Have you worked hard on multiple occasions to get your house organized but then it always ends up looking messy a month later? Or maybe you just can’t get it organized and want to finally have some peace in your home?
This post will provide you with 13 actionable tips to train yourself to be more organized in your home. Let’s stop the cycle of organizing, and then everything getting out of place again.
1. Create Spaces for Everything
This is the number one rule in organizing. You can’t put everything back where it belongs if nothing has a set space in your home.
Determine where you use similar items and then create a storage system for those items.
If you like to read in your bedroom, create a bookshelf in your bedroom, not in the family room where the books will likely just be sprawled all over a table or couch.
Mail often ends up on kitchen counters, but where do you actually open and look through the mail? That’s where it should go.
Do you store towels in the rooms you use them in or somewhere else? Storing them in the rooms where they are used will make it more likely that you will actually use them.
Make it easy on yourself. Don’t try to find places to shove things just to “put them away”.
Create spaces based on where the items are used and when possible, put similar things together. This way you won’t have to search around the home in the multiple different places you have stored them.
Do you ever worry about being too organized? This post will help you determine if being organized could ever be a bad thing.
2. Declutter Your Home Often
Decluttering can be a fun and freeing process. Getting rid of garbage or items that you never use creates more space in the home and less stuff to move around and keep organized.
This process should be happening fairly often but particularly when new items come into the home. If you are buying something similar to items you already have, consider whether you really need both items.
Why are you buying something similar? Did you not love the other item? Was it in bad shape? If so, then either donate or throw the item away.
Don’t want to waste your time organizing items that you never use or possibly items that are actually garbage and should just be thrown away.
I recommend decluttering monthly. This doesn’t need to involve a crazy amount of time going through your house with a fine-toothed comb.
What this means is taking a quick scan through your home once a month to see if there is anything that should be thrown away or items that you are keeping “just in case”.
More often than not, the items we keep just in case, never get used again. So just get those items out of your house.
Wanting to learn more about how long it truly takes to declutter a home? Check out my post about how long it takes to declutter a home of any size.
3. Don’t Buy New Items As Often
If you are bringing less into the home, there is less to organize. Simple, right?
Do you really need those new dishes or that pretty home decor? Is your closet already overflowing with clothes? Then you probably don’t need new clothes until you determine what you can get of.
If you don’t know exactly where the item is going to go when you bring it home, don’t buy it yet.
You should be very intentional about what you purchase. If it’s just going to clutter up the home more and not bring you joy when you look at, you likely don’t need it.
This does not include food products, but getting your fridge and pantry organized will ensure that your food has a place to go and allows you to fully use up the food before it goes bad.
4. Say No to Hand Me Downs
The person who is offering you items from their home that they no longer use typically has good intentions.
It’s possible that you could save money because you don’t have to buy that item with your own money.
However, most of the time, we are only accepting these items out of guilt and will never use them nor want them.
If it’s something you don’t want and you know you will never use it, just say no. You’re not saving money by having items in your home that you didn’t want in the first place.
These items are just adding more clutter and more to organize moving forward.
As a side note, if you have always loved these particular items and were hoping to have them someday. Then of course accept those! You will likely have a spot in your home that you can easily access the items and will use them often.
Also, if you are just starting out in your first home and haven’t bought anything yet, this is another time that hand-me-downs are absolutely fine.
If you already have a full home, then please, don’t let somebody else’s clutter become your own!
5. Always Keep a “To Donate” Bin Handy
You are more likely to actually think about what to donate if you have a donation bin visible in your home.
It’s much easier to just toss things into that bin then to have to search around to find a box when you want to donate something.
I always keep a bag and a box in my closet. The bag is for any clothing items that my family has either outgrown or no longer likes. The box is for large items such as toys, unused kitchen items, home decor, books, etc.
Try to make a trip to the donation center every 2-3 months. If you hold onto items for too long, there will be temptation to go through that box again and pull things back out.
Where if you just donate it fairly quickly, you likely won’t even think about the items ever again.
6. Go Through Your Home With a Garbage Bag Once Per Month
There are times when garbage just collects around the home.
Empty shampoo bottles, cereal boxes that have crumbs left in them, expired medication, items that are damaged beyond repair? These are items that are garbage and somehow just manage to stick around.
So once a month, do a quick scan through your home looking for garbage.
Recycle anything that is recyclable, take expired medication back to the pharmacy for proper disposal and everything else can be thrown out.
7. Make a Schedule for When to Organize Again
Keep track of when you last organized so that you know when it may be time to work on that area in the home again.
Don’t push it off. When it’s time to look through everything, do it soon after. Otherwise, it may get to a point that your home is so overwhelming that you won’t do it at all.
This can be done on a simple wall calendar, in a planner, or on the calendar app on your mobile phone.
I personally like to sit down with a physical calendar so that I can quickly flip through the pages and determine the dates that work best. I’m more likely to remember the date that I chose when I write it down as opposed to type it on my phone.
If your home is fully organized and you don’t bring many new items into the home, you likely don’t even need to do a full organization for another year.
However, if you buy new items frequently and you really struggle to keep items in their designated spaces, then plan to organize again in 3 months.
