Some people call me a neat freak! But, I’m not, really. What I am is one of those people that like to keep things organized – a place for everything and everything in its place!
I have found that keeping organized is the key to living simply and stress free. And, it’s not difficult if you make a plan to stay organized and stick to it. Here is my list of eight tips.
1. 15 Minute Rule
This is the most important rule.
Spend 15 minutes everyday putting things in their appropriate places. Make it a game for everyone in the family. Set a timer. Have everyone straighten one area that is shared by everyone in the family. Or pick a specific location that needs attention (such as a drawer or closet). Do not spend more than the allotted time, but have everyone dedicate themselves to their tasks for the full amount of time. You will be amazed at what can be accomplished in 15 minutes.
Also, sometimes, if there is a good program on television, you can do your 15 minutes during commercials! This can be great fun, too. Everyone jumps up during the commercial breaks, works on their 15 minute project, then they rush back to the den to watch the show until next break!
2. Use it or lose it Rule (aka The One Year Rule)
Take stock of what is in your drawers and closets. If you haven’t used something in one year discard it. Of course, memorabilia and important documents are exempt from this rule. But, the bottom line is that to live more simply you must quit being a pack rat. If you go through four seasons and no longer use something, you don’t need it anymore. During my daily 15 minute ritual (see number 1 above) I take stock of the items around me. If I see clutter, I ask myself if I have used that thing in the last year. And you can guess what I do if my answer is no. I know this rule sounds harsh and it is. But it forces you to take a look at those things causing dysfunction in your home and provides you an opportunity to decide to keep, move or discard them.
3. Everyone Needs a Junk Drawer
Yes, indeed. This is the temporary place to put the stuff that you don’t know where else to store and you cannot waste the time right now to find an appropriate place. And it is the final resting place for those really odd items that just have nowhere else to go. Limit yourself to just one drawer, though. And remember to spend a 15 minute day going through it once in awhile to organize it. It will need it, too. Also, do not use this drawer as an excuse not to put things in their proper places.
4. Get a File Cabinet (or expandable folder or something)
Everyone should have one. You must keep your documents in order. File things as soon as you are finished with them. Throw out junk mail right away. Need I say more?
5. To-Do List
Make one everyday. Try to do some of the things on the list. Cross off the things that get accomplished. Do any of the things that did not get done need to go on tomorrow’s list?
6. Have On-Going-Donation Box
Put it where everyone can get to it. After it is filled, drop it off at your favorite charity.
7. Quick and Dirty Cleaning
We have all had days like this where guests are arriving in 30 minutes and the house is a wreck. Take a quick look at what would make the place look presentable and do only those things. Pick up dirty clothes and throw them in the hamper. Put dirty dishes in the dishwasher or stack in the sink. Take a cleaning cloth and wipe the bathroom appliances with glass cleaner. Wipe your counters. Make the beds.
8. Take it Easy on Yourself
Life is short. We are not perfect. Some days do not go as planned. So what?