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  • News
  • How to Get Organized

How to Get Organized

Asif Husain on
How to Get Organized

By Jenn from cleanandscentsible.com

Learn how to get organized with these easy tips and tricks. Simple daily habits can really make a big difference in your home organization and save you time and energy!

HOW TO GET ORGANIZED

Do you ever feel like you’re constantly running around and never getting enough accomplished?  It’s not a very good feeling when you’re overwhelmingly busy and still not feeling like you are keeping up with things. Unfortunately, we can’t create more time. BUT, we can make our time more efficient and more productive.

Making little changes in how your day is structured and how you organize things can make a BIG difference in how your household functions.  Small changes over time really can add up!  So if you’re feeling overwhelmed with life right now, take a few deep breaths and realize that you don’t have to do everything.  Prioritize what really needs to be done and take a look at your daily habits to see where you lose time and what things you can really cut out. You can do it!!

Summer Kitchen Decorating Ideas. White farmhouse style kitchen decorated for summer.

I really believe that small habit changes can make a big impact on your time management and household organization. Start small with gradual changes and work on creating routines that work for you.  Stick with one or two changes until they start to become part of your natural routine and then slowly add new habits.  The more you practice it, the less you’ll have to think about it.  And eventually, it will just become part of your new organized way of life!

MAKE THE BED AS SOON AS YOU GET UP.

A neatly made bed quickly makes the whole room seem more orderly and starts the day off in a nice, organized way.  For some reason, when my bed is made I am more likely to want to tidy up the rest of my room.  When you first get up, you may want to fold down the bed sheets for a short period of time while you’re getting ready or showering to air them out, but don’t leave them too long!

How to get organized. Black bed with white bedding.

WHENEVER YOU LEAVE A ROOM, TAKE SOMETHING WITH YOU.

I try to never leave a room empty handed especially if I am traveling from floor to floor. Take only what you can put away.  I find it is better to just take a couple of things with me and PUT THEM AWAY rather than taking a whole armload and dumping it down in another place.  Just moving your clutter from space to space isn’t very helpful!  If you are lucky enough that there is nothing to take with you, put one or two items away before you leave the room.

INVOLVE THE WHOLE FAMILY IN KEEPING THE HOUSE TIDY.

Get your children {and dare I say husbands?} involved in tidying up after themselves. Even little tasks like putting their shoes and coat away, dirty clothes in the hamper, or clearing their dishes can make a big difference over the course of a day.

COMMIT TO GETTING RID OF 10 ITEMS PER DAY.

This can be items to either throw away or donate.  If this seems like it will be difficult, trust me.  It’s much easier than it seems and once you get started, items will fly out your door.  Start with those “junk drawers” {I know you all have them!} and you’ll be amazed how fast you can find 10 things to part with.  Obviously, this isn’t something that you do forever, but it’s a good way to get rid of that superficial clutter that’s clogging up your home. If you have a lot of clutter to get rid of, try my 31 Day Home Detox or 6 Week Decluttering Challenge.

HAVE A DONATION BOX.

Or two or three.  I have started keeping one in the garage and also have one upstairs for clothing.  When it is full, take it away.  I know in our area, there are tons of donation bins at the shopping mall parking lots which makes it even more convenient to drop off our items at any time of day.

How to get organized. Donation box filled with household items to donate.

JUST DO IT!!

If it can be done in less than one minute, just do it!  Seriously, it is amazing how much this helps out.  File that piece of paper or just put the dish directly in the dishwasher.

SET UP A REALISTIC CLEANING SCHEDULE THAT YOU CAN FOLLOW.

I have looked at many of the cleaning schedules out there on the Internet and many of them are just impossible for me to keep up with.  As a working Mom with a large house, some things just don’t get cleaned as often as I would like.  And that is okay with me.  I have a rotating cleaning list that I just check off as I go.  When I get to the end, I start over again.  I find it much easier than “Monday I do a, b,c and Tuesday I do x, y, z.”  This way, if I miss my Monday tasks, I don’t feel like I am thrown off for the whole week.  Having a regular daily cleaning routine to just cover the basic household cleaning and tidying is also helpful.  Just click on the link to find my quick and easy daily cleaning tips as well as a free daily cleaning routine printable. Or see how I put together a cleaning binder HERE.

