Could these 9 tools for staying organized change your life?

Secrets of Staying Organized

by Jill Cooper


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1. Never stop picking up.

Try picking up during TV commercials or while you are waiting for something to boil on the stove. You will be amazed how much you can get done in five minutes.

Have the entire family spend five minutes picking up the family room or living room before they go to bed. Set a timer for young kids, so they don't get overwhelmed.

If your family members go to bed at different times, then have each member pick up his or her items before bedtime. Once this becomes a habit, you will be amazed how much easier picking up becomes.

2. Stop making messes.

Keep a trashcan in every room. No one likes carrying one small piece of trash from the family room to the kitchen, so it usually ends up on the floor. Keep small trashcans everywhere. In our office, we have two trash cans, one next to the desk for throwing away regular office trash and one next to the shipping table for throwing away envelope tabs, extra invoices and other shipping trash. If you need two trashcans in a room, put them in there. Make it easy to keep things clean.

Throw that sticky food wrapper straight into the trash. Don't lay it on the counter to make another mess that needs to be wiped up later.

Don't lay that dirty spoon on the counter. Rinse it and put it in the sink or dishwasher.

As you're undressing, don't throw your dirty clothes on the floor or on the furniture. While they are still in your hand, put them in the hamper, or if they're still clean, hang them up.

Keep the hamper close to where you undress at night. If it is convenient, you will be more likely to use it.

Before you leave the bathroom, hang your wet towel on the rod. Don't drop it on the floor or leave it in a pile.

3. Think ahead.

What are you having for dinner?

Are the kid's papers signed and ready for school?

What clothes are you wearing tomorrow?

4. Never, Never Procrastinate.

Keep straightening things all the time. For example, when you put away groceries and you see that the cans of soup have fallen over, take two seconds to re-stack them.

When you put linens or clothes in their drawers, make sure everything in those drawers is neatly stacked.

Pick up as you go. Each time you walk through a room, pick up something.

5. Stop thinking about it! Just do it.

Train family members to rinse their own dishes and stack them in the sink (or better yet to put them directly into the dishwasher). It may take a while to develop this habit. For kids, you may want to do something like charge each member a dime for every dish not rinsed or make them responsible for doing all the dishes for a week.

Remember Thomas Edison? What if he had given up after his first 5, 10, or 100 light bulbs? Where would we be now if he had thrown up his hands and quit at his first failures? The same is true with getting and staying organized. Keep practicing and you will create a productive new habit.

6. Attitude, Attitude, Attitude.

Stop dreading taking care of your home and start taking pride and pleasure in it. Think of an organized home as a special gift of peace and pleasure that you are giving your family. A disorganized one causes turmoil and frustration. Besides, you probably spend more time worrying about it than it would take to clean it.

7. Use rooms for their intended purposes.

Don't let kids get undressed in the family room. That's why they have bedrooms.

Eat food at the kitchen table or bar, not in bed. This alone can save a huge number of messes.

Fold laundry in the laundry room immediately after taking it out of the dryer and put it away immediately.

8. Be a wise steward of your time.

If you see something that needs to be clean, clean it as soon as possible.

If something doesn't need to be cleaned, don't waste your time. If there is no dust, don't just dust because you dust every Saturday.

Don't overbook yourself volunteering at schools, churches or charities. Learn to say "no." Notice that I didn't say don't do these things at all, just control how much you do so they don't take over your life.

Don't overbook your children with their activities, either.

Get rid of fruitless activities. Many of us spend way too much time talking on the phone, watching TV, shopping unnecessarily or killing time on the computer. These are all time robbers when you devote a lot of time to them.

9. Keep on top of things.

If you do small cleanings every day, you'd be surprised how much you can accomplish. In ten-minute increments, you can do each of the following: wash the dishes, vacuum, file a pile of papers or clean your purse. It shouldn't take more than ten minutes for each child to pick up his room before bed and to lay out his clothes for the morning.

Don't let the laundry, dishes, toys and paperwork get out of control.


Jill Cooper is the editor of LivingOnaDime.com.

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