Want to know how to keep your home clean and organized? It’s as simple as building three easy habits. That’s not to say you won’t need some deeper cleaning on a regular basis. But building these habits into your daily routine will help to keep your home looking respectable enough for drop-in visitors. Of course, if you’re currently overwhelmed with a lot of clutter, you may first need to de-clutter and organize your home.
Staying organized is nothing more than consistently implementing a series of habits. But, like all habits, if you try to do too much all at once, you’re likely to become overwhelmed and bail altogether.
Take exercise for example: Have you ever decided to start an ambitious workout routine – like “l’ll hit the gym for an hour every day after work”? How did that turn out? Research has shown that if you incorporate a number of small habits over time, (for example, parking a little further away from work every week) you’re more likely to be successful over time. Setting up an ambitious change in your routine is much more challenging to incorporate into your already busy schedule.
The same goes for staying organized. The individual habits themselves can be very small, but layering them into your schedule over time can help you to make them as ingrained as brushing your teeth. And that’s the goal! Are you ready? Here goes….
Daily TLC for Your Home
“T” is for Trash
Every time you leave a room, take any trash with you and put it in a trash or recycling bin. This includes obvious trash such as tissues and food wrappers, but it could also extend to things that have outlived their usefulness: For example, a book or magazine you’ve finished reading and don’t need to keep, junk mail, envelopes and inserts from real mail, or broken items you have no intention of fixing.
Work on this habit for at least 21 days. It’s a common belief that it takes 21 days to build a habit. In fact, it can be anywhere from 18 days to 254 days. Take whatever time you need and when you feel you’ve masted this as a habit, move on to the next habit.
A key component in making a habit successful is tying it to a ‘trigger’ – a particular event. So tie the habit to the event of every time you leave a room.
“L” is for Laundry
Every time you leave a room, pick up any clothing and either put it in a laundry hamper or hang it up to be re-worn. Hooks are easier than hangers for hanging up coats and jackets. A coat tree or an over-the-door coat rack works great for hanging gently worn clothing that has no visible stains and passes the sniff test. You could potentially decide the item is trash or recycling as well: trash the socks with the holes in them and donate that T-shirt you just don’t feel good in.
Work the laundry habit till you’ve successfully completed at least 21 days in a row – more if you need to to make sure it’s developed into a habit.
“C” is for Cups and Plates
Every time you leave a room, pick up any dirty dishes and put them in the dishwasher or next to the sink for washing. (I have an issue with dishes IN the sink – it makes it hard to USE the sink. Do whatever works best for you!) And again, you have an opportunity to trash or donate the item. Trash the chipped coffee cup. Donate the dishes you have grown to hate and use the good stuff you love. What are you waiting for?
Again, work this habit for at least 21 days in a row or until the habit is ingrained in your routine.
I have to give credit where credit is due. This approach is adapted from Professional Organizer and Podcaster Lisa Woodruff of Organize 365. Lisa talked about using this type of approach with her children who have learning disabilities. Start with the trash…. etc. Whether you or your children have a learning disability or not, I think it is a great way to develop new habits.
I came up with the acronym to make these things easy to remember. But you can work on these habits in any order you like. Do what makes the most sense for your home.
Give it a Try
There you have it. These 3 simple habits correlate somewhat to the Sort and Purge tasks of the overall S.P.A.C.E. techniques for getting organized. If you consistently implement these habits, you should have way less to deal with the next time you need to Evaluate your organizing systems.
Try these habits and let us know how it goes We’d love to hear from you. Or let us know of other habits or routines you use to help you stay organized.