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We’ve just started the new year, and everyone’s making resolutions. Rather than making a resolution you know you’ll break within a few weeks, why not get yourself more organized? Everyone wants to lose weight or eat healthier, but you’re likely to have much more success in developing habits or learning a new skill than attaining many of the goals we make while nursing a hangover on New Year’s Day.
Whether you work from home, juggle career and family, share co-parenting responsibilities, or just want to make time for loftier aspirations than cleaning toilets… we’re all looking to simplify and streamline our lives, so there’s more room for the things we enjoy doing most.
Below you’ll find some excellent house organization ideas to try all year long.
1- Organize Your Home by Thinking Strategically
Staying organized isn’t just about using planners or putting up a set of shelves. It’s also about how you do things and where you place supplies. The first thing you should do to get more organized is to stock supplies in strategic locations.
You know that you need specific cleaning products and tools to keep your home in a dirt and dust-free, sanitary condition. You likely use a variety of supplies and products from paper towels to cleaning sprays. The trick to keeping a cleaner home is to keep duplicates of your most frequently used cleaning products or homemade mixes and store them near the areas where you tend to use them most.
For example, if you typically clean the upstairs bathrooms as well as the kitchen using an abrasive cleaner, then buy two cans – one for each floor of your home. Store one under a bathroom sink upstairs, and another under the kitchen sink downstairs. Also, keep two bottles of glass cleaner in both locations. Along with your cleaning products, be sure to also stock necessary supplies such as a sponge or bunch of cleaning rags, so that you can make a quick task of wiping up when needed.
2- Get More Organized by Changing Your Attitude
Are you a perfectionist? Did you know that perfectionism is actually counter-intuitive? When we set our aspirations too high, we end up overwhelmed and accomplish even less than if we had established a smaller, more attainable goal.
Here’s an example we can all relate to. A friend is coming over, and you haven’t cleaned the house in about 5 days. You feel your home is a disaster and don’t want your friend to think you’re a poor housekeeper. You may be tempted to go on an all-out cleaning, but you simply don’t have the time to get the house spotless. Instead of cleaning the house from top to bottom, tidy the rooms you and your friend will be in.
Instead of cleaning the house from top to bottom, tidy the rooms you and your friend will be in.”
Here’s the plan. Vacuum ONLY the living room carpet and kitchen floor, because that’s where you’ll be spending most of your time with the said friend. Wash dishes and throw out stinky kitchen garbage. Wipe up table surfaces. Run to the bathroom, pull out your easily accessible cleaning supplies, and do a quick squirt and wipe off the sink and mirror. While in the bathroom, replenish liquid soap, stock TP, change out the dirty hand towel. Swish the bowl. You’re done in 30 minutes!
Pro tip: If a room is really messy, but you won’t be in it, close the door so it will be out of sight and out of mind.
3- Clean by Task, Not Room
It’s common to clean one room at a time, but this isn’t efficient. Instead, try tackling one task at a time. Your tasks can be broken down into wet cleaning and dry cleaning and sub-divided as necessary. The dry cleaning should be done first to get rid of dust, crumbs, and dirt before you do things like mopping. If you’re strapped for time, vacuuming is more important than dusting.
It’s common to clean one room at a time, but this isn’t efficient. Instead, try tackling one task at a time.”
Before you start the vacuuming, make sure you pick up in-the-way items and stash in their proper locations or temporarily store on table tops. Inspect the floor for anything that might be in the way. I seem to always find Legos everywhere, and if you have kids, you’re likely to find toys. Don’t go about putting everything away just yet, instead find a makeshift receptacle or put it in your pocket. Grab your vacuum and go from room to room, first on one floor, then up or down the stairs, then the next level of the house.
Pro tip: Don’t get sidetracked by other chores you find while vacuuming.
When you’re done with all levels of your home, you can put the vacuum away and start the next chore or fulfill whatever other obligations you may have. If you’re like me, that’s probably all you have time for at one clip. It’s okay though since you’ve finished the vacuuming, you can easily pause and start with the next task later.
