Organizing Strategies—Make It Simple, Make It a Habit, Adjust It, Stick With It

Make It Simple

There is one big mistake everyone makes when they begin to get organized. Want to know what it is? Containers, baskets and bins. That’s right. People rush out and buy lots of containers before they know what they need and before they sort through what they have.

Here’s how to approach the organizing process. We like to call it the Clutter Clearing System.

Step One: Form a vision for the space.

Let’s take the kitchen. Family is coming over and you’ll be hosting the holidays. Are the counters cluttered? Are the drawers packed full? What do you need the space to be like in order to host your family?

Step Two: Sort and Let Go

It’s time to get real. Be authentic to the person you truly are. If you haven’t used a certain kitchen gadget in over a year, you probably won’t ever use it. This is a great time to toss ratty dish towels, chipped glasses and bowls. If you’re not sure about an item you haven’t used in a long time, consider this guideline: Could you replace it for around $25? If the answer is yes, do you really want that item taking up precious space in your cupboards? The golden rule is that 80 percent of any space is considered full.

Step Three: Assign a Home

Every item should have a home. The scissors (which frequently get misplaced in our home) belong in the top drawer of the kitchen. Anyone who uses the scissors should return them to their home. It’s that simple. If another member of the family sees the scissors in a place they don’t belong, they should return them to their home.

Step Four: Contain and Label

Now, is the time to get the containers. Take measurements to buy the right size product. Invest in clear plastic bins (so you can see what is inside) for the usual household items. The opaque or colored bins are great for holiday and seasonal items. Label the containers or the location where item belongs. We use the Brother P-Touch label maker. Labels really help everyone remember where things belong.

Make It A Habit

A habit is something that is performed over and over, until it becomes automatic. For example, you might automatically drive thru Starbucks on your way to work. Creating new habits can be tough. To make a habit stick, in the beginning you might need lots of reminders. Here are examples of habits that will help your home stay neat and organized.

  • Start the dishwasher every night before going to bed.
  • Empty the dishwasher every morning while the coffee percolates.
  • Strip the beds and wash the sheets every Monday.
  • Start a load of laundry before going to work.
  • Toss junk mail before you deposit mail where you will process it.
  • Shred sensitive papers the same day you pay the bills.
  • Always deposit dirty clothes into a hamper or laundry basket.
  • Return items to where they belong when you are done with them.


Adjust It

Organizing is not one a one-time activity, it’s an ongoing process. If something doesn’t work, change it! The same goes for making habits stick. If you are committed to staying organized, but have trouble remembering to perform certain tasks, you are most definitely not alone. Post stickie notes. Put it on your calendar. Phone notifications are a great cue that something needs to be done. Write yourself a note in a prominent location and check it off once its been done. Set alarms to go off.

Stick With It

If you’ve disorganized your entire life, don’t expect overnight magic. Take it slow. Be consistent. You may need an accountability buddy to support you. Employ a new habit and really work to make it stick. Then tackle the next thing. Be mindful and celebrate your accomplishments, however small. You remembered to start the laundry five days in a row? Great! Stick with it!


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