30 Ways in 30 Days – How To Get Organized

By Jenn Lifford

 

Okay guys, does anyone else need to learn how to get organized??

Many of you know that I took a little blogging break last month to try and get myself more organized.  I felt like I was constantly running around and never getting enough accomplished.  It is not a very good feeling when you are overwhelmingly busy and still not feeling like you are keeping up with things.  I was constantly telling myself that I needed more time. 

Well unfortunately, time is pretty hard to create.  Between work, kids, hubby, activities, and keeping up with the house, there is not a whole lot of wiggle room.   So in the end it is really about making our time more efficient and more productive and making our homes more organized and clutter free.   Easy, right?

Okay, maybe not.

I have found, however, that little changes in how my day is structured and how I organize things, can make a big difference in how the household is run.  So, for the month of June {and likely for many more months following!!}, I will be focusing on ways to get ourselves, our families, and our households more organized.  I am starting things off today with a list of “30 Ways in 30 Days to Get Organized”.


These are more general organization tips to get you started.  The ideas may not all work for you, but hopefully you will find something to inspire you! Try one or try them all…. it is all what you make of it!


Make the bed as soon as you get up.

A neatly made bed quickly makes the whole room seem more orderly and starts the day off in a nice, organized way.  For some reason, when my bed is made I am more likely to want to tidy up the rest of my room.

 

Whenever you leave a room, take something with you.

I try to never leave a room empty handed especially if I am traveling from floor to floor.  Take only what you can put away.  I find it is better to just take a couple of things with me and PUT THEM AWAY rather than taking a whole armload and dumping it down in another place.  Just moving your clutter from space to space isn’t very helpful!  If you are lucky enough that there is nothing to take with you, put one or two items away before you leave the room.

 

Involve the whole family in keeping the house tidy.

Get your children {and dare I say husbands?} involved in tidying up after themselves.  Even little tasks like putting their shoes and coat away, dirty clothes in the hamper, or clearing their dishes can make a big difference over the course of a day.

 

Commit to getting rid of 10 items per day.

This can be items to either throw away or donate.  If this seems like it will be difficult, trust me.  It is much easier than it seems and once you get started, items will fly out your door.  Start with those “junk drawers” {I know you all have them} and you will be amazed how fast you can find 10 things to part with.

 

Have a donation box.

Or two or three.  I have started keeping one in the garage and also have one upstairs for clothing. When it is full, take it away.  I know in our area, there are tons of donation bins at the shopping mall parking lots which makes it even more convenient to drop off our items at any time of day.

 

Just Do It!!

If it can be done in less than one minute, just do it!  Seriously, it is amazing how much this helps out.  File that piece of paper or just put the dish directly in the dishwasher.

 

Set up a realistic cleaning schedule that you can follow.

I have looked at many of the cleaning schedules out there on the Internet and many of them are just impossible for me to keep up with.  As a working Mom with a large house, some things just don’t get cleaned as often as I would like.  And that is okay with me.  I have a rotating cleaning list that I just check off as I go.  When I get to the end, I start over again.  I find it much easier than “Monday I do a, b,c and Tuesday I do x, y, z.”  If I miss my Monday tasks, I feel like I am thrown off for the whole week.

 

Have a morning routine

As much as I hate mornings, I do find that I can get a lot accomplished if I have a set routine and pretty much just function on autopilot.  I always make my bed first thing when I get up, then go get the kids up, and throw in a pile of laundry {actually I usually already have it in the washing machine and just have to add soap and turn it on}.  It is kind of nice to feel like you have accomplished something before breakfast.  The morning just seems to set the tone for the whole day.

 

Organize in small doses.

There is no better way to kill your motivation than by overwhelming yourself.  I know that you want your whole kitchen or your whole playroom to be organized today but start with one drawer or one cupboard and commit to keeping it clean.  If you have organized it well, it should be quite easy to maintain.

 

Recognize your home’s “Hot Spots”.

We all have those places in our homes where the clutter tends to accumulate.  Often times, it is the front entrance or kitchen counter. These are often good areas to start your organization magic and will probably be areas that you should check regularly for quick “tune-ups”.  Figure out what items end up there and create a new home for them.  If it is not needed, get rid of it!

 

Take time for yourself.

