14 Tips to (Finally) Get Organized This Year
By Kathryn Trudeau
Are you tired of staring at boxes of clothes or toys your kids outgrew years ago? Or are you overwhelmed with all the “stuff” piling up in closets and attics? Even though we entered 2021 a few weeks ago, it’s not too late to create a few new resolutions — specifically about getting organized this year.
Getting organized isn’t just about organizing your stuff either. Getting organized can refer to your thoughts too. When you’re mentally organized, you’re more likely to get organized in your home too.
Here are 14 tips to eliminate clutter and chaos and bring organization to your home.
1. Start Small
This is the first step in getting organized, and it might be the hardest one. When motivation surges, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and plan 12 new projections. Remember slow and steady wins the race. In other words, don’t bite off more than you can chew.
It’s not reasonable to think you can completely organize your entire home and implement new organizational strategies all in one weekend. For example, large projects may take a few weekends to complete, but by starting small, you reduce the chance that you’ll lose steam by the end of the project.
2. Use One Family Calendar
If you use a paper calendar in the kitchen for kids’ appointments and a calendar on your phone for sports practices, chances are pretty good that some appointments will slip through the cracks. Instead, use one family calendar. You can use a paper calendar, but you can also sync up a digital calendar with your spouse too.
Use your family calendar to keep track of doctors’ appointments, vacations, and other engagements.
3. Establish Daily, Weekly and Monthly Routines
When you’re trying to get organized, it can seem overwhelming, but here’s the good news: not every chore has to be done on a daily basis. When you create chore lists, organize your chores by daily, weekly, and monthly schedules.
For example, you might need to sweep the kitchen daily, clean the bathroom weekly, and refill the dog food bin monthly.
When it comes to toys, cleaning up toys should be part of a daily routine, either before nap or bedtime. And always separate toys by type.
4. Set SMART Goals
When you’re setting goals, it’s easy to get carried away with unrealistic goals. Unfortunately, if you don’t meet those goals, it can unravel all of your motivation for the entire project. Instead, make sure you set SMART goals:
Specific: Instead of “clean the house” try “clean the bathroom on Friday.”
Measurable: Include something “measurable” in your goal so that you can measure progress. You might say “I will assemble three boxes of old clothes to donate.”
Achievable: Make sure you are physically capable of completing the task. For example, if you don’t own a steam cleaner, it wouldn’t make sense to add “steam clean the bathroom” to your list of goals.
Relevant: Make sure each part of your goal helps you reach your bigger goal.
Time-based: Add a time component to your goal to make your goal as specific as possible. For example, you might say “I will have a new mail sorting system in place by next Monday.”
5. Divide and Conquer
If applicable, assign some chores to your children. When more family members participate, the faster you can reach your goals. You might consider hanging a chore chart where children can see it easily. For smaller children, you can use visual representations (like a picture of a toothbrush) to indicate what chore or responsibility they should do.
6. Find a Home for Everything
Not knowing where to keep an item is the biggest contributor to household clutter. Identify a home for every toy, pajama, book, or paper -- and you’ll see clutter decrease. You can use baskets, closet organizers, toy bins, bookshelves, and desk organizers to help you find a place for every single item in your home.
7. Don’t Neglect Paper Piles
Mail and other paper piles can add up quickly. Try this rule this year: every time you bring the mail inside, take action. Acceptable actions including filing it in the appropriate drawer, shredding it, or recycling it.
8. Ask for Help If You Need It
Help comes in many forms, and it’s always okay to ask for help if you need it. You might seek help from:
- Friends or family members
- Professional organizers
- ADHD coaches or therapists (because sometimes ADHD can lead to difficulties with executive function skills like organizing)
- Charities that will come pick up boxes for donation
9. Make a Long-Term Commitment
After a long weekend cleaning and reorganizing, it can be really frustrating when the messes creep back on Monday. However, it’s important to remember that organizing doesn’t end after a thorough cleaning. Instead, organization is an ongoing, life-long process. The point of getting organized isn’t to eliminate household cleaning or chores (I wish!), but it’s to adopt strategies that make staying organized easy. For example, it’s much easier to clean up toys when you know where each one goes.
10. Try Some Software Tools
All sorts of technology from calendars to apps is available to simplify your home organization process. Some apps let you create a home inventory (no more wondering if you need toilet paper!), set up a home maintenance calendar (like scheduling HVAC cleanings), manage home improvement projects and track household budgets all in one place.
11. Track Your Progress
Remember those SMART goals? You can track your progress by making sure you meet mini milestones.
12. Celebrate Each Success
Once you reach those mini milestones, celebrate! Maybe you treat yourself to a coffee from your favorite cafe, or maybe you plan a family movie night -- whatever celebration you choose helps to keep you motivated.
13. Don’t Focus on Failures
If you don’t reach a milestone, don’t dwell on it. Look at each failure as a chance to grow and keep learning. For example, if your new toy organization strategy didn’t work out, that’s okay. What did you learn? Use that knowledge to create a better system that works for you and your family. Maybe you need to try a more simple solution for your children.
Staying organized with kids is hard. Every season, there’s a new batch of clothes and shoes. Every birthday, new presents arrive. The best way to stay organized is to frequently purge the outgrown clothes or overgrown toys. You can:
- Donate them to friends or a charity
- Store them (labeled and organized by size) in your basement or garage if you’re planning on handing them down to a sibling in a year or two
Do you have a favorite home organizational tip?
Kathryn is a self-proclaimed book nerd who has a passion for natural parenting and writing. As a homeschooling mother of two, Kathryn understands the dynamics of a busy family life. She is the founder of the Cor Domum movement, a mission that guides families through life so that they can parent with joy. Read more at www.katietrudeau.com
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