How to Stay Organized as a Way of Life

So many times we talk about how to get organized. Of course, that is a great topic to be discussing. But 20130908_122418there are some who have gotten themselves organized (either on their own or by hiring a Professional Organizer) and now want some strategies on staying organized.

Understand that there are many books and teachings in the market regarding organization and time management. But owning them and reading them will NEVER make you organized. It will be the act of doing, committing and maintaining that will keep you organized. You can invest in hiring a Professional Organizer and that can be a wise investment and they will get your organized. But maintaining that organization is going to be your responsibility. It will take dedication, commitment and action.

Here are some ideas to help keep you on the path of organization. If you can follow these simple steps, you are sure to stay on that path. Being organized will definitely bring peace into your home. So let’s get started.

1. Assign all your belongings or items to a specific place.
When designating a place for your items, be sure that place makes sense. For example, if you have an item that gets used in the kitchen, storing it in your home office makes no sense. Your items should be stored in the area for which they are needed and used.

Hats, scarves, and gloves are usually put on as you are walking out the door. So perhaps the best place to find their home is in the hall closet where the coats are. Not necessarily in each persons bedroom. When they return home, the coat gets hung but if there is no immediate place for the rest of the outer gear, are your family members really going to want to walk to the bedroom to put it away? I doubt it.

One of the ways to determine what does not have a home is looking around and seeing what’s left lying around. Now we can have the issue of people being lazy and not putting items in their proper place even if they all have a specific home. But that’s another issue. If there is no home for an item or items, they definitely will be left on a floor or counter top.

Find those items and designate a home. Then the clutter will be removed.

2. Do not put an item down unless it’s being put in its proper place.
This my friend is the only cure for the habit of “dumping.” Training family members to put things away can take some time. Especially if they have been allowed to just dump. But it is a habit that can be developed. I am amazed when I work with some moms who say the kids just come home and dump. I think and many times say, “Why do you allow it?”

Train your children early to always put items back where they belong. But if you haven’t trained them in this fashion, it is never too late. Have a family meeting and say you are instituting a new house rule. Tell them it is a habit that their future spouses will appreciate. If you can start them young, you have mastered a great skill in your children. If you need to retrain them, you will see how it will change your life and the life of your household. It may be hard at first, but in the end, it is worth it.

If you have something in your hand, it literally takes a few seconds more to put it where it belongs. But when you just drop or dump items in a place you think it convenient at the time, you are only creating tremendous work for yourself down the road. Take that few extra “seconds” to put an item away instead of piling hours worth of work down the road.

3. If an item is out of place, never ignore it.
There are exceptions to every rule and sometimes items do not immediately get put back in place. When those times do occur and later in the day you are walking by an item that is not in it’s proper place, then pick it up and bring it to where it belongs. That one item will only take a second to put away. Train family members to do that same. You may have to remind them frequently but eventually the habit will develop.

4. Learn to live within your space.
Probably one of the worse developments in the US is outside storage units. All this really does is help instill a level of hoarding. Storage units can be a great concept for short-term storage. If you want to do a mass purging in your home and are having difficulty parting with some belongings, then by all means put them in a storage unit; but only with the commitment for a short time. Set a time when you will go back and start making decisions on those items and have a target date to be done.

If there is no room for items, then the probability that you have too much is pretty great. Learn to live within the space you currently have. Obviously there are times when we need to move into a larger home. But let that be because the family is growing … not the belongings. What a waste of money to buy a bigger home because your “things” don’t fit. Get rid of the things and do something with that money. Take a nice vacation. Help a family in need. You’ll feel great for doing it.

5. Practice clearing all surfaces daily.
I make it a habit to clear my kitchen/bathroom counters and kitchen table by the end of every day. I want to awaken fresh the next morning to a clean and clear workspace. There is nothing more annoying than to go make breakfast and have to first clear the counter space. Make this a habit that by the end of the day all surfaces is cleared off.

6. Develop a routine for deep cleaning.
Every room needs to have that deep cleaning. You know getting behind and underneath the furniture. Cleaning window treatments and knick-knacks. As a child, we did this twice a year; once in the fall and then again in the spring. If twice a year seems like too much, consider deep cleaning at least once a year to really dig in and clean deep.

7. Understand that cleanup is part of every project.
Don’t ever stop a project and not put the project away. Instill this habit especially in your children. Make it a rule that only one toy or one art project can be out at one time and when they are done with it, it must be put away before another toy or project can come out.

8. Create a meal management system.
This has helped me tremendously especially when it came to grocery shopping. I was no longer trying to figure out (in the grocery store) what I was going to cook for the following week. I had my meals planned and then I’d look to see if I had all ingredients as I made my shopping list to be sure that I purchased what I was missing or didn’t go and purchase some that I already had on hand.

It also made my day easier. I knew in the morning what I would be making that evening. I didn’t have to stand with the freezer door opened trying to figure it out. It eliminated that daily “scratching my head” trying to figure out what to make. I even allowed days for “left overs.”

9. Create a laundry center that works for your family.
Not only is having a laundry center helpful but also having every family member participate is important. No one person should shoulder the full responsibility of the family laundry. Creating a laundry center with clear understanding how everyone is responsible to participate or at least get their laundry there, will make this chore run smoothly. No more dirty clothes lying on bedroom floors or draped over furniture. Everyone is responsible to bring his or her dirty clothes to the laundry center. If you had separate bins for sorting that would even help the laundry cleaning go that much smoother.

10. Create a message center for your family.
Communicating within the family unit is critical; especially in light of all our busy schedules. Of course, with cell phones usually owned by each family member, has helped with communication. But having a large calendar with all events posted or even sharing Google Calendars with each family member will help everyone to understand where every one is each day.

Place a bulletin board in a central location to pin invites, reminders and important paper work on, will eliminate the problem with trying to find these items when needed. Just go to the family message center to locate that important piece of paper.

11. Be sure all of your important information can be found in one place.
This goes beyond the above mentioned documents. There are important documents that may be needed at the drop of a hat. You don’t want to go shuffling through piles of papers to find that document. Whether you choose a file drawer or a desktop filing system, it is important that you know where your important family documents are stored. When they arrive in the mail, they should be filed immediately.

12. Do not create a paper jungle.
This is so key. Piling papers on top of your kitchen counter or table is not acceptable. That is not an effectively filing system. If you are unsure how you should have your filing systems designed, call in help. But don’t wait until the piles are so big and the project is so overwhelming.

Remember kitchen counters are for cooking and kitchen tables are for eating. They are not for storing papers.

13. Be smarter than the time robbers.
What are those issues that rob your time? We all have them and they are all different. For some is chatting too much on the phone … or texting. For others it’s getting swallowed in the Facebook realm. Whatever it may be, acknowledge what it is and don’t allow you to get lost in it.

14. Create a new friend … the word NO!

 

Managing your home must be on the “to do” list of daily activities. We must allow time in our schedule to do those responsibilities. If time does not permit it, then perhaps you have too much on your plate and something must be cut out.

Your Organizing Expert … Believing in You!

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