Now, one feature of the entire home is clean – the carpets and floors no longer have dirt crumbs and dust. Don’t forget to return all the temporarily moved items to their proper locations.
4- Start with the Dry Chores
Doing the dusting, vacuuming, and any other dry chores like tidying and organizing prior to wet tasks make sense. You should start here because you obviously can’t do things like mopping before vacuuming but also because picking up crumbs and noticeable dirt will make a visible difference around your house.
Again, instead of cleaning one room at a time, aim for one chore at a time. Mopping the entire house can be a single task. There’s no way around the fact that they should be swept or vacuumed first. Once you remove surface crumbs, dust, and dirt, fill up your wash bucket with your favorite floor cleaner and mop those floors.
Keep in mind that if you have multiple floor types like tile, linoleum, and hardwood, they’ll require different cleaners and therefore should be considered separate jobs. So if right now you’re cleaning tiles and linoleum, just keep focused on this task, and bring your wash bucket and scrubbing rags, brushes and/or mop around with you to clean the kitchen floor and then the bathrooms. When you’re done, put all used rags in their designated “dirty laundry” spot, to be washed and sanitized before using again.
Pro tip: Do the bathrooms last because that’s the dirtiest room in the house.
By now you should be getting the idea that your home will look cleaner if you break it down by the urgency of the matter at hand, and by chore, rather than by room. You could spend all day perfecting the living room, but when you’re done you’ll have an immaculate living room and every other room of the house will remain a wreck. I find this is the most efficient and the least stressful way to keep house.
5- Get Better Organized with Storage Bins
Organization tips for the home go beyond just cleaning. Another aspect of keeping a house clean involves managing all the “stuff” that accumulates. Think of the sinking feeling you get after every Christmas and the explosion of holiday gifts from well-meaning family and friends. What will you do with all of this extra clutter? It helps a lot to embrace that age-old cliche, “a place for everything, and everything in its place.”
Take the first step in organizing the stuff that takes up valuable space in your home, and clutter your mind with their distracting presence. Go out and buy a bunch of storage bins. If you aren’t sure how many or what sizes you’ll need, start by writing a quick list. Think of all the categories of items that you own in your home. Depending on what time of year it is, a certain number of these items will either be in active use or packed away for a different season.
Some sample categories for storing things in bins: picture frames and knick-knacks. Blankets. Outdoor sports equipment. Linens and towels. Christmas and holiday decor. Garden supplies. Old toys. Beach items. Pet supplies. Rarely used kitchen appliances.
Pro Tip: Store items by category so you can find things faster when you need them.
Once you have your bins, don’t forget to label them. You can buy labels or make some makeshift ones with masking tape. Keep your markers and labels close to your bins, so you don’t waste time searching for them.
6- Keep It Out of Sight
The problem with clutter is that it makes things less organized and you more stressed. The purpose of your storage bins is to remove all of the extra stuff lying around so, by extension, your bins shouldn’t be in sight either. In my house, we keep our bins on shelves in the basement, but you can keep them in the attic, garage, a closet, or anywhere you have space. It’s okay for all your stuff to not be on display, and may, in fact, be better for your mental health not to look at it.
Another good reason for storing plastic bins away from you and your family is the possibility of breathing in toxic fumes as the plastic off-gasses. We don’t know what lots of cheap plastic will do to our bodies. So, put it away.
7- Throw It Out
The best part of sorting and categorizing items in your home is that it forces you to be realistic about what you use versus what you just think you use. As part of your organization agenda, you should be eliminating all superfluous items. Do you have broken things lying around that can’t really be fixed? Toss it. Clothes that don’t fit? Give them away or consign them. The same thing with maternity clothes, unused sports equipment, and many other common household things.
Hanging onto things you’re never going to use is just taking up unnecessary space. At first, it may be hard to throw things away, but once you start you’ll find it freeing!
Pro tip: If you haven’t used something in 6 months, you probably never will so just throw it out.
These are just a few great tips for keeping a cleaner and more organized home. How do you balance your busy life and keep your home organized?