I have noticed that people who struggle with home organization often wonder how their organized friends avoid the same struggles. There really is no big secret. These are the 10 routines that will keep your home organized.
1. Make Your Bed First Thing in the Morning
This routine might seem a little silly and juvenile. I understand why people resist doing it, because you will just mess your bed up again later that day. That’s completely true. However, making the bed is an easy and satisfying routine to start your day with. It is one of the first steps you can do to take control of your home organization.
2. Do the Dishes Immediately
Let me first preface this by saying that I hate doing the dishes. They are so annoying. First you have to rinse or wash them, then put them all away and finally clean up the mess on the counter they leave three times a day. Yuck! However, if you let dishes pile up the problem just intensifies. So one of the best routines you can create to stay organized is to do your dishes immediately and put them away. This is most important after dinner when the dishes pile up the most.
3. Fold and Put Your Laundry Away
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This is another organizational routine many people struggle with, because it never ends. This is why it is so important to put a system in place to deal with your laundry. As odd as it sounds, folding and putting away laundry is like working on goals. I read in the book the 12 Week Year that people who achieve their goals must get out of their comfort zone. If you want your home to be organized you have to stop the routine of haphazardly dealing with the laundry or avoiding it. Instead, push through and put it away as soon as it is folded. Need more help organizing your clothes and laundry? Check out Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. The Konmari method of folding and storing clothes will change your life.
4. Sort Your Paper Clutter (Including Mail)
Remember when we thought technology was going to help solve our problems with paper clutter? I honestly think technology has helped create more paper clutter. If you have kids the problem is even worse. One of the reasons people struggle to stay organized with paper clutter is it requires so many decisions. Have you heard it said that you have to make so many decisions a day that you can suffer from decision fatigue? How true when you think about all the decisions paperwork requires. Keep or toss? Say yes or no to that event? Send a check or pay online? I challenge you to set aside 5 or 10 minutes a day every day to handle paper clutter. Make a decision on as much of it as you can immediately. Do you need more in depth help with your mail? I explain the system I use to manage our mail in Simple Ways to Manage Daily Mail Clutter. If you wish to put your coupons to use instead of having them expire in a pile of mail read my post on Coupon Strategies for Working Moms.
5. Unpack Your Bags When You Get Home
This might sound silly if you haven’t recently returned from a trip. However, most people bring some type of bag into the house when they return home either from work or shopping. If you are a mom of small or school aged children it is guaranteed. It is super easy at the end of a long day to just dump your bags down somewhere when you get home so you can relax. I challenge you to break this habit and immediately deal with your bags as soon as you can after entering your home. If you put your purchases away, you will eliminate misplaced items cluttering your table and countertops. Unpacking school or work bags will help remind you of deadlines, remind you to mark your calendar, double check your to do list and prepare for the next day.
6. Find a Place for Everything and Always Put It There
We have all heard the saying a place for everything and everything in its place. The reason organized people say this is because it is true. When your stuff doesn’t have a designated home then it ends up everywhere. This causes two problems for you. The first problem is that when you put an item down that doesn’t have a “home”, you can never find it. The second problem is setting stuff down wherever you want creates clutter. My kid’s backpacks and my purse have a designated spot near the door where we exit the house so they don’t clutter up our counters. We strive to have a place for everything in our home.
7. Teach Your Kids to Pick Up After Themselves
We taught our kids to start cleaning up after themselves while they were very young. Now my two little ones pick up their own toys, put their shoes away, bring their dishes over to the counter after meals and place their laundry in the hamper. As they get older we will give them more responsibility. In the meantime, even these little actions keep my home more organized and leave me with less to do after they go to bed. Here is the 3 Step Strategy we used to teach our kids to cleanup after themselves.
8. Declutter your Counters and Kitchen Table Daily
If you do not de-clutter any other area of you home on a daily basis, then do the kitchen. Having a clean kitchen table and counters sets you up the most for organizational success. You spend about 1/3 of your day in your kitchen prepping meals, making meals, doing dishes and eating meals. A pile of random items strewn all over these areas makes it more difficult to eat at home. So get in the habit of putting food products and utensils away as soon as possible and keep those counters clear.
9. Never Leave a Room With Empty Hands
Have you ever noticed how items in your home tend to migrate from room to room as you use them? This is especially true if you have kids. This can happen to even the most organized people. Do you remember the routine of putting everything in its place? Well if you fail to do that and you still have some out of place items, now is the time to fix it. My rule is that I never leave a room without taking an item out of it that belongs somewhere else. The more you get in the routine of doing this the less disorganized your home will feel.
10. Write Down Important Information
This routine may seem a little odd because it is not a routine like the others. However, keeping notes for your to do list, grocery list, calendar and any other important information is critical to keeping an organized home. You have to have a place to keep your ideas together. It doesn’t matter if it is a notebook, planner, or phone app. Pick one and stick with it. When you think of something important that you must remember whether or not it is an item on a grocery list or an event on your calendar write it down or type it into your phone. Routines and systems are the number one reason organized people stay that way.
One Final Note
I could probably write a much longer list of routines that will help you keep your home organized. However, these are the most important. If this feels overwhelming, pick one or two of these routines to implement in your home. Once you have made these a habit, then add a few more routines in. Organization does not come naturally to everyone, but with a little practice you too will soon have a more organized home.
If you are ready to move forward with home organization make sure to learn about Home Organization Tools that Won’t Break the Bank. You can also follow my guide for How to Organize the Spaces in Your Home.