A lot of people ask me, “Melissa, how do you stay organized?” To these people, I turn around and ask: Do you let clutter pile up because you plan to clear it away later? Perhaps you think you’ll have more energy or time to deal with it in the future. Maybe you put off tasks because you don’t have systems in place to address the accumulation of everyday items that can lead to a cluttered home.
Well, we all know what happens when we put off dealing with clutter. It grows! One pile turns into twelve. One stack of papers eventually multiplies and fills your desk. You run out of room for things you need and love, and you become overwhelmed because you feel your home environment is stressful rather than peaceful.
So how do you stay organized and turn your home into a consistently relaxing, orderly environment?
The answers are simple, but it’s easier said than done. Bring in less, let go of more, and learn new habits to deal with the everyday clutter that threatens to take over your home.
It will take time to reset your habits and tidy up your home, but you can start today with a plan for transformation. The secret to keeping clutter from taking over is to deal with it now, not later.
When you handle clutter appropriately, right in the moment, it is much easier to manage your home. You will feel less overwhelmed and more in control of your belongings and schedule. You’ll be more likely to recognize clutter for what it is: something you don’t want in your home, not even in small quantities.
Once you make a habit of dealing with clutter now versus later, you’ll make better decisions about what to buy or bring home, eliminating clutter before it even crosses your threshold!
Here are 15 easy, do-it-now decluttering habits that will help you stay organized.
- File papers as soon as you know you need to keep them.
- Keep the dishwasher empty.
- Clean the dishes after dinner.
- Put clothes away as you take them off.
- Fold, hang or put away laundry as you take it out of the dryer.
- Put away cosmetics after use.
- Wipe off bathroom and kitchen counters before you leave the room.
- Take belongings to their rightful locations, rather than letting them pile up on surfaces.
- Immediately shred unnecessary paperwork; don’t stack it up for shredding later.
- Recycle unnecessary mail right away.
- Reset your desk to order at the end of every day.
- Clear the kitchen counter before bed.
- Immediately hang your coat and bags as you enter the house.
- For every new item you bring into the home, remove one or two things by discarding or donating them.
- Tidy up a cluttered surface while you talk on the phone —use speakerphone to free your hands!
When you get in the do-it-now mindset, you’ll realize decluttering and tidying a home is not only possible now, but also it’s easier and more effortless than you thought! How do you stay organized at home? Which of these do-it-now habits is hardest for you to stick with? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @lifestorage!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 29, 2015, and was revised on March 20, 2020.