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Getting and Staying Organized

{Getting organized}
1) Don’t let organizing your home overwhelm you. The thought of organizing your whole house can be so overwhelming. Don’t let it be. Start small. Pick one drawer or area that’s really bothering you and start there. One way of tackling your house is to walk around and make a list. (I just love lists, don’t you?) Write down the spaces in each room that need to be organized and then pick one space/cupboard/drawer to work on whenever you have a minute. (I often organize while making phone calls.) Don’t start a new project until that space is finished. Just having a list will take some of the overwhelmed feeling away. Now your goals are written down and you have a place to start.

2) Use your space wisely. I store a lot of my holiday decor in high spots above closets because I only get them out once a year. On the other hand, my children’s most often used toys and games are stored low where it’s easy to get to them.

3) Give everything in your house a home. If you have created a specific place for everything in your home it’s much easier to put things away where they belong.

Once you’ve made a home for everything, labels are a great way to help you remember where things belong.

4) Organize things in a way that makes sense for your family and the way you live. For example, for a long time I had all of our baking supplies (flour, sugar, etc.) on the main shelf in my pantry. I also had a whole shelf dedicated to cook books. Cook books that had a layer of dust on them. I’ll be honest, I don’t love to cook and with my kids around, we are reaching for the crackers and pasta more than anything else in our pantry. It makes sense for us to have those items on the easy to reach middle shelf in the pantry and the baking goods up higher for the rare occasion that I actually use them. (I tossed out all my cook books except one or two that are stored in a drawer.) Someone who cooks and bakes a lot would organize their pantry another way. Websites and magazine articles are great places to get organization ideas, but don’t just copy what someone else is doing. Organize your home in a way that is functional for the way you live and it will be much easier to keep things organized.

5) The most important thing to remember when organizing: If you want to be organized, you have to be able to let things go. Get rid of it! Seriously. You’ve maybe heard “when in doubt, don’t.” Well my motto with organizing is “when in doubt…DO!” If you’re not sure about whether or not you can part with something, trust me, you can. You might think “what if I need this someday?” Chances are you won’t, but what if you did? Would it be so awful if you got some flowers and needed that vase you’d been storing for three years and then trashed? Could you put the flowers in something else you had on hand? What about your closet? Are you saving clothes for when you lose weight? If you lose weight you’re going to buy new jeans, not wear the ones you’ve been saving for four years since you had a baby. Get rid of it! When keeping things for “sentimental value,” be smart. Do you really need to save every drawing your kindergartner comes home with? Would one or two be enough to remind you of her year in school…or even better, a picture of several of her drawings for her scrapbook?  Being able to let things go is so invigorating! It’s just stuff. And we’re always buying new stuff. Less really is more. Use the space in your house to keep only the things that you use or love.

{Staying organized}

1) Teach your family the importance of having a clean, organized home. If your family isn’t on board, forget about it! There is only one you and you will never be able to keep things organized on your own. Teach your kids how to put things away in the place you’ve created for them. My girls know that when it’s clean up time there is a select place for their barbies, books, dress-ups, etc. Time and time again I have gone over where we keep their things so that now it is second nature for them to put things where they belong. {Getting them to do this without being asked? Don’t have the answer for that one. :)} Assign clear responsibilities for keeping the house clean and give consequences when they’re not accomplished. (My girls’ toys get taken away if they aren’t put back where they belong.)

2) Don’t procrastinate! Keeping something organized takes constant work and upkeep. Once you’ve organized and made a place for something, put things away in that place! How many time do we set something down and think, “I’ll just put this here for now.” Resist the urge! It usually takes only a few seconds longer to put something away it its place vs. just setting it somewhere it doesn’t belong. Take the initiative to put things away where they go every time and teach your family to do the same. Not procrastinating and putting things away where they belong every time will lead to a clean, organized home.

