Amid the endless piles of laundry, dishes, forgotten bills, and overdue library books, you have a house. A house you would desperately love to show off with pride. It makes you depressed even to think about how to get this mess organized. You feel your only hope now lies in the chance that one of your horrified relatives will recommend you for a cable show home makeover. While you’re waiting for that lightning bolt to strike, let’s try instead some simple steps and ideas to help you make your home into a place that allows cleaning and organization to be easily achievable. Who knows, you might even find the cordless phone you lost months ago!

Step 1: Analysis of Areas

Grab a spiral notebook and a pencil. Take a few minutes and mentally survey each room. In your notebook, jot down the problem areas in the room, putting one problem on a page. You’ll need the rest of the space on that same page for the following steps. The items on the paper should be parts of the room that really bug you, or that your family finds impossible to keep neat.

For example:

Shoes in piles next to your front door; the table in the entryway piled with mail; the magazine rack overflowing with books, magazines, and pamphlets; the coats, hats, and mittens etc piled in a heap next to the entryway closet. Carefully (but quickly) analyze each room in the house in this way, making a list of the areas that need improvement.

Here are rooms or parts of your home not to forget about:

  • Junk drawers
  • Medicine cabinets
  • Garages
  • Closets
  • Storage, including attic, basements, crawlspace
  • OutdoorsTip: We don’t always see the disorder in these areas until we open them and try to find things.2: Analysis of ReasonsFor each of the problem areas in a room, figure out why the disorganization and mess is happening. I find this most easily done if you are actually in the room you are surveying. All answers are acceptable here, including the fact that you live with slobs. Usually there is more than one reason why an area of your home is continually unorganized.

    Step 3: Solutions

    Now comes the fun part. Let’s find ways we can fix the problems. Think about habits, behaviors, and tools that can make those messes disappear.

  • Do you need some sort of a tool for organization to help your problem?
  • Is the problem a habit that just needs to be enforced and practiced?
  • Is it a combination of containers or tools and habits that need to be changed?Many of the problems you will encounter will require organizational tools and behavioral changes. Keep in mind that the best organizing system of shelves, hooks, and labels does no good if it isn’t utilized.For Example:The junk mail is piling up on your table. Do you need a sorter directly on the table? Maybe the person going through the mail initially needs to be responsible for sorting out the junk (which is 98% of the mail at my house). If you have a lot of different people in your home that receive mail, try giving each person in the house their own mail organizer in their rooms. Older children could then be responsible for their own mail, thinning out the amount you have to go through. What about switching your family to automated bill paying? Many utility companies today allow your utility bills to be deducted from your checking account automatically. You may still receive mail concerning receipt of payment, but at least these can be filed easily without worry that you’ll forget to pay.

    Don’t forget about tools that may aid you in organizing problem areas. What if you put an over-the-door shoe organizer in the entryway closet? Do you need extra coat hooks? Would a bowl on the entry table specifically for keys eliminate the chances of having to dash around the house for 15 minutes in search of them every morning? Try to come up with brainstorm ideas for each problem.

    Find solutions to the problems that annoy you most. Check the detailed room links on this website and the general links provided to find some solutions. Call your friends and ask them what they do to combat the problem. Enlist your family’s help to find out what would enable them to organize more effectively. If you hold a family meeting where everyone has a voice, you may find that those slovenly family members actually have good ideas. Make decisions about what you are going to try in your own home. Write down the solutions you’ve decided on.

    Step 4:Implementation.

    If when you went through your home you had only a few problem areas, then you’re lucky and you can probably implement all of your changes immediately. Begin by making a list of the tools needed from your lists of solutions (Step 3). Buy the tools that you need and set them up in their new home. Warning: organizational tools will not help if you don’t use them! You must also start to implement the behavior changes associated with keeping the mess clean.

    If you have substantially more work to do, do not expect that you will be able to instantly do the changes that you desire, especially if your solutions involved hundreds of dollars of organizing equipment. It may be necessary for you to pick one room at a time to overhaul. Follow the same steps for the overachievers above who are already almost perfect. If you have a lot to do in one room you may have to set aside a Saturday to put together and install shelves, racks, etc. Try to involve your family as much as possible. Add other rooms and areas of your home as you see how you and your family maintain the ones that you’ve begun. If you are diligent there may actually be a day when someone says, “Have you seen my…” and you’ll be able to answer, Yes!”


    Mismatched Socks

    No matter how hard we try, a few socks always end up missing their mates. Over the course of the year, one family can end up with a ton of matchless socks. Instead of throwing them out, use these as cleaning rags. It’s easy to slip a sock over your hand and begin dusting. Kids especially love the glove like feel of socks and may actually pitch in. And since the socks aren’t valuable without their matches, you won’t have to feel bad about tossing them after a truly messy cleanup.

    Shoe Boxes

    Most people toss the boxes in the trash when they buy new shoes, but these can be a great organizational tool. Label the boxes with words or pictures and use them to sort out toys, storage items, or even shoes. Some people will even use contact paper to recover the shoe boxes, strengthening them, and making them more uniform in appearance. While they may not be as ideal as clear storage containers, labeling the shoe boxes will make them a great tool to organize.

    Ice Cube Trays

    With an ice maker, many of our ice trays may have found their way into the farthest corners of our cabinets. Pull out those ice trays and use them to organize jewelry. The compartments make a perfect place to sort out jewelry, and can easily be placed inside a dresser drawer for easy access. Children love sorting items into ice trays too. If your children are constantly finding treasures like shells and rocks, consider giving them their own ice tray to sort and store with.

    Plastic Grocery Bags

    Plastic grocery bags are a staple in my home. We use them to line small trash cans. They come in handy for smelly messes that need extra containment until trash day. Plastic grocery sacks are the perfect size to use when cleaning out your car, or collecting litter from your yard. If you’re afraid to turn into one of those people with a lifetime supply of plastic grocery bags, limit yourself to as many bags as will fit into a small container. Many stores now carry plastic bag dispensers, or you can create your own.

    Pizza Boxes

    For a handy organizing tool, you’ll need to ask your local Pizzeria for a couple of CLEAN pizza boxes. Use the clean pizza boxes as personal art portfolios for your children. They easily slide under a bed or beneath a desk, and are the perfect size to hold relief maps, coloring pages, reports and more. Allowing your children to make decisions about what goes into their portfolio will teach them important principles of prioritizing and organizing.

    Watch this great video for more ideas


  • Thursday, 26 April 2012 10:39 AM


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