As a practicing professional organizer since 1994, I am often cornered by people I meet at parties, in the grocery store and throughout the community who want to share their organizing challenges and feelings of being overwhelmed with me. I always tell them that being organized is a skill set that can be learned. In this column, I’d like to share with you seven habits that organized people use to keep their homes organized; if you adopt these behaviors, your home can be organized, too!
1. Organized People Develop a Place for Everything
Establishing a “home” for every item in your house is important. If an object has a designated place where it “lives,” you, and the other members of your household, will always know where to find it. Possessions without a “home” tend to get abandoned somewhere – often on the kitchen counter, the dining room table, or in a corner – and the accumulation start to look like clutter.
2. Organized People Put Things Away After They’ve Used Them
In order to maintain a place for everything, it’s important to make sure things are returned to their established home after they’ve been used. Putting things back ensures both that your home stays organized, and that you can find the item the next time you need it.
3. Organized People Decide to Decide
I once heard clutter defined as “postponed decision making.” To prevent piles of stuff from accumulating, to minimize stacks of paper, and to get donation items out of the door, organized people regularly and consistently make decisions. Decide where in your home something belongs; decide to take action on any given piece of paper; schedule time to drop donation items off at your charity of choice.
4. Organized People Keep It Simple!
It’s human nature plain and simple – if it’s not easy, we’re not going to do it. Create a system that is simple, convenient and will work for you. If your filing cabinet is on your 3rd floor, and you open your mail in the kitchen, how often do you think those papers are going to get filed? The more steps it takes to complete a task, the less likely it is to get done.
5. Organized People Put it on Paper!
There is an inverse relationship between how much something is on your mind, and how much you’re actually doing about it. It’s important to get things out of your brain and onto paper; this frees your mind to actually start working on the task. Write everything down – appointments, goals, task/project lists.
6. Organized People Use Containers
Containers set boundaries on the space items can inhabit. Even in a junk drawer (yes, I do believe every home should have one!), use containers or drawer inserts to separate items and make them easy to identify. Label containers so you know what’s inside. Containers include not only physical bins and baskets; rooms can be containers, too. Make sure you have enough containers to house all of your stuff; if not, chaos will develop.
7. Organized People Weed Constantly
Being organized is not a one-time event, but an on-going process. Organized people constantly evaluate what they have, and regularly get rid of items they don’t love, need, or use. When they buy a newer version or model, they don’t keep the older item it replaced.