Inside: Does the thought of organizing your home and life send you running for the hills? Stress you out? Make you accept the fact that you will forever and always live an unorganized, chaotic life? It doesn’t have to be that way. Learn how anyone can easily organize their home + life.
Your house isn’t even messy!
…is what people would exclaim when they came over and I immediately apologized for the mess, before they even stepped inside the door.
Followed by an, “if you consider this a mess… don’t even think about coming to my house,”
No, my house wasn’t the kind of mess that was blatantly evident to the naked stranger’s eye. My house was the kind of mess that only the people who lived there could tell.
To me, it felt like someone walked into Walmart, went straight into the “miscellaneous + toys” aisle, grabbed everything off the shelves and brought it to my house and asked if I could store it for the time being.
Only, someone didn’t do that.
The mess was my mess. It was my family’s mess. (Which sucks, because it meant it was my responsibility to clean up. No one was going to come take it away for me.)
See, my house’s mess wasn’t such a mess in the way of everything everywhere. It was more of a laundry-thats-been-in-the-dryer-for-a-week, toys-under-the-couch, dishes-hidden-around-the-house, I-haven’t-cleaned-in-two-weeks, but-I-quickly-cleaned-the-main-rooms-before-you-got-here, kind of mess.
The kind of mess that I knew was there, but that strangers couldn’t see.
And sometimes, that’s the worst kind of mess.
Because you can make excuses for yourself as to why it’s okay to keep “forgetting” about the mess…
…because other people can’t see it, anyway. And if they can’t tell it’s there, why does it matter, really?
Except it did matter, because the longer I let the mess be…
- The more frustrated I became
- The more stressed out I was
- The shorter-fused I got
- The more frantic I became
- The more I felt like a failure as a wife, mother, and homemaker (because I couldn’t even keep our home in order… so what COULD I do?!)
The mess matters. Even when it’s a mess that no one else can see.
If I just put it off long enough…
For any of you who have the mindset of “if I just put it off long enough, it’ll eventually clean itself up,” it doesn’t work like that.
I used to try to “convince” myself of this. That if I pushed it off long enough, eventually the mess and chaos would figure itself out and I wouldn’t have to deal with it. I was wrong on SO many levels.
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Before you start organizing your house
Before you get started organizing, there’s something important to note:
If you aren’t convinced that you need to make a change in your home and your life, you’re just wasting your time.
It’s really quite simple – you could spend all the time in the world researching and learning how to get organized at home, but if you aren’t ready or willing to actually MAKE a change, nothing will happen.
And, if you aren’t convinced that a change needs to be made, well, you aren’t going to be ready or willing to change anything.
First thing’s first:
What’s your why?
Before you dive headfirst into rapidly organizing your home, ask yourself why you’re doing this.
What’s your reason for wanting to get organized?
Your reason may be simple, straight-forward, and concise. Or, it may be more complex. It may take you a little while to think of. When you really think about it, the reason you thought you wanted to get organized may not be your real reason at all.
That’s your very first – and most important – step towards having an organized home.
Learning your why.
I always used to talk about how you need to “find” your why. But I’ve changed my thinking. I believe everyone has a why, even if they don’t know it.
Their why is that driving force that gives them the motivation or idea to start.
So no, you don’t need to find your why. Its always been there. You need to learn what your why is.
What makes an organized house?
If you’ve ever wondered “what makes an organized home, anyway?” the answer is really simple –
An organized home is exactly what YOU make it to be.
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to home organization. Every single person is different, which means the way we organize our homes are different, too.
Unfortunately, there’s no “magic organizer” that will solve every clutter and chaotic situation overnight. (Although these are pretty awesome.)
So, when it comes down to creating an organized home that you love, all you need to do is know what an organized home is to you.
Remember: your house doesn’t have to look like an end result of a Chip & Joanna Gaines “fixer-upper” to be organized.
How do I create an organized home when I’m overwhelmed by the mess?
“Help! My house is a disgusting mess!”
The easiest and most effective way to start getting organized in your home when it’s a disgusting mess is to start small.
If you think you’d do better with more hands-on advice for organizing your home, here’s the free home organization challenge I took to take our home from overwhelming mess to stress free and organized.