3) Take a minute to straighten up your organized space the second it starts looking messy. If you do this, you will avoid having to completely re-organize your home time and time again. My fridge, for the most part, stays clean and organized. That is because every time I buy groceries, I do a “mini cleaning”. I pull out things that are getting old, wipe off a shelf or two, put new groceries in their designated spot, etc. When Kenny comes in with the mail I immediately go through it, toss out the junk mail and file everything else – or I bug Kenny until he does it. (Being a great organizer sometimes means being a great nagger ;)

4) Think before you buy new things. When I’m about to make a new purchase, I always ask myself two questions: Do I have space for this? Is it something that I will really use or will it just be more clutter in a few weeks? Many times I have put something back after asking myself these two questions (especially when I’m about to buy the girls a new toy!). Thinking ahead about how you’ll organize new things you buy will not only help you keep your house clutter free, it will also help you make smart purchases.

5) Choose every day to stay organized. Keeping things organized is a daily choice we make. It’s just like choosing what to eat. If you want to be healthy, you have to change the way you eat. You have to consistently make healthy food choices. Just like you can’t participate in a one time diet and expect to always stay thin, you can’t organize a closet and then pat yourself on the back and expect it to magically stay that way. (I know this because I’ve tried!) You have to consistently put things away where they go and take that extra minute to keep everything organized.

When your house is full of clutter so is your brain. Simplifying your home will bring so much peace. Life will run more smoothly and you’ll have more time and energy to focus on what’s really important – your family – the very ones who make it so incredibly difficult to keep things organized! :)

Happy Organizing!

xoxo, Erin
Join the Conversation

20 thoughts on “Getting and Staying Organized

  1. I’m feeling pretty awesome right now since I’m the first to comment out of your 200+ freaking followers! As much as I love your organizing posts, how about some more of your cute kids????

  2. What an inspiring way to start the week! The cookbook portion of my pantry is looking a little sad…and dusty… so I’m starting with that today! Thanks for the fun post!

  3. Good tips — now if I could just follow those tips. My kids have way to many clothes and toys. I keep thinking I should just get rid of the excess – but then I think – what if I have another baby. But, seriously that happening is pretty small – so I guess it’s time to to declutter.

  4. You’ll understand when I confess that I totally scrolled to the bottom of the page straight to the comment button, right? In my defense I think I actually did scan the words last time. :)

    Fun seeing you yesterday.

    P.S. You know you want to blog about your new hair……

  5. this is awesome! i get so motivated just seeing pictures of organized things.
    can you do a post about how you feed your kids? I know you don’t like to cook and I’m really not a fan of it either so I’m sort of running out of ideas.

  6. New hair? I want to see!! Great organizing tips Erin. You motivated me months ago to get organized, and soon I’ll show my results! No biggie, but I sure feel a lot better.

  7. I’ve followed your blog since Sarah at Clover Lane pointed it out on her blog. I love your organization tips. I think I’m pretty well organized, but I always learn something here. Thanks for the tips, and I hope you don’t mind that I’m going to feature a link to this great post on my blog today.

  8. love the ideas!!

    where did you get that horizontal file folder holder? i have been on the hunt for one but i can only find vertical ones! so annoying…..

    thanks again!

  9. Love your blog!

    I’d too like to know where you got the horizontal filing bin. I have been searching high and low for one like that!

  10. I have loved reading your blog ever since Kami had you as a guest poster on her blog NoBiggie. I’m now one of your official followers. I don’t blog myself but love reading other people’s blogs. I prefer Facebook. I read that you live in San Diego. I served my mission there and absolutely loved living there for a year and a half. Now I’m back in Utah with all the snow. :)

  11. Great tips! Came over from Iheartorganizing’s fb page. I totally love the pic of your little one grinning in the midst of all the rubbermaid bins! That is fantastic!

  12. oh i am so glad i stumbled upon your blog from iHeartOrganizing! i need all the organization tips and inspiration i can get and TOTALLY appreciate you sharing =) i look forward to checking back with your blog from time to time! thanks again!
    sommer from
    a wife- mom – interior designer by prof (can you believe it!?) and soon to be coffeehouse owner -phew-all that DEF means i need help SOON! lol

  13. “When your house is full of clutter so is your brain. . . . “
    This I would like to embroider on a sampler and frame!!!
    Thanks Erin, for being so precise and correct!

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