Get Organized Right Now!

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Why It’s Important to Get Organized

I’m not sure if it is because I’m taking down the now very dusty and sad looking Christmas decorations or because it is the beginning of a new year when we all want a fresh start, but I always get the urge to clean and get organized in January. I love to get organized. Just ask my kids. As a matter of fact, I drive them crazy trying to organize everything. That’s a mother’s job isn’t it? (Not to organize but to drive your children crazy. HA!HA!)

I have even started writing a book on how to get organized but, ironically enough, I can’t seem to finish it because I can’t get the material “organized” :-). Well, I guess you win some and you lose some. (Update: We did finish part of it here. :-)

At this point you are probably wondering what organizing has to do with saving money. Lots. Being disorganized is not just frustrating, but expensive.

Hopefully you have read my article, Dirty Dishes Cause Debt. So often we go out to eat because our kitchens are such messes it is impossible to cook in them. Keeping in mind that going out to eat is one of the leading causes of debt, you can see how just having a clean organized kitchen can help save a lot of money.

Have you had to pay a late fee on a bill because it was buried under a pile of papers and you didn’t find it until 2 weeks after the due date? How often do you have to pay fines on your taxes because your paperwork is so disorganized? Are fines on those late or lost library books adding up? Have you bought something very expensive and used it once, only to have it break, but you couldn’t find the receipt to return it?

I frequently hear people say they have to buy a larger house because they need more room. Big expense. But often it isn’t a bigger home that they need. They need to organize what they have and get rid of some stuff.

I could make a list a mile long explaining why it pays to get organized, but I think you are getting my point.

I know you are dying to get to the part that says “101 easy steps to getting organized,” and it is coming later in this article. For many of us, it isn’t so much that we don’t know how to get organized, but that we are discouraged or can’t seem to get motivated to start. Knowledge is worth absolutely nothing if you don’t use it. I can tell you 101 ways to get organized but if you don’t get up and do it, it will have been a waste of my time and yours. So here are some things for you to think about and hopefully help motivate you to get started.

Getting Organized Is Important For You And Your Family

One of my pet peeves is how little importance we put on our homes and taking care of them and our family compared to how much importance we put on the outside world. We get all up in arms about air pollution, yet most homes have more polluted air inside them than the air outside.

What causes the air pollution in most homes? The garlic, onions or fish stuck on the dirty dishes piled in your sink and all over your counters. If the dishes have been there several days, there’s probably mold in the water, too. Then there’s the mold growing in those towels that are piled on the bathroom floor and, by the way, could all that stuff on a dirty toilet be making the house smell bad? Did I mention the dirty laundry piled everywhere, the neglected cat box and the piles of smelly diapers that haven’t made it to the trash can?

Most of us wouldn’t dream of throwing our trash out the car window. When we buy a home, one of the first things we look for is a nice, well kept neighborhood. But all too often, we think nothing of leaving empty food wrappers, pop cans, and assorted papers everywhere at home. Many of us also leave piles of old newspapers and magazines laying around from one end of the house to the other.

We worry so much about recycling to spare our landfills (we used to call them “dumps” but I guess to be politically correct I have to call it a landfill). I think one woman I knew, decided to make her home a landfill to save the city’s landfill. She was very excited about recycling but had no place to save anything, so she just “dumped” it on her kitchen and dining room floors. She had no less than twenty milk jugs and piles of empty cans and cereal boxes thrown on the floor.

Before we start puffing up our chests with pride because we aren’t that bad, consider how many of us have trash cans full and running over or desks and tables piled with junk mail and magazines that should be thrown out? There are times I stand guilty as charged, too, I’m afraid.

We protest and carry on about how we are destroying the environment that we will be passing on to our children and grandchildren, but what about our children’s present environment? I’m not saying that we shouldn’t think about their future but, like so many things, we get lopsided and unbalanced in our thinking. It is so much easier to think about the future than to deal with the reality of the present.

We get overly involved in church, community and things outside of our homes because they provide great excuses for not taking care of our main responsibility — the care of our families and homes. Have you ever noticed how, if you ask your child to do something, he moans and groans and makes all kinds of excuses, but if a neighbor or a friend asks him to do the same job he willingly does it? Adults are guilty of this, too. It is so much easier to do things for “others” and for what the world considers a “noble” cause than it is to do things for our own families. We need to get serious about making our family’s well being at home our top priority.

Often, we hear how our children are under so much more stress than earlier generations. I don’t totally agree with that but I do know that every generation of children has its own different kinds of stress. Ask yourself this: Is your home adding to or taking away from that stress? Is your home one of order and peace? Are you keeping it as orderly and clean as the environment outside? People get angry at the president because there isn’t world peace, but how can you expect there to be peace in the world if your own family is living in conflict and chaos all the time.