Start by doing something as simple as putting the dirty dishes sitting on the counter or coffee table into the dishwasher or by taking the clothes on the floor to the laundry hamper.
The reason why organizing keeps getting put off…
The reason why people put organizing off isn’t for a lack of desire to have an organized home, but simply for a lack of knowing where and how to start.
This is exactly why starting small works so well, because it tells you that “okay, putting the dishes into the dishwasher is easy enough. I can manage that,”.
It gets you started, then drive, motivation, and accomplishment will keep the wheels turning and help you organize your entire house.
Sure, this sounds great and all… but how do you actually do it?
Two words: Mess. Blocking.
THAT is how you start organizing your house in small chunks.
Mess blocking simply means to block every other mess in your house out of your mind and focus solely on the task at hand.
If you decided your “small start” was going to be putting the kid’s toys from the living room floor into the toy box, then ignore the dishes on the coffee table, ignore the laundry on the couch, and ignore the overflowing garbage.
Focus ONLY on the toys on the floor, and put them back where they belong.
Then, after you’ve done that one small thing, choose one more small thing to do – like putting the laundry away – and do that.
Then do another, then another.
You don’t have to do it all in one day – you can start by doing one or two small starts, then tomorrow do another one or two, and then some more.
We’re talking small victories here, not climbing Mount Everest in a day!
The answer to the question, “how do I start organizing my home when it’s a mess?” is this: Mess block, then start small.
So go ahead, choose one area to start organizing, like the shoes in the entryway, the coats in the coat closet, or the office desk, and block the rest of the mess in your house out of your mind.
Forget about it.
Don’t let your mind wander to what comes after you’re done cleaning up this mess – just tell yourself you’re going to get through this mess, then you’re done.
Then be done for the day… and start back up tomorrow.
Home organization tips to help you get started
You now know where and how to start organizing your house… but what about keeping your house organized on a daily basis… how do you do that?
Here are 8 easy organizing tips to help you keep your house organized day to day:
1. Make a list
Even if you’re more of a fly by the seat of your pants kind of person, you’ll still benefit from sitting down and making a list every morning (or, at the very least, once a week).
You’re 42% more likely to get stuff done when you write it down.
(Studies have been done to prove this.)
This is exactly why even if you aren’t a “list person”, you NEED to become a “list person”. If you want to be productive and organized, lists need to become your new best friend.
(Psst – if you hate making lists, you can just use this pretty pre-made list.)
2. Turn your wardrobe around
What happens when you have too many clothes?
It always feels like you have nothing to wear.
And, when you spend half an hour first thing in the morning shuffling through clothes among clothes among clothes, you’re starting your day off on the wrong foot.
You’re starting your day by getting flustered and frustrated that you can’t find ANYTHING to wear amidst all these clothes.
But, when you go to get rid of some of your clothes – because you know you really do have too many – you can’t get yourself to find anything to get rid of, because you either wear an article of clothing often, wish you wore it more, or might wear it one day… so you keep it all.
Here’s a painless way to cut down on the amount of clothing you own:
Turn all the hangers in your closet around so they are facing the wrong way.
Take any folded articles of clothing from your closet and dresser and place them on the floor, in nice folded piles.
Now, leave them like that until you wear them.
Any time you wear an article of clothing, either turn that hanger around so it is hanging the right way again, or if it’s a folded article of clothing, place it back into your closet or dresser where it belongs.
After 3 – 6 months, discard of any articles of clothing that are still hanging the wrong direction in the closet or are still on the ground. These are clothes that you haven’t worn for about half a year, which means, you won’t miss them once they’re gone.
If you can’t handle the thought of having your clothes sit on the floor for 6 months (ME!) you can grab some of these clear bins to store your clothes in for the 6 months rather than storing them on the floor.
3. Get rid of the recycling
If you’re particularly struggling to start organizing your house because you don’t know what to get rid of, what to keep, and where to put stuff, getting rid of the recycling is the perfect place to start.
Because you knew, all along, that you weren’t going to keep the recycling. You were just letting it build up until you gathered enough to justify making a trip into the bottle depot.
