23 Simple Tips to Get (and Stay) More Organized
As the weather warms up, we instinctively transition to spending more and more time outside… but the housework is always waiting when we get back inside.
Of course, I don’t want to spend beautiful sunny days inside cleaning and organizing, and yet I know our family enjoys a neat and tidy home, and I know our lives run more smoothly when our home is organized.
Can you relate?
If so, here are 23 simple tips to help you better organize your home and life in less time and with less effort!
1. Declutter Daily.
I’m forever an advocate of maintenance — and regular decluttering is a great way to stay on top of your home.
As you go throughout your home, try to leave each space better than it was.
Put a donation bag in every closet and keep trash cans throughout your home so it’s easy to throw trash away or drop an item into the donation bag.
2. When in doubt, throw it out.
This is one of my favorite phrases whenever I’m questioning something.
If I don’t love it, need it, use it, or want it — “I throw it out” (either trash, recycle, or donate).
Another thought that might help you process your things is: “Would I take this item with me in a cross-country move?”
3. Stay focused.
It’s easy to become distracted by all the spaces in your home you could declutter — but you’ll quickly get overwhelmed if you don’t stay focused.
As much as possible, try to work on one specific area until it’s finished.
You will most likely find several items that don’t belong in that area — my trick for this is to always work with a bag, a box, and a basket.
BAG = trash
BOX = donations
BASKET = misplaced items from other areas in your home.
After you’re finished decluttering and organizing the space, you can toss the trash, put the donation box(es) in your car, and quickly put away the items in your basket.
4. Go through one box, shelf, drawer, bin, or cabinet at a time.
As I mentioned above, it’s very easy to get distracted while working on an organizing project and end up with more chaos and clutter than you started with (yes, I know from experience).
One way to stay on track is to work through small spaces — one box in your garage, one cabinet in your kitchen, one drawer in your office, one bin in the basement.
Pull everything out, work through the entire box/cabinet/bin/etc., put everything away, and then move on to the next space.
Your tolerance for clutter might be higher than mine, but I’ve found I work a lot better when I feel like I’m making progress, and the best way to make progress is to work in one small area at a time.
5. Find a system that works for you.
Staying organized is much easier when you find the right system for you and your family.
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you exactly what system will work for you because there isn’t one “right way” to organize anything.
Over the last 12 years, I’ve shared various tips and ideas (many here in this post) so I encourage you to continue trying until something clicks.
6. File your papers.
Although many of our papers are now electronic, I still think a good paper organizing system is crucial for every home.
Make sure your paper filing system is simple and easily accessible, otherwise you won’t use it
7. Make a place for clothes that needs to be fixed.
This might sound like a very small issue, but it always amazes me how many items of clothing I need to fix every month.
Buttons pop off, knees get worn, socks get holes, and seams break loose.
I rarely have time in the moment to fix something, but I don’t want to put the items in the wash or back in the closet and forget about them.
Instead, I have a small basket where I put anything that needs to be fixed — then I fix it all at one time (or you could bring the basket somewhere to get fixed).
8. Don’t let your emotions win.
One of the reasons I find decluttering easy and enjoyable is that I’m rarely very emotional about my things.
If you struggle with emotional ties to your physical possessions, it might be wise to ask a less-emotional friend or relative to help you process your things.
You might also consider ways to repurpose your “clutter” into useable or decorative items around your home.
I even repurposed my wedding dress!
9. Make your bed every day!
I guarantee your bedroom will instantly look and feel less cluttered and more organized when you make your bed… and it only takes 2 minutes!
If you’re not on board with daily bedmaking, maybe this rationale might help.
10. Set a timer for 15 minutes every day.
Just think about it… 15 minutes a day adds up to over 90 hours in the course of a year.
So, you could clock 90 hours of decluttering, 90 hours of cleaning, 90 hours of reading, 90 hours of exercising, 90 hours of praying, etc. by just doing 15 minutes a day.
This method is usually fun for kids too — they can do almost anything for 15 minutes, especially if there’s a “reward” at the end.
You won’t declutter your whole house in 15 minutes, but you’ll make a start — and who knows what you’ll accomplish in 90 hours!
11. Tackle your junk drawer.
We all have “junk drawers” — or that drawer in your kitchen or garage where you keep all the random things you use fairly frequently.
However, just because it contains random “junk” doesn’t mean it needs to be messy and disorganized.
I use my junk drawer several times a day, and it feels great to open an organized drawer every time.
Give it a try — I have a feeling you’ll smile every time you open your newly organized junk drawer!
