As a former Professional Organized, I get asked a LOT about how to be more organized.
People wanted to know specific things they could do TODAY to make themselves more organized without having to spend days purging every closet in their home.
The nine organization tips below are based on my years of experience helping hundreds of families to be more organized.
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How to Be More Organized
It would be nice if there was one big secret that I could whisper in your ear and you would instantly become more organized!
There isn’t one single big answer to the problem. Instead, there are dozens of little things to can do every day that will help you be more organized and STAY organized too!
It doesn’t take a fancy closet system or floor to ceiling cabinets to be organized. It just takes modifying a few habits and being more aware of your clutter-inducing actions.
Naturally Organized People?
When I talk to people about how to be more organized, they often say to me “But I’m just not a naturally organized person”. Well, I call BS on that!
Organizing isn’t like learning to walk, it’s not something that we naturally do. We have to LEARN how to be organized. Yes, there are some people that are more organized because they’ve made it a priority in their life. But if you aren’t one of those people, then it doesn’t mean that you are somehow genetically doomed to never live an organized life!
The tips below are designed to help you take your life from chaos to calm. Don’t worry about trying to do them all at once. Just pick one or two of these tips and start to make them your new habit. Once you’ve got that down, then you can add in another two or three tips.
So take a read through them, and just pick a couple to get you started!
Organization Tip 1: Make Lists
One of the main differences between organized people and disorganized people is lists!
How many times have you got home from the grocery store and thought “Damn it! I forgot to get milk!”. Or how many times have you forgotten to do something important? Forgotten to pay a bill or return a call?
Our memories are pretty awesome. I can clearly remember what Billy Johnson said to me when I asked him out in 5th grade (spoiler alert… he said no!). But I will forget why I walked into a room!
Making lists takes away the pressure off our minds (and ourselves) to remember everything. Now you have a safety net, it doesn’t matter if you can’t remember the 6 things you need to grab at the store, because you have them on your list.
When you become a list-maker you will instantly feel more organized and in control! And the easiest place to start is a simple To-Do list.
Grab a piece of paper and write down all the things you need to get done today (or this week). Once you’ve accomplished a task, you check it off the list. It feels very satisfying to watch the items getting checked off!
Types of Lists
But being organized isn’t just about writing a to-do list. There are many other types of lists that will keep you organized too.
- Grocery list
- Meal plan
- Household projects
- School projects/homework
- Fun activities for the kids
- Books to read
- Movies/TV to watch
- Vacation ideas
- Holiday gift lists
- Spending tracker
Your list can basically be anything that you want to get OUT of your head, so you don’t have to keep remembering it!
The important thing with any list is that you refer to it often. There’s no point making a list and then never looking at it again. You need to keep it in a place that you can refer to often.
Not into paper and pen? Worried you’ll lose it? There are lots of other ways to keep track of your lists:
- Computer or phone app (I LOVE Trello for keeping lists organized)
- Bullet Journal
- Note pad
- Bathroom mirror (seriously, I knew someone that used to use a dry erase marker and write their to-do list on their bathroom mirror!)
This is one of my favorite To-Do list note pads. I have one of these on my desk and I use it every day!
Organization Tip 2: Daily Habits
Being more organized is not just about the big stuff, but also about staying on top of the little stuff.
The best way to do this is to create a daily routine that you can stick to.
Now, don’t try and create some massive routine that will take you 2 hours to complete! That’s just not practical. Instead, start small.
I always suggest that you start with a simple daily habit, like making your bed every day. Yes, it might seem silly, but it’s a quick and easy thing to do and will get you in the habit of… well… forming habits!
Once you’ve got used to that first habit, you can slowly add more things to do each day.
Here’s an example of my morning and evening routine that helps keep me organized. It’s not a crazy long list of things to do. And it really doesn’t take much time. Once you get into the habit of doing it every day, it’s like you are on auto-pilot and you get things done so much quicker.
- Make my bed, shower, and dress
- Check to see if there are enough dirty clothes to do a load of laundry (there normally is!)
- Feed cats and dogs and scoop cat litter boxes
- Empty dishwasher
- Load dishwasher
- Wipe down kitchen counters
- Grab any clutter from around the house and put it away
- Feed cats and dogs
- Put away clean laundry (I normally switch the laundry to the drier at some point in the afternoon)
- Check the meal plan for the next day and see if I need to take any meat out the freezer
- Check my to-do list for the day and roll anything over to the next day that I didn’t get done
So pick one or two things and get started with a new daily routine!
Check out my Weekly Cleaning Routine that I use to keep my home clean and tidy without spending hours each week cleaning!
