The good news is that organization is not a trait you’re born with, but rather that you learn. In college, I worked at a campground in Niagara falls cleaning bathrooms and cabins. I worked 40 hours a week scrubbing four women’s bathrooms and four men’s bathrooms…48 toilets in total. My boss was almost militant in her approach and expected perfection in our cleaning and organizing. I’m grateful for that job because it turned me from a slob, into a neater and more organized human being.
I’m still not perfect at organizing (just ask my husband), but each year I learn a few new tricks that push me one step closer to being the Martha Stewart of Organization.
10 Tips to Become a Better Organizer
1. “I came. I saw. I conquered.” Julias Caesar
Decide on a tangible goal.
Just saying you want to be more organized is like saying you want to get healthier in a vague way but not doing anything about it. Pick a room, or even a space (like a desk) that you decide you to organize.
For instance, last weekend I asked my husband to tackle his pile of “papers” with me – one of which was my own pile of expired coupons – around our house. Small manageable goals can build confidence in your organizing abilities and help you tackle the next job even better.
Don’t get too lofty in your goals either. You won’t be able to organize the whole house in a week. If you try you will only become discouraged and not end up accomplishing anything in the end. Small, manageable bites are the way to success.
So what area do you want to “conquer” this week? Is it the kitchen junk drawer? (I know you have one!) Is it your desk? Is it your kids’ toy bin? Decide on one at a time and after you manage that move on to the next.
2. “Gird your loans.” The Bible.
Or in other words, prepare yourself.
Create your plan of attack and the tools you will need to accomplish it. Mentally prepare yourself to get rid of stuff ahead of time, fighting off tendencies that you might “need it later.” You will also need containers, donation bags, and other tools to complete the job.
3. “A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place.”
It will do you no good to rid your home of items you no longer need, without putting a plan in place to keep things organized. For instance, I like to have a designated spot for cleaners, toiletries, makeup, cat items, even missing socks! If you create a designated area in your office for every item you can think of it will make putting away things much easier. Without this system in place you will literally end up shoving things in a closet, piling them on your kitchen table, or hoarding them in a corner in your bedroom.
Of course there will always be those items you just have no idea where to put, which is why the “junk drawer” was created in the first place. Instead, try putting these miscellaneous items in a basket to sort out at the end of your decluttering spree.
BONUS TIP: For every new item you bring into your home, get rid of an old one. And here are even more ways to Prevent Clutter from Sneaking Back In.
5. “When I became a man I put away childish things.” – The Bible
What good is having a system in place if you don’t use it? When you get home, put your shoes away. When you are done with cooking (and eating) immediately wash the pots and pans and put them away. (Side note – I am guilty of not doing this right away so working on it myself!)
I’m a big fan of the “one touch” rule – meaning when you come home you hang you coat up right away, instead of slinging it on the dining room chair, only to have to put it away later (two touches!).
Sometimes, I start a load of laundry one morning, and the next morning throw it in the dryer. These kinds of small chores will take you five minutes or less every morning, but in the long run, really add up – just like pennies – and make your nights and weekends a little less chaotic.
Another good tip is to try to accomplish one small choir before heading to work. It could be throwing the laundry in the wash, making your bed, unloading the dishwasher, or wiping the counters down. Every little bit adds up!
7. Do not squander time, that is the stuff life is made of.” Benjamin Franklin
Similarly, use your time better when you have a few free minutes. Are you waiting for your water to boil? Instead of scrolling Instagram unload that dishwasher. This not only helps you keep your home clean, but helps train your mind to use your time better.
8. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Arab Proverb.
Your enemy is clutter. The enemy of clutter if the Goodwill (or trash). Therefore, the enemy (Goodwill) of my enemy (my clutter) is our friend. The Goodwill or Salvation Army are our friends! (but you already knew that, didn’t you?)
In summary, every item you pick up, ask yourself: Do you NEED it? Do you LOVE it? Does it make you MONEY?
If you need or love it: KEEP IT.
If not but it will make you money: SELL IT. Here are 8 Tips to Make Money on Facebook Marketplace & Craigslist.
For everything else: DONATE or GIVEAWAY!
A good question to ask yourself here is: Are you holding onto stuff others could use?
There are many people out there with real needs that you might be able to meet just from the stuff you are hoarding in your attic.
9. “Just whistle while you work.” Snow White
10. “We can do it!” — American wartime propaganda poster
Be enthusiastic about becoming an organized person. Tell yourself how much much “open” your home or office will feel; and how much time you will save. And how much more you will accomplish.
I can do it. You can do it. WE can all do it. Now, let’s go tackle that clutter together.