by Mary Landen of The Home Coach
Whenever I meet people who learn what I do for a living, they ask me, “How do you keep your home organized?” So I decided to capture my real-life tips here in hopes that they will help you, your family and your home get and stay on track – at holiday time or any time of the year.
Remove all items from shopping bags.
When I return home from shopping, I empty all bags. Then I sort and store items based on where they belong BEFORE moving onto another activity. I apply this rule to all shopping trips, including groceries (and in my home, storing food on the kitchen counter, other than fruit in a bowl, is NOT considered an appropriate storage location!).
Store all shopping bags.
Plastic, paper or fabric market bags all have a neat home. Even dry cleaner bags. When I’ve accumulated too many, they get purged. I recycle plastic bags in the designated outdoor bin at my grocery store (yes, they will take them even if they are from another store). I put extra paper bags in my home recycle bin or use them or any extra fabric bags to collect items I’m purging around the house.
Put paper in one of two designated areas only.
All mail and other incoming papers are first deposited in my “inbox” on my kitchen counter where it is sorted into keep/recycle. The keep pile then goes into my office and is dealt with at a later date. This system keeps everything organized instead of scattered around the house.
Finish what you start.
I make a conscious decision to complete whatever I am doing. For example, suppose I need to wrap a present. If I wasn’t using a gift bag, I would go to the drawer where I have wrapping paper, gift boxes, tissue, ribbon, tape and gift cards. Then I’d grab a pair of scissors and proceed to wrap the gift. Upon completion, I put back all the supplies – where I found them. Leaving any of these items out is the beginning of clutter and disorganization.
Have a single place for everything.
Except for scissors, tape and an extra stapler, I only keep one of everything or one set of everything – batteries, light bulbs, office supplies, cleaning supplies, etc. – in one designated place. That way I can keep a close eye on my inventory of these items and only buy and store what I truly need.
Plan to purge.
I go through a particular closet, chest of drawers or area of my home about twice a year. The point being – I don’t try and tackle the entire house in one day or weekend. When it comes to purging my own stuff, I can be just as challenged as anyone. That’s why I declutter in doable “chunks” so that I don’t get overwhelmed. And, I generally pick an area of my home that’s been “getting on my nerves.” Then when my schedule opens up, I know where to go first.
Only buy new storage bins or organizational aids AFTER purging, not BEFORE!
I made this rule primarily based on my experiences with so many of my clients! Many of us purchase storage bins, baskets, drawer units, etc. with little idea of what will be stored in them and where they will go. Do the cleanup first, see what’s left over and then purchase the organization aids – of the type, size and color – that you actually need in a particular space.
Happy organizing this holiday season!
© 2012 Mary Landen, The Home Coach. All Rights Reserved.
Long-time Baltimore resident Mary Landen is The Home Coach. She helps busy homeowners organize, refresh, maintain and stage their living spaces. For more information on "Getting your house in tip-top shape!" visit her at www.marythehomecoach.com.