Clients flock to professional organizer Kathy Vines every January, to get a fresh start for the new year. But tidying a space is just a first step to living clutter-free. Learning how to stay organized and keeping on top of things is just as important.
Keep reading for tips from Vines and another organizer on how to get on track for a clean and relaxing space no matter what season or time of year it may be!
“It’s about remembering that every day you let (clutter build), it makes it a little harder to revisit,” said Vines of Clever Girl Organizing.
Take a Picture of Your Organized Space
Be proud of your newly-cleared space and remember how good it felt to finish your organization project by taking a picture once you’ve initially cleaned.
“It’s like the skinny picture you hang in the mirror when you want to lose weight,” said Vines. “Take a photo of the clean countertop and put it on your fridge. It’ll help you see when something has landed on the countertop that shouldn’t have.”
But make sure the photo is also realistic, advised Amy Tokos of Freshly Organized.
“Don’t stage your space and make it look great for a photo if that’s not how it looks when it’s functioning,” she said. “It should be a realistic, living photo or else it will be a lot of stress and anxiety that you’re putting on yourself that’s not needed.”
Give Yourself 20 Minutes to Unclutter Your Space
Organization is not a one-time project, it’s an ongoing effort. So put a reminder on your calendar to set aside 20 minutes to work on organizing something as small as a drawer or as big as a storage unit.
“Set a timer for 20 minutes – or listen to three songs on a playlist – and use that time to clean toys in the playroom or put laundry in the hamper instead of the floor,” said Vines, who wrote Clever Girl’s Guide to Living with Less. “Twenty minutes somehow feels like a snack of time and not a whole meal, so it’s easy to get started.”
Be careful and avoid going over that 20 minutes, even when you’re super motivated, because you don’t want the excuse that you worked twice as hard last week and deserve to skip this week, warned Tokos.
“It’s best to stop even with great momentum, because next week you may not start because you don’t want to get sucked in like you did the week before,” she said. “You’ll start to avoid it because you spend too much time there. Twenty minutes can really helpful in just creating a routine and getting it done.”
Create a Schedule to Prevent Future Clutter
Whether to tackle daily, weekly or monthly organization projects will depend on the person or family. But a regular schedule should be put in place early to keep clutter to a minimum.
“It can be as easy as finding where can you take five minutes every morning and every night to hit a reset button on a space,” Vines said.
It’s also important to have a designated spot to sort new things that come into the house, even if it’s a pile for you to organize later if you don’t have time right that second.
“You have to be hyper aware when you start to bring things into the home, so that balance doesn’t go away,” said Tokos. “When you bring something into your home, if you want to keep that balance, then something has to leave or else everything will get all out of whack again.”
When her kids were younger, she set a priority and created a habit for the whole family to clean up their stuff for 10 minutes before bedtime.
“It shows the kids that this is what we do every day and teaches them good habits,” she said. “And you get to wake up to a clean house!”