“Do you know where the scissors are?” my husband yelled at me from the kitchen. I was knee deep in boxes containing random items in our guest room, searching for the wrapping paper.
We were going to be late to the birthday party we’d been looking forward to because we couldn’t find what we needed.
When my house is disorganized, I feel like my entire life is thrown off. I’m in my house on a daily basis, so it’s no wonder my surroundings impact everything else in my life! I needed to learn how to be more productive at home.
Our basement is in the process of being redone and it’s thrown everything into chaos. We lost all of our storage for the time being, and that’s caused the rest of the house to become disorganized as we have made due with the space we have.
My home office is also in a state of flux so I’ve had to learn to make it work as I work from home. It’s been a challenge, but I’ve learned a bunch of tricks.
If you want to be efficient at home and be more productive, you need to have an organized house. If you can’t find a place to sit down or somewhere to put the mail, then it’s time to organize!
I know that typical argument. “If I clean up and get organized, I’ll never be able to find anything!” However, that’s rarely the case.
We spend lots of time saying “I know it’s around here somewhere” Instead of spending time looking for things, wouldn’t it be great if it was in a designated space and you could find it any time you needed it? Or if you could tell someone else where to find it?
To start, we’re going to find a place for everything. Then we’re going to put everything away. We’re going to do some filing and storing.
The best way to take on this task is to start by dividing the work up. You can divide it up into individual areas, like the front door, home office, living room or kitchen.
Get your family members to help you and together you can learn how to be more organized at home.
Step 1: Gather your supplies
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The worst is when you start to get organized and you realize that you need something you don’t have. Then you have to stop what you’re doing and you waste any momentum you gained.
We don’t want that to happen so we’re going to gather all the supplies we might need ahead of time.
When you tackle your home office, make sure you have plenty of file folders and storage bins. You might want some pretty baskets that will liven things up. It’s your home and you get to make the choices here!
I also like to put together a cleaning caddie with the supplies I know I’ll need. I like to dust, do windows, and vacuum as I organize. I find it helps me feel like the room is “done” when I finish.
Gather everything in a basket. Don’t forget your trash bags, a cardboard box for recycling, and an empty laundry basket for items that belong in a different room. W
hen you’ve finished, you can carry the laundry basket around to all the other rooms and get everything put away at once.
Step 2: Clear the surfaces
To start, we’re going to clear off the surfaces like your desk and coffee table. We want to have a clutter free space. Visually we want a sense of calm and that can only happen if we focus on de-cluttering.
When cleaning your desk, keep only the essential items. We’re talking a phone, calculator, computer, and office supplies you need daily such as tape, pens and paper clips. Everything else is clutter and you don’t need it. Besides, then there’s less stuff for your kids to get into.
As you go through everything, you’re most likely going to find a lot of paper. We can make some general rules to help us move along quickly and effectively.
A good rule is that if you’ve not read or used a piece of paper, a file or a notebook filled with notes in the last six months you can probably trash it. You don’t need to hang on to everything.
But, if you’re still not sure and think you may need to keep it for legal reasons then prepare a long-term file bin.
Try not to handle each piece of paper or file more than once. Don’t get bogged down with reading that book you found under the pile of papers or you’ll never get finished.
Save that stuff for later (you could move the book to your nightstand for instance). Right now your goal is to clear clutter and get organized. You’re freeing up space so stick to the task!
Step 3: Hit up the drawers
Once you’ve organized your surfaces and have an outward feeling of calm, it’s time to tackle the drawers. Just because we can’t see the clutter doesn’t mean it’s not there. You can feel it and it’s going to stress you out.
Keep your filing system simple. Don’t make it so complicated that it’s hard to retrieve an item. We’re going for organized, not perfect.
If you’re afraid you might lose track of a piece of paper, store it in a clear container or label it in bold letters.
CreditCards.com has a great explanation of how long to keep everything around. I’ve turned a lot of their suggestions into a one page print out you can use to help you stay organized!
I like to put all my paper together and sort it into file folders. Then I separate all my office supplies into bins based on what I use them for.
I’m obsessed with my journal, so I keep all my journal supplies together. My desk uses baskets instead of drawers so I’m able to pull out the basket full of my supplies whenever I’m sitting down to play out my week.
You can get creative when it comes to your drawers. This is your space and you can organize it how it makes sense to you. You aren’t a professional organizer and you don’t have to be.
Tips and tricks
I have a few more tips and tricks for you when it comes to getting organized!
You tend to get much more accomplished if the environment is user friendly. If something doesn’t belong in a home office or in a kitchen for example, it shouldn’t be there. Period.
I tend to work most out of my kitchen now that I don’t have a home office. Office supplies migrated to my kitchen counters for a while until I finally got organized.
Now that’s all in bins that I keep in another room. When I sit down to work on tasks that require the office supplies, I got get that bin. Everything stays where it belongs and I don’t have to deal with clutter everywhere.
We also need to make sure that our physical space isn’t the only space that’s organized. We need to make sure our brains don’t take in all that extra clutter.
If you feel like your brain is overwhelmed, you can always do a brain dump! You can check out my brain dump guide to get started.
Create a to-do list and keep it where you see it constantly. If you forget to do something don’t use the excuse that you didn’t check your to-do list or your calendar.
Keep your appointment calendar up to date and check it often. The top of your desk should have only one project at a time to keep you focused.
Reward yourself once you’ve completed your organization! Now, keep it that way.
When a project is finished, put it away. Straighten your work area at the end of each day so you meet the new day with a clean space and a clear mind.
I take 15 minutes at the end of every day to make sure my kitchen, my main work space, is clean and clear. But reducing the clutter in that one room, I feel in control and like I’m starting each day off on the right foot.
And that is how to be more organized at home!