When our kids were little I was super-organized. Our boys were only 18 months apart so I didn’t have time to waste. Two babies in diapers is a tremendous motivator to save time and steps. Some people thought I may have taken it too far; even my spices were alphabetized. But getting little ones ready for everything from bath and bed to a vacation out of town takes organization. As the kids got older and I was working outside the home some things slipped a bit.
In June of 2000 I injured my spinal cord. For years I couldn’t walk and spent most of my time in bed. My once well-organized home turned into, in my mind, an episode of Hoarders. It wasn’t all that bad but I’m the type who would wash a can with soap and water before throwing it in the trash. When I was injured I felt things had slipped on the scale of an avalanche.
I daydream about the years when I was the Uber Homemaker. The reality is I’ll never again have the physical ability to do the things I did before my spinal cord injury. But I’m determined to get everything totally organized again.
Here are some helpful general tips for organizing your home.
Make a plan. Decide what you want to accomplish. You may want to de-clutter an area to keep keys, sunglasses, and other things you drop as soon as you come in the door. You may want to have a place to pay bills or clip and keep your coupons in order. Come up with your goal and then decide what equipment you’ll need to accomplish it.
Gather your equipment. Depending on what you’re organizing you may need a few boxes to separate things you’ll keep and things you’ll give away or throw in the trash. You may need furniture polish or all-purpose cleaners and rags. You may need to vacuum an area. Whatever you need, gather it first. You’ll save time and a lot of extra steps if you don’t have to rush off for things in the middle of organizing. A little caddy is nice to carry your supplies but it’s not necessary.
Crank up the tunes! Music makes the job a bit more pleasant. Pick songs that have an energetic beat. Love ballads may be your thing but you don’t want them to slow your pace.
Ready, set, go! Set a timer. It’s easy to give up on organizing if you burn yourself out. Give yourself 15 or 30 minutes to work on an organizing goal. Then take a break of 10 or 15 minutes. Don’t spend that break thinking about the work still waiting. Read a chapter in a book or take a short walk. Then come back and set the timer again.
Divide & Conquer. Whether you’re organizing an entire room or just doing a small area divide it into segments. First work on 12 o’clock to 3 o’clock then on 3 o’clock to 6 o’clock and so on. It keeps the task from seeming overwhelming and it gives you good stopping points if you have to leave the space.
Birds of a feather. When organizing cupboards, closets, and even the freezer keep like items together.
It’s easy to find just the blouse you want to wear or the flannel shirt your child wants to wear to school if you don’t have to push through t-shirts, jackets, pants, and everything else to find it. Keep all pants in one section, all long-sleeved shirts in another. Dress shirts and pants should be separate from casual clothing.
In the freezer keep fruits, vegetables, meats, and breads separate. If there’s room you can even separate into chicken, beef, port, fish, etc.
Something old, something new. Make a rule for everyone in the house that bringing in something new means something old has to go. If you buy a new pair of shoes, throw away an old, worn pair. Tell your teenagers that bringing in another pair of jeans means donating an old pair. When the little ones outgrow clothes you can donate them or fold them neatly in a box for a yard sale. Just don’t leave the box in the bedroom. Store it in the basement or attic.
That place we all have. Everyone seems to have a table, drawer or even an entire room that’s been taken over by junk. Some of the things stored there may actually be useful but they’re nearly impossible to find because of the mess. That not only means things are cluttered but you’ll probably buy things you already have because you can’t locate them. Using the methods above you can eliminate this catch-all. Baskets, trays, baggies, and small hanging drawers can really help tame the clutter. Decide if you’re going to keep an item then find a logical place to store it.
The Slippery Slope. Don’t allow yourself to fall back! It’s easy when you’re late getting home and everyone is asking for dinner to drop things wherever you stand. This is a terrible thing to do! It won’t take more than a couple of minutes to put things in their proper place when you come home. And you’ll know where they are when you have to rush out the door. You certainly don’t want to have to search for your car keys if you have to take someone to the hospital for stitches!