Ok, so you’ve decluttered, sorted, and organized your stuff. Now, how do you stay organized?
Becoming more organized is a journey and not an end point. While backsliding is normal, and your organizational systems will need to be tweaked periodically, here are ten habits to keep everything in check and stay organized.
Try to incorporate only one or two new habits at a time to make them stick. You’ve probably heard that it takes 21 days for a new habit to form. Science says it can actually take an average of 66 days or longer. Practice these ten habits until they become automatic.
Here are 10 Habits to Stay Organized
1. Take it with you
When going from room to room or up or down stairs in your home, look around first for any items that need to be returned to where you are going. You’re going there anyway, so grab it and quickly put it away once you get to the other room. You can even have a small basket or bin where items that need to be put away can be tossed. Then, grab the basket on your way. Remember to bring the basket back when you are done!
2. Schedule time for quick clean ups
It’s way easier to stay organized when you make a point of putting things away as you go. One way to do this is to create a routine of cleaning up several times a day. Start the day before at bedtime. Take five or ten minutes before bed to do a quick sweep of your home and put items back where they belong. Do the same thing after breakfast or before work. Make sure to involve your family members, too! What other time of the day would work for you?
3. Put it away, right away
It’s worth it to take that extra second or two to put something away right after you are done using it. Doing so will prevent stuff from piling up. You are probably aware of how once a pile starts it seems to attract more piles, right? Taking the extra time now to put something away will save that same time to have to do it in the future. This habit will serve you well!
4. Make your bed every day
How does making your bed every day help you to stay organized? First, having your bed made instantly makes your room look neater and feel calmer. Second, it can help kick off a chain reaction to keeping other areas of your home more neat and tidy. Third, having a made bed actually makes you feel happier, and when your feel happier, you are more motivated and energized to stick to the goals you have set for yourself. You don’t have to make it perfect. Simply pull up the covers and fluff the pillows.
5. Be mindful of what you bring into your home
Plan ahead, shop with a list and with mindful intention. Be strict about what you will allow into your space. Ask yourself before you put it in your cart if you truly need the item. Instead of shopping on autopilot, interrupt your pattern of impulse buying or purchases of items you don’t really need. Leave the item at the store and give it a good 24 hours before deciding if it deserves space in your home. A huge contributor to clutter in our homes is bringing new things in and not cycling old things out. Before you buy, stop and think. Do you have space for it in your home? Do you really need it? What’s going out when it comes in?
6. Practice the one in / one out rule
I have a little saying many of my clients are familiar with:
If you buy something fun, get rid of one
If you buy something new, get rid of two
Along the same lines as the habit above, once you do bring something new into your home, or even if it’s a gift, make it a habit to exchange out something else. It’s called the one in / one out rule, but to reduce clutter consistently, you could try the one in / two (or three) out rule. The point here is that over time, we bring items into our homes without really removing other items. This is often what leads to overcrowded, cluttered, and disorganized spaces. If you want to prevent that from happening again, add in this habit.
7. Do your laundry in smaller, more frequent batches
Laundry is one of those tasks that never seems to be done. Rather than waiting for “laundry day”, though, a much better approach is to break up the task into smaller, more frequent batches. I have a rule, and I stick to it 9 times out of 10. That is, if I don’t think I can wash, dry, fold, and put away a load of laundry in one go, I don’t start it. I used to wait until I was out of clean underwear to do my laundry. But by then it was a mountain and I felt defeated before I even started. I’d lose an entire weekend day (or more) just to doing the laundry. I now do laundry several times a week. The batches are smaller, so it takes less time go through the cycle and I’m more motivated to get it done. Clothes don’t spill out over the laundry hamper on to the floor. It’s much quicker and easier to wash, dry, fold, and put away less clothes.
8. Donate, sell or give on a regular basis
This one is simple. Schedule a donation pick-up or drop-off once per quarter. As the day is coming up, look around your home (or use the habit in the next tip) to identify items you no longer need or use, or have just grown tired of. Bag them up for donation. This is also a good time to identify items you would rather sell online or give away to a friend. The key here is to schedule regular time to review your stuff and make decisions about what is no longer supporting you in your life.
9. Create a donation center in your home
Designate a basket, bin or box to collect items slated for donation. Good places to set this could be the mudroom, the coat closet, or even tucked away in the corner of the family room. Start putting items in there as you come across them. Tell your family members where it is and encourage them to use it too. One tip I like to give is to line the bin or basket with a large bag. Then, when it’s getting pretty full, simply pull the bag out and your items are bagged and ready to take to the donation center! So easy! Where could you put one in your home?
10. Store items where you use them
To stay organized, it needs to be easy to put something back in its home once you’re done using it. That’s why it makes sense to store items close to where you use them. In a kitchen, it makes sense to store spices near the stove and plates and cups near the dishwasher or table. In the office, keep a ream of paper handy by the printer and active files within easy reach. You want to make it easier to stay organized. You are much more likely to return something to its designated home if you’ve made it as easy as possible to do so.
In order to stay organized, it will take some practice and some stops and starts. This is normal and expected. Give yourself a plan and some time to practice these habits. Remember to reward yourself of a job well done!
Have you tried any of these habits? What other habits have you thought of or worked on to stay more organized? Leave your comment below.