Well, now’s the time.
Load up the recycling and bring it into the bottle depot, then grab one or two of these barrels to place in your garage, basement, or wherever you store your recycling and use it to keep bottles and cans organized in between trips to the bottle depot.
It’s time to debunk the myth that “delegating” means you’re lazy.
People often think that if you delegate tasks, all you’re doing is looking for a way to get yourself out of having to do work by pawning it off on others.
However, delegating is an important part of every well-functioning family.
Instead of doing all the work of keeping your house tidy and organized and having to pick up after your family on top of that, include everyone – kids and all – in the process of organizing the home.
This will teach them to be mindful of their actions (if they leave a bowl of cereal on the coffee table, they will have to clean it up at some point, and the longer they leave it, the more work it will be for them to clean), and will teach them the importance of managing a home.
5. All the way, right away
Get into the habit of putting things away all the way, right away. Meaning, as soon as you’re done with something…
…put it away.
This doesn’t mean putting the book you’re reading on the coffee table to clean up later this evening. It means putting that book back on the bookshelf as soon as you’re finished reading it, even if you plan on reading it again later today.
(Because sometimes plans change, and then that book, along with dozens of other things that didn’t get put away, end up sitting on the coffee table for two weeks.)
As soon as you’re done eating, load the dishes into the dishwasher – don’t leave them sitting on the counter.
6. Never leave a room empty-handed
Whenever you walk from one room to another, take something that doesn’t belong in that room with you.
See a mug sitting on your night table when you’re walking out of your room? Take it with you and drop it off in the kitchen.
Leaving the office and walking to the laundry room? Pick up any laundry on the floor on the way.
7. Stay scheduled
Using a weekly cleaning schedule will help you divide chores and tasks up to make them more doable. Rather than spending two hours cleaning your house once a week, spend 10 minutes a day doing smaller cleaning tasks.
8. Check the hotspots
Every home has its very own clutter hotspots. These are the specific areas that always seem to be cluttered and messy.
Where are your home’s clutter hotspots?
Our house’s clutter hotspots are mainly the kitchen island and the coffee table.
Whenever my house gets out of control, these are the two areas I address first. Because how else am I supposed to feel organized enough to tidy up my house when the two areas that drive me insane to see unorganized are filled with clutter?
Whether you realize it or not, your home has at least one to two different clutter hotspots.
These are the areas that just seem prone to collecting things throughout the course of the day.
If you don’t know where the clutter hotspots are in your house, here are a few popular places to watch out for:
- Kitchen table/counters
- Bathroom counters
- Purse (you can use something as simple as this to keep your purse from becoming cluttered)
- Coat closet
- Office desk
- Fridge door
- Night table
- Bedroom floor
- Coffee table
- Junk drawer (again, use this to keep junk drawers organized)
How to organize your house when you have a messy family
Trying to organize your house when you have a messy family is incredibly frustrating.
You spend hours organizing and doing small things throughout the day to keep your home organized… then the kids come home and toss their shoes in the middle of the floor, leave their dishes in the living room, and leave a collection of bottles and containers on the counter after searching through the medicine cabinet for their vitamins.
And just like that, all your hard work of keeping the house organized flies out the window.
Can you relate?
The most important part of keeping an organized home with a messy family is to pick your battles.
Instead of getting frustrated and losing your temper the next time someone in your family leaves a mess, sit everyone down and discuss that there are going to be some changes made around the house and that you would like everyone to do their part in keeping the house organized and tidy.
You can use this opportunity to delegate tasks onto different family members. This is where using this kind of schedule works really well in keeping track of who’s on what tasks, and it allows the ability to easily change it up.
An organized house won’t happen overnight.
If your family is used to coming in the door and leaving their shoes in the middle of the floor, plunking their coats on the couch, and leaving cups on the coffee table, there isn’t going to be an immediate change.
All that stuff that they do? They don’t do it to bug you. They do it because it’s what comes naturally to them. They don’t have to think about it. They just do it.
So, changing the grain of what they do piece by piece will take time. This is why it’s important that you keep on top of them, remind them of the new rules set in place, and be patient with the process.