Home cleaning binder with a printable daily cleaning routine.

HAVE A MORNING ROUTINE.

As much as I hate mornings, I do find that I can get a lot accomplished if I have a set routine and pretty much just function on autopilot.  I always make my bed first thing when I get up, then go get the kids up and throw in a pile of laundry.  {I usually already have it in the washing machine and just have to add soap and turn it on}.  It’s kind of nice to feel like you have accomplished something before breakfast.  The morning just seems to set the tone for the whole day.  You can find tips and ideas for setting up a successful morning routine HERE.

Beauty products organized in a bin.

ORGANIZE IN SMALL DOSES.

There is no better way to kill your motivation than by overwhelming yourself.  I know that you want your whole kitchen or your whole playroom to be organized today but start with one drawer or one cupboard and commit to keeping it clean.  If you have organized it well, it should be quite easy to maintain.

RECOGNIZE YOUR HOME’S “HOT SPOTS”.

We all have those places in our homes where the clutter tends to accumulate.  Often times, it is the front entrance or kitchen counter. These are often good areas to start your organization magic and will probably be areas that you should check regularly for quick “tune-ups”.  Figure out what items end up there and create a new home for them.  If it is not needed, get rid of it!

TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF.

Yes, this is sometimes another hard one for us Moms.  Find something that you love to do that is just totally for you and make the time to do it.  It could be as simple as carving out 20 minutes to have a relaxing bath or read a book that has been collecting dust on your shelf.  I am trying to give myself at least 30 minutes per day to do something that I enjoy {oh, and this does not mean watching a television show while folding laundry, dusting and doing dishes during the commercials!} This makes a happier, more well rested, productive, energy-filled you!!!  If you need some ideas to get you started, check out these 30 self-care ideas and grab your free printable.

Free printable listing 30 self-care ideas.

GET AT LEAST 7-8 HOURS OF SLEEP PER NIGHT.

Well, speaking of being more well-rested, productive and energy filled – getting enough sleep is definitely a must!  I must admit, this one is a tough one for me.  I really cherish my time once the kids are in bed and there are so many things that I want to do.  BUT, I do realize that I will actually get things done quicker {and therefore have more time for myself} if I am not walking around in a sleep deprived daze all day.  Oh, and it also helps increase our tolerance with the little kiddos who are testing our patience all day! You can find my tips on how to get a better night’s sleep HERE.

GET DRESSED FIRST THING IN THE MORNING.

You will not meet anyone who loves their pajamas more than me.  I could seriously stay in my P.J.s all day long.  The longer the day goes on, the less motivation I have to get dressed. And then I procrastinate going out to do my errands because I don’t feel like getting dressed. Pajamas kind of put you in relax mode rather than work mode – not what we are trying to accomplish here!

Oh Dear, I Really Should Do Something, But I'm Already In My Pajamas.

 LIMIT MULTITASKING.

I know as Moms, we often pride ourselves on our ability to multitask.  For me, this isn’t necessarily a good thing.  I was doing a little bit of lots of things rather than completing a few select tasks.  Despite being busy and working all day, it felt like I hadn’t really accomplished anything.  It would usually go something like this: I would start vacuuming, get to the bathroom, and realize that the toilet needed to be cleaned.  After cleaning the toilet, I would go to put the cleaning cloth in the laundry and realize that the washing machine was actually full of clean clothes that needed to go in the dryer.  Well, of course the dryer was full so I had to fold the clothes first and take them up to the bedrooms.  In the bedroom, I would discover a mess that needed to be vacuumed…  I think you get the picture.  Maybe I should write a book called “If You Give a Mouse a Vacuum”.

LABEL AS MUCH AS YOU CAN.