Once again, we have the cart before the horse. Instead of concentrating on teaching our children so much about the environment and world peace, we should work harder at giving them a loving, orderly and peaceful home to grow up in. Home is still a child’s main world. If a child is raised in this type of atmosphere, he will have a better chance of growing up to be an unselfish, loving and responsible adult who will naturally be concerned for the world outside of his home, too. Children can much more easily deal with what happens in their outside world if they have comfort and peace at home.

Kids get frustrated when they can’t find their coats or shoes and mom or dad keep yelling at them, “Hurry up we’re going to be late.” Then, when you are late, they feel guilty. They get frustrated and overwhelmed when mom says, “Go in and clean your room.” Like you, they don’t know where to begin. To make matters worse, they have been allowed to have mounds and mounds of toys and clothes — so many, in fact, that mom doesn’t have a clue what to do with them all, but expects the kids to know.

To add to their confusion even more, they are told to pick up after themselves as they watch mom and dad leave their own shoes laying in the living room where they took them off, along with empty pop cans, dirty dishes, and magazines. The kids are told to clean up the mess they left in the kitchen when, right next to it, are the things dad left out when he fixed his sandwich and the pile of un-rinsed dirty dishes mom left on the counter.

Is it any wonder that so many kids are so full of anger and frustration? They have nowhere orderly, peaceful and comfortable to go. Kids love order in their lives. It gives them a sense of security. We can’t always have control over the world outside of our homes, but we can make their lives easier by giving them positive environments inside our homes.

My daughter just recently moved. Moving, in and of itself, is a chaotic mess but, to add to the chaos, their septic system failed the week they moved in. We are talking major chaos. I thought we were never going to get organized. Finally one day, trying as hard as we could, we got the living room pulled together. We were able to get the pictures hung, the furniture arranged and some knick knacks in place. When the grandkids came home from school that day they were in awe. With a sparkle in her eye, my granddaughter said, “Oh mom! It’s sooooo beautiful!”

Need Help Getting Clean and Organized?

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Is disorganization stressing you out? Are you overwhelmed by your laundry? Are you throwing your money away in the chaos and clutter?

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You can do it!

Don’t panic and get overwhelmed or discouraged. I don’t expect you to be Martha Stewart. I heard about a woman once who read an article on how to be a good homemaker. After reading it, she decided the best thing she could for her family was to put them up for adoption. HA!HA!

Don’t get extreme and think that if your house is not spotlessly clean 24/7 that your children will grow up to be total failures as adults. I’m just saying be careful not to make your home and the care of your family a low priority on your list. Don’t be too hard on yourself. There is a season for everything. If you are ill, if you have a new baby or 4 children under the age of 5, if you have a child or spouse that is ill or if you are in the middle of moving, your housekeeping standards cannot be as high as say a woman who lives alone with no children. Be kind to yourself and set up reasonable standards but do your best to get organized.

Anytime you try to improve yourself there is the chance that, at first, it will not come easy and you will be tempted to throw up your hands and quit. Do the best that you can and press onward. Even if you can only do one of the things I suggest at the beginning, that is fine. Do what you can, improving slowly if you need to. Just be careful that you don’t allow yourself to use different excuses to keep from doing it.

You may be tempted to say, “I’m just too busy to get organized. Moms are so much busier now than years ago with working and such.” Don’t even go there. Years ago most moms had to work in the fields or factories for 12 hours a day 6-7 days a week with no paid vacations or holidays. Then they had to come home, do the laundry with no washer and dryer, prepare 3 meals a day from scratch and clean and sew most of their family’s clothes.

Being too busy for your family is never an excuse. You are in control of your schedule. You can say no to all those extra kids activities or to the extra things that others ask you to do. Just say no. In the same way that you expect your kids to just say no to drugs, you also need to refuse to give in to peer pressure. Just say no when others ask you to do something that you know you don’t have time for.

One of the main excuses we use for not getting organized is we don’t know where to start. We can become so overwhelmed that it can actually paralyze us mentally so that we can’t figure out what to do. I was at that point myself the day after Christmas this year. Boy did I have a mess, plus my CFS was really bad. I was caught in a vicious cycle. I was too sick to clean, but sitting in a mess was making me worse.

Finally, I decided I needed to practice what I preached and, using sheer grit, I made up my mind to clean off just my fireplace mantle. While I was doing that, I noticed some other things in other areas that I didn’t want to forget to box up, so I started gathering those things together. Then I figured I might as well bring in the boxes for the things I had just gathered. One thing led to another and before I knew it I had cleared most of my living room.

Hopefully this has given you the motivation to get organized and cleaned. Next, I’ll give you some specific tips to make your cleaning and organizing efficient and painless!


Read Get Organized Part 2
Tips to Make Organizing Easier



  1. Ronda says

    Yikes, I guess I better get off this computer, (although your articles and website are slightly addicting) and get to sorting that pile of papers next to it. I KNOW I have staples for the stapler somewhere and I refuse to go buy more until I get this cleaned up, because they are probably under there!
    Thanks for the articles!

