Updated: Mar 9, 2019
In my experience as a professional organizer, here are some rules that I lovingly suggest for you to follow if you truly want to be more organized and simplify your life:
Do whatever you can to make your life more simple. Don’t worry about what other people do or think. Plan ahead, don’t buy so many things, say “no” to over scheduling you and your children...decide what is most important to you and let go of whatever else you can.
2-Live in the now!
Only keep what you need now. Otherwise, pass it on to someone else who can use it. If you don’t have a child that fits those baby clothes in your storage room, why not help someone else who could really use them? I don’t even keep clothes that my kids may grow into from older siblings, unless it will be less than a year’s time or is something very special. Why? Styles change; the material in shoes degrades, I don’t want to store them (see rule number 1) and I know someone else can really use them right now.
Along those lines, don’t feel like you need to keep things from your past if they aren’t part of your now. Memories stay with you so the things don’t have to. Be generous and share the things you aren’t currently using with someone who really needs them now! If you have to, take a picture and then let go of that item.
3-Don’t put out fires if you can prevent them in the first place
Think about what things stress you out over and over again and make a plan to fix them. One example is making a good meal plan and sticking to it so when 5:00 pm rolls around and everyone is hungry and grumpy you’re prepared and don’t resort to fast food.
4-Don’t try to be the store!
You cannot and should not try to keep everything on hand in your home “just in case.” If you need a notebook, extra duct tape or another laundry basket just go and buy it! Too many of my clients try to stock up on everything and, ironically it makes it hard to find whatever it is they need! Apart from emergency supplies and food storage, don’t keep and stock anything, unless you use it right now, no matter how good of a deal it is!
5-Don’t stuff stuff in stuff!
NO junk drawers! And don’t use other spaces as such. If something doesn’t have a true home, find one and, preferably, label it. If that’s too much effort and you don’t want to give it a place where you know that you can find it, you probably don’t really want or need it. Time to get rid of it!
6-Make your bed every single day.
Life just goes better if you can at least count on your bed being made! Your room instantly looks much cleaner, and you sleep better at night. It just starts the day out right. It's an easy way to make your life more oraganized instantly in 2 minutes.
7-Keep things where you use them most.
I have seen so many homes where things are not put conveniently close to where they are used; it wastes a lot of time and energy and makes it hard to find things. Keep the dishes by the dishwasher and the toilet paper by the toilet etc.
8-Keep things that match and get rid of those that don’t.
Do your kids fight over what color of cup they get to use? Mine did too until I thought about it and got rid of all of the random dishes and plastic bowls and plates in an array of colors (sorry Ikea), and bought ones that are all the same color! I can’t guarantee that your kids won’t fight, but at least it won’t be over who has the pink plate for dinner! Also, things that all match look so much nicer and calmer in the cupboard. They also fit together better, so that you can use the space more efficiently.
9-Let things go!
You MUST get rid of things if you want to feel more organized. It is not helpful to put old cell phones in a cute box that is labeled. That is just rearranging your junk! Get rid of those old cell phones, along with art supplies no one has used in years, toys your kids never play with but cost you a lot so you don’t want to get rid of them and reclaim your space!
10-Don’t wait to be perfect
Several of my clients drive themselves (and their families) crazy by having very complex organizational systems and if they can’t put something away perfectly they put it in a pile to do “later.” This is not helping anyone! All organizational systems should be simple and everyone in the household should be able to find things and put them back easily.
One example is laundry, if your method for doing laundry requires a college degree to do it just right, you need to take it down a few notches! Read my post about simplifying laundry for a few ideas.