I’ve been in a ton of different homes to help my clients get organized. Although each client situation is unique, requiring customized organizing solutions, I’ve realized there are some basics tips and techniques I routinely use to help my clients control the clutter and maintain their organized spaces.
As you probably know, it’s one thing to get a space organized…it’s a completely different ball game maintaining the space. But really, controlling the clutter doesn’t have to be difficult. Giving your space a little love and attention on a regular basis will do wonders for keeping it organized. Here are my 10 Commandments of Organizing:
1. Abide by the 1-In, 1-Out Rule. Huh you say? Basically, for every item you bring into the home, one item needs to go out. And the reason why? To maintain a comfortable balance of things in your home. It’s a simple yet brilliant concept and one that I practice all the time. No, you won’t be able to do this 100% of the time, but if you do it the most of the time, you’ll maintain the upper hand on clutter.
2. Label, label, label. If you’ve been following my blog you’ll see a recurring theme on labeling….I LOVE TO LABEL! If my house were on fire I would grab: my kids, keys, my fireproof box of files, my iphone…and probably my labelmaker. Yes, it’s that near and dear to my heart. Ok, maybe a slight bit dramatic (I know I could buy a new one…just work with me here, ok). My clients often complain about how they can’t find anything or how they can’t understand why their kids never put things back where they belong. Well, something as simple as labeling a bin, a power cord or a shelf can alleviate a lot of that clutter pain.
3. Touch it once. Simply put: don’t put it down…just put it away. A perfect example is with dishes. Instead of putting the dish on the counter, why not put it in the dishwasher or sink to be cleaned? Or what about the mail as another example. Instead of dropping the mail on the table or counter, why not tackle it as soon as possible and file your papers away? The same goes for shopping bags or kids backpacks. Instead of dropping the bags on the floor when you get in the house, empty the bags and put everything away. Touch it once!
4. Clean as you go and clean up after yourself. If you are working on crafts, making dinner, building something in your garage, or playing with toys outside with the kids, try to clean as you go or clean up when you are done with the activity. It can be tempting not to clean up after yourself…especially if you know you’re going to work in that area again. The problem is, as more time goes by, the less likely it is the room will get cleaned and that mess will only get bigger…and extremely dreadful! So, make a habit of cleaning up after yourself. That simple.
5. Put a trashcan in every room. Well, almost every room. You probably don’t need one in the living room, dining room or attic, but every other space does need one including the garage, outside patio, laundry room, office, every bedroom and every bathroom (maybe more in the bathroom if there are two vanities or a separate toilet room). It’s amazing how quickly trash accumulates on any flat surface when a trashcan isn’t close by.
6. Zone Out! No, don’t literally zone out and become a zombie…I want you to create zones in every room. Basically, sort “like” items together and assign them a specific place to live. Creating zones is great because, even if you don’t know exactly where you put an item, you can logically guess where you might have put it according to what zone it would go in (for example, cupcake sprinkles would probably be found in the baking zone in the pantry…or that fancy shmansy herbal tea you picked up on a whim is probably in the coffe/tea zone).
7. Save the photos, not the objects. Ok. I’m not going to ask you to take photos of every keepsake and dump them all, but I am going to encourage you to start taking photos and letting go of some of those keepsakes, especially if you have no intentions of displaying them or compiling them into a scrapbook or if you have no real connection to them (things like hand-me downs, scrap pieces of artwork your kids did or gifts you don’t care for). Taking photos of office awards, certificates, your vintage clothing, memorabilia and kids’ artwork is a great way of remembering the items without them dominating your space.
8. Track only one calendar for both your work and personal events. Whether you prefer digital calendars or paper calendars, try to track only one to see all of your events in one place. It gets way too complicated trying to track events on multiple physical calendars. Don’t get me wrong…I’m a huge advocate of digital calendars, especially Google Calendar because I can have access to it anywhere there’s internet connection plus I can share it with my family or colleagues. But if you use multiple digital calendars, have them all render on one, primary calendar.
9. Establish a Drop Zone near the front of your house or your primary entrance to the home. A drop zone or landing zone is simply a place where you drop your keys, your sunglasses, your purse, your mail and your phone. Now, just because it’s called a “drop zone” doesn’t mean I want you to randomly drop your stuff on a table or counter. I want you to corral your things in an organized fashion. Use a nice bin or tray to collect the mail until you sort it in your action file…hang your keys on a hook or put them in a decorative bowl…put your sunglasses in another bin or bowl…hang your purse…and hook up your phones. Keeping all of your “walking out the door” essentials in one spot will not only cut down on clutter, but it will cut down on the time wasted trying to find those things!
10. Create a “command center.” This is an area in your home (usually a kitchen…the hub of the house) where you can sort your mail in your action file, post messages to family members, keep track of to-do and grocery lists and maintain your family calendar. You can use your refrigerator, a small area on your kitchen counter or a small office desk area (a lot of homes these days have a desk built in to the kitchen). Having everything in one central location will make it easy for your family to find what they need and for you to coordinate and collaborate on your tasks, errands and chores.
So what do ya think? Do any of these rules seem like ones you can adopt and help you stay organized? Why don’t you give a couple of them a try? Bet you’ll notice a difference.
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