12. Make your to-do list before bed.
My mornings were completely revolutionized when I started making my to-do list the night before.
Not only did I sleep better after my brain dump, but I also woke up with a clear idea of what I had to tackle first that day.
I’m convinced that organized days start with organized nights… give it a try!
13. Get your family involved.
Even small children can help out around the house, and oftentimes, children are more likely to keep things organized if they are involved in the process.
Make a fun to-do list with a few family chores mixed in with the more fun activities, create a Points Chart with rewards, and model behaviors you want them to emulate.
14. Work with a friend.
Make organizing a bit more fun by working with a friend — she helps you, you help her, and then you both go out for coffee afterward!
15. Don’t neglect car clutter.
Get in the habit of emptying out your vehicles whenever you get home… and always keep a few grocery bags available for trash.
Just a few minutes of effort makes a big difference in the feel and function of our vehicles.
16. Stop buying containers.
Organizing doesn’t have to be expensive. Get creative and think outside the box… literally!
You probably have a bunch of unused organizing tools lying around your house — shoe boxes, various baskets and bins, empty containers — they all work and will save you a bunch of money (and a trip to the store) buying new.
17. Create a place for all your tax papers.
This does not have to be anything fancy, but it will save you time and stress come tax season.
Simply designate a box, bin, drawer, or file for all the current year’s tax papers (I use a file folder). Then, deposit all tax-related documents in that file/box/bin throughout the year.
When tax season comes around next year, grab your file or box and you’ll be ready to go.
I’m always thankful for my simple tax system when it comes time to do our taxes each year.
18. Keep junk mail out.
Put a recycle bin in your kitchen… or better yet, in your garage, and purge all junk mail BEFORE it comes into your home.
This might be a tiny tweak to your daily routine, but it could make a big difference in the amount of paper clutter in your home.
You might also consider having designated “mail slots” for each person in your home — the file holder below has been great for all the school papers our kids come home with.
19. Deep clean one type of surface each week.
When it comes to general weekly house cleaning, I usually do a once-over of the entire house on Mondays.
However, for deep cleaning, I’ve learned that the easiest way for me to stay on top of things is to focus on one specific cleaning task each day.
- mop all floors one day
- do “extra” laundry one day
- disinfect flat surfaces one day
- spot-treat all carpets and rugs one day
- deep clean showers one day
- vacuum under (and in) furniture one day
Obviously, I don’t do this every day, but whenever I pick a surface for the day, it usually only takes me 30-60 minutes as I’m doing the same thing and using the same tools.
20. Purge one room a week.
Over the past few years, I’ve completed several 16-week full-house purge challenges and I know many of you have participated!
The idea is to divide your home up into 16 spaces and focus on one space each week for 16 weeks.
Any extra time you have that week will go towards decluttering, organizing, and cleaning that specific space. When the week is finished, you move on to the next space.
Eventually, over the course of a year, you’ll have decluttered each space in your home roughly 3 times — all during different seasons of the year.
This system has been so effective for me!
21. Clean out your wallet and purse.
It’s amazing how many times I open my wallet every day — and how much nicer it is when everything is neat and organized.
I can quickly find whatever I need without digging and searching for several minutes.
Also, I’ve found that by only carrying a small wristlet instead of a purse, I stay much more organized!
22. Do laundry from start to finish.
One of my biggest laundry pet peeves is when clean clothing sits in the drier or the clothes basket for extended periods of time. Not only does it get wrinkly, but it also creates clutter sitting out, and it can easily get mixed in with dirty clothing.
I make a point to do all my laundry from start to finish — wash, dry, fold, and put away — at one time so I can cross that to-do off my list and move on with the day.
I usually do laundry early in the morning so I’ll have a couple of loads finished before the kids even wake up. I pack lunches, make breakfast, and get ready while I wait for the first loads to finish.
23. Embrace empty!
It’s easy to quickly fill up every closet, every drawer, and every shelf… after all, if you have the space, you might as well fill the space.
But I find one of my favorite simple pleasures is opening a closet and seeing a completely empty shelf, or opening a drawer and enjoying all the extra space.
Even if you have the space but really don’t need the stuff — I challenge you to embrace empty and enjoy a little extra breathing room!
I should also mention that during the spring and summer months, I am less particular about the cleanliness and organization of our home.
I continually remind myself that there are 6 people in our home (plus friends and neighbors) all going in and out all day long.
There’s mud, grass, wet swimsuits, so many towels, and even more snacks — so I don’t drive myself crazy trying to keep things clean all day long.
However, I use many of the tips and ideas above to help me keep our home in order without too much extra work.