The more things that are labeled the better!!  Not only does it help you stay organized, it helps everyone else in the household know where things go.  It may take a little training, but even little munchkins pick up on this pretty quickly {actually the little guys usually know where things go more than hubby!}  There are so many cute and creative ways to add labels these days.  You can find my favorite organization labels here.

Pretty pantry labels on glass jars.

PRIORITIZE YOUR PROJECTS.

If you are anything like me, you have a list of projects and ideas that is a mile long {thanks a lot Pinterest!}  Often times, this can get very overwhelming and lead to a total shut down of production.  As much as we would like to, we just can’t do it all.   I am MUCH more efficient and productive when I only have one or two projects on the go.  The more projects I have, the more I procrastinate and stress.  So limit your project list and commit to completing at least one project on your list before starting another one.  You can see how I keep track of this and organize my life in this little notebook HERE.

How to Keep Yourself Organized with a Notebook. Small notebook with washi tape dividers.

 MAKE A DAILY OR WEEKLY TO DO LIST.

Use a planner or other to do list, to highlight your priorities each day.  Don’t make it too long and try to get the items done as early in the day as possible. What works best for me, is to do a weekly To Do list of all the things I want to get done for the week.  Then, each night before I go to bed, I put three “must do” items on my list for the next day.  I try to focus on these items before moving onto any other tasks.

REMEMBER THAT PERFECTION IS THE ENEMY TO COMPLETION.

This, for me, is a BIG one! We all want to do things well but we cannot be perfect. Remember that doing something is always better than not doing anything because you do not have the time to make it perfect. {I think men are much better than women on this one!}

FOLLOW THE 80/20 RULE.

This is based on the premise that it takes just as long to complete the last 20% of a task than it does to complete the first 80%. All of those little nit picky details that only you would really notice take a lot of time but don’t really make a big difference to anyone else. Yes, sometimes you need to spend a little extra time but, for the most part, I am trying to be happy with having everything 80% clean!!

ORGANIZE YOUR PAPER.

Oh, the paper!!!  It’s AMAZING how much of this stuff accumulates around the home – bills, kids reports, coupons, art work, receipts, tax information.  Really the list is endless and you can quickly become overrun with paper.   There are many, many systems out there for organizing your paper – from file folders, to binders, to  trays.  The big box stores and home office supply stores have lots of stylish and functional items to choose from.  We use this system to keep our paper clutter under control and our kitchen command center as our primary storage for short term papers.

Drawer with file folders added to keep paper clutter under control.

IF YOU DON’T LOVE IT OR USE IT, IT HAS GOT TO GO!

You can only organize so much.  If you have not used {or worn} something for one year, the chances are you will not be using it.  Yes, there are exceptions, but in general this is a good rule to follow. Toss it or donate it – think of it as one less thing to worry about!  Find my tips for overcoming your decluttering paralysis HERE.

DO NOT BUY SOMETHING UNLESS YOU KNOW WHERE IT WILL GO.

Before you buy anything, think where you will put it and what function it will have.  Even if you love an item {and it’s marked down to 80% off!}, if there’s no where for it to go or you won’t end up using it, it won’t be helpful to you.  Instead, it will end up in a junk pile somewhere in your house or buried deep in a cupboard.  This is also a great question to ask your kids before they buy that “must have” item.

ONE ITEM IN, ONE ITEM OUT.

This one doesn’t always apply but it is always a good to thing to think about.  When you are buying something new, think of something that you already have that can be given away or discarded.  If you are replacing an item, do you now really need two of them?  If you bought a new pair of jeans, do you have an older pair that you don’t really wear anymore?  This also works great to help keep the kids’ toys in check.

Organized closet with clothes arranged by color.

DO POWER CLEANS.

I’m not sure why, but I seem to move a lot faster and stay on task more when I set the timer.  I guess it’s that competitive nature in me!!  If I have a day off that I’m actually at home, I will often do 1 hour of house work followed by 1 hour of “free” time. {Note that “free” is in quotations as this includes time with the kids, meal prep, taking the dogs out for a walk, etc.!}  The kids know that once the work buzzer goes, I’ll have time to play with them instead of having them constantly ask when it is time for the bike ride or when I will play Star Wars.  Of course, it doesn’t have to be an hour.  If you’re short on time, set the timer for 15 minutes and just get as much as you can done within that time.  It is amazing what you can get accomplished!

