Two Methods of Organizing

I get asked all the time, “How do I keep my house this organized?” especially right after I finish with a client. Organizng is a project first and then it’s a process. Many of you have probably taken a day or more to clean out a room in the house , only to find that a week¬† – the clutter is back! Life doesn’t stand still so neither does your stuff. The trick is to keep up with things like paperwork, cleaning, laundry, food storage on a regular basis. And if you want to keep up, I believe you’ve got two methods to choose from: The Full Barrel, or the Daily/Weekly Routine methods.

The Full Barrel – I love this term (which I borrowed from a book on food allergy reactions) because it’s so visual. You know what a full barrel looks like. And when it comes to organizing many people use containers (bins, baskets or boxes) to contain their clutter. So the method is that you contain one item or category to a container and when the container is full – you clear it out. That means sorting, purging and taking care of the items or putting them back where they belong. For instance, many people use this for laundry. You have a basket and when it’s full, you do wash. You can also think about a recycle container for newspapers. When its full you move it to the curb.

This system works well for visually motivated people and those who don’t like to live by a strict schedule. Be warned, however that the barrel may spill over at an inopportune moment. But you also don’t have to do any of these tasks until the bin is full so let it go and move on to something else!

The Daily/Weekly Routine – On the flip side, if you don’t want to wait for barrels to spill, and if you like predictability in your life, try the routine method. Invariably there are tasks that we all do every week like; food shopping, laundry, cleaning and taking out the trash. By assigning each task to a certain day you know that once a week these areas will be back to normal. This frees up your other days to do other things. For example, if you food shop on Sunday you can plan ahead for meals, lunches etc. and every week spend about the same money. If you run to the store every other day it’s more expensive. I also believe¬† if your family has seven outfits, it’s okay to do wash only once a week. Have somebody fold it and everyone can put their own clean clothes away. It’s not hard if it’s only once a week.

Then there are the daily routines like checking email, US mail, cleaning up the kitchen, walking the dog, etc. Delegate where you can so one person is not doing it all. Also set a timer for things like checking email so you don’t let that effect the rest of your day. Whatever is a priority do it first. For example, if you want to go to the gym and work out, don’t turn on your computer or answer the phone before that. Trust me, it will set your whole day off schedule!

Speaking of which, this system works well for people who like a schedule. If your life is such that you don’t have one – then make one! Be your own boss and set hours for certain things like exercise and reading if that’s what you want to do. When left to chance these things will not get done. But don’t forget to leave a little white space in your daily and weekly routines because if you’re over scheduled you’re over stressed!

What routines do you have that keep your home or office running smoothly? Leave a comment.

2 thoughts on “Two Methods of Organizing

  1. I Love your page. I am a mother of 4 kids. Well, to be honest 3 kids and 1 husband. I work part 1st and part 2nd shift. Therefore he is with the kids most of the time. He has slacked off when it comes to them cleaning up their toys, making them finish what they started, and being consistent. He has gotten really bad about buying lunchables for one of my kids, two sodas from the convient store, and buying our meal on a daily bases. I believe you take something out of it’s place you put it right back where you got it. However, my kids toys end up all over, clothes left where they take them off, etc Please how can I change this. They are 11, 6, 4, and 50. I’m about to go bazerk b/c when I’m not there to grill the kids he just lets them get away with it as long as he’s not being bothered. Please help! Crystal

    • Debbie

      This is not uncommon. Mothers just do things differently. And honestly I’ve been in a similar situation lately. I will defend my husband in that he hasn’t gotten that bad with the food! You have to talk one on one when you’re not angry. Make a list of what each of you do around the house & when. Sometimes when you see it on paper it becomes clearer to everyone. Then agree on the division of responsibilities. If you can do the food shopping once a week, you can get better food in the house. Then he won’t have to resort to last minute meals.Make a list of meal options and post it on the fridge. The hardest part about making dinner is deciding.
      Give limited options for lunch. Honestly my kids eat the same thing most days but it includes fruit, water, a snack and a sandwich or peanut butter crackers. We do it assembly line style.
      As for the clean up, talk to the kids directly about what you expect of them. Make your beds in the morning, put dirty clothes in the hamper and pick up your toys at night. At least get the toys back to the right room. Offer an incentive if they do it every day for a week.
      Hope that helps, good luck!

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