Read my post on how often to organize your house for more detailed information.
8. Write Your Plan on Paper
Sometimes just writing down what you want to accomplish that day will motivate you to keep going.
Determine how many items you are comfortable getting rid of each month and write that down. Make it a priority to actually come up with that many items per month.
Daily to-do lists are also helpful in being able to create a plan of attack for that day. You can check off items as you complete them.
Being able to check items off of a list can be really motivating and rewarding and push you to keep moving forward. It’s nice to be able to see at the end of the day how much you were able to accomplish.
Most days we just go through the motions and have no idea how much we truly did. Then wonder why we are so tired! It’s nice to see exactly what was accomplished and give ourselves a pat on the back.
When you are done decluttering, determine what items you have a lot of, figure out where you want them stored, and how you want to contain the items.
Draw a picture of what you want the space to look like when it’s fully organized. Sometimes just seeing that visual will help you see what the area could look like if properly organized and you will be more excited to tackle your organizing projects.
9. Create a System for Storing Printed Photos
If you like to print out all of your photos still, they can easily become overwhelming and unorganized.
Right now you may know who everybody in the pictures are and in what year the pictures were taken. But trust me, you won’t remember in a few years.
As soon as you bring your printed pictures home, sort them into piles by the year (if they span over several years) and the season.
Using post-it notes, write who is in the pictures and stick them on the backs of the photos.Then when you are ready to further organize, either based on individual people, a family, sporting events, etc., it will be easy to do so.
For storage options, photo albums or photo boxes work well for sorting, and then you can put a descriptive label right onto the album or box.
Since we are only printing our favorite photos these days, make sure to pick a few to frame and the rest can be put into their storage solutions.
10. For Every Item That Comes Into the Home, One Has to Go
Each time you buy a new item (aside from food), pick something from your home to sell or donate.
This will keep the items in your home at a manageable level. It won’t allow you to get to the point that you are so overwhelmed by stuff in your home, that you won’t even tackle your organizing projects.
Before deciding to sell something, put a time limit on when you want to sell the item by.
If you post it on a Facebook sales group or another online marketplace, give yourself no longer than a week to sell it. Then if it hasn’t sold by that time, donate it.
If you are planning a garage sale, make a designated space in your home to temporarily store these items and then plan to have the garage sale within the month. Again, anything that doesn’t sell should be donated right away.
You don’t want to be holding onto these items for too long or there will be too much temptation to keep the items. Or you will just store them in a box to collect dust.
Get them out of your house quickly. Then you can enjoy the space that you have for the items that you use and love.
11. Set a Timer
If you are working against the clock, sometimes this can motivate you to quickly decide what to get rid of and what to keep.
Go for no more than 30 minutes at a time, particularly if your house is really overwhelming at the moment.
You would be amazed how much progress you can make in 30 minutes.
Just tackle one room at a time.
The first 30 minutes should just be going through the room to determine what is garbage and can be thrown away.
Immediately put the garbage into a garbage bag and the donate items into a box to be donated.
Take a break for 30-60 minutes before tackling the next 30-minute timer. Do this several times in one day and you will notice a huge improvement in that room.
After the garbage and donations are out of the room, the next 30 minutes can be spent making sections of similar items. When you create a space for these items, similar items will most likely be contained in the same space or container.
If there is anything in the room that doesn’t belong there. Take it to the room where it does belong to deal with later.
Remember, the whole house or even room doesn’t have to be organized in one day.
Having these 30-minute chunks of time will really help you focus on small sections of the home and not allow you to tire out and abandon the process.
Once you have finished one room, take a break for the day.
Start the next room the following day or in a few days. Whenever you are able to. Start again with a 30-minute timer and keep pushing through.
12. Take Pictures of Before and After
Again with the visual aspect. Sometimes being able to see progress that you made in the past can help to keep your home more organized.
Plus, if you liked the organization system you set up but then things start to get out of order again. You can quickly look back at the photos to see what you did and you will know exactly where to put everything again.
Just remember to take more pictures if you decide to change things around in the future.
13. Ask For Help
This may not be training yourself to be more organized, but it is important that you are comfortable asking your family for help in getting and keeping the house organized.
It should not only be your responsibility when you aren’t the only person living in the home.
When you have created an organizing system that works, now you can train your family to help keep the home organized.
As a side note though, there are different organizing styles. Some people like to see everything and some people like to keep things hidden. Neither are wrong, they are just different.
So your kid’s rooms may not look the way you wish they did, and sometimes we just have to let that go. It’s their room, help them get it tidy but allow them to organize the way they like. Which is often everything visible.
The rest of the house should be organized the way that you like it. Your family will need to be helpful in keeping the home peaceful.
At the end of the day, being organized is much easier when you have less in your home and have created clear defined areas for everything.
Consistency is key. If you are keeping yourself on a schedule and accountable, you will be successful.
Spend less time organizing items that you don’t love by just getting them out of the house. Once you only have what you need, it will take considerably less time. You will know exactly where to go to find that item and where to put it away when you’re done with it.
Organizing takes practice and may seem hard in the beginning when there are piles of stuff everywhere. But it’s actually very rewarding to give everything in our homes a space and not waste precious time trying to find where everything is.
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