7 tips for maintaining an organized home

You’ve done it! Your home is uncluttered, with everything in its place.

But then, a few months later, things aren’t quite the same.

How do you maintain that organized space you so enjoyed? The following seven ideas will give you an edge and don’t rely on a magic wand.

Make it super easy to put things away.

Well, OK — it’s fine if your holiday decorations are stored in a place that’s a bit hard to get to. But, with things you use frequently, you’ll want to make it as easy as possible to put them back in their places.

Make sure the containers you use aren’t too full; strive to keep them at least 20 percent empty. Think about how hard it is to file things in an over-stuffed file cabinet. Other overly full containers are also hard to work with.

Consider containers without lids; consider hooks instead of hangers. If you have high shelves you need to access fairly often, have a step stool close at hand.

And, as much as possible, accommodate the way paper and objects naturally tend to flow through your home. If incoming mail gets dropped on the coffee table, put an inbox there. If coats wind up in a pile right by the front door, consider putting hooks or a coat tree in that area.

Make sure everything has a home.

Also, make sure that all family members who share putting-things-away responsibility know where those homes are. You can’t put something in its proper home if it doesn’t have one. Buying something new? Make sure you decide where it’s going to live in your home before you pay for it.

Share a file cabinet with another family member? Make sure you both agree on how things will be filed. I met a woman who filed the house insurance under the name of the insurance agent; her husband had no idea where to find it.

Don’t forget to label your storage containers, especially when it’s not immediately obvious what goes where. You can use pictures to label toy bins and such for young children, so they can help put things away, too.

Use good tools.

I spent way too much time pulling jammed paper out of my shredder before I invested in a new one. Now I’ve got one that works, and life is so much easier.

Look for file cabinets with full-extension drawers — where the drawers pull out far enough that you can easily get to the files at the back.

Develop a routine.

Maybe you and your child take 10 minutes to put toys away each evening. Maybe you sort out junk mail daily, and do your filing weekly. Figure out what routines work for you and your family and stick to them.

If finances allow it, consider hiring help.

Hiring a gardener or a housecleaner to take care of some routine tasks can free up your time for the things that only you can handle. If you have a small home-based business and hate doing the bookkeeping, consider hiring someone for this task, so you don’t get behind.

Or, maybe you have some projects sitting around that are creating clutter because they aren’t getting done — those shelves aren’t getting installed on their own and that thing you were going to repair isn’t getting repaired. It might be worth paying someone else to do those types of projects for you.

You could also consider doing a task swap with a friend. You despise doing Task A, but don’t mind doing Task B? Your friend is fine with doing Task A, but always puts off doing Task B? Maybe you can help each other.

Do a periodic uncluttering.

Tastes changes. Needs change. The lids to food storage containers get lost. Children outgrow things. Schedule some time, every once in a while, to make sure all the things you own are still things you want.

Set an appropriate standard.

Unless your home is on the market with potential buyers coming by any time or unless your home is being used for a photo shoot, immaculate is probably an unnecessarily high standard for daily living in your home. Keep your home safe, functional, and generally uncluttered — but don’t fret that it isn’t perfect. Perfect is an impossible continuous standard.

7 Comments for “7 tips for maintaining an organized home”

  1. posted by henave on

    I would like to second the idea of uncluttering regularly. Getting everyone into the habit of uncluttering has been a huge help. Ideally, we would like to not bring new things into the house, but with several people in the family, things make their way in. Having my kids trained in uncluttering techniques took a long time, but was totally worth it.

  2. posted by pat on

    I also agree with uncluttering regularly. You should make sure you make an permanent area for “give away” bins, baskets, or boxes. The laundry room or a closet by the door works great. That way the boxes or bags of stuff to donate don’t become ugly clutter themselves. It also encourages you to make uncluttering a part of your daily routine since it is so easy to stash the stuff for the next donation trip.

  3. posted by Holly - Simply Organized on

    Great article and tips! Your examples to each are great and it’s all so spot-on and achievable. I love Unclutterer!

  4. posted by Patty@homemakersdaily.com on

    Great tips. If I was writing this article I would have said the same thing.

    One thing I think we skimp on is good tools. Boy that can make a huge difference!

  5. posted by Kaajal on

    Great article, thanks.

    I never underestimate the value of good storage boxes, organisers and baskets. They take care of so much little stuff and can look very nice too. Plus so much easier to clean around them and inside them every now and then.

    :-)

  6. posted by SueBK on

    Sometimes it’s finding a single, simple thing that radically changes how long organisation lasts. I’m a crafter; mainly sewing, but dabbling in scrapbooking, painting, beading, oh, and a couple of others things I don’t recall. I have a craft room, which I regularly clean and clear as I’m unable to work in chaos.
    During the last full-room-declutter-attack I not only gave everything it’s only space, I also labelled everything – every drawer, every box, every shelf. I did it partly because I just bought a new label machine :-)
    Such a simple thing. What a difference. There is something about seeing a label that stops me from stashing something that doesn’t belong just to get it out of my way. I find myself taking the extra 30 seconds to work out where things really belong, IF things really belong and dealing with them more appropriately. It also stops family members, who have the best intentions but are unfamiliar with my space and system, from stashing things in the wrong place.

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