Getting organized is often the easy part.
Staying organized is challenging for many people because it requires a change in your behaviors to create new habits that support your organizing systems. Here are our top 10 organizing practices to keep you organized.
1. One in—one out
When something new comes into your home, something must leave.
2. Before you buy
Before you buy an item, decide where it will “live” in your home. If you don’t know, don’t buy. Go home, look around, and if you can find a place for the item, then you buy it; otherwise, you pass on the purchase. Also, consider if you really need the item.
Buy containers only when you know what will go in them. Containers are often purchased to “solve an organizing problem, ”just to create more clutter because the owner doesn’t know what to do with them or where to place them.
Label shelves, containers, drawers, and so on to know where to put away something, and more importantly so that others you share your home with have an understanding of where to put away something. A label can be words, pictures, or a combination.
5. Don’t zigzag
Choose an area to organize and stick with that area. If you find something that belongs in another area of your home, don’t move it until you are finished organizing the space you started in. Otherwise, you spend too much time moving from room to room relocating stuff, and you lose focus on your original task. Place items to move to another area in a box marked “move.” When your organizing task is finished, then you can walk around your home and put away the stuff in the “move” box.
Keeping everything makes nothing important. Decide what is truly important in your life, and that will help you focus on what to keep and honor.
7. Be decisive
Clutter is caused by deferred decisions. Don’t wait to decide where something belongs; decide immediately and put it there. Return it to its “home” whenever it wanders away.
8. Set a limit
Set a limit on how many of something you are going to keep. For example, magazines. Decide to save one year’s worth of each subscription that you will refer to and recycle the rest. Another example is to set a limit on the amount of space you are allocating to a collection.
Ask yourself, “Can I get this information somewhere else, such as the internet or the library?” If you can easily access the information somewhere else, you don’t need to keep the piece of paper. Toss it! Only 20 percent of what you file for reference you will refer to later. File wisely!
Organizing is not a one-time clean-sweep event. Create and follow a maintenance plan for all the areas in your life and home. You can do all the grouping, reducing, and organizing you want, but if you don’t learn the skills and follow a plan, you will backslide.