Honestly, I’ve always been a bit of a home organization freak. I enjoy sorting and classifying my things and there is little that brings me more happiness than a tidy drawer or cupboard.
Since I discovered Marie Kondo’s book, I have come a long way in terms of my home organization system. I’ve learned a lot about what makes a home organization system work or fail. I’ve made mistakes, tried systems that didn’t work at all, and through trial and error, I finally figured out a few principles. These principles are mandatory for a well-organized and functional home, and it certainly has nothing to do with buying fancy containers. So today, I wanted to share these principles that I’ve learned the hard way.
1. Let go of the picture-perfect home
This is probably the most important principle to retain from this article. Your home can’t look like the pictures in magazines every day 24 hours a day. It’s just unrealistic. Having that kind of expectation will only leave you frustrated. We’ve got to let go of the idea of a picture-perfect home all day every day. Life is not perfect and neither are our homes. Once you’ve accepted this, you simply can’t fail anymore.
It surely doesn’t mean that your home should be messy at all times but from time to time, a little mess is pretty much unavoidable. No home organization system, as good as it is, can cover every possible outcome of everyday life. You will always bring something new into your home that you will have to find a place for, pick up a new hobby, or break something that will need replacement and this will probably bring a little temporary clutter. But that’s okay as long as it remains temporary.
2. A good home organization system has to make your life easier
This is pretty obvious, but sometimes we seem to forget it. You may have a pretty neat color-coded system to tidy up your pantry but if you can’t maintain it in your everyday life, well, it’s not really working.
We see these beautiful pictures of pantries, dressings, or shelves with beautiful containers that are all perfectly organized all over the internet. But what we don’t see is that in everyday life, it’s really not that functional and certainly not looking that good at all times. Don’t get me wrong, it is possible to have a color-coded organization system that is also functional. However, before that, you need to make sure that these two criteria are met :
Easy to reach
We all have a lot going on in our lives and we don’t need to complicate things by making it difficult to access everyday items. Imagine if each time you have to do the laundry you have to open a cupboard, and remove a few items to finally get to your laundry detergent. Well, it’s seconds in your life that you could have spared for something that you actually enjoy. Without mentioning that this will leave you probably a bit more annoyed than you were.
The same goes for everyday items that are too high or too low. Please be kind to yourself and only conceal stuff that you don’t use that often.
Easy to maintain
Also, you know your system doesn’t work if you are unable to maintain it. Let’s take that laundry example I just mentioned. Once you’ve finally found your detergent and started a wash, chances are you won’t put everything back together. By then, you’ll be so drained that you’ll leave it for later. And that’s how it gets messy.
This can take multiple forms. It will really depend on your own habits and way of living.
3. It should never take you more than 5 minutes to tidy up a room
This has been said countless times but it’s still very true. Your home can be messy, as we’ve seen, life is unpredictable and from time to time you won’t be able to tidy right away. But when you decide to take care of the mess, it should never take you more than 5 minutes to tidy.
If it does take you more than 