Yes, this is sometimes another hard one for us Moms.  Find something that you love to do that is just totally for you and make the time to do it.  It could be as simple as carving out 20 minutes to have a relaxing bath or read a book that has been collecting dust on your shelf.  I am trying to give myself at least 30 minutes per day to do something that I enjoy {oh, and this does not mean watching a television show while folding laundry, dusting and doing dishes during the commercials!} This makes a happier, more well rested, productive, energy-filled you!!!

 

Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

Well, speaking of being more well-rested, productive and energy filled - getting enough sleep is definitely a must!  I must admit, this one is a tough one for me.  I really cherish my time once the kids are in bed and there are so many things that I want to do.  BUT, I do realize that I will actually get things done quicker {and therefore have more time for myself} if I am not walking around in a sleep deprived daze all day.  Oh, and it also helps increase our tolerance with the little kiddos who are testing our patience all day!

 

Get dressed first thing in the morning.

You will not meet anyone who loves their pajamas more than me.  I could seriously stay in my P.J.s all day long.  The longer the day goes on, the less motivation I have to get dressed. And then I procrastinate going out to do my errands because I don’t feel like getting dressed.  Pajamas kind of put you in relax mode rather than work mode – not what we are trying to accomplish here!

 

Limit multitasking.

I know as Moms, we often pride ourselves on our ability to multitask.  For me, this isn’t necessarily a good thing.  I was doing a little bit of lots of things rather than completing a few select tasks.  Despite being busy and working all day, it felt like I hadn’t really accomplished anything.  It would usually go something like this: I would start vacuuming, get to the bathroom, and realize that the toilet needed to be cleaned.  After cleaning the toilet, I would go to put the cleaning cloth in the laundry and realize that the washing machine was actually full of clean clothes that needed to go in the dryer.  Well, of course the dryer was full so I had to fold the clothes first and take them up to the bedrooms.  In the bedroom, I would discover a mess that needed to be vacuumed…  I think you get the picture.  Maybe I should write a book called “If You Give a Mouse a Vacuum”.

 

Label as much as you can.

The more things that are labeled the better!!  Not only does it help you stay organized, it helps everyone else in the household know where things go.  It may take a little training, but even little munchkins pick up on this pretty quickly {actually the little guys usually know where things go more than hubby!}  There are so many cute and creative ways to add labels these days and I’ll be highlighting some of my favorite ideas later on in the month.

 

Prioritize your projects.

If you are anything like me, you have a list of projects and ideas that is a mile long {thanks a lot Pinterest!}  Often times, this can get very overwhelming and lead to a total shut down of production.  As much as we would like to, we just can’t do it all.   I am MUCH more efficient and productive when I only have one or two projects on the go.  The more projects I have, the more I procrastinate and stress.  So limit your project list and commit to completing at least one project on your list before starting another one.

 

Make a Daily or Weekly To Do List

I am still experimenting with how to best do a ‘To Do’ list for myself and I really think it takes a little trial and error to find out what will work for you.  What I have been finding works best, is to do a weekly To Do list of all the things I want to get done for the week.  Then, each night before I go to bed, I put three “must do” items on my list for the next day.  I will be doing a more detailed post on this later in the month so stay tuned!

 

Remember that perfection is the enemy to completion.

This, for me, is a BIG one! We all want to do things well but we cannot be perfect. Remember that doing something is always better than not doing anything because you do not have the time to make it perfect. {I think men are much better than women on this one!}

 

Follow the 80/20 Rule.

This is based on the premise that it takes just as long to complete the last 20% of a task than it does to complete the first 80%. All of those little nit picky details that only you would really notice take a lot of time but don’t really make a big difference to anyone else. Yes, sometimes you need to spend a little extra time but, for the most part, I am trying to be happy with having everything 80% clean!!

 

Organize your paper.

Oh, the paper!!!  It is AMAZING how much of this stuff accumulates around the home – bills, kids reports, coupons, art work, receipts, tax information.  Really the list is endless and you can quickly become overrun with paper.   There are many, many systems out there for organizing your paper - from file folders, to binders, to  trays.  All of the big box stores and home office supply stores have lots of stylish and functional items to choose from.

 

If you don’t love it or use it, it has got to go!

You can only organize so much.  If you have not used {or worn} something for one year, the chances are you will not be using it.  Yes, there are exceptions, but in general this is a good rule to follow. Toss it or donate it - think of it as one less thing to worry about!

