Self + Care

2019 Refresh: How to Get Organized (Part 3: Staying Organized For Good)

2019 Refresh: How to Get Organized Part 3: Staying Organized for Good | The Bold+Balanced Life by Alex Benkast

Now that we’ve decluttered our home, here are 10 things we can do to make sure it stays organized for good:

1. The One In/One Out Rule

Every item needs a home that’s easy to access so putting things back is a breeze. And because we have limited space to store our stuff properly, we need to ensure that the rate of new things coming into our home doesn’t exceed the rate at which we get rid of things. The rule is simple. For every new item you get, you have to donate or throw away something you no longer need (bonus points if it’s something of equal size).

2. The One-Touch Rule

Especially if it takes less than a minute, make sure you only touch every item once. This means, for example, that when you get home you immediately put your shoes and jacket back where they belong rather than dumping them on the floor. Or if you’re cooking and you take something out of the fridge, put it back right after you’re done using it. The Clean-as-You-Go Principle has served me well the past year.

3. Keep Counters Clear

Clutter attracts clutter. I can never believe how quickly our dining area counter grows a pile of random things if I leave a piece of paper there for just one day. I wish I could show you a time-lapse of this phenomenon. To counteract this, I recommend what I learned from Clutterbug‘s Cassandra Aarssen: having “homeless clutter catchers” in your main living areas. These are pretty baskets or totes where you can temporarily store/hide things until you have time to put them back where they belong.

4. Make Things Float

Want to spend less time cleaning? Then keep counters and other surfaces (including the floor) clear. Especially in the kitchen and bathroom where things tend to get dirty quickly. Ever since I watched More Melody’s video “Elevated Minimalist Organization” I’m always thinking how to make things float so I don’t have to lift them or clean around them. Hooks, pegs, and peg rails are probably my most used organizing tool.

5. Label Things

My other favorite organizing tool is labels. If we label our bins and baskets, we’re far more likely to put things back into their designated spots. Not to mention that it makes it easier to find things. And labels are not just useful for adults. We use picture labels on see-through bins so even our toddler can put back the toys.

6. A 15-Minute Tidying/Cleaning Routine

Another thing I learned from Clutterbug is to have a short (15-20 minutes) morning and evening cleaning routine so things don’t get super messy in the first place. This has been invaluable for me because I rarely have time to clean hours on end. And those 15 to 20 minutes are perfect to listen to audiobooks and podcasts (or YouTube videos), so I’m actually looking forward to this little “me-time.”

7. Monthly 21 Items Toss

Another Clutterbug classic is the 21 Items Toss and Garbage Bag Therapy, which is basically a monthly declutter session. The One In/One Out rule, while simple, is the hardest to keep up because these days we’re flooded with stuff. Every single day I see new packages in front of nearly all of my neighbors’ doors. In our neighborhood, people’s garages are so full of stuff they can’t even park their car(s) inside. So getting rid of unneeded stuff each month (plus all the garbage, such as expired food, old receipts, etc.) will help keep things manageable.

8. Landing Strip & Command Center

Most professional organizers recommend having a “landing strip” where you keep your keys, wallet, sunglasses, bag, and other things you need for your daily outings. After half a year of having one in our home, I couldn’t agree more. Trying to find my keys while running late is finally a thing of the past. Our most recent addition is a family command center on the kitchen wall where we keep track of all events and appointments.

9. Make Your Bed

It’s the easiest of all. At least if you aren’t striving for hotel room perfection. For me, it takes less than a minute and I feel I’m off to a much better start if I’ve made the bed. I always tell myself, at least I’ve achieved one thing that day. And coming home to a made bed is much more relaxing than seeing yet another loose end after a busy day.

10. Rethink Your Spending Habits

To break this tidal wave of stuff coming into our home, I made a pact with myself to buy fewer and better things. I keep a wish list, and then I wait two weeks to see if I actually need this thing and what I can get rid of to make space for it. This year I also want to do my first no-spend month because the holiday season included more food and gifts than we could possibly need.

Need more guidance? Sign up for the Learn to Organize Like A Pro Workshop here.

Further Reading


2019 Refresh: How to Get Organized Part 3: Staying Organized for Good | The Bold+Balanced Life by Alex Benkast