An Organized Home: how to stay organized without constantly organizing

Say organized again.


I like to include a Mean Girls reference every now and then.

One of the best things about looking at images on Houzz and shelter publications and blogs is that those kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms and closets are flawlessly clean and organized.


Most of us have homes with signs of life and living


While other homes show the signs of a hectic life.


And then we progress to Hoarders and I have to look away.

I’d say our little condo falls somewhere between tidy and The Piles Stage. This is where your home isn’t necessarily undone but it seems like there should be some cleaning going on that clearly isn’t happening.

I don’t aim for a home that’s as clean as an Architecture’s Digest cover. I know myself well enough to know I can’t sustain a home that clean. And that brings me to step one:

1. Know Thyself

We’ve all seen those professional home organizers on Oprah or GMA. They have tips and tricks and I’m sure they’ve done a lot of good for a lot of clients. But what many of those tips and tricks don’t take into account is YOU. I often see the suggestion to clean your home a little at a time or take 4 minutes to make your bed in the morning. I’ve tried to adopt those habits but they don’t stick. I’m sure if I worked at it I could Martha-ize my domestic habits but that’s also the point here and brings me to step two:

2. Baby Steps (and a What About Bob reference)

Just like extreme diets, giant changes in daily behaviors are usually temporary. Focus on the cleaning and organizing you currently do, even if you barely do anything at all. Write down your pattern. If you like to unload the dishwasher in the morning, start there. Maybe unload the dishwasher and wipe down the counters. I have a funky little coffee routine I do in the morning (which I’ll explain in another post) and it leaves me with a few minutes to kill while I wait. Sometimes I wipe down the counter. Sometimes I wipe down the stove. Sometimes I find whatever the hell is stinking up my fridge and dispose of it. The result is I’m not really changing my habits but I’m using my time more efficiently.

3. When life gives you piles of crap, make lemonade. Wait…?

Look at that hot mess that’s your bathroom/office/kitchen. Sometimes I look at it and feel like a failure. How did it get so bad? I am not a pig, but this room looks like one is currently living in it. But the mess tells you something. See the dirty laundry on the floor of your bathroom? You have a need and that need is a laundry basket or hamper that will fit in your bathroom. Do you have toiletries and makeup all over the counter? You need a more easily-accessible container or shelf for these items. Chances are they’re intended to be put inside something or away from where you need them and not close at hand.

I seem to have a problem putting away non-perishable foods. I have a lot of food canisters, bread, crackers just hanging out on the counter when they should be put away. But the real source of the problem is my current pantry.


It is a black hole of canned foods and Swiffers. I’m going to bet that there’s no less than 8 cans of diced tomatoes and 4 cartons of chicken stock in there. But do I really know? Of course not! To find out I’d have become The Pantry Archeologist and excavate the whole cabinet to find a can of black beans I may or may not have. It’s a terrible system that will be remedying itself when we renovate our kitchen (starting next week!) but I’ve identified the problem based on the mess.

In summary, know yourself and your limits, make small and gradual changes that will work into an existing routine and analyze that mess of yours*. I have no products or things that will help you do this and I think that’s a good thing.


*and watch What About Bob and/or Mean Girls. Just for funsies. And after you’ve cleaned the bathroom!

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