A significant uncluttering and organizing project can be exhilarating. You can see huge progress, and things that bothered you for a long time can find solutions.
But then there’s the ongoing maintenance: putting the toys back in place, dealing with the mail, etc. I don’t know anyone who enjoys this part of the organizing process, but it’s critical. Sadly, there is no magical organizing fairy who can complete the maintenance work with a wave of her wand. Given that, the following are some suggestions for tackling maintenance activities.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
Getting behind on maintenance happens to everyone I know at times, including myself and other fellow organizers.
Minimize the amount of maintenance required
If dealing with mail is overwhelming, you might invest some time in getting off mailing lists so there won’t be as much incoming mail. You can also look into going paperless for bank statements, bills, etc.
Reconsider who is doing the maintenance work
If you share your household with a spouse, domestic partner, children, or roommates, look at how the maintenance work is divided and see if there might be a better way to split up that work.
And if your budget accommodates it, consider paying someone to do certain tasks that are time-consuming or especially annoying.
Make the maintenance easier
Sometimes little adjustments, such as adding (or repositioning) a wastebasket, recycling bin, or laundry hamper can make a big difference. Using hooks instead of hangers can make it easier for some people to put away their coats, bathrobes, and such.
If your closets and other storage spaces are already quite full, minimizing new purchases (or instituting a one-in, one-out rule) will make it easier to ensure everything has an appropriate storage space, so it’s easy to put things away.
Determine what schedule works best for you
Do you do best with a short amount of maintenance work daily, or a larger chunk of time once/week — or some other schedule? Experiment and find a routine that feels comfortable for you.
Create holding places for items in between maintenance sessions
An inbox for mail, receipts, and other scraps of paper will keep them from being misplaced until you go through them to toss/recycle, shred, scan, or file. Maybe you’ll want a bin for things left laying around the living room (or other spaces) until your next scheduled time for putting all those things away.
Plan for ongoing uncluttering, too
Even if you’ve done a complete uncluttering exercise, it’s worth revisiting your possessions periodically. Children outgrow clothes and toys. Adults find their interests change. And almost everyone makes a few purchases that don’t work out, resulting in items that should be returned, donated, etc.
Look for ways to make maintenance time more pleasant
Having good tools (a shredder that doesn’t jam, nice clothes hangers, etc.) will make the work less annoying. A pleasant workspace for handling the paperwork can make a big difference, too. Some people enjoy listening to music as they do the work. Others give themselves mini-rewards after the work gets done.