My house gets pretty messy with 3 kids, 4 dogs, 4 cats… oh and a husband! Having a routine is the ONLY way I stay sane! If it can work for me, then it will DEFINITELY work for you!
Organization Tip 3: Food Plan
This tip goes a bit beyond having a meal plan. Meal plans are great and will definitely help you to be more organized. But there is a lot more to feeding ourselves and our families than just planning to cook.
I like to think that it falls into 3 plans (can you tell I love planning??!!):
- A meal plan
- A grocery plan
- A clear-out plan
The Meal Plan
The meal plan is simple. Grab a calendar and plan what you are going to eat on each day of the week. I only plan our dinners, but if you want to be ultra-organized, then plan your breakfasts and lunches too!
The biggest advantage of planning your meals is the lack of stress at the end of the day. You’re tried after a long day, the last thing you want to do is try to figure out what you can cook for dinner. That’s when you normally resort to take-out… not good for the waistline or the pocketbook!
Want to have an easy way to Meal Plan and keep yourself organized? Check out my friend, Beth’s AMAZING meal plan!
She uses Trello to keep track of the meals and the grocery list. She even has a bunch of recipes preloaded for you!
The Grocery Plan
A grocery plan goes hand-in-hand with your meal plan. Make a list of the groceries you need and take that list with you to the store! Well… if you really want to stay organized, then there is a little more than that!
You want an easy way for your family to add items to your shopping list when they use something up. We used an Amazon Echo Dot in our house. Even my 10-year-old knows to say “Alexa, add ice cream to shopping list” when he eats the last of it!
But a simple list stuck to the refrigerator door works too!
I love ordering my groceries online for delivery as it saves me time and actually saves me money, because I’m not tempted by all those impulse buys! I’ve created a routine where every Monday create an order online for it to be delivered on Tuesday. By making sure I get the groceries on the same day each week I can save time by not having to run to the store multiple times a week.
The Clear-Out Plan
And this brings me onto the Clear-Out Plan! So not only should you plan your meals and your grocery shopping, but you should also plan when you will CLEAR OUT your refrigerator or pantry!
I like to do this on Tuesdays just before my grocery order arrives. That way the fridge is nice and clear to put everything away.
The other reason I do it on Tuesday (and why I get my groceries delivered on Tuesdays) is because Wednesday is out trash day! So many spoiled or old food that I need to throw out will be picked up the next day! No more stinky trash can!
Organization Tip 4: Go Paperless
One of the biggest clutter problems that people have in their homes is piles of paperwork. Even if you have a filing system, it can quickly become disorganized and before you know it you have papers overflowing your nice file system!
A lot of utility companies, banks, insurance companies etc. are actively encouraging their customers to elect for paperless billing instead of receiving a paper bill each month.
This has the double advantage of being better for the environment (less paper use) and better for your home clutter problem! So next time you see the “Go Paperless” banner when you log into your utility account, go ahead and sign up for it! Some of them will even give you a discount off your bill!
Fed up with loads of junk mail? Imagine a world without credit card offers or letters asking you to switch insurance companies! It can be a reality!
There’s a service called OptOut Prescreen that will allow you to opt-out of junk mail and even solicitation calls! You can use their website to opt-out for the next five years, or you can mail in a request to be permanently removed.
But why stop there!
There are important papers that you need to keep, but you don’t have to have to keep the actual paper version. Most of the time you can just keep a digital version instead. Exceptions to this would be things like legal documents, birth or marriage certificates, etc.
The simplest way to go paperless is to get a good document scanner and convert all your paperwork into digital files. These are then be organized and saved on your computer (with a backup to something like Dropbox or Google Drive).
I really like this scanner by Brother. It’s small enough, that I can tuck it away in a drawer when I don’t need it, but also pretty darn quick at scanning documents.
It does take time to switch over completely to paperless, but it’s worth the effort. You don’t need to do it all in one go, just a few minutes here and there and you’ll soon get through it all.
Organization Tip 5: Use a Timer
It’s a bit of a clique, but it’s so true – we get distracted! It’s a bit like those “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” books. Here’s an example:
You want to empty the dishwasher before you have to leave for an appointment. As you go into the kitchen, you notice there’s an empty box of cereal on the counter. You grab that and put it in the recycling bin, but you notice the bin is full. So you quickly take it outside to dump it into the big recycling can. While you are coming back into the house you notice your flower pots need watering, so you grab the watering can and do that (poor things were so thirsty!). As you come back into the kitchen you notice that the garbage can is also pretty full. Time to take out the trash and go back outside. While you’re out there your neighbor stops to say hi. And before you know it, you’re running late and you never did get the dishwasher emptied!
