Hello friendlies! Today we are continuing our three part mini-series “Organize Your: _____” with a new section today on organizing your house. When I was a kid, my mom always used the phrase “junk attracts more junk” to explain why my room would get so messy after I had just cleaned it. Her reasoning was that as soon as you put something out of order (i.e. putting your clothes in a pile on the floor or putting papers on your dresser) you immediately are more likely to put more things out of order.
Of course as a teenager this saying drove me crazy, but now I can totally see the validity to it. So, after many tests, I know for a fact it is true. Why bother putting things away when you already have things out of order, right? Wrong.
I don’t know about you, I think it depends on your personality, but I get so stressed out when things are messy. It makes me less capable of focusing, less likely to finish projects on time, and way more likely to have headaches. So how can we cut down on our clutter and stay organized? Isn’t that the million dollar question. While I will not claim to be a guru in this area, I am the kind of person who loves to organize. I genuinely enjoy filing and labeling things (yes I am a huge dork, why do you ask?) and it is something I consider myself good at.
This post is going to be a general outline for how A and I keep our house and our lives in check. Some of these tips might seem silly or obvious to some of you, but I know that I just recently started implementing a lot of them in our home and they have made a huge difference! So here we go:
1. Firstly, now that your digital world is cleaned up, recycle those papers!
In the last part of our series, we discussed using your phone and iCloud as storage for important things such as contacts, addresses, business cards, photos, receipts etc. All of those items can be digitized and stored in your icloud so they are accessible anywhere, even if your computer/phone crashes. This eliminates all of the paper clutter that can take over your home.
And while we are on the subject, make sure that all of your bills are being paid online and that you are using paperless statements! This stops the inflow of junk to your house (potential clutter in the making) and it also prevents paper waste.
2. Mark time in your calendar to clean
This is so dorky, but A and I literally have the equivalent of a roommate style chore chart. It is not like we ever left dishes in the sink for days in a roommate-ish passive-aggressive stalemate…it is more like we just wanted to be sure that we were each pulling our weight. Marking on your calendars who does what and when gives you the freedom to ignore tasks that might otherwise nag you. I never give the bed a second glance when I wake up because it is always A’s job to make it. He never thinks about the kitchen counters because it is always my job to clean them. We have a chart in our phones that details what days we do our chores too so we can each be held accountable.
It makes for a continually clean house, without ever having to spend a whole Sunday afternoon slaving over a scrub brush.
3. Similarly, prep your entire next day the night before
I live a really busy life, and I often have multiple events in the same day that I don’t come home for in between. This method has really shaped my mornings (and life) to be much more fluid and peaceful.
I lay out my outfit the night before (iron clothes etc), and prep changes of clothes if need be. I often change for a workout or when I go from teaching preschool (very comfortable clothes that end up being sticky…ew) to important meetings. On top of this, I also prep my bento box and snacks the night before, I pack my gym bag, I collect any papers or documents I will need to bring to meetings, and I set out my stuff for decaf french press first thing in the am.
Also on this note, make a second makeup kit for your purse, car or gym bag. I know it is a lot of upfront cost (believe me I waited years to do this because of that very reason), but when you finally have one, it is a lifesaver. Between this and our prepacked travel toiletries bag, we never need more than a minute’s notice before packing for a trip!
4. Put a basket by the door
I recently started doing this with a basket just like this one and it is amazingly effective. All I do is keep a basket next to the door and every night I fill it with all of the items that need to go out with me to the car in the am. This can be items to donate to goodwill, products I need to return (and their receipts), gifts I need to remember to give friends or even just things that I want to put back in my car (ie. tennis raquet, our zero waste shopping kit).
It seems like a silly thing to need to say, but I only recently started doing this! No more “Shoot, happy birthday, your gift is at my house, but I swear I bought you something!”. No more “I know I have the receipt in here somewhere…” once you’ve already gotten to the store. It is all there and there is no forgetting it.
Also, on this note, we have a Metal Envelope Wall Envelope where we put our outgoing mail. While it might seem like an overly dramatic solution, it is amazing the difference it makes! We have been 100% on time with sending out all the birthday cards, just because it is staring us in the face as we leave each morning.
5. Two words: Meal. Prep.
I know, I know. Everyone talks about meal prep all the time, we get it. But seriously, I am not being dramatic when I call it life changing. Every Sunday we have a set schedule of all the food we will prep and all the snacks we want to have on hand. Being vegan has made it virtually impossible to buy prepackaged snacks (which is a huge plus for the environment!) so we always need to be prepared.
I will do a much more in depth post on this later, but the general idea is: we make a big batch of grains (brown rice or quinoa), we make a big batch of roasted veggies, I bake a healthy vegan/gluten-free dessert, A makes a huge batch of guac and we make a salty treat (like zucchini chips/fries).
Sometimes I will also pre-chop all out veggies that we’re going to use for stir frys/ramen throughout the week. This saves a ton of time and space in our fridge ta-boot.
It is amazing how much more likely I am to actually make a real dinner if I know I don’t have to waste 30 minutes cooking rice or roasting veggies. It makes our weeknight dinner options significantly healthier and it saves us a ton of money!
6. Get rid of the things you don’t need/use
I know that this can be a really hard one for some people (including myself sometimes when it comes to nostalgia), but like my mom says “junk attracts more junk”. If you donate clothes that you don’t wear, kitchen items you don’t use, or cables that you don’t even know what they go to anymore, you are way more likely to feel at peace. The more space you have for items you love, the less your mind is occupied with the things you don’t.
For the longest time I wouldn’t get rid of items I didn’t wear or gifts I didn’t use, simply out of guilt. But the problem with that way of thinking is that then you feel guilty every time you look in your closet because you don’t use them. Removing them from the situation (and effectively your mind) leaves you feeling more optimistic and less bogged down. It is amazing to be able to let go and only have items in your home that make you truly happy!
Once you are clutter free I highly recommend getting a label maker and actually using it. I use the Dymo LetraTag Label Maker and I cannot get enough of it! I labeled all of our spices, our shelves, our bulk food jars, EVERYTHING. It makes life so much easier, especially if you live with someone else. And especially if that someone else is a man.
So that is how I keep my home organized and moving! If you would like to check out any of the products that I use to get/stay organized, you can click them below: