Small home organizing tasks each day will add up over time. If you only do 15 minutes of organizing each day, you will have done an hour, and 45 minutes per week, If you do it for one month, you will have done 4.5 hours. If you do it every day for the entire year, you would have done 54 hours per year of organizing. WOW! But, to do this, you will need to do some planning. You need to find things that you can do to not only clear out the room but also maintain the space not to allow any new piles to form. This week I will talk about tasks that you can do to not only get rid of clutter but also keep the clutter at bay. Come along for the ride.
First, understand that organizing a space isn't the same for everyone. There are some similarities, but every person is different. They have their way of doing things, and their way of assessing their situation. They also have their way of finding solutions. I worked with several people over the years, and I found that each person came to a slightly different conclusion when it came to their organizing systems. And, that is OK. Each one of us has to determine what works for each of us. One person, even a Professional Organizer, can't force their viewpoint on another and so is the same with creating organized systems in a home. However, there are some specific tasks that you can keep in mind which will keep a room organized longer.
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Trash cans only help if you use them. If you have a trash can in your bedroom and you have tissues and other things laying on different surfaces, you are not using the tool that is intended to be used. I found over the years; people would keep trash. Really, garbage! Not for any reason but they just stop before completing the task of throwing something away.
Piles are only useful if each collection has a common topic or theme. Some people are visual, and they may need to see what they need to do to remember the 'to-dos.' That is OK. However, you need to have a system associated with these piles. For example, one collection could be for to be paid bills. One pile can be for the papers you want to read before taking action on them. One pile can be waiting for action from someone else. Before making a collection, ask yourself to define the theme for the pile. Using a sticky note, write on it what action you need to do with this pile. When you add to the collection, move the sticky note to the top.
An organized process in place doesn’t have to be magazine beautiful. We all love how magazine homes look. Perfectly shelved books. Strategically placed figurines with no clutter to be cleared in the house at all. Well, that doesn't happen in real life, sorry to say. Systems need to be in place to truly make a home work. So, don't worry about the perfect look. Just make sure the room works for you.
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Labeling is only necessary if you can’t see what is inside the container or bin. Labeling is essential especially if you have other people using a space. However, if your system is well thought out, and you know where everything is, you don't need labels on every single bin especially if the bin is clear. Seeing through the container makes it easy to see what is inside quickly.
For frequently used items, have a daily drop spot for everyone to use. We use a table in the entryway that holds chargers, because, no one will leave without their cellphones. If you want to use a closet, try including the charging station inside the closet with cubbies for shoes and hooks for bags. Staying consistent will minimize the lost items when you are rushing out the door.
Stay consistent when putting stuff away and you will never be disorganized. When we take stuff out and don't return them to their home, it can get messy quickly. Creating systems do help. Creating habits to return things to their home will keep the system working for as long as you need the system. Decide when you feel the most productive in your day. Pick that time to spend returning items to their homes. Some people like to do this at the end of each day. Some prefer doing it at lunchtime. Others prefer to do it in the morning when they wake up. There are two benefits of doing this each day, 1. you will always be able to find your stuff and 2. you will know when something is missing.
Above all else, when determining your process, look at the big picture and decide not only what you want to organize but also how you would maintain the organization. Remember, it's not all about the organization. I hope this post helps you get inspired to get your home organized for good.
Looking for even more inspiration on keeping your home organized, check out these other experts' articles.
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I pretty much find trash in every space I organize. Common culprits are empty cups, twist ties and clothing labels (along with the plastic ties that hold them in place.) If a trash can isn't nearby, it can be so much easier to simply "stick it" on a shelf or surface. Getting the can into the space is step one, and then - as you point out - we've got to use it!
Small moments definitely add up. I like the math calculations here that quantify what can be accomplished within a year on only a 15-minute a day effort. This is a great point because organizing can feel so overwhelming to some, but with some regular maintenance effort, it becomes doable to keep systems working.
I love the sticky note idea. You think you will remember what your plan was with the pile (papers, for example) but it is easy to forget and then it all gets mixed in with the mess. I will try this myself with my desk. I can just see myself going through the pile and then its "oh yeah, I need to do that as well". I also tend to do a few things while waiting for the kettle to boil which is always a good use of time.