There are generally three reasons your home organization attempts fail.
Number 1: You have low-priority items in prime real-estate spots.
Number 2: Your system is over-complicated.
Number 3: You are lazy.
Reason #3: Laziness
Laziness is the most popular and it’s also the one I can’t do much about. Laziness is why stores run ads which promise containers to solve your home organization problems. That is crazy talk! But gee, wouldn’t it be nice?
So, yes. We are all lazy about things we don’t enjoy.
Maybe an organized home is not a high priority for you; the same way a perfect yard is not a priority for me. Different priorities make us interesting.
Being organized, like being in shape, takes a certain amount of daily effort.
If you want to minimize that daily effort, work on the first two items on my list.
Reason #2 that a home organization system isn’t working: It’s too complicated.
You might have too many little containers and just need 1 or 2 bigger ones–think Legos and other small toys.
Simplify your laundry
If there’s always a pile of dirty clothes on top of the hamper, leave the lid off of laundry baskets to make it easy to toss dirty clothes in.
Separate your laundry by person instead of by colors, whites, and delicates. Give each person a laundry basket. When it’s full they dump the whole thing in and wash everything on cold. Washing clothes on cold is better for the earth and for your energy bill. It is also fool-proof for any children or spouses who can’t be bothered to separate or hand wash.
Anyone who has clothes that need special care is old enough to do their own laundry. (smackdown!)
When it comes to a paper filing system for your home, keep the categories broader to simplify things.
A filing system is a necessary evil unless you are going totally paperless. There will be papers you need to get your hands on. But, it won’t be as often as you think!
For example your monthly bills– instead of having folders for the home phone, the cell phone, and the internet, create one file folder titled “phones and internet” and put all related bills in that folder. When the folder gets too fat, take a handful from the back and recycle it. Seriously. Don’t over organize your old bills! You very rarely need them.
Create one file for all pets. One file for all cars. One file for each kids’ school info. etc.
80% of the things you file you will never need to access. For the 20% you need to find, it’s easier to flip through 20 sheets of paper in a large file (of one big category) than 20 PILES of paper that have formed because your filing system is over-complicated so you haven’t filed anything.
Create broad, simple categories so papers are easy to file in under 5 seconds.
Simple. Simple is good.
Reason #1 that your home organization collapsed: Low-priority items in prime real estate spots
Instead, put high-priority, often-used items in easy to reach places.
Let me explain what I mean by looking at some examples in a typical house.
First the office. Prime real estate in your home office is your desk. On most desks you’ll find the following low-priority items:
- aging lists of things to-do in an overflowing in-box
- maybe a printer
- a stapler, and other office supplies to do with paper
- a jar of pens
- old projects of various ages and various stages
BUT, most people don’t use paper or staplers much at all when they work anymore. And old projects are just making you feel guilty sitting there in your line of sight everyday.
Here are the things you probably need to have on your desk, the things you use everyday:
- a computer (or an empty place for your laptop)
- some space for your current project
- a spot for your coffee!
- one pen and pad you love (optional)
Where do you put the rest?
Put older projects in a file with a time on your calendar to work on each.
Get the printer off your desk and into a closet or nearby shelf.
Same for office supplies you do not use everyday. (Goodbye, staple remover.)
Next think about the prime real estate in a kitchen. What’s on your kitchen counters? Here are some typical low-priority culprits:
- fancy tools
- dish drying rack
- packages of food
- not so fancy appliances you don’t use often (blender in the winter, crock pot in summer)
Save your counter for the things you use 3+ times a week.Put your drying rack in your second sink Click To Tweet
Use your 2nd sink to free up a lot of counter space in that prime real-estate area. You’ll be surprised how quickly you get used to using only one side of the sink and you won’t have to worry about towels molding under the rack. This also helps everyone remember to get their dirty dishes into the dishwasher instead of leaving them piled in your second sink.
Kitchen cabinets are also often set up for organization failure.
You already know to put your everyday glasses and plates an easy-to-open cabinet near the dishwasher, or near where you eat. Here’s another trick to further improve the situation: only store 4-6 settings — plates, bowls, glasses, coffee mugs — on your easy-to-reach shelves.
Put the extra plates, mugs, glasses, up higher in the same cabinet even if they are the same style of dishes. By doing this, everything you will need for the table at meal time is in one, prime real estate cabinet.
Store the fancy dishes, the extra dishes, and party supplies up higher in the cabinet, or in the dining room.
Let’s move on to your restroom
Drawers in the restroom can get cluttered quickly. Often people organize by category, for example they put all oral care items in the top drawer.
Instead, try this trick I call Shop Your Shelves: (really it’s drawers, but Shop Your Drawers sounds dirty) !
Use your top drawer or medicine cabinet for your everyday stuff in small-ish amounts. And the second drawer for your second user’s everyday stuff. (Or use the second drawer for seldom used things.)
Put all extra supplies –2-3 extra tubes of toothpaste, the whole box of Q-tips, and bars of soap — in the bottom drawer or under the sink. Treat that spot as your in-home drug store.
Now each user only needs to open one drawer or cabinet to find their stuff and, more importantly, to put it back when finished.
How about your house?
What are the prime real estate spots in your house? Tell me in the comments.
If you can avoid over organizing, striving for The Perfect System, and avoid using your prime real estate for low priority items, you will have a much easier time staying organized.
For a jump start and some personalized expert advise, call me today. I’ll get a friendly, professional organizer to your house quickedy-quick!
Also published on Medium.