This is part of life. Things come up that grab our attention and demand action. But we don’t ALWAYS have to respond right away. Would it matter if the recycling can wasn’t emptied right away? Could it have waited until the evening?
This is why I like to use a timer. When you set yourself a time limit for completing a task, you are much more likely to stay focused on it and get it done.
I just tell Alexa (loooovvveeee my Echo Dot!) to set a timer for 5 minutes and then I race around as quickly as I can to get everything done. It adds urgency and stops you from getting distracted.
Using a timer works GREAT for getting kids to do their chores too! You can make it a game and see how many things they can put away in 5 minutes. Or how many socks they can pair in 2 minutes!
Using a timer isn’t just awesome for chores, it can also help keep you focused at work too. Right now, I have a timer going to help me stay focused on writing this post! I give myself 50-minute ‘work windows’, followed by a 10-minute break. That helps stop me from getting distracted as I want to get as much done during that work window as possible.
Organization Tip 6: Donation Box
When we have a big purge we know we need a ‘trash pile’, a ‘keep pile’ and a ‘donations pile’. It makes sense to do this when you are sorting through things.
But it’s also useful to ALWAYS have a donation pile! OK, so you don’t always want to have a pile of old clothes in the middle of your floor, but having somewhere you can quickly toss things for donation will help you stay organized over time.
I have a cardboard box (great use for your old Amazon boxes!) in my closet. Any time I find something that I don’t need anymore (or clothes that don’t fit!), I put it in my donation box. Once the box is full, I throw it in the car and take it to the donation center.
It’s a small thing, but it makes a big difference. It means I’m constantly decluttering my home and keeping the ‘stuff’ under control!
Organization Tip 7: no More empty hands
This tip to help you become more organized is all about making the best possible use of your time.
If you are leaving a room, don’t go empty-handed! If you are going from the living room into the kitchen, grab that glass from the coffee table and take it through to the kitchen.
By doing little things like this, it helps stop the messes getting too large and keeps the clutter under control.
Let’s talk about stairs for a moment. In theory, walking up and down the stairs is great exercise… but it’s not exactly something you want to be doing 20 times a day!
One of the worst things about a multi-story home is realizing that the thing you need is downstairs, or having to shuttle dozens of things up and down the stairs every day.
The simple solution is to have 2 sets of some items that you commonly use in both places. For example keeping a stash of cleaning supplies upstairs, so you don’t have to carry it with you.
Try to think of ways you can cut down on your trips to and from rooms and also up and down the stairs.
Organization Tip 8: Keep your floors clean
This might seem like an odd tip when we are talking about how to be more organized, but having clean floors will help your home seem cleaner and tidier.
Floors are basically the larges surface in our homes and if they are dirty and dusty, then it will make your entire home look dirty. Doesn’t matter how tidy your counters are!
With 4 dogs, 4 cats, and 3 children in my house, I’ve had to learn a lot of shortcuts for keeping my floors clean.
My absolute, must-have tool is my robot vacuum! I seriously, could not keep up with my cleaning without it. I have a Neato D4 and I run it every single day… at least once! Sometimes, it even gets an extra run in the evening too!
My other go-to floor cleaning trick is using a microfiber mop and a spray bottle of cleaner (I do a mixture of white vinegar and water). Just spray the floor, swish over it with the mop and you’re done! Much quicker than a big mop and pail of water!
Check out my post all about flooring cleaning, for even more ideas to keep your floor (and therefore your home!) looking sparkling clean!
Organization Tip 9: Assign chores to everyone
My last tip for how to be more organized is essential in most busy households. There’s no way in our modern world, that one person can do ALL the chores. There’s just too more going on.
Now, I know it’s tough to get your family to help out with the chores and you always feel like you are nagging them. But if you set clear expectations, then it’s much easier than you think.
The trouble with asking someone else to help with the chores is that they don’t know what is expected of them or when. By setting out EXACTLY which chore you want them to do, and WHEN you want them to do it, you are taking away any uncertainty.
For example, my kids know that I expect them to clean their bathroom once a week. But rather than having to constantly nag them about it, I set out a clear cleaning plan for them to follow. Every Saturday morning they need to wipe down the counter, sink, and toilet before we will go out.
So what do you think of my tips for how to be more organized? Have they inspired you to make some changes in your life?
Just remember you don’t need to make all these changes at once. Just doing one or two of these things will make a massive difference to how organized your feel.