Organizing. It’s a small word that packs a big punch, isn’t it?
But what exactly is it? Oh, it’s easy to agree that organizing is a good thing. It’s easy to want to get more organized. But what it is? Simply put, organizing is taking all the random things in your life and in your space, both physical things and non-physical things, and bringing them together to form a system. To give them structure or a place. You’ve heard the phrase “A place for everything and everything in it’s place”? This is what it’s talking about.
But how do you get there? How do you create organization in your life and in your space? Well, no matter what you do, you’re not going to go from scattered to organized in 5 minutes. You’re not going to get there in 5 hours or even 5 days. You have to understand that organizing is a process that takes time to create and keep going.
But don’t get discouraged! Just because organizing is a process doesn’t mean it can’t be done! In fact, here are 20 secrets to help you along your path to be more organized. Many of these things seem incredibly simple. Small steps. Like they wouldn’t make that much difference. And yet, these small things, when done consistently over time, can add up and help you create the organization you’ve always craved in your life.
Secret #1 :: Small Things Make a Big Impact
When you think about getting organized, it’s easy to think about the big projects: Your desk, your craft room, your kitchen or pantry. But did you realize the the small things can be just as important to the organizing process? It’s true! When you do small things consistently over time, those small things make a big impact.
For example, when you take your jewelry off, do you put it away in your jewelry box or does it sit wherever it lands? Instead of letting your jewelry sit, take a few extra seconds and put it away where it belongs. You’ll save yourself so much time and frustration when you know exactly where to look to find whatever piece of jewelry you’re looking for!
Or take the bedrooms. Have you ever looked in a messy bedroom and gotten overwhelmed? It’s easy to do, right? But what if you did the one small, simple thing of making the bed? All of a sudden that messy room turns from an overwhelming mess to a doable project. And all because you did one small thing (making the bed) that had a huge impact (reducing the overwhelm).
Small things make a big impact, especially when they are done consistently over time.
Secret #2 :: Put Your Keys in Their Place
One small thing you can do right away is to put your keys in a specific spot every time you walk in your house. It seems like such a simple thing, but this one simple thing can save you time, energy, and frustration day after day as you no longer have to hunt to find your keys when you have someplace to go. Instead, you know exactly where to find your keys whenever you need them.
If you don’t have a spot specifically for you keys, then create one. It doesn’t have to be fancy! It could be a dish, a hook, a basket, or even your purse. It could simply be a spot on your entryway table or on your dresser. The big idea is to pick one spot and put your keys there every time you walk in the house. That way, when you need your keys you know exactly where to find them.
Secret #3 :: Sort Your Mail When it Arrives
As soon as you bring your mail in the house, open it up and sort it. Don’t even allow it to hit your counter before you see what has landed in your mailbox. Throw away those things that are junk. Set the bills and important papers in a place where you know where they are and you can deal with them later.
You see, when you sort the mail right when it comes in the door, you stop papers from piling up in your space. You stop the paper apocalypse before it even starts. It seems like a very simple thing, but you might be surprised to realize how a pile of papers can make a space feel much smaller and messier than it actually is! Don’t let the papers pile up on your counter or your table.
Want to learn more? Check out this blog post: How to Deal with Piles of Paper in Your Space
Secret #4 :: Create a Space for Your Shoes
Shoes. Boots. Flip flops. Sneakers. Sandals. Running Shoes. Dress shoes. No matter which type you prefer, shoes are a necessary part of life. And yet, they can be so elusive and hide in the most obscure places in your house, can’t they? Do how do you keep track of them?
The simple solution: Create a space for your shoes. This could be creating a space on the floor of your closet to line up your shoes. It could be a mat by the door so you don’t track dirt all over the house. It could be a basket on the floor of your child’s closet to hold all their shoes. It could be a container or a specific spot in your entryway or mud room that holds all the shoes. Wherever it might be, creating a spot where all the shoes collect makes them much easier to find when it’s time to put them on!
Secret #5 :: Put Your Clothes Where They Belong
This one doesn’t seem like much of a secret, does it? And yet, this one act of putting your clothes where they belong will save so much clutter from piling up in your room and in your house. But here’s the real secret: Don’t just put your clothes where they belong. Do it right away. When you take off your coat, hang it where it goes. When you take off your dirty socks, put them right in the laundry hamper. Don’t let the clothes pile up on the bed or the chair or the floor. Put them away right away.
Want to learn more? Check out this blog post: 5 Easy Steps to Pick Up Your Room Quickly
Secret #6 :: Whatever You Get Out, You Gotta Put Away
This saying is so simple and yet so universally true! When you live by this principle of whatever you get out, you gotta put away, you will see what a huge impact this small habit makes on your home.
