40 Ways to Get Organized: Part 1

Does it ever feel like it’s impossible to get your home, your work, or your life organized? Do you feel like there’s never enough time in the day? Are you feeling stressed and overwhelmed?

Getting organized doesn’t have to be that way.

There are many small, everyday ways to get organized and help you stay that way. Here are 20 easy ways to get you started:

1) Create and Follow Routines

Establishing routines for certain aspects of your day will help your day flow more smoothly and ensure that certain tasks get accomplished. For example, you may have a morning routine that includes starting the coffee and checking your e-mail. Your after work routine might include starting a load of laundry or reviewing your to-do list. At night, you may prepare the coffee maker to be turned on in the morning and do some relaxing yoga.

2) Make the Bed

I admit it. It wasn’t long ago that I started making my bed every day. I thought, “If no one sees it but me, what does it matter if my bed is made? I’m just going to crawl back into it tonight anyway.” I kept hearing that making the bed every morning was so important to getting yourself organized though. I figured that, as a home organizer, I should at least give it a try.

What I found was that I like seeing my bed made. I also like that, if I make my bed every day, it’s quick and easy to get it made since Made Bedmy sheets and blankets don’t get nearly as messed up as they do over time. This makes it less stressful when I’m expecting a guest with little warning (my cats would go nuts if the door to my bedroom got shut and they couldn’t get in there). Making the bed every morning also just starts my day off productively with a small sense of accomplishment and a feeling of pleasure at the neater looking room I’ve instantly created. So, I say, if you’re not already making your bed every day, give it a try! What have you got to lose?

3) Utilize Spare Time

You may be thinking, spare time? What spare time? Spare time includes those minutes when you’re waiting for something else to happen. For example, while dinner is cooking, you could be switching out the dishes and wiping down the counters. When you’re waiting in line, work on clearing out your email (see more on that later.)

4) Follow the “One In, One Out” Rule

This rule means that for each item that comes into the home, another item must go. Ideally, these items would be like, or similar, items. For example, if you buy a new book, especially if there’s no more room on your bookshelf, then another book should be removed from your home. If you buy a new decor piece, an older one should go.

5) Shoot for Inbox Zero for Your E-Mail

Inbox Zero means having the goal of maintaining an empty inbox. It involves going through your e-mail every day and addressing each item by deleting it, returning it, taking other action on it, or putting it into the proper digital e-mail folder for later reference.

6) Manage Incoming Paper

Various kinds of paper can lead to clutter very quickly. To prevent this, it is helpful to deal with it as it comes in daily. You can immediately throw away junk mail, file what needs to be kept, shred sensitive documents that don’t need to be kept, and take action on items such as bills or place in a pending area, such as a paper tray, to deal with at a later time. To make sure that “later” doesn’t become “never”, you can establish a specific day and time each week that will be used to take action on your pending items. For other magazines and newspapers, they should be moved to an area where they will be read and should be put into recycling by the time the next issue arrives.

7) Create a To-Do List

A to-do list can take many forms. Some prefer a traditional paper method while others might utilize an app for their smartphone. Personally, I prefer to add to-do items to my Google Calendar. It makes it easy for me to expand my to-do list to tentative times over the week and make adjustments easily as needed. I also like that I can make additions and changes using my laptop, tablet, or phone so I can make alterations at home or on the go and have all devices sync together.

8) Prioritize

It’s important to know what to-do list items are the most important so that they can be taken care of first.

9) Review Your To-Do List

At the end of each day or the end of your workday, you should review your list to determine if everything was accomplished or if certain items need to be moved to the next day.

10) Leave Room In Your To-Do List

Having a to-do list is a great tool and it can be tempting to fill up your schedule. It is also important, however, to leave space for the unexpected that will inevitably pop up from time to time so that such an occurrence doesn’t throw off your whole day.

11) Use Color Coding

Color-Coded-FilesColor coding systems, such as for your files or your digital calendar events, can make it easier and quicker to identify what you’re looking for.

12) Set Reminders

Another reason I love going the digital route with my schedule is because I can set up reminders minutes, hours, days, or even weeks in advance of a task or event. This ensures that I will remember this item and also have the time necessary to prepare in whatever way I need to.

13) Set Alarms

Alarms can be used for more than waking you up in the morning and timing how long you cook your food. Alarms can be used to schedule your work and rest periods throughout the day, which can improve your productivity.

14) Lay Out What You Need for the Next Day

To help your morning run smoother so you can get out the door, it helps to prepare the night before. Decide what you will wear and get your outfit ready. Not only will you not waste time trying to decide what to wear in the morning, but you’ll also have the opportunity to note if something is wrinkled or otherwise not ready to be worn so that you can address the issue the night before.

15) Prep Meals The Night Before

You can put out the dry ingredients for breakfast and prepare lunch for the next day. This will save decision-making and time in the morning and allow you the opportunity to make adjustments to your plan if needed.

