1. DON’T BUY A BUNCH OF ORGANIZING CONTAINERS
When you think of organizing – at least when I did – I always used to think that the first thing I needed to do was go out and buy a bunch of organizing containers (I mean, look how cute they are!) before I started organizing.
It turns out buying a bunch of organizing containers is a bigger mistake than I realized.
One of the many characteristics of an organized person is that they organize first, THEN go out and buy any organizing containers that they need.
The reason why they do it in this order is because it’s all too easy to look at the amount of stuff you have laying around your home and think you need at least 10 different organization containers and baskets to hold all this stuff, but really, when you organize all the stuff in your house you are going to be getting rid of a bunch of it anyway – so you won’t end up needing 10 baskets. You may not even need 5.
Remember this important step to organizing: you DON’T need to have baskets and containers prepared to put your stuff in before you organize.
First organize, then go out and buy the baskets and containers you need, (like these) if any.
When you buy baskets and organizing containers before you organize the stuff in your house, what ends up happening is you end up with far more baskets than you need, and not enough places to put them. If this happens, your house can start to look even less organized than it was before.
(We don’t want that.)
2. CLEAN UP AND PICK UP AS YOU GO
Cleaning up as you go throughout your day is a really effective way to eliminate being overwhelmed by a messy house at the end of the day. But it does require some planning ahead.
One thing I’ve found SUPER helpful is to keep one of these in the two main areas of our home (the living room and entryway), then at the end of the day, I simply put everything out of the basket back in its proper place. This is the kind I recommend (it looks nice and gets the job done).
By the end of the day, you’re already tired enough from chasing kids around all day and being a homemaker. You don’t need the added stress of a messy house on top of that.
Instead, create the habit of cleaning up after yourself as you go throughout your day.
You can do this by: Anytime you take a book off the shelf to read, put it away as soon as you’re done. If you are eating in the living room (or anywhere), bring the dishes back to the kitchen and load them straight into the dishwasher when you’re finished. Clean up whatever you’re using/doing/reading as soon as you’re done with it. If your kids are playing with blocks and decide to move on to playing with something else, have them clean up and put away the blocks before taking more toys out.
Cleaning up as you go through your day doesn’t require much extra time at all and is an extremely effective habit to acquire.
It may take you a few days or weeks to get the hang of, but as long as you’re persistent with it and determined it will end up taking a significant chunk of tidying up time out of your evenings. You will be so thankful you started doing this when you did.
3. MAKE YOUR BED
Some people say you should make your bed as soon as you get up in the morning, while other people claim it’s better to keep your bed unmade.
My opinion on the matter is this – a bed that is made helps the entire room look neater, and when one part of our house looks neat and tidy I have more motivation in my day to keep the rest of the house clean.
I don’t know about you, but when I walk into our bedroom in the middle of the day and see a messy unmade bed, it just sets some kind of “blah” mood in me. It doesn’t make me want to keep the rest of our house tidy at all.
But when I walk into our room to see a neatly made bed, it helps me stay motivated to keep the rest of our house tidy and pick up after myself.
I don’t know where YOU stand when it comes to this – but I believe that making your bed first thing in the morning is something that should become a part of our daily routine.
Give yourself two extra minutes in your morning routine to make your bed as soon as you get out of it, then you don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the day.
You can help your children create the same habit and have them start making their bed every morning as well, this will help teach them responsibility from a young age.
4. CREATE A TO DO LIST
Your to-do list doesn’t have to be anything fancy. It could be a scrap piece of paper that you found laying around your house. Or you can use something like this to help keep yourself on track throughout the day.
(If you struggle with creating to-do lists, this to-do list formula is PERFECT for creating effective to-do lists that work.)
Are you a lists person? I love making lists, but I do know that some people will be cringing at this habit of highly organized people. (And that’s okay.)
I find creating a to-do list helps me stay on track throughout my day. If I rely on remembering things that need to get done writing them down, chances are they aren’t going to get done today. Or tomorrow. Or the next day.
EVEN if you aren’t a person who loves to use lists, I highly recommend you adopt this habit and try it out for a couple weeks (it might not be the right fit for you, and that’s okay – but you should give it a try for a couple weeks before completely writing it off).
5. FOLLOW YOUR LIST
While creating a to-do list is extremely important, following your list is even more important. Your to-do list isn’t going to do you any good if it’s just sitting there.