AVOID OPENING PANDORA’S BOX.

I’m not sure if this is only applicable to me, but there are times when I just want to do a simple task and I end up turning it into some major project that I do not have time for. You know, like when you go to get something from the junk drawer and then suddenly the whole contents of the drawer are sprawled all over your kitchen floor? Just stick to your task and make a note to do the bigger chore later when you have more time to complete it.

BE REALISTIC.

When you are setting goals for yourself, start with small, specific tasks. As you see yourself crossing off items on your goal list, you will start to feel like you are actually accomplishing something. Feel proud of what you have done and use that to motivate you to continue on.  Focus on what you have done and not on what you still have to do. Thinking about too many tasks often just sends us into shut down mode.

KEEP YOUR CLEANING SUPPLIES HANDY.

The easier something is to do, the more likely you will do it!!  I have a couple of Command hooks on the inside of all my bathroom cupboards to keep my cleaning cloths handy as well as cleaning products in each bathroom.  If something is in need of a clean, everything is right there. That extra step of going to get it is often the difference between doing the task and procrastinating until later.  Find cute ways to keep those cleaning supplies handy, and it will make your job that much easier!  For more information on organizing your cleaning supplies click here and here.

Cleaning supplies organized in cute soap dish.

STORE YOUR ITEMS WHERE YOU USE THEM.

Sometimes you need to think outside the box for your storage ideas.  Do your kids put on their P.J.s as soon as they come out of the bath?  Why not store their P.J.s right in the bathroom.  Do you have a craft room in the basement but often scrapbook on the kitchen table upstairs?  Create a small craft caddy with some basic supplies to store upstairs.  I keep one change of bed linens in each of the bedrooms instead of having a central linen closet.  Go with whatever works for you!

Cleaning caddy filled with cleaning products.

BE MINDFUL OF YOUR TECHNOLOGY TIME.

Between the Internet, social media, Pinterest, blogs, texting, television, etc., your time can quickly evaporate!  Often I get sucked into the computer and don’t even realize how much time as passed.   I’m now trying to limit how often I go on social media and will set a timer if I know I should only be on for a limited time.  I find that by doing this, I actually enjoy my computer time more.  Instead of just mindlessly clicking away, I’m just looking at things that really interest me.  Although I’m pretty sure that I won’t get around to doing all of the 10,000 items that I have pinned on Pinterest, I’ll hopefully be able to get a few more of them accomplished!

REALIZE THAT COMPLETE CHAOS IS SOMETIMES INEVITABLE.

As much as we try, life just sometimes gets the better of us.  I would love to say that I always follow these guidelines, but sometimes I’m too busy, or too tired, or just in plain need of a break.  We must give ourselves permission to just let it go {this is a hard one for me!} and then get back on the saddle again the next day!

HABITS TAKE TIME.

Like any other habits, organization skills will take time and effort to learn.  Some of the tips might also take a little tweaking to find exactly what works for you. Just stick with it! While some of the habits may seem difficult or awkward at first, they will get easier.  Over time, you’ll find that you’ll hardly even have to think about it!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, just work through the tips one at a time.  Slow, steady progress often gives you the best long term results anyways – and that’s really what it’s all about. Some days will be easier than others, so give yourself some grace and just do your best. Remember that little changes CAN make a big difference.  It may take some effort to adapt your ways, but it will be well worth it in the end. 

THE HOUSEHOLD ORGANIZATION DIET

If you’re still having trouble getting your home decluttered and organized, consider joining in my Household Organization Diet.  It’s a year-long organization plan working through one room per month.  You can click HERE to find all of the posts and free printables.  Or grab my book, The Home Decluttering Diet, so you can refer to it whenever you need the inspiration!