25 Practical Tips To Help You Get Organized
One of the main excuses we use to avoid getting organized is that 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 Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 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 and I was desperate to get organized.
Finally, I decided I needed to practice what I preached and, using sheer grit, I made up my mind to start to get organized by just cleaning 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.
Just find one small area to get organized and start working on it. You usually feel so good just getting that one area done that you become motivated to do a little more and then a little more. It doesn’t matter what area it is in life. Whether it is dealing with debt, losing weight, getting organized or something else, stop looking at the whole picture. I’m not saying that you should live in denial, but when it’s time to get the job done, you’ll just get overwhelmed if you keep looking at the whole picture. Pick one small area and work on it. Once you have mastered it, then you can move on to the next one.
Instead of saying I’m going to clean all the closets in the house, just decide to clean one closet or if it is really bad, decide to do just one shelf in that closet. The same goes for the kitchen or any room. Start with one shelf at a time.
It would be impossible to cover everything about how to get organized in just one article, but here are some tips to help you get started. These ideas aren’t in any particular order and some are short tips and others are longer. I hope they help you.
General Points to Get Organized:
- If you are sick or are having trouble getting motivated to get organized, try my 5 minute trick. I make myself get up and clean during the 5 minute commercial on TV. For example, I try to bring in the laundry off of the line, wash my dishes or pick up a room. That way, when I’m not feeling good I don’t overdo it but, at the same time, I feel like I am accomplishing something.
- Start organizing the easiest area to clean or the area that is bugging you the most.
- Work quickly. Don’t pick up that cute snowman your child drew and ooh and ahh over it for 10 minutes trying to decide what to do with it. Either toss it or put it in the “memories” box.
- Have boxes and trash bags ready to use. I designate boxes for “items to give away”, “things to pack”, “things that go in another room” and “trash”. Once you have filled a box or trash bag, set it outside of the room. This makes it easier to see what still needs to be sorted, gives you more space in the room to work and gives you the feeling that your are getting somewhere.
- When you first start to get organized, do a quick once over in the room. Quickly go through and pick up all obvious trash and take out very large items that don’t belong there.
Quick Ideas to Give Your Organizing a Jump Start:
- Make your bed. (2 minutes) Don’t assume that this will take too long. Some people spend more time trying to decide what to eat at a restaurant than it takes to make a bed.
- Wash dishes and clean counters (depending on the level of the mess, 15 minutes to an hour)
- Designate a spot for keys, purse, backpacks, shoes and coats.
- Clear off the dining room table. If it is really bad, clear off the easy stuff and put the rest in a box to sort later while you’re watching TV.
- Quickly go through the house and pick up all items of clothing. Hang them up or put them in the hamper.
- With a trash bag, go through the house and pick up obvious trash.
You’ll probably be surprised to see how much difference toward getting organized it makes just getting the trash and clothes picked up… You should be able to do all the above things easily in a couple of hours on the first day. Then make sure you keep doing them each day. If you did a good job the first day, it should only take you about 15-20 minutes each day after that to keep it picked up.
Deep Cleaning or Organizing
- Start organizing one shelf or closet at a time. Don’t flit from one room or closet to the next.
- The main idea here is to purge! Get rid of it. Toss it out. Call it whatever you like. Just stop holding on to this stuff.
- If it is not adding to or making your life easier, get rid of it.
- If it is ugly and doesn’t work, toss it. (No I’m not talking about your husbands… now ladies we must be good ;-).
- If you don’t use it or if it was the wrong thing or the wrong color, throw it out, sell it or give it away. I don’t care how much you originally paid for it. Why are you keeping it — to punish yourself for making a mistake?
- Don’t use the excuse that “It will take too long to get organized now, so I will do it later.” I was waiting for something to cook on the stove the other day and, once again, noticed that my spice shelf was a mess. I thought, “I really need to clean that,” but my very next thought was “No, it will take too long.” Then this little voice said, “You know, you can have it done before your sauce is finished cooking.” Don’t you just hate it when you hear those voices like that?! Sure enough, it only took me about 3 minutes to do it.
Find out where your “mess spots” are, think about why they are that way and find ways to change them. (I know with some of you, your whole house may be the trouble spot!
Here are some examples of how to get organized and stay that way:
- I kept piling Kleenex, small bits of paper and other trash on the corner of my dresser. It drove me crazy. Why did I keep doing that? Because that was where I stood to empty out my pants pockets before I tossed them into the clothes hamper. The solution: I put a small trash can on the floor by that spot so I could easily drop everything into the trash can instead of the dresser.
- Do you always have trash overflowing around the kitchen trash can? Start emptying it twice a day instead of once a day or buy a larger can.
- Are you usually frustrated about stepping over mounds of clothes each time you walk into the bathroom? Make it a rule that no one can get dressed or undressed in the bathroom. Buy everyone robes. Get undressed in the bedroom, put on your robe, walk to the bathroom, shower, put on robe and go back to the bedroom to get dressed. This is also a great way to free up bathroom time in the morning if everyone has to share a bathroom.
- Do you have a cabinet in your kitchen that starts an avalanche every time you open the door? Ask yourself these questions: Do I really need everything that is in this cabinet? Could I get by with 15 plastic cups instead of 35. Could part or all of what is in this cabinet be put someplace else? I keep all of my mugs on one shelf. In some homes, I haven’t had room to do that, so I would keep 8 mugs that I used virtually every day on that shelf and then put the extra mugs in a less accessible place. Then I didn’t have to fight 15 mugs falling all over each time I opened the cabinet.
- Organize any cabinet this way. If your canned goods keep falling all over, try storing only 4 cans on the one shelf and putting the rest in another place, like a higher cabinet, another room or the garage.
- This applies to organizing other rooms besides the kitchen. My bathroom doesn’t have much storage space, so I keep all my extra toiletries for the bathroom in a basket in my bedroom closet and keep only the item I am using now on my bathroom shelf.
- Use the same method for organizing linens and clothes. If you don’t have a linen closet, store extra linens or guest linens in a guest room or spare bedroom. Also, store the sheets in the bedroom where they will be used.
For more helpful tips to get organized and making cleaning and laundry easier, take a look at our Keeping It Clean e-books.