Here are a couple of things you can do to keep your house tidy with a messy family, on top of what we went through above…
- Use a shoe rack. Shoe racks keep the amount of dirt that gets dragged into the house at bay and keeps the shoes from becoming a piece of home decor and a tripping hazard. Something as simple as this works great for keeping shoes at the door.
- A dry erase schedule. Using a schedule helps you to delegate tasks onto different family members, so that everyone chips in with the house work.
- Basket organizers. Using baskets to organize is one of my very favorite home organization tricks. Place a basket in the highest-traffic area of your home (usually the entryway or living room) and put any miscellaneous items that are out of place but you don’t have time to put away right away into the basket. Then, at the end of the day simply empty the basket before going to bed. It’s easy, it’s effective, and these baskets are cute as ever.
I have an organized home… now what?
Now that you’ve organized – or at least learned how to organize your home, it’s time to START.
Start at the very beginning with a small start and mess blocking.
Choose something teeny-tiny to organize first and block the rest of your house out of your mind. Focus just on this one task.
Then move on to something else, or if you feel accomplished, take a break and start back up tomorrow.
Now, here are some home organization tips to answer the popular question, “how do I stay organized?”
These baskets are exactly what they sound like – baskets that house miscellaneous items. Put one of these baskets in each high-traffic area of your house, then place any out-of-place items that get left where they don’t belong into the basket.
At the end of the day, walk around your house once with the basket and return everything inside it back to their original spots.
The key here is to always end the day with an empty basket. You don’t want to wake up in the morning with an already-filled miscellaneous basket, so make sure you take 5 minutes each evening to put the items inside the basket away.
If you dig around in your purse and pull out a bottle of sunscreen, sunglasses, snacks, a sippy cup, and 12 bandaids all to get to your wallet, you need one of these organizers in your life.
Keep clutter out
It’s easier to keep a house clean than it is to clean a messy and cluttered house.
Wouldn’t you much rather just do small tasks each day that don’t even feel like chores because they fit seamlessly into your day to keep your house organized and tidy than to have to do a major overhaul of everything in your house once every two months because it keeps getting messy?
Stop the mess in its tracks.
Use the 8 home organization tips we talked about earlier in this article to keep your house cleaner, longer. (And definitely use one of these at your door to keep the dirt from tracking into your house.)
You can use one of these over the seat organizers to keep your car neat and tidy. The organizers come with plenty of pockets, so you can keep map books, cups, kid’s toys, snacks, and anything else that may come in handy while driving around from getting scattered around and stepped on.
Place a bin (you’ll want it to look half-decent since its new home is your entryway. I like this one) in your entryway and put anything you no longer need into the bin.
This could be anything from articles of clothing to books to extra phone chargers that still work.
Then, once the bin is full, empty it into a bag and bring it straight to a donation center.
Using the entryway donation bin encourages you to get rid of things as soon as you realize you no longer need them, rather than holding on to them for reasons like, “it’s easier to put it back in my closet than to go find a box to store it away in, or than to bring it to a donation center,”
Use a MotherWord calendar
Use this calendar to track appointments, meetings, errands, and due dates. The great thing about this calendar is that you can easily keep track of everyone’s schedules all in one place.
15-minute full-family cleanup
Every evening before your kids go to bed, start a daily tradition of doing a quick, 15-minute-or-less cleanup of the entire house, with everyone pitching in (even the littlest members of the family).
Set a timer for 15 minutes (or less) and give each family member a task to do in that time. These could be tasks like…
- Wiping kitchen counters and table
- Wiping bathroom counters
- Sweeping kitchen floor
- Emptying the miscellaneous basket
- Bringing dishes to the kitchen
- Loading and turning on the dishwasher
- Putting clothes in the hamper
- Cleaning up toys
- Any other quick daily cleaning tasks
Following those steps will help you keep your home organized in the days, weeks, months, and even years to come.
Wouldn’t it feel great to finally live in that organized and beautiful home you’ve been desiring? What’s holding you back?
Now it’s your turn, do you have any home organization tips, tricks, hacks or ideas you’ve found particularly helpful in organizing a messy home and life and keeping your home organized? We’d love to hear from you – feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!