I am avoiding what seems to be a highly debated topic this year: whether or not to make a New Year’s resolution. I do not feel particularly passionate about either side of the argument. However, I do believe in making intentional choices to be healthier and happier. For me that means daily fighting against the urge to eat junk food constantly by replacing it with fresh fruits and vegetables, going for daily walks, affirming my husband, allowing myself the luxury of a nap, praying more consistently, and staying plugged into God’s word. These are ongoing goals that I strive for every day of every year. The closest thing I have to a resolution is that I want to soak up more of life: the sights, the sounds, and the precious time with family and friends. However, I digress. Today, I want to share with you something that I am actually quite good at (if I may brag just a little): Organizing.
Maybe it’s because of my “gold” personality or my distaste of clutter (books are the only clutter I allow), but I love having an organized home! When everything has its place and is actually in its place, I am content. I know organization does not come naturally to everyone. Organizing your home may have even made your resolution list. I do believe that an organized home has many benefits for your family’s day-to-day life. Though I also understand that a much-loved home is lived in. Your home does not have to be featured in Better Homes and Gardens to be organized and functional. Here are five organizing tips that help me maintain an organized home:
1. Purge Regularly
It is hard to keep your home organized when you own more stuff than you can store! Every 3 months or so I go through our closets, nooks and crannies and get rid of stuff we don’t need or are not using. Sometimes I give it to someone I know who can use it. Other times we have a garage sale or donate stuff to Goodwill. On the rare occasion I get rid of books, I will try to get store credit for them at a used book store. Yes, so I can buy more books. You can’t have too many books, right? In my defense, I did reorganize all my books this week . . .
2. Don’t Procrastinate
It is easy to close the doors and ignore that jam-packed closet that you are “going to get to someday.” Usually that stuff is still there five years later, and most of it will be untouched. Pick a day to go through your cabinets, closets, and garage. Arm yourself with bags, boxes, and totes. Don’t wait, get to it. Mark it on your calendar and get ‘her done! If you are like me and organizing is your jam, it will be hard to hold you back. Procrastination won’t be an issue. If purging and organizing is something you hate doing, then you need to be even more intentional about it before your motivation evaporates. Schedule a “purge day” every 3-6 months to cut down on clutter and maintain organization. My mother-in-law Robin used to take a few days off work each year to deep clean and organize her home. Now they run a lot of their business out of their home, which requires a great deal of organization and intentionality on her part.
3. Capture the Paper Clutter!
First of all, I have adopted the position that junk mail must be dealt with the day we receive it. I will sometimes keep ads around a day or two until I can go through them and clip coupons, but mail and ads can build up fast. Deal with them pronto. After I discard, I take the mail that is left and organize it somewhere where I can see it. I used to hide all our bills and misc. mail in a cute little basket. It looked neat and orderly, but it soon became a “catch all” that I reluctantly had to go through every couple weeks. Now, I try to file statements when I get them so that I don’t lose them. I also categorize my remaining mail into Outgoing, Donation Letters and Letters to Sponsored Child, and finally, Bills. I recently repurposed a small plate hanger I had for this purpose. I liked the plate hanger, but I had no plates for it. It was stored with some misc. decor in a tote. On my last purge I decided I needed to use it or lose it. That same day I was feeling like my paper stand on my desk was growing too bulky with bills and letters. While sorting through the mail, the perfect use of the plate rack hit me:
I put it near my desk so that I see it on a daily basis. That way I remember to write to Axel and give Mitch the bills to pay online the first week of each month. I love it!
4. Label Totes/Boxes in Storage
I wish I had a label maker. Sigh. Oh well, I have found, or adopted a system that works for me. The Duggars (the family with 19 kids) have to keep all their stuff organized. In their book, Michelle talks about a system they developed when moving from house to house that they have kept going since as a way to stay organized and keep their sanity. As she packed and organized boxes and totes, she would make notecards recording what was in each box. She would make one to tape to the box and one to keep in her master collection. She would group like items, such as “Christmas decor,” into the boxes so that it made sense. Each set of two notecards would have a letter and a number on the top, like A1, A2, A3, etc. She would write on the card what was in the box, tape one on the box, and keep the duplicate copy. This way, after they moved, they could easily locate items they needed from storage: “I need my snow suit out of G5!” In their closet or storage room, the totes, or boxes are lined up with the notecards facing out where all can see. I will admit that at times, this can be quite a hassle, but I think it is worth it. If you are moving, it can save you a lot of time digging through boxes . . . You may not want to use this system, but I would recommend labeling even just with Sharpie “Christmas Decor” on the tote. Trust me, it will make life easier later.
5. Take Your Family on a Tour
I heard “Put that back where you got it” a lot growing up. Training your children, self, or spouse to put things back when they are done with them will cut down on clutter and keep your house much more organized. This means that after you purge, capture the clutter, organize, and label, you have to actually communicate where things go to the rest of your family. This is where I struggle the most. I will reorganize the closets, but fail to tell Mitch where I moved or put things. He can’t find or put back anything if he doesn’t know where it goes. So after you have your house in great shape, take your family on a “tour” to learn where things go. As you show them where things go, explain to them how important it is to you that they put things back where they belong when they are done using them.
Currently, I am in organization heaven! I have recently purged the house (I just need to go actually drop off the stuff at Goodwill so it is out of our trunk . . . ). The future nursery is cleaned out and ready to be decorated and organized. I am already pinning great ideas. Did you know you can print out closet labels that separate the baby clothes by month? It made me a little giddy . . . Most of our closets are in tip top shape, with the exception of making our towels more accessible and dealing with Mitch’s tools in the laundry room . . . In his defense he has more tools than his tool box can fit. A second cheap tool box should remedy that problem soon. Well, I am off to organize some towels!
P.S. I have been working on creating a Pinterest account for The Engaged Home. I would be thrilled if you followed The Engaged Home on Pinterest! I am still working on setting up my boards (they are a bit bare at the moment). But they will share both my own personal ideas and those of others on a variety of topics: family devotionals, healthy eating, organization, thankfulness (and other character traits), and much more!
Do you enjoy organizing? What tips do you have to share?