Do you dream of a tidy closet, neat drawer, and clutter-free kitchen counters? I got you! Having an organized home is easier than you think. It’s all about having good habits. In this post, I share with you 7 habits to be more organized at home.
You see, I like to read. Like a lot!. So much, that I think reading doesn’t do me any good unless I take a break and actually put into practice the lessons and ideas I am soaking in. Currently, I am reading the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.
Even though I am only halfway through, I think it’s safe to say that it’s a great read. I thought I had an idea of what a ‘habit’ was, but this book has a scientific and practical approach that I never knew about. I started to analyze my own habits and realized that there are a few that really help me stay organized (at least in some areas of my life!). Here they are.
1. Divide Open Spaces
Nothing is more prone to clutter and mess than a big open space. Whether it’s a room, a closet, or a drawer, if that space is not subdivided or broken up into smaller spaces, disarray will always follow. Whenever you’re organizing a space, think of ways of making compartments that will help you find things easily. Use drawer organizers, small boxes or baskets, lazy susans, small trays, bowls, etc.
In my bathroom vanity drawer, I have a drawer organizer for my makeup and a few extra boxes and a bowl to gather other odds and ends. One for clips and hair ties, one for small beauty products, one for everyday jewelry, etc. If I didn’t have these subdivisions, the drawer would be a jumbled mess of products rolling around and tangled jewelry.
Take a closer look at my makeup drawer organization.
2. Learn to Set Your Limits
This I learned from decluttering guru, Peter Walsh. When you set your limits, you keep clutter to the minimum, and home organization is more sustainable. What do I mean by setting limits? Simply put: if you don’t have enough room for it, don’t make more room for it!. As an example; I am obsessed with pretty washi tape. I would go to Michaels and haul every single washi tape roll that crossed my path, and don’t get me started with notepads and journals!
The day I decluttered my craft room, I couldn’t fit all my washi tape rolls in my ribbon carousel, so I had to place the ones I had left in a drawer. That was my cue to realize that I had enough washi tape and that I didn’t need another carousel nor use more space in any drawer. Believe me, I thought about purchasing another carousel, I am glad I didn’t.
The one washi tape carousel helped me set my limits. Take a look at my craft room organization.
3. Create Zones
Creating zones is probably that one habit that will have the highest impact. By nature, we are used to grouping things by category. Like most people, you probably store your detergents under the kitchen sink, dry food in the pantry, and toiletries in the bathroom; and that’s a good start. However, to take maximum advantage of these organization systems, you must think of zones. Here’s what I mean.
Inside the fridge, I have a ‘lunchbox prep’ zone. There’s a defined space where I store juice boxes, yogurt pouches, and fresh (pre-washed and ready to go) fruit. Along the same lines, I have a ‘lunchbox prep’ zone in the pantry where I store extra juice boxes, cereal bars, crackers, and any other lunchbox-ready snack.
Zones save me time and effort. Every morning when I first open the fridge, I don’t have to think about what I am going to do. My mind automatically sends the signal to reach down to the shelf and grab a juice box, a yogurt, and a fruit. This is a well-established good habit. You train your brain to do things for you without you having to think at all.
By creating a lunchbox zone, I avoid thinking where did I put those apples. I could store all the fruits inside the produce drawer, but by placing them next to the juice boxes and yogurts, I grab everything in one swoop without having to go on a scavenger hunt in the fridge at 6:30 am.
You can do the same with a coffee station, baking station, or bill-paying nook station. Always keep in mind to organize things by usage rather than by category.
Take a look at my pantry organization.
You know the deal: time is gold. Just 15 minutes of organizing a day, can save you hours of aggravation later. Clutter is nothing but the result of postponed decisions. When you stop procrastinating and start being proactive, mess and clutter is almost non-existent. Learn to take immediate action as soon as you’re presented with a situation that requires your attention.
Tired of seeing a pile of mail sitting on the kitchen counter? Take one morning, and tackle it. Sort, save, file, and toss. Once you’re all caught up, don’t let the pile start again. Instead, make decisions as soon as you walk into your home with the mail in your hands. Here’s what I do:
- Separate bills to pay and important letters and place them on my desk in order to take care of them at a later time.
- Read letters or memos and take immediate action such as pinning them to our family message board highlighting dates/times/event.
- Add events or reminders to my Google Calendar
- Toss unwanted (or not needed at the moment) catalogs and junk mail in the recycling bins.
- Place inside my car, coupon pamphlets or coupon books that I would like to use. This way I have them with me when I go shopping.
This entire routine doesn’t take me more than 10 minutes. I made it a habit to do this every afternoon when I come back home from picking up my son from school.
Try to apply this habit to other chores such as folding laundry and putting it away the same day, or picking up and cleaning the kitchen sink every night before going to bed. There’s nothing more satisfying than a finding a clean kitchen in the morning.
Take a look at my 15-minute organization tips.
5. Label Your Baskets or Containers
While this habit might take a little extra effort, it is very worthy. You don’t need to label everything in your home, but labeling those baskets, bins, or shelves that store items that aren’t used on a daily basis, will help you keep the area tidy for months (if not years!) to come.
Plus, those labels are a visual reminder of where things are stored and that makes it easy to bring things back to the place they belong to.
As an example, I labeled a few baskets in my laundry room. Every time I open the cabinets, I see those labels and I’ve trained my brain to know exactly where things are stored. Next time I need bug repellent, which is not every day but mostly on hot summer nights, I know where to find it. You can do this in your home office, craft room, or kitchen pantry.
6. Plan and Schedule
In the absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to daily acts of trivia. ~ Robert Heinlein
Planning is a great habit that can help you be more organized. I dare to say, it’s the most important habit of all. When there’s not a plan or a schedule in place, we are more prone to spend our time doing insignificant and unimportant things.
To avoid this, try to set at least a couple of meaningful goals in your day. Write down projects and schedule them. Try time blocking, and do not allow anything to come between you and your goal, no matter how small that goal is.
Want a perfect example? I schedule laundry once a week, and once a week only! By doing this, I train my brain to think of it (as a big to-do) only on Saturdays. And all other chores and activities are planned around that. This particular habit might not be adaptable to your lifestyle, especially if you have a big family and tons of laundry that needs to be done in two or three days, but you can apply the concept to something else.
Try planning your weekly meals on Sunday mornings, paying bills (or scheduling payments) on the 1st day of the month, or simply leisure things like reading a few pages of your favorite book each night before bed.
7. Make Time for Yourself
Whether you’re a housewife, a mother, a businesswoman, a WAHM, or simply the head of your household, you will always need ‘me time’. Practicing self-care is a very important part of your daily routine. It clears your mind and with a clear mind, you can definitely be more organized at home or at work.
Me-time can be different for everyone. For some women, me-time means getting a manicure or going shopping for clothes. For others, it could be going to the gym, practicing yoga, meditation, or even praying. I personally like to go for long 3-4 miles walks each morning.
Sometimes I walk with a friend, sometimes I walk by myself. While walking alone might sound boring to you, I find it as the perfect opportunity to connect with myself, organize my thoughts, and prepare my mind for the day ahead.
I listen to audiobooks, and the experience has been life-changing. Not only I am practicing self-care, but I am also killing two birds with one stone. Time management at its best!
Heads up. This habit can work for you or against you. So be mindful on how you manage your time. Allow a determined amount of time, set a timer if necessary, and continue with your regular daily routines.
Try to apply any of these habits and, I promise, you will notice a difference in your days!