Whether it’s the images we see in a magazine or while scrolling through social media, it’s easy to have “house envy” when we compare those tidy and organized homes to the chaotic unorganized clutter most people live in. Some of you are probably so overwhelmed with your busy schedules that you even wash the same load of clothes twice because they accidentally sit in the washer for a few days. The clutter piles up. The laundry overflows (both the dirty basket and the clean). And you spend more time than you have searching for the one pair of soccer cleats that fit your child. So, of course you have house envy when you see those beautiful images. But look closely in those photos. Do you even see a toaster on the counters? Or better yet, a paper towel holder? Do these people not make Eggo waffles for breakfast? And are their children completely incapable of spilling orange juice and never need a paper towel?
Whether the photos are staged or not, it is possible to simplify your life and create a less cluttered (notice I didn’t see clutter-free) home that is well organized and realistic!
For many of you, this task seems daunting…and maybe almost impossible. But I’m going to teach you how to tackle your house room by room with five simple steps and help you get organized this year. Still not completely convinced? Consider this: Women spend almost a full hour each day looking for things, according to a study conducted by Real Simple. That’s TWO WEEKS each year spent looking for stuff! Think about how you could better utilize that time (not to mention the sanity!)
STEP ONE: ONE, TWO…DONE!
No shocker here! First and foremost, it’s absolutely necessary for you to part with things that have no value to your lifestyle. That means if you’re not wearing it or using it and haven’t within 365 days it has no value to your lifestyle. One – pull it out. Two – assess its value. Done! This is relevant for every room in your house. While closets are the primary focus this also makes a huge impact when clearing out guest rooms and laundry rooms that tend to end up as “storage,” kitchen cabinets and especially playrooms! How much Tupperware do you really need? Think of it this way – will all of your Tupperware even fit in the refrigerator at the same time with all of the other products you have in the fridge? Probably not. The items you plan to toss, consider donating gently used items that still have life in them. Otherwise, bag it up! The items that you plan to keep, organize a pile in the center of the room. Don’t stop this process. One, two…done. Not until everything has been assessed do you now start to organize.
STEP TWO: BECOME A REALIST.
Hopefully you’ve parted with most of the clutter during step one. Now you need to become a realist. Take a hard look at how you live. And consider how your family uses the house. The reason most people find themselves in this predicament is because they don’t have time. Don’t start to re-organize things in a way that is time consuming or unrealistic. It’s not about those pictures (because we’ve already established they aren’t realistic or the people who live there are just really weird!) If one big wicker basket near the front door is the perfect place for your children’s socks so they can easily find a pair before going outside to put their shoes on then do that! Don’t spend time and money buying drawer organizers for their socks hoping they (or you) will fold them, take them to their rooms and put them away. Pull them out of the dryer, find a match and throw them in a basket. Linen closets are another space that becomes stuffed with unnecessary items. Ten towels (preferably white) and two sheet sets for each bed in the house is all you need.
I’m a big believer that everything has a landing pad – from keys and iPads to clothes and cleaning products. And organizing things in bins and baskets will make it easy for you to know exactly where things belong (and children, too!) Just keep in mind – it’s time to become a realist and know the best plan for your family so that keeping an organized home is attainable and won’t get out of control.
STEP THREE: SHRED IT AND FORGET IT.
So much of the clutter in our homes comes from paper. Old magazines, bills, documents, schoolwork, artwork and books. Here’s the deal – most of your bills can be tossed after two or three months. Most accounts can be accessed on line. As soon as you see payment has been received – get rid of the paper statements!
For other documents, file them in an easy to access way. I always suggest putting your files in a file cabinet with the most important documents first and least important (or the ones you access less frequently) in the back. And color-code them with darker colors for most important files and lighter colors for less important files. This will cut down your time when searching for birth certificates, bank statements or medical records.
STEP FOUR: INTRODUCING OUR NEW (AND IMPROVED) HOME!
Make a BIG DEAL about the work that you’ve put into re-organizing the home and working room by room! Ideally, you’ve had help from the family. Or maybe you’ve called on a professional (Here’s where I put a plug in and let you know this is what I do for a living! My clients realize they’ve tried year after year to organize their home properly and they just can’t do it alone. That’s where I come in. Just like Mary Poppins. Well…not exactly. But I make things practically perfect in every way for your family and your home.) Once your home is clean and organized walk every member of the family through each room in the house orienting them on where things belong. Everyone has to play a part in keeping a house clean and organized, even if you have a cleaning service. This orientation makes them accountable and also reinforces how important a new system is.
STEP FIVE: TAKE FIVE!
Every day, likely just after dinner is cleaned up, take five minutes with the family to make sure items have found their landing pad. Make it a game. Set your Alexa or a timer for five minutes and see how quickly everyone can work to clean up. Daily maintenance is the key to success. Once you let things go…it’s difficult to get back on track. Because, it’s all about finding the time after all. Five minutes a day is better than spending hours going back through steps 1 through 5.
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