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Home OrganizationMost of us feel more comfortable, more confident and more at ease when our home is organized.  Home organization can give us great pleasure and satisfaction when we manage to achieve it, and the lack of it can be a source of much stress and anxiety.  Living in a home which is organized gives us the freedom to give better quality attention to other areas of our life, such as work, family, hobbies, community, health and so on, creating better balance.    Home organization is important to many people, and is something I’ve always been interested in and enjoy writing about.

The basics of achieving organization in our home are time management, routines, systems and decision making.  Running a home in an organized way is something which is a continuous activity, can be learned, and gets easier as habits are established.

There is regular housework to be done, shopping, cooking and meal planning, bill paying and all sorts of other desk work and administrative stuff, keeping free of clutter, keeping things tidy, finding places for storing things, decorating and furnishing, gardening, maintenance, entertaining, and all sorts of other little things (or maybe big things) according to your lifestyle.

Home organizing may be something you do to please yourself, or you may do it because you are obliged to as a parent, carer or homemaker.  It may be done mainly by one person, or it may be done as a partnership or a team with your partner, family or housemates.  Your quality of life is related to the standard of home organization you manage to achieve in two ways.  A well organized home is a reflection of your quality of life generally, and will improve your quality of life generally as well.

If you are responsible for how well your home is organized, you are the one setting the standards, setting the example for others you share your home with.  The state of your home is a reflection of how well you are functioning.  If you are functioning well in other areas of your life but not this one, attending to it will give you a big lift, and if all areas are not going so great right now, attending to your home organization will make all of it much easier.

If things are a long way out of control at the moment, it can be difficult not be overwhelmed by it and put off doing something about it.  If only a few areas need attention, attending to them will still give you plenty of satisfaction.  Perhaps it’s clutter, or perhaps it’s the laundry, or perhaps it’s meal planning, or perhaps the whole thing is just out of control.  Perhaps you just have a pile of filing or a messy garage that needs attention.

Starting small, with just one thing, is a great approach for anyone feeling anxious about their home organization.  Simple things like starting to fully wash your dishes and do some laundry every day are the first place to start.  “Dishes and washing, dishes and washing” is my mantra, and everything goes from there.  That might mean delegating to your kids to pack and unpack the dishwasher, clear and clean the dining table where you eat, and you cleaning the kitchen every day after you cook.  This will expand to meal planning, which will lead to your grocery shopping system developing which will lead to budgeting and so on.  We need the basics in place to function on a daily basis – food to eat, somewhere to eat it and something to eat it off, and clean clothes to wear, towels and sheets to use.

Timing some simple daily and weekly tasks may sound strange, but if you do this, it gives you a basis for your time management.  Some things take much more or less time than we realize, and making note of it and fully acknowledging it puts us in a better position to make the decisions necessary for establishing our routine.  It’s ok to put a limit on how much time we wish to allocate to certain tasks.  Not everything has to be done perfectly, but it does have to be done, either by you, or delegated successfully to someone else.  Knowing how long a task takes is also very useful information to have when you are delegating.

Tackling household chores in a pro-active and pre-planned way is much less likely to associate resentment and guilt with the tasks than when we are approaching them in a reactionary way, washing dishes because we need the frying pan to cook with and the chopping board to prepare a meal, washing clothes we need for tomorrow, rummaging through piles of papers looking for that bill that the company keeps ringing you about.

This attitude of being pro-active rather than reactionary benefits everything in your life, of course, not just your home organization.  Your home is a great place to start though when you are working on changing your attitudes and habits of thought.  After all, it is where you sleep and bathe and probably where you eat and spend a lot of your free time too.  It is your base, where you keep your belongings, where you invite people to visit and it is a reflection of you just as much as how you dress.  You can tell a lot about a person by looking around their home.  What does yours tell you right now?  Does it show a person who feels good about themselves and is functioning well?  Does it reflect your tastes and interests?  Is it comfortable and welcoming?  Can you find the spare light bulbs?

Clutter often starts and grows from the kitchen bench tops.  Single people in particular have a tendency to use this area as their launching pad and dumping ground.  It can be one of the scariest areas to try to take back control of when embarking on organizing your home.  Its also an area that’s good to start in because we spend a lot of time here and a lot of daily stuff happens here, so improving how this area functions gives us an immediate and tangible benefit.

I think it’s an easy one to tackle, if you start as mentioned above with a daily habit of washing the dishes and cleaning up after your meal preparation, even if that is just putting takeaway containers in the rubbish and washing a plate.  You simply add a few minutes to that daily habit and put away a few extra things each time.  This extends to making sure you put away anything new you take out that day, and not adding new items to the pile.  It’s just a simple habit, which grows and takes over.  

This gradual approach can work even more effectively than a big effort to clear the lot, because it establishes home organizing habits.  It teaches you to be tidy as you go, and forces you to ignore the mess that is already there and not let it stop you from carrying out the decision you have made to habitually be tidy in that area now on a daily basis.  You can see the gradual improvement, it gets easier each day, and you start to take pleasure in it, which reinforces the habit.

Home organization requires commitment.  If you want your home to be organized, you are going to have to devote regular time to it – that means daily, every day.  It doesn’t have to be an enormous amount of time, and it doesn’t have to happen all at once, though I do know how to make big changes quickly for those who have the stomach for it.  Whether you make a big effort or take the slow and steady approach, it must be maintained, and you must continue to devote time to it daily, or it just won’t happen, unless of course you have set up a complete system and hired a competent housekeeper to run it for you.  Wouldn’t that be nice.  Well, perhaps if you get your act together, you will start making more money, and that might be a possibility one day.  You can of course outsource the setting up part as well, and if you function very well in the income producing area of your life, why not.  

The commitment to time spent every day must come willingly, with belief and certainty.  You must make the decision and be prepared to back yourself up and carry it out.  You might set aside half an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon or evening, you might have the whole day and just need to fit it around caring for your children or working from home.  You need to have the attitude that you want to do it and that you are doing it for yourself.  

And of course there are decisions to be made.  You need to list the tasks you need completed every day, every week, and there might be fortnightly, monthly or less frequent regular tasks too.  Only you will know what they are for your household, but they will have to include the basics mentioned above, that is shopping, meal preparation, dishes and cleaning up after meals, tidying up as you go along, storage planning, clutter control, cleaning, bills and paperwork, and laundry.

Home organization is not just about finding a place for everything; it is about running a home, maintaining your standards, and carrying out habits which keep the joint running smoothly.  Being able to find your keys is just one of the many benefits.


#3 Ruth Warner 2011-01-28 08:32
Great blog, I reallly enjoyed reading about this fascinating topic.
#2 Lynn 2011-01-06 08:03
Hi Yvette

I loved this article as it is so well timed - I think you were in my head and just knew exactly what I needed!!! Actually every article you send is well-timed for my needs - each one shows me how and where to start which is just the key I need to get started, as well as motivate me.
#1 Terence 2010-12-22 10:51
I like your articles. I know where you are coming from. Being tidy makes you feel better but you feel like being tidy when you feel good.
It is a great first step to renewing your spirit to even consult with someone who can help put your possessions into the right spots. Then you can start thinking about what else needs to be in the right place.

Have a great Xmas and thanks for your stories and newsletter. This is a nice looking site too.


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