6 Tips to Get + Stay Organized
Are you someone who struggles to get and stay organized? Feel like it doesn’t come naturally to you? That’s ok! It’s absolutely something you can learn and eventually master.
Believe it or not, I haven’t always been as tidy as I am not. Growing up, I kept everything! I didn’t have much and just the act of keeping what I did have felt hugely important to me. But over time I learned that keeping things just for the sake of keeping them wasn’t adding anything besides anxiety to my life. Eliminating the clutter helps to eliminate the stress.
So, here are some of my go-to tips for keeping down the clutter and creating a routine that fits into your lifestyle.
1. Start Small
The hardest part of any task always seems to be getting started. And when you have a massive pile of laundry staring you in the face, it can be even harder to get started. It’s much easier to just keep ignoring it. But when you ignore the mess it doesn’t go away. It grows.
So start small! Set a goal to declutter one drawer a day. Go through it, toss out everything you don’t need (perhaps including the growing pile of takeout sauces? lol), and shred all that old junk mail. If your closet is the issue, break it into categories. Today, shoes. Tomorrow, pants.
In the words of Desmond Tutu, “The only way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.”
2. Turn Large Spaces into Smaller Ones
By breaking large spaces—like a drawer, for instance—into smaller sections, you both limit the amount of things you can stuff into the drawer and you make sure everything has a designated “spot.” When everything has a place to go, you’re more likely to actually put it there versus just tossing it wherever.
3. Create a Routine
Many of us grew up in households where we had to get up bright and early on Saturday morning and help scrub the house from top to bottom. If you were lucky, it was accompanied by the smell of breakfast and an old school playlist.
Well, if you’ve been hanging around my corner of the internet for a while, you know all about #NeatFreaky Sunday. Sundays are my days to deep clean. And yes, I have playlists! It’s my day to mop, dust, change my bedding, etc. It’s the perfect way to get a fresh start for the week.
It also helps to be really honest with yourself about how much you can get done in one session and also which chores you absolutely dread doing. For example, I wash my laundry on Saturday and fold/put it away on Sundays. I absolutely hate folding clothes so splitting the task up into 2 days makes it a bit more bearable for me. I used to leave washing, folding and putting away for Sunday and inevitably that last step wouldn’t get done. Week after week. So I had to change my approach.
Sundays are also the day I set aside for my grocery or meal service delivery (I place my grocery order on Saturday nights) and do any meal prepping for the week. Creating a routine like this means I don’t have to stop in the middle of my week to when I’m most strapped for time.
4. Turn It Into a Mental Game
During the week, my cleaning schedule is all about maintenance. Since we’re all busy working, chauffeuring kids to and fro, cooking dinner and trying to have even a brief moment to relax, you may not have the time to actually stop and clean. Trust me, I get it. But that doesn’t stop the clutter from happening. You come in from work, kick your shoes off, drop your bag and the mail on the kitchen counter and before you know it, there’s no visible counter space. There’s an easy and fun solution for that!
When I notice that things are piling up I implement a little game called “Take one thing with you.” It’s simple. Each time I walk through the kitchen, I tell myself to take just one thing off the island and put back in its place. So when I head back upstairs, I grab that work bag I sat on the counter and take it up to my office. When I head out to my car, I grab the reusable tote bag that never made its way back to my trunk after grocery shopping. Grabbing just one thing at a time means I don’t have to take time to stop and clean, but it still all gets done eventually. Feeling ambitious? Grab two things!
5. Set a Timer
Ok, so for this one I don’t actually set a timer. I use the microwave. lol. But it’s the same concept.
When I’m cooking dinner at night or warming up my lunch, I like to see how many things I can get done before my microwave timer goes off. How many of the dishes in the sink can I get washed? How much of the dishwasher can I get unloaded? Can I get the trash out to the alley and back inside before the ding? What about taking all of the dirty kitchen rags down to the laundry room? And you know what, I almost always beat the buzzer. With time to spare!
The lesson in that is that the tasks we put off don’t take nearly as long as we make them out to be in our heads. You would be really surprised how much you can get done in 30 seconds to a minute. And that brings me to my next tip.
You spend enough time taking one thing with you or playing beat the buzzer and you start to realize that most clutter can be eliminated in just a few minutes. The amount of time it takes me to toss my coat over the back of a chair (and then double back to put it away later) is usually the same amount of time it would take me to simply put it away in the first place. So, touch it once. You already did the work of creating a place for everything to go, right? Honor that work and the time you already spent. Don’t put it down. Put it back!
As Barbara Hemphill famously said, “Clutter is nothing more than postponed decisions.” So don’t postpone the decision. Take the extra 2 minutes now that it would take to put that item back where it belongs so you don’t have to spend time doing it later. Because the clutter doesn’t just magically go away. It’s still going to be sitting there waiting. Waiting for you to make a decision. So make the decision.
These are some of the tips I use daily to keep my life and home as organized as possible. As you can see it’s not a long list. And that’s because staying organized doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Break it down so it’s not overwhelming and you’d be surprised how quickly it becomes second nature.
Shop Items I Use to Stay Organized:
“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” — Benjamin Franklin