    • says

      I had to laugh Ronda. I have to be careful. If I keep doing articles and getting organized we could loose many of your readers. : ) : )

  2. Debbie says

    Jill, What about when you have older children (22, 16, 13) who have had to do chores since they were 2, but still leave messes everywhere? And a husband who helps once in awhile, but 90% of the time is leaving his shoes, clothes, dishes, etc. all over the house? I feel like a balloon with all the air leaked out much of the time when I face the constant challenge of reminding grown or nearly grown people to pick up after themselves. Is it suck-it-up-buttercup and get it done to have an orderly home and well-cared-for family, or keep pushing your family training program and have a semi-messy home?

    • says

      I have always said the person who comes up with the answer to this question Debbie would be a billionaire instantly. Sadly to say I am not a billionaire which means I don’t have the perfect answer. It too is hard to answer this question with out knowing what all has been tried and other things about the situation. Let say there it is hard and it is endless. I always say God had a reason for giving us our kids for 18 years at least because He knew that until one day before their 18th birthday we would still be training them and sometimes then they don’t get it.

      With kids as old as yours and with your husband thrown in you may have sit them all down and (not in anger) tell them what it is doing to you. You would be amazed at how sometimes just telling your family what they are doing is hurting you and you just can’t do it any more will cause your family to step up to the plate. We get in habits, routines and ruts with out realizing it and until someone (usually mom) collapses or has a nervous break down nothing changes. Make a list of what needs to be done and then let the kids and dad pick, choose, and decide who does what and let them come up with ideas of consequences when the jobs don’t get done.

      Sometimes it’s just a matter of if someone wants to go do something fun then you say great but no one is leaving this house until the kitchen is cleaned, laundry done or what ever. Let them know ahead of time that this is the way things are going to be from now on. You can do this with meals too. Say, we will eat as soon as the dishwaher is unloaded or the living room is picked up. Don’t do it in anger but just in a matter of fact tone of voice that says this is just the way it is going to be period.

      One other thing that helped with my teen son and husband was I would write a specific list of things I needed done down on paper and left it on the table for them to read. For some reason they responded to the written list better then to me nagging and telling what I wanted them to do. Don’t know if this is a guy thing or not but it did seem to work better. Also once you find something that works, if things after awhile start going back to a mess again it may mean it is time to change to another method. Situations and kids ages change so you will sometimes need to change your methods.

      But it is also like you said part of it is you just need to be constantly training them and realize there is going to be a certain amount of reasonable messiness. I know of a well known woman who teaches how to get organized and she has these detailed schedules of what should be done each day and she has helped a lot of people but I have also talked to people who have gotten frustrated with her method because she implies you should be able to have a perfectly clean house and get these thing done everyday but the catch is she has no little kids at home and is older. She also says she didn’t start keeping her house clean until her one child was grown. I don’t say this to knock her or anything but to tell you not to be discouraged. As long as you have kids at home there will be some amount of struggle in keeping things pulled together. Talk to your family and remember this too shall pass.

      PS. I got up the other morning and looked around and my house was a mess. I thought how did this happen? I am the only one living here so I must have been the one who did it. It’s hard and a struggle to keep on top of things so just do the best you can.

  3. Martha Follmer says

    I find that it is easy for me to get into a helpless victim state of mind. Too easily we are snared into negative thinking and actual lies that steal our peace and our energy. I think we need to find ways to maintain a peaceful spirit, and still encourage ourselves to keep going and break big jobs into small chunks. We can be our own worst enemy or we can rejoice in what we do accomplish.

  4. Grizzly Bear Mom says

    Debbie, you are a wife and mother and not a slave. I would first try to collaborate with my family in developing cleaning standards. “Rinse dirty dishes and stack in dishpan/place in dishwaster”. “Hang wet towels over shower rod.” “Dirty clothes in color appropriate basket.” If you and your family all dusted, swept, mopped, vaccumed, polished TOGETHER on Saturday mornings it would be sort of fun. My three sisters and I did chores like this when growing up. It worked out until he realized that our brother didn’t have chores. If that didn’t work I would consider going on strike. No cooking, shopping, laundry, cleaning, etc.

  5. Sheila says

    Solved the dishwasher issue. Automatic when you leave the table put your dishes into the dishwasher. The son born on odd date cleans it out on odd days and even day son does his on the even days. I’m still pitching in and do it once in a while (esp on days I run it 2 or 3 times/like bunch of company or baking day)but amazing how they remind each other so they don’t have to be stuck on their day doing the other guys work. Daily use plus is considered excessive use according to the Sears store here. When all four boys were home I did it by week with names on the calender. That sort of worked.

    • says

      It is so funny how they can remember whose turn it is to do chores. I never had to remember because like you said they were always more the willing to remind each other.


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