Although some people are born with a natural talent for organization, others have to research and commit to becoming organized. Learning to become organized can seem daunting before you get started. However, getting and staying organized is easier than you think.
If the title has you cringing at the thought of learning ten rules: Have no fear. Each individual rule is simple, and they all work together to help you make organization habitual and second nature.
1. Know Why You’re Doing It
To begin, ask yourself, “Why do I want to get organized?” Is it because you’re stressed by visual clutter? Do you need to maintain order in a busy home? Or do you have a deep fear of being featured on “Hoarders?” Knowing why you’re completing a task or setting a goal will help you stay motivated to see it through. Consider writing your “why” down and keeping it handy. When you’re stressed, you can refer to it for an extra shot of motivation.
2. Everyone Must Participate
Spouse, partner, kids: Make sure everyone you live with is on board. When you’re the only one committed to the organization, you either give up or go mad — or both. You will spend all your time nagging or resign yourself to a lifetime of cleaning up after others. Take time to explain the benefits of proper organization to your kids. Tell them why it is important to you. Model good habits and help them learn to complete age-appropriate chores.
3. Everything Has A Home
Say it with me: “A place for everything and everything in its place.” This adage really is the key to maintaining an organized home. No matter if it is your postcard collection or wine cellar, there is a place for everything. If you really can’t store it anywhere, consider downsizing. With the increasing popularity of craft brews, it may not be feasible to have an entire collection in your home. Drink it and c’est la vie!
4. Create A Command Center
When you begin finding “a place for everything,” start by creating a command center. A command center is a dedicated drop zone for keys, wallets, mail and important papers. It’s also a great place to keep invitations, reminders and the family calendar. Having one location for all of these crucial and everyday items will save you time and cut down on lost items and missed deadlines.
5. Create A Weekly Schedule
Certain cleaning and maintenance tasks need to be done every week. To ensure you don’t forget a task, and to make sure everyone is on the same page, make a weekly cleaning schedule. You can assign different tasks to different days or keep one master list and tick items off as completed. Post a kid-friendly version — with pictures for pre-readers — on the fridge, and share a grown-up version of your calendar app of choice.
There are many tasks that only need to be done once or twice a year: checking smoke alarm batteries, changing filters, flipping mattresses. Commit one weekend in both the spring and the fall to completing those occasional tasks.
Spring and fall cleaning are also the perfect times to rotate seasonal items. Switch out beach and snow gear, potted plants and snow shovels. Keep out-of-season items in an attic or basement, reserving the main areas for in-use items only. Before you’re done, turn a critical eye on your belongings. If you haven’t used an item since the previous cleaning — or the previous year — toss it or donate it. These regular purges will help keep clutter from taking over.
Impulse buys are disastrous for both your bank account and your clutter levels. A clear, detailed budget will help you plan what you buy — groceries, clothes, home goods — so you’re not at the mercy of every sale display you pass.You can still build a small allowance for non-essential purchases. But try keeping a wish list instead of buying items as soon as they catch your eye. If you still want an item the next month, you’ll know it was more than a passing fancy.
8. Maintain Equilibrium
Like “a place for everything,” the “one in, one out” rule is a staple of personal organization.The rule is simple: For each item, you bring into your home, another item must leave. Most people stick to like items: one shirt in, one shirt out. The main thing is to keep a cap on the number of possessions taking up space in your home.
9. Address Emotional Clutter
When it comes to organizing, emotions can be your biggest pitfall. Whether it’s a gift from a loved one, an old souvenir or a childhood relic, emotional items are the hardest to get rid of. People fear by getting rid of the item, they will lose the memory that goes along with it. The funny thing is oftentimes we don’t even remember we have these keepsakes until they’re unearthed during a big cleaning.
10. Loosen The Reins
The whole family gets the flu, guests are staying for the holidays, a big event is consuming your time — when you’re faced with situations like these, it’s important to know when to scale back your expectations. Sometimes you need to take a break from hyper-organization and turn your focus elsewhere. Once the crisis or celebration is over, you can go back to business as usual.
Staying organized isn’t a mystical superpower few can access. An organized life is nothing more than a series of simple rules that help you maintain good habits. Follow these ten rules, and you will be well on your way to an organized home.