And the beauty of this simple phrase is that it’s true no matter who you are or what age you are. It’s true for you child as they get out their toys and need to put them away. It’s true for you putting away your shoes and socks at the end of the day. It’s true for cleaning and putting away the dishes after you make that batch of brownies. Whatever you get out, you gotta put away.
Secret #7 :: Create a Space for Your Things
Did you know that one of the biggest stumbling blocks to putting things away is not knowing where they go? It sounds so simple, but it’s so true. If you don’t know where something goes. If you’ve never taken the time to create or define a place for that item, it’s very hard to put it away and it’s much easier to let it clutter up your space.
There’s an easy fix to this: Simply define a place where your things go. Now, don’t be overwhelmed by this concept! While it may sound intimidating to go through your entire house and create a space for every specific things to live, don’t think of it in terms of your entire house. Start small. Start simple.
Instead of tossing your purse on the counter when you walk in the door, take a moment and think through where you want it to sit. Instead of simply kicking your shoes off in the living room, pause and think through where you want your shoes to be. Instead of simply tossing the mail on the counter, take a moment and think through where you want to keep those important papers so you know where they are when it’s time to pay your electric bill. By taking things one at a time and creating a space for your things – particularly those things you use all the time – you bring organization to your space one small step at a time.
Secret #8 :: Clean Up One Mess Before You Make Another
This concept is so simple and yet so profound. No matter what you are doing, whether it’s working on a project, making dinner for your family, playing a board game with your family, or watching your children build a train track, when you are done, clean up the mess you just created before moving on to your next task and potentially creating another mess. By cleaning things up as you go, you make sure the clutter doesn’t pile up in your house which makes your house look neater while at the same time saving you clean up time later on.
And this concept doesn’t just apply to you! It applies to everyone in your family. No matter what the mess is, no matter where it is in the house, when you start applying this concept of cleaning up one mess before moving on to something else, you will start to see less clutter being created in your space.
Secret #9 :: Create the Solution Where the Clutter is Happening
When you have an area that is being taken over by clutter it only makes sense to create a solution in the space where the clutter is.
Think about it: If your children like to play with LEGOs in the living room, but you have a space where they can store their LEGOs up in the back bedroom, chances are that the LEGOs are not going to get cleaned up very often. But, if you create your storage solution where the LEGOs are played with, the chances that the LEGOs will be cleaned up and your storage system will be used go up drastically.
Secret #10 :: Be Creative with Your Storage Solutions
Not all spaces are designed the same. Not all organizing solutions are designed the same. For example, a storage solution that works very well in a rectangle entryway won’t look or work the same in a round entryway.
Think outside the box! Be creative with your storage solutions! Remember, just because something works for someone else in their space doesn’t mean it’s the exact right fit for your family in your space. Go ahead and get creative to find what solution will work best for your family in the space you have available to work with.
Secret #11 :: It’s All About the Progress in the Process, not Perfection
As much as you might want that picture-perfect room or house, in real life, it’s not possible to have a picture perfect space all the time! Remember, organizing is not about perfection! It’s about the progress in the process.
When you keep making steps moving you in the right direction, you are making progress! Don’t give up! Again, you’re not trying to create a picture-perfect space, but an organized space that works for everyone living in your home.
Want to learn more? Check out this blog post: Why Organize? Progress, not Perfection
Secret #12 :: The Hour of Focus
Never underestimate the amount of work you can accomplish when you focus on one thing and only one thing. Let’s face it, organizing can feel hard – particularly if you’re trying to organize many different areas of your house all at the same time! So why not start using the hour of focus? Turn off all distractions, turn on some motivating music, set a timer for 60 minutes, and focus solely and completely on organizing or cleaning one small area. It could be organizing a bookshelf or clearing out that corner. It could be cleaning your kitchen or cleaning your bathroom. Whatever area you choose, put all your focus and energy into accomplishing that task until your timer goes off. You might be amazed at what you can accomplish!
Secret #13 :: Make Sure Your Organizing System Works for Everyone
If you are the only one in your family that knows how to use your system, you’ll be the only on in your family keeping your system going. Make sure the system you create will not only serve everyone well, but be easy for everyone to understand and keep up with. Ideally, your organizing system should be easy to use and save time. If it’s more complicated to use your system and takes more time to keep things organized, you might need to rethink your system.
Secret #14 :: Use a Grocery List
Have you ever gone to the grocery store and realized once you arrived that you have no idea what you need? Or maybe you sat down to make a list before you left your house and you know you need some specific things, but you can’t remember what they are now? There’s a simple solution to fix this: Put a grocery list on your fridge. It could be a magnetic pad of paper, a white board, a chalkboard, even a piece of paper taped to the front of the fridge. Whatever form it takes, make sure it’s there. Then, when you realize you need something or you use up the last of something, write that item on your list. This way, when it comes time to go to the grocery store, you have a list ready to go that reminds you of those things you need.