 

Do not buy something unless you know where it will go.

Before you buy anything, think where you will put it and what function it will have.  Even if you love an item {and marked down to 80% off!}, if there is no where for it to go or you will not end up using it, it will not be helpful to you.  Instead, it will end up in a junk pile somewhere in your house or buried deep in a cupboard.  This is also a great question to ask your kids before they buy that “must have” item.

 

One item in, one item out.

This one doesn’t always apply but it is always a good to thing to think about.  When you are buying something new, think of something that you already have that can be given away or discarded.  If you are replacing an item, do you now really need two of them?  If you bought a new pair of jeans, do you have an older pair that you don’t really wear anymore?  This also works great to help keep the kids’ toys in check.

 

Do power cleans.

I’m not sure why, but I seem to move a lot faster and stay more on task when I set the timer.  I guess it is that competitive nature in me!!  If I have a day off that I am actually at home, I will often do 1 hour of house work followed by 1 hour of “free” time. {Note that “free” is in quotations as this includes time with the kids, blogging projects, writing posts, meal prep, etc.!}  The kids know that once the work buzzer goes, I will have time to play with them instead of having them constantly ask when it is time for the bike ride or when I will play Star Wars.  Of course, it doesn’t have to be an hour.  If you are short on time, set the timer for 15 minutes and just get as much as you can done within that time.  It is amazing what you can get accomplished!

 

Avoid opening Pandora’s box.

I’m not sure if this is only applicable to me, but there are times when I just want to do a simple task and I end up turning it into some major project that I do not have time for. You know, like when you go to get something from the junk drawer and then suddenly the whole contents of the drawer are sprawled all over your kitchen floor? Just stick to your task and make a note to do the bigger chore later when you have more time to complete it.

 

Be Realistic

When you are setting goals for yourself, start with small, specific tasks. As you see yourself crossing off items on your goal list, you will start to feel like you are actually accomplishing something. Feel proud of what you have done and use that to motivate you to continue on.  Focus on what you have done and not on what you still have to do. Thinking about too many tasks often just sends us into shut down mode.

 

Keep your cleaning supplies handy.

The easier something is to do, the more likely you will do it!!  I have a couple of Command hooks on the inside of all my bathroom cupboards to keep my cleaning cloths handy as well as cleaning products in each bathroom.  If something is in need of a clean, everything is right there.  I know a lot of people prefer to use a cleaning caddy with all of their cleaning products in one place but, for me, that extra step of going to get it is often the difference between doing the task and procrastinating until later.

 

Store your items where you use them.

Sometimes you need to think outside the box for your storage ideas.  Do your kids put on their P.J.s as soon as they come out of the bath?  Why not store their P.J.s right in the bathroom.  Do you have a craft room in the basement but often scrapbook on the kitchen table upstairs?  Create a small craft caddy with some basic supplies to store upstairs.  I keep one change of bed linens in each of the bedrooms instead of having a central linen closet.  Go with whatever works for you!

 

Be mindful of your technology time.

Between the Internet, social media, Pinterest, blogs, texting, television, etc., your time can quickly evaporate!  Often I get sucked into the computer and don’t even realize how much time as passed.   I am now trying to limit how many times per day I go on the computer and set a timer {usually on the upstairs oven so I have to get up to turn it off!} if I know I should only be on for a limited time.  I find that by doing this, I actually enjoy my computer time more as I am just looking at things that really interest me and not mindlessly clicking away.  Although I am pretty sure that I won’t get around to doing all of the 1455 items that I have pinned on Pinterest, I will hopefully be able to get a few more of them accomplished!

 

Realize that complete chaos is sometimes inevitable.

As much as we try, life just sometimes gets the better of us.  Yes, I would like to say that I always follow these guidelines on a daily basis but sometimes I am too busy, or too tired, or just in need of a break.  We must give ourselves permission to just let it go {this is a hard one for me!} and then get back on the saddle again the next day!

 

So hopefully you will find some of these ideas useful and remember that little changes do make a big difference.  It may take some effort to adapt your ways, but it will be well worth it in the end!

Have a happy and organized weekend!

Linda Thompson

Bella Undaunted, 18500 92nd Ave, Tinley Park, IL, 60487, United States