16) Utilize a Pick-Up Zone

This could be a table near the door or a mud room in which you place items that will be needed for the next day. You can put an umbrella here if it’s calling for rain. You can also put a gym bag, briefcase, or backpack here as well as shelf stable lunches or a package that needs to go to the post office.

17) Do It Now!

If it’s going to take less than 2 minutes, do the task now.

18) Say “No”

It can be easy to get roped into so many activities and responsibilities that you run yourself ragged and still don’t have time to take care of yourself. That’s why it is important to attempt to start using the word “No” more often. Really take an N0inventory of what you have committed yourself to, what you realistically have time to do, and what you actually want to do. Then, start implementing the word, “no”. “No, I don’t think that will work with my schedule.” “No, I’ll have to pass on that.” You can also find ways to say, “no,” without actually using the word specifically. “I’m not available in March. Perhaps you could check back with me after that?” “I don’t have any availability right now, but I’d love to see you at some point.”

19) Delegate

When possible, ask for help. If you don’t have time to work and take care of everything at home, but you have a family who lives with you, ask them to pitch in. Is there someone at work who could take over or assist with certain responsibilities?

20) Keep Objects Near Their Place of Use

When we give an object a home that is located far from the place it is typically used, the likelihood of that object being returned to its home goes down and the chance that it will remain where it was used goes up. For example, if newspapers and magazines are kept on the shelf on the far side of the living room and you do your reading on the couch, then the coffee table is apt to become strewn with reading material. Instead, perhaps try placing an attractive tray on the coffee table to organize these materials. You could also try placing a magazine rack beside the couch for this purpose.

Small Actions = Major Impact

As you can see, there are many small ways that you can get your home and life organized. You don’t have to do all of them. Just pick a few that are a good fit for you and your life and give them a try!

Stay tuned for 40 Ways to Get Organized: Part 2!

You Can Do It!


P.S. I hope this post has been of some value to you. I’d love to hear your comments or questions. Please feel free to share your stressors and successes here!

4 thoughts on “40 Ways to Get Organized: Part 1”

  1. Thanks for all the great tips! I agree with a lot of what you said! Small steps like these help me to not get too overwhelmed and things to fall behind. 
    I cannot crawl into a messy bed at night so making my bed in the morning makes me relax much quicker at night! I also use my phone alarm to remember important appointments or when my kids need to bring something special to school! 
    People with messy homes and unorganized papers must have a hard time getting things done I would think? I have a hard enough time and I use many of your steps listed here! Always room for improvement though!

    1. Yes, small steps result in small accomplishments which, when added together, make for big and positive outcomes. 

      It sounds like you have a tendency towards organization so it comes more naturally for you. Of course, there are many people who struggle with it and, as you surmised, have a harder time getting things done. 

      I agree, there’s always room for improvement. I’m working on improving all the time!

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. I can definitely use many of the tips you provided. For example, I rarely delete Emails because I know I can do a search and find what I want. As a result I have over 100,000 Emails. You read that right. Yikes! Any ideas on how to pare that down? They go back to 2014.

    Making ones bed does have the effect you discussed. It starts the day right and gives you a feeling of accomplishing something of value. When I go to bed at night seeing a made up bed gives a feeling of calm.

    My cellphone is great for setting alarms and appointment reminders. If I didn’t use this I would be lost. 

    By getting rid of clutter it makes is easier to get and stay organized. Hence you suggestion of getting rid of an item when you bring a new one in, makes a lot of sense. However, that is a habit one needs to start when you first move into a new place. After one has accumulated loads of junk, what do you do? Any suggestions?

    Thanks for your great ideas in developing habits to staying organized.


    1. For decluttering your email, I would suggest setting aside a few minutes each day, whether it is 10 or 20, you decide. Use that time to review and delete unneeded emails. One trick you could use to speed up the process: if you find an email from a person or place that is no longer relevant to your life or business, and you know there are more emails from the same source, go ahead and do a search for that source and then delete their emails in bulk. Of course, you’ll also want to prevent more unneeded emails from coming in by unsubscribing to any lists you may be on that no longer serve you. 

      It’s not at all uncommon to have “accumulated loads of junk.” At any point, you can work on decluttering spaces in your home. For example, let’s say you have a bookshelf but your books are overflowing beyond that point. You can go ahead and sort through your books, keeping only those that you most value and are most likely to read again. Declutter your books until they fit within the shelves of your bookcase. Then, from that point forward, if new books come in, older books have to go out to make room. This will also help you to think about the items you choose to bring into your home more. Do you want to buy a book enough to get rid of one you already have? If not, maybe you could buy or read a digital version instead or borrow it from the library. 

      I hope these suggestions will be of help to you.

      Thank you for your comments and questions!

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