(If you struggle to follow lists, using this will help keep you on track.)
Depending on the amount of stuff you have on your to-do list, try to get as much of it done as early on in the day as possible.
MOST PEOPLE are more productive earlier in the day than later in the day, which is why it’s important to try and cross as many things as possible off of your to-do list earlier in the day.
One of the biggest advantages of using a to-do list is that it helps you stay focused.
I remember back in the days when I didn’t use any kind of lists – that also happened to be the time in my life when I was forgetting appointments more than I was showing up to them. (Oops.)
I still occasionally forget to create a list some days now, and when I do, those are the days when I am the least productive and just mostly meander throughout my day without doing much of anything.
Using a to-do list helps you get tasks done faster than if you’re just relying on yourself to remember everything that needs to get done in your day. Using lists is one of the best ways that you can learn how to be organized.
6. CREATE A ROUTINE
Another one of the many habits of extremely organized people is creating and following a routine. Whether that be a morning routine that you create to help you start your day off on a productive note, or if that’s a house cleaning routine you do once a week, or small a daily home organizing tasks routine that you use.
Everyone’s routines will look different, and that’s fine. Creating a routine that works for YOU – not someone else – is just a part of keeping yourself and your home organized.
7. DON’T AIM FOR PERFECTION
If you’re aiming for perfection in your home and you won’t settle for anything less, you’re in trouble.
The truth is, your house is never going to look perfect and it’s never going to be truly spotless. This is especially true if you have a house full of kids.
You need to realize that your home is never going to be perfect. It’s probably never going to look like it dropped right out of a magazine, either. And you need to be okay with that.
Rather than making perfection your goal, make tidiness what you’re aiming for.
It’s also important to remember that what is tidy to one person might not meet another person’s definition of the word, and that’s OKAY. Keep your house tidy and organized to you and your family’s standards, not other people’s. You are the ones that are living in this house, after all.
8. SET GOALS
Goals are an important part of achieving just about anything in life. When you want something – you create a goal, and then you make a plan on how you’re going to achieve that goal. Whether you’re working on organizing your home or bettering your finances by creating a budget, goals are what are going to help you get there and keep you on track.
Go ahead and create some realistic home organization goals to keep yourself motivated and give you something to work towards.
Take a moment to picture what you would like your house to look like. How far off is it from where your home is now? Write your goal down then get to working towards that goal by using the home organization tips you’ve already learned, and the ones to follow.
9. KEEP THINGS WHERE YOU USE THEM
Are you storing the things in your house in good spots?
Or, are you storing your toilet paper across the house from where the bathroom is and your kitchen cleaners in the basement?
When you store items in different areas than where they get used, you’re much more likely to leave these items laying somewhere out in the open where they don’t belong, than if you find somewhere to store them that is close to where you use them.
You can do this by storing your toilet paper as close to (or in) the bathroom as possible. If there’s no room in the bathroom, consider storing the toilet paper in a linen closet close to the bathroom. You can also make room to store your kitchen cleaners under the kitchen sink rather than having to go all the way to the basement to get them. (I’ll bet your kitchen will be a lot cleaner when you start doing this.)
If you find yourself constantly dragging stuff halfway across the house anytime you need to use it, it’s a whole lot easier to make room somewhere closer to where the stuff gets used.
You might find you leave things lying around your house a lot. If you do do this it could be because it’s more work to put them away than it is to leave them on the floor. Make it easier on yourself to put these things away (by finding somewhere to store them CLOSE to where you use them) than it is to leave them lying around.
10. HAVE A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING
If you’re going to be able to put stuff away where it belongs, you need to find a place for it to live.
If you have so much stuff that you simply don’t have space for it all, it might be time to do a purge of your house. (Don’t worry – it’s not as scary as it sounds. You can start by getting rid of these 20 things that you don’t need anymore.)
It’s better to have less stuff than to have a house that is completely cluttered and unorganized as a result of having too much stuff for your space.
Go through your entire house over the course of a few months and find a place for everything. If you can’t find somewhere for a certain object, it might be time to say goodbye to it. You don’t need it in your house doing nothing but taking up space and creating an unorganized atmosphere.
11. PURGE YOUR HOUSE REGULARLY
Purging your house (it sounds scary, but it’s not) regularly is an important thing that MANY organized people find themselves doing.
