In my decade of experience as a professional organizer, I have found that there are five categories of items or areas that are most in need of organized systems to maintain organization. The cyclical nature of these spaces is what makes it challenging, because items are coming and going, or moving from one area to another, or changing on a regular basis. Let’s look at these 5 categories, and review some tips to maintain organization in these areas.
Mail & Papers
Mail arrives almost daily, and while much of it may be junk, the important papers and packages need to be opened and given a home inside your house. Whether that’s being saved in a paper file folder, scanned, or a a bill to be paid, a coupon to use, or an invitation to respond to, you need to have a regular system to open and check the mail, discard the unimportant, and then take action on the important. Setting up areas of your home to hold incoming mail, store action papers, and then store files that you need to save for reference can help you manage paper overload.
Laundry & Clothing
Sizes and seasons change, we buy new clothes, and don’t always declutter the old clothing. Clothes go through a cycle of clean (and ideally in a drawer or closet), to being worn, to being dirty and then needed to be washed, dried, folded or hung up again on a regular basis. Creating homes for clothes in all of these states is extremely important to maintaining organization. For example, selecting and placing laundry baskets or hampers in an accessible place, and regularly decluttering drawers and closets to give each type of clothing it’s own space, so you can easily put it away and retrieve it when needed, will help you stay better organized.
Just like the clothing, dishes, silverware, and cooking supplies have a cycle of being clean (and ideally is a designated cabinet or drawer), used, dirty, and in a sink or dishwasher, then clean and awaiting to be put away. By decluttering and organizing your kitchen so every item has a space, and then setting up routines to load and empty a sink or dishwasher, wash the dishes and put them away, you can keep this area organized.
Groceries & Meals
Food cycles through a home from the fridge, freezer or pantry, then being consumed, and then needing to be restocked by a trip to, or delivery from a grocery store. Setting up organized spaces in your fridge, freezer and pantry, and planning a regular decluttering of spoiled or expired foods, then keeping up with writing a grocery list, and meal planning weekly can help keep the organization of food items under control.
Schedules & Time
Just like physical spaces, calendars and schedules can become cluttered and disorganized. By choosing the right planner, calendar or task management tool for you, whether that be paper or digital, and using it everyday to keep track of your time, you can keep your schedule better organized. You can schedule times for work, commuting, chores and errands, appointments, relaxation and social time on your calendar. Having a way to contain and manage your schedule can prevent you from being late or missing important events, and lead you toward better organization in all areas of your life.