Improving The Chaos: My Guide to Organization

One of the most important things in life, I think, is organization. When things aren’t organized, they seem so chaotic. Spontaneity sounds amazing and from time to time, it can be, but I think that overall it is better in theory than in practice. I’ve always gone through spurts of trying to make us more organized and it failed. Nobody would cooperate with me and I would be too busy doing everything else to try and enforce it, and then finally I’d fall short too. This year has been the first year where I can see the fruits of my labor and I think maybe it’s because I set small goals for myself, room by room. I also picked up the book The Real Simple Method to Organizing Every Room and How to Keep it That Way, which did a nice job breaking everything down to absolute basics.

real simple method to organization

I’m going to tell you the truth right now. I originally wrote this post exactly FOUR years ago and never published it. I don’t even know why. Maybe it was because I knew that I still wasn’t going to be able to make it happen. I can finally stand behind these words because it’s been materializing around me over the last year. I’ve modified the post to fit things I’ve learned since so without further ado, let me share this lifelong project with you!

With fall cleaning still going on in my home, purging the seasonal clothing and those sizes that no longer fit, things become a disaster. I like to deep clean, though, so it’s usually crazy before it’s better in here! Cleaning has been a time share with my blogging for years so I don’t often have time to rip things apart and put them back together again the right way. This is why I’ve given myself a step-by-step guide and rules on how to get there, especially with five young children.

Everything needs a place. I’m noticing that one of our biggest problems is things just get put here or there but not many of our things had actual locations they belong in. In the last few years, I’ve made a home for just about everything you can think of. If the kids (or the husband!) can’t remember where that home is, my next point has made that foolproof…

Labels. One of the most useful things about having a Cricut is that I’ll be able to make some really adorable labels for our bins and containers. If I feel like that place’s purpose might change at some point, I use the handy and inexpensive chalkboard labels. Our pantry is organized by what I had the most of, like cans and pasta, so I use chalk to define those in case I change my mind about where things should be.

organization book shelf

Bins and containers. For everything to have a place, a place with labels, they need bins and containers to go into! Right now I have Barbie dolls in a shoe organizer on the wall, some under-the-bed containers to save space, and my favorites are the 12-organizer bins for the kids’ toys and cube organizers for the living room and my room.

Sell what you aren’t using. I wrote this one four years ago and you know what, some of that stuff sat in my attic or shed in a “going to sell” stockpile collecting dust until a few months ago. Don’t do that. Organizing can be expensive so it’s a huge help to be able to make some money back and it’s very important to be able to get rid of things, but give yourself a time limit. If it’s going in the trash right away, great. If you feel like it should be donated, commit to getting that bag or box within three days. No excuses. If three days are up and you’re still looking at it by the front door, you need to just toss it.

As far as selling it goes, we’re finding that Facebook yard sale groups are really easy and the money you can get for things is often higher than you’d get from having a physical yard sale. You post your item in a group (the main one I use has over 28,000 members) with the description, price, and a location where you’re willing to meet your buyer. An even easier feature on Facebook now is the Marketplace. The phone app for this makes Marketplace an absolute breeze and you can even rate buyers and sellers on it. If you don’t have the time or space to sell your items but could use the profit, there are people who do it for a living that take a portion of the sale so there are options! Just make sure that your golden rule is to set a time limit that you will absolutely stick to. If it’s not sold within that two weeks you gave yourself, donate or trash it. PERIOD.

Schedule. This one seems like a given and I’m the last one to the party. When it’s chaotic from the mess, the schedule becomes impossible. Ever since we got our Alexa, scheduling and reminders have been a lot easier. I’ll set aside two hours of my day to work on a particular room, an hour to do the basic dailies in another room, then I can work for the other portion.

Give the kids responsibilities. I’ve talked about this before but the kids need to be cleaning up after themselves. I realize that sometimes it’s more work for you to harp on them to get their things done but they need to be held accountable for their messes. Sure, they won’t be cleaning the way that you want them to but you can gradually work it up to that point. The more important part about this job is that they know what it takes to get things cleaned up and they are taking responsibility for their own things. I grew up knowing that if I didn’t clean up after myself, my mom would just do it for me. I spent many of my years being an absolute disaster because cleaning was not a habit I was used to. If the kids are young, just make them age-appropriate jobs. There’s no reason why your three year old can’t try to pick up the blocks she just took out. The labels help with all of this but it can also be something that you do together.

Limit what comes in. The mess can’t possibly begin if you’re not overflowing with junk to begin with, right? I think my husband is finally convinced that Christmas gifts do not have to be all toys, knowing that things get played for for such a short time and then just take up space. Last year, we aimed for many more practical things like clothes (which our kids get excited about, especially if they’re characters), hair accessories, educational tools, etc. If you’re someone who likes to bargain shop, know exactly what you want first and don’t pick up extras.

clothes mountainThis is a REAL picture of Clothes Mountain circa 2010. It takes a lot of courage for me to be able to share this  but I want you to know where I’m coming from!

I never claim to have all of the answers but I’m here as a former disaster, reaching out to anyone looking to improve their chaos. We used to have a couch that was completely filled with clean clothes that needed to be folded. It was massive and it made me sad. We called it Clothes Mountain. I clawed my way to the top of my Clothes Mountain and I’m here to help you find out how to get to the top of your own Clothes Mountain, be it your overflowing attic or whirlwind of toys. Organization is guaranteed to make so much of your life easier and likely, a lot happier too!

What are YOUR key ways to get and stay organized?

improving the chaos: my guide to organization

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1 thought on “Improving The Chaos: My Guide to Organization

  1. my key way of staying orgaized is to not let too much stuff in the house in the first place! We are trying to be minimalists.

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