Rather than holding on to every little gadget, sentimental item, and thing they own, organized people have become okay with getting rid of stuff. (And you should too.)
Purging your house isn’t a lot of work (especially if you do it regularly), and you’ll start to find it plays a BIG role in helping you become more organized. (You’re going to be a lot more organized when you have less stuff laying around. It’s a fact.)
All you have to do to purge your house is walk through each room of your house with two bins in hand. One bin is for stuff that you’re going to throw away (broken, ripped, or terribly stained items that aren’t worth donating), and the other bin is for stuff that you are going to donate (stuff that you no longer want or need, but are still in good shape).
These are the bins I find work really well for this.
The first house purge you do will take you a bit of time – but once you have that one out of the way, if you keep up with it and purge your house on a weekly or monthly basis, it should take you no longer than 10 – 20 minutes each time you do it.
12. MAKE IT FUN
Not too many people define fun with cleaning and organizing, but there are some little things you can do to make the whole process a bit more bearable. You might even start to find it enjoyable. (Maybe.)
You can do this by making your organizing sessions times when you relax and unwind. Don’t set high expectations or limit yourself to such a short amount of time that you become stressed out.
If you’re including your kids in the home organization process, you could make it fun for them by setting a timer (this is the one I recommend) and challenging your kids to get a certain area of the house cleaned up before the timer dings. You can have a reward waiting for them if they can pass this challenge.
So go ahead, grab your panda and get to work!
13. BE HAPPY WITH LESS
You don’t need to have the newest and greatest gadgets to be happy. Rather than always buying more, focus on buying less and being happy with what you have.
If you don’t have something you need, try to find a way around going out and buying it. Find creative ways to make the things that you already have work, rather than caving to the temptation of needing to have everything.
When you’re buying stuff, ask yourself if it’s something you really NEED or is it just something you want to have? (Your wallet will be a lot happier when you start doing this, too.)
14. DITCH DUPLICATES
Another one of the habits of extremely organized people is getting rid of duplicates. (Although, if you’re organizing and decluttering your house on a low income – I believe you should keep some duplicates… in moderation.)
There is probably no reason for you to have several different sets of steak knives sitting around your house, and you probably don’t need that spare coffee maker in your storage room, either.
Keeping duplicates is handy in the sense that if something you have breaks you can quickly (and cheaply) replace it, but if you keep duplicates for everything in your house just in case something breaks, you won’t have any room to live.
Getting rid of duplicates will help you free up space so you have room to spread out and organize the stuff that you really do need in your house.
15. DON’T LET DISHES PILE UP
This one is just like the earlier daily habits of organized people that I mentioned where they clean up after themselves throughout the day. It’s important enough that it warrants being mentioned twice.
Don’t let your dishes pile up throughout the day.
I get that your days are busy, but keeping all your dishes on the counter (or scattered around the house) until the end of the day will only cause you to have to spend more time in the evenings scrubbing dishes. Nevermind the food particles that have leeched themselves to the dishes and refuse to be scrubbed if you let them sit for too long.
Washing your dishes or loading them into the dishwasher as soon as you’re done with them will save you time in the evening (or whenever you get around to dealing with them), as well as will help keep your house look SO much tidier throughout the day. (So you don’t have to panic if surprise visitors drop by unannounced.)
16. SPEND 10 MINUTES EVERY EVENING TIDYING UP
Just like creating an organizing routine for your days, another good one on the list of habits of extremely organized people is dedicating 10 minutes each evening to cleaning and tidying up your house.
You can get your kids involved in this task, too.
If you have been cleaning up throughout the day doing a quick cleanup of your entire house in the evening shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes, and might even take as little as 5 minutes.
If you use these baskets in the main clutter-areas of your home, you can collect out-of-place items throughout the day and quickly clean them up in the evening by walking around the house with the basket in hand and putting the items back where they belong. Click here to see which ones work (and look) the best.
During the 10-minute evening tidy-up all you have to do is tidy up a few simple things (there’s not a lot to do since you’ve been tidying up throughout your day). Pick up any toys and blankets that are laying around and quickly sweep the kitchen floor so you are ready to start tomorrow off with a clean house.
(A small handheld timer like this one is a perfect way to get the kids involved in the evening clean up. Set the timer and make a game out of it – give a small prize to whoever gets the most cleaned up in the 10 minutes.)
