we are not buried under a mountain of stuff!

Toys are one of the worst offenders when it comes to creating clutter. If I don’t stay on top of them, then I feel like they take over the entire house. The Cs know that when they get new toys, they will have to choose some of their old ones to give away. (As you can see above, there is no shortage of things to play with! They can afford to spare some!) If nothing else, committing to purging when you add something new helps to give a good reminder in case you tend to go a long time between bigger purging sessions. 🙂

6. Maintain a Coordinated Calendar

Donnie is 100% responsible for instilling this habit in me. Our Google calendars are synced so we can each see what the other one has scheduled. His appointments are in blue, my appointments are in pink, and it’s really easy to check and see what the other one has going on if we’re trying to make plans or coordinate with someone else.

Now, I am a pen and paper girl through and through so this was a challenge for me (and sometimes I still forget to add things to the calendar!); however, I definitely think the digital version is the way to go on this one because I almost always have my phone with me and it’s the easiest way for Donnie and I both to stay up to date on what’s going on without having to consult several different paper calendars.

7. Strive for Inbox Zero

Gah. Email. Email is rough for me and is definitely something I’m still working on. Again, Donnie my digital guru helped me set up a system of tagging and archiving my emails, so I’m a lot better than I used to be, but my ultimate goal is to have my inbox at zero before I go to bed every night. In order to do this, I need to schedule in time each day to respond to emails, or it just won’t happen. I will never just have all this extra time in my schedule to sit and work on email. It’s another one of those things, though, that if I stay on top of it, it’s quick and painless and not at all hard to do.

8. Have a System for Paperwork

The actual system will vary for each person and family, but I think it is so important to have some sort of plan in place for all of the papers that enter your home– from mail to schoolwork to coupons to newspapers to whatever else finds its way in the door. In our house, we handle this a couple different ways. I take care of the boys’ school information and paperwork each night, throwing away/recycling things we don’t need, displaying some of their favorite items, and keeping a small file of their best work from each year in a file box.

And then Donnie takes care of all of the mail, bills, forms, and pretty much everything else using a paperless system, which he described in detail in this post.

This paperless system has been absolutely revolutionary for us as far as home organization goes, so if you haven’t seen how Donnie does it yet, I highly recommend that you pop over and check it out. He’s amazing! 🙂

9. Make Your To Do List

You probably could have guessed that this was going to be on here! I may be just slightly obsessed with lists. I love making them, I love checking things off of them, and sometimes I make them just so I can check things off of them. For my daily list I use a time blocking system that you can read about and get a printable for in this post.

Or if you’re more of a digital list maker, Donnie talked all about his love for the Wunderlist app in this post.

10. Get Some Sleep

“But Abby,” you’re thinking, “what does sleep have to do with productivity and organization?!” Friend, it has everything to do with it. My natural inclination is to stay up as late as possible to get things done, but then the next day I’m lethargic and unproductive because I’m having trouble keeping my eyes open! Since I realized just how much getting a good night’s sleep impacts my day, I have tried to be so intentional about getting to bed earlier and getting enough sleep, and I can confidently say that there is a major difference in the amount I’m able to accomplish when I’ve gotten my sleep versus those times when I’m running on empty. Get your sleep, people! 🙂

So those are my 10! I know there are probably about 100 more that I could add to this list, so if you have a tip that helps you to be more organized and productive, I’d love for you to share it in the comments!

Looking for more ideas for improving habits and routines? These posts can help!

My Morning Routine: Organizing My Morning for a More Productive Day

My Evening Routine: An Organized Way to End the Day

5 Ways to Revamp Your Routine and Increase Productivity

Free Printable Habit Tracker

How to Form a New Habit (Even If You’ve Failed at It Before)

Have a wonderful day!

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

The photos below are from a previous version of this post.

(Silhouette, Laminator, Baskets (similar), Bins, Bookshelves, Cube Unit)

(Storage Unit, Bins (Similar), Bookplates)

(Desk, Basket- Home Goods, Inboxes, White Board, & Cork Board- Office Depot)

(Scanner, Letter Tray)

These 10 simple habits will help you stay organized and be more productive with your days! (And they’re so easy to work into your daily routine!)