Want to learn more? Check out this blog post: 5 Simple Steps to take You from Scattered to Organized
Secret #15 :: Do the Dishes
Yes, this one seems silly. It seems too simple, right? But have you ever stopped to think about how much sink and counter space dirty dishes take up? It’s quite a lot! Now, I know, this one seems so simple that it’s easy to pass over, but before you move on to those big projects, take a few minutes and do the dishes. You just might be surprised at how clean your kitchen feels when all those dirty dishes aren’t cluttering up your countertops anymore!
Secret #16 :: Use A Calendar
Organization isn’t just about putting physical items in their proper place. It’s also about learning how to make the best use of the time you have been given. But when you can’t remember what you’re supposed to do or where you’re supposed to be, it poses a challenge.
The easy solution to this challenge? Find a calendar or day planner that works for you and use it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s digital or pen and paper or a combination of both. The biggest key is to find a calendar you’ll use and actually use it!
Want to learn more? Check out this blog post: Choosing the Perfect Calendar for You
Secret #17 :: Use a To Do List to Keep Yourself on Task
Sometimes there is so much to do that you get lost trying to figure out where to start or what to do first. It can be overwhelming when you’re looking at everything you need to get done, especially when you can’t figure out where to start!
That’s where a to do list comes in. Instead of trying to keep the list in your head and feeling like you’re spinning your wheels trying to figure out what to do and how to get it all done, simply write down the things you need to do. Then, look at your list, pick the most important one to start with and do it! When that task is done, move on to the next one. It’s a very simple concept, but one that is extremely effective!
Want to learn more? Check out this blog post: Finding Your Perfect To Do List
Secret #18 :: Plan and Prepare the Night Before
On those mornings when you need to get out of the house one time, on those days when you know you have lots of stuff that needs to come with you or you need to bring homemade brownies to that meeting, on any given day one of the biggest weapons you have is to plan and prepare the night before.
Again, this concept of preparing the night before is not earth-shattering. It’s not a huge secret that no one ever told you about. But here’s the thing when it comes to planning and preparing for things the night before: In order for you to really see and appreciate the benefits of it, you have to do it! Instead of thinking that you should pack your bag for tomorrow or bake those brownies ahead of time, simply do it. Pack your bag and set it by the door. Bake the brownies. You’ll be amazed at how much time you save yourself and how much calmer you’ll feel when you take 10 minutes to plan for tomorrow today.
Secret #19 :: Have an Accountability Partner
Now, don’t be scared when you hear the words “accountability partner.” This isn’t about sharing your deepest, darkest secrets here. The concept behind an organizing accountability partner is to have someone you can talk to about your organizing. Someone you can share your frustrations with. Someone you can share your victories with. Someone you can bounce ideas off of to figure out what you should organize next or how you could create a system that fits into your particular space. Someone who is on this journey with you and can help you and encourage you through it.
Secret #20 :: Give Yourself Grace
Getting organized and staying organized is not a one-time event. It’s a process that you have to consistently work at. You’ll have days where everything goes great and you feel like an organizing ninja. And there will be days when you feel like everything you’ve tried to create has just fallen apart in your hards. Don’t give up!
It’s in these moments, in these times where you feel like everything is falling apart when you need to give yourself grace. You see, no one is perfect. No one does everything right all the time. There will be days when things don’t go the way you want them to. It’s frustrating, but true.
But what does it mean to give yourself grace? Is giving yourself grace an excuse to simply give up and say, “Oh well, I tried. Whatever.” No! Not at all! Giving yourself grace is not about giving up. It’s about pausing. Taking a deep breath. Realizing things did not go the way you wanted them to. Realizing that your organizing system may have fallen apart in the moment. Accepting it. But not beating yourself up for it. Simply resolving to try again and making the choice to continue moving forward and doing the right thing.
To Sum It All Up
More than anything, you need to remember that getting organized is a process. It won’t happen in an hour. It won’t happen in a day or in a week. Getting organized is a life long habit that you create and cultivate.
The good news is that by consistently taking simple steps (like the ones listed here) propelling you in the right direction, you will see long-term change starting to happen.
Always remember, it’s all about the progress in the process, not about perfection!
- 5 Simple Solutions to be Less Forgetful and More Organized
- How to Deal with Piles of Paper in Your Space
- 5 Easy Steps to Pick Up Your Room Quickly
- Why Organize? Progress, not Perfection
- 5 Reasons Why Your Organizational System Is Not Working
- 5 Simple Steps to Take You from Scattered to Organized
- Choosing the Perfect Calendar for You
- Finding Your Perfect To Do List
Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.