Do you feel crippled by the clutter in your home? Kick the clutter once and for all with this free 5-day declutter challenge!
17. SET TIMERS
If there is a big area of your house that needs to be organized, rather than letting it overwhelm you, you can attack it in bite-sized pieces, for short periods of time.
Using the timer method is one of the most effective organizing, decluttering, and cleaning methods out there.
Simply set a timer for 5 – 20 minutes (keep it short), set aside all distractions, and organize.
From the second you start that timer to the second it starts dinging you should be doing nothing but focusing on the single task at hand. (This is why you want to keep the amount of time short, so you don’t get distracted.)
Once the timer goes off, pat yourself on the back and take a break. If you are feeling ambitious, you could set another short timer sometime later in the day to tackle a bit more of the organizing that needs to be done, but don’t overdo it.
The idea of using the timer method is to help you completely focus on the ONE task you are doing – not letting yourself do anything else until the time is up.
18. FOCUS ON ONE TASK
Focusing on a single task at a time, rather than trying to multitask and do all the things will help you be much more effective and efficient with your organizing (because we really never can do all the things, can we?).
Many people believe that when they multitask they are saving themselves so much time, but what they don’t realize is that organizing a room, writing a grocery list, writing a to-do list, checking emails, and dusting really isn’t as efficient as doing one task all the way through to completion, then moving on to the next, then the next, then the next.
When you try and do 10 things at one time you end up wasting so much time switching from one task to another that in the end you could have had all the different tasks completed in a fraction of the time if you had done them individually.
19. STOP PROCRASTINATING
Perhaps this one should have been #1 (for me at least)
Rather than procrastinating with getting stuff done, create your to-do list and start making yourself work your way through the list as early in the day as possible to eliminate procrastination.
We’ve all experienced those random things that pop up in the middle of the day and require our attention. If we leave our to-do list to the end of the day and something comes up that takes away the time we thought we had to complete our to-do list, the tasks simply won’t get done.
Instead, get everything you need to get done for that day done as early as possible so that if something unexpected comes up, you won’t have to worry about pushing today’s tasks onto tomorrow and tomorrow’s onto the next day.
It’s time to stop procrastinating and start completing your tasks as early as possible.
20. START ORGANIZING VERTICALLY
A very smart habit of organized people is the way they organize vertically, rather than horizontally.
When we organize our homes horizontally, we run out of space quite quickly and our homes start to look quite cluttered. What we’re forgetting is that there is a whole world of organization potential right out of our reach. (Thankfully, with the help of a stool, we can reach it).
Vertical organization is a smart solution to a cluttered home – rather than organizing things horizontally around your home, start using the vertical space you have (alllll the way up the walls).
Rather than sitting your plants on windowsills and coffee tables, grab a hanging plant holder to keep your plants off of your surfaces.
You could start storing your cooking utensils and spices on the insides of your cupboard doors by adding these strips to the cupboard doors. (This one is seriously genius!)
Invest in hanging spice racks rather than having your spices sit on your countertops.
There are countless ways to organize vertically instead of horizontally. When you become creative with your organizing efforts and find new ways to organize the things in your house you will be pleasantly surprised by how much space is freed up.
21. START A MEAL PLAN
In most homes, dinnertime is quite often a time of complete chaos. Your kids are hungry and want to know what’s for dinner. You’re probably feeling stressed out because you don’t know what to make, and everyone’s getting grumpy because they’re hungry.
Meal planning will help you organize your mealtimes and will help you spend less time stressing about what’s for dinner. Plus, the good news is, you don’t need to dedicate an entire day to meal planning. (Lots of people think it takes up hours upon hours of time. It doesn’t.)
You can easily and quickly start a meal plan by using these strategies here. Using these strategies is how I save hours of time planning meals each week, have lowered our grocery bill from $1,000 a month to $300 a month, and have completely gotten rid of the stress that the question “what’s for dinner?” poses. If you want this too, you can learn how to do it here.
(This is the meal planning method I recommend to EVERYONE. It saves us so much money every month.)
By taking a handful of these habits of extremely organized people and applying them to your life you’ll be well on your way to an extremely organized home and life (see? It’s not even hard!).
If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed, implement just a couple of these strategies of organized people, then as you get comfortable with those you can slowly add more to your plate.
What is your biggest struggle with organizing? Which one of these habits of extremely organized people do you struggle the most with?
I’d love to hear from you!