Today I thought I would start with the basics. What to do first, where to start, how to make an organising plan and how to keep your home organised. This one is going to get pretty wordy so I apologise in advance for the length.
A couple of years ago I read a study conducted by Real Simple: The Organized Home in 2003. It said women spend 55.2 minutes every day looking for things. Those 55.2 minutes everyday add up to a massive 14 days every year. 14 DAYS! Imagine what you could do with all that extra time. Holiday anyone?
This statistic is so shocking it kind of makes me feel ill. To think that we waste so much time which could be better spent in so many ways. Well ladies, it is time to take a stand and claim back your 55.2 minutes everyday.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t know what to do first, don’t know how to organise or just need a little push to get you motivated then this guide is for you. Follow the steps below and you will be well on your way in no time.
15 Minute Speed De-Clutter
Have a think about an area of your home that drives you crazy on a daily basis. It could be the place you spend the most time or somewhere you avoid because it causes so much stress.
Is your Tupperware drawer so full of junk that you can’t even shut it? Do you have paperwork completely covering your desk? Are your toddler’s toys taking over the whole house?
Make some piles for stuff to toss, relocate and donate and arrange the rest into some kind of order. Use whatever you have lying around to containerise (cardboard boxes, baskets, containers). Don’t worry about how pretty it looks at this stage; just remove as much stuff as you can.
Be sure to take care of the toss, relocate and donate piles as soon as you are done otherwise you will just be moving the clutter from one spot to another.
You will be amazed at how much of a change 15 minutes can make. The success you will have in such a short amount of time will give you motivation you to continue organising. You know that good feeling you get when you accomplish something you have been putting off, that is what we are aiming for here.
Once you are done with your first area, pick another 2 and do the same thing. It doesn’t have to be straight away, you could do it over a few days but if you have found a bit of motivation, keep going.
Once you have organised the 3 most stressful areas of your home it is time to sit back for a moment and make a game plan.
Take a notepad and a pen and go for walk around your house. Note down everything you want to organise, clean, fix or change. Be specific, the more detail the better.
The idea of this task is to take all those thoughts that are flying around your head and put them onto paper. Get it all down so you can concentrate on the task ahead without flipping between different projects.
Now that you have cleared your head, we are going to focus on one area. Pick the room or area you want to start with. It could be somewhere you spend a lot of time (kitchen or laundry), somewhere that is causing you stress (study or playroom), somewhere you want to be able to relax (living or dining room) or give yourself a good start for the day (bedroom or bathroom).
Take your notepad and pen to the room that you choose and take in everything in there. Open the cupboards, pull stuff from under the bed and take a mental inventory of it all. Now take a moment to answer these questions.
– What is currently in the room?
– What do you want or need to stay in the room?
– What are you going to do with the rest?
– How do you feel when you are in this room?
– How would you like to feel?
– What items do you need to buy or source?
– What is your budget?
Think about where everything is going to go in the room and how you are going to organise it. If you are a visual person, it might be helpful to draw a diagram of how your room/area is going to be set out. Don’t be scared to change things around, just because you have always had things a certain way, it doesn’t mean they have to stay that way.
Have a look online and in magazines for some inspiration for your room. If you are excited about what you are going to do, you are more likely to follow through. Just don’t get too sucked into Pinterest, make it a 30 minute search for inspiration not a 3 hour one.
Once you have a plan and you know what you have to do, it is time to do it!
The first thing you need to do is reduce the clutter. We are going to get rid of as much as we possibly can and we are going to do it quickly.
Grab 3 large boxes, washing baskets or garbage bags and label them with Toss, Relocate and Donate. Then start sorting.
Go through every single thing in that room; pull everything out so you can start with a blank slate. Give everything a quick clean as you go.
As you are sorting through things ask yourself these four questions. If you answer no to any of them, it is time for that item to go.
1. Do I love it?
2. Do I need it?
3. Does it enhance my life?
4. Can I live without it?
A note on sentimental items: I don’t have a problem with sentimental items that are used regularly or are displayed somewhere in your home. It is sentimental items that are stored away in a box somewhere, or worse, lots of boxes. If you truly do love these items, display them somewhere in your home or use them regularly. What is the point of having your great grandmothers fine china if it hasn’t seen the light of day for the past 5 years?
If you are having trouble letting go, try taking some photos of your sentimental items and put them in a photo album or in a frame on the wall. I am sure you will gain more enjoyment by being able to look at the photos each day. Remember, physical items don’t contain your memories. Your memories are yours to keep forever, regardless of if you still have the stuff. Memories are memories and stuff is just that, don’t get the two confused.
Get your family involved in de-cluttering your home. Kids are generally really good at letting go of their stuff; they don’t seem to have the same attachment to items as adults do. Explain to them that it would be nice to donate some of their toys or clothes to another child who doesn’t have as many. I guarantee you will be surprised at how well they do.
Once you have removed all the excess clutter, it is time to organise what is left into a logical order.
It is really important to group like items together. Imagine if your cutlery was spread throughout the house, forks were in the laundry, spoons in the bedroom and knives out in the garage. It doesn’t make much sense to separate these items because it would take you so much longer to find the utensil you are looking for. So instead, we keep them all together in one drawer.
Apply this same idea to everything in your house; keep shoes with shoes, paperwork with paperwork and keys with keys.
Next you need to give everything a home. Use boxes, baskets, bins and containers to keep like items together. You could also whip up some labels so there is no confusion as to what belongs where. Your labels don’t have to be anything fancy, a post it note will do (you can find my label tutorial here).
If every little thing in your house has a home, there is no excuse for not putting things back where they belong.
Once you have containerised and labeled everything, it is time to put them somewhere. Start with the most used items by putting them in the most convenient location in your room. Work backwards until you get to the rarely used (but need to keep) items, these can go up the top of your wardrobe or under a bed.
If you get to the end and don’t have room for some of your rarely used items, it is time to either find them another home or de-clutter some more. Don’t try to shove more than will fit in your area, this is a recipe for disaster and you will end up back at square one.
This is by far the most important part of organising. If you spend all that time and effort organising your house but don’t maintain, you will very quickly end up back where you started.
Leading by example is my first tip for maintaining. Your children and husband will see how much effort you are putting in to keep everything organised and hopefully it will create a flow on effect.
Get your family involved and show them how you like things done. Be specific and go through step by step. A lot of the time kids and even husbands don’t like to help because they aren’t sure how to do things properly.
Putting everything into containers with labels is really important. If there is a big label saying put your dirty clothes here, your kids are more likely to actually do it. If you have little ones, you could try labels with pictures.
My last tip for maintaining is to regularly do a quick tidy of the area to keep it organised. You could do this while you are doing your weekly clean or as you use things throughout the week. When you are unstacking the dishwasher, you could give the cupboards a quick tidy while you are there or fix up closets while you are putting folded laundry away.
The only exception is kids toys, which need to be tidied on a daily basis. Playrooms can get really messy really quickly; you don’t want all your hard work to go to waste. We do two playroom clean ups every day, before little H’s nap and before bed. My daughter is almost 2 and knows where most of her toys go and helps to put them away. It takes some persistence and consistency but it can be done. Like I said above, make sure you explain really well where everything goes and use some nice big labels.
I hope this guide has helped you to start living a more organized life. Remember to take it one step at a time and don’t overwhelm yourself. It is really important to not pressure yourself into doing too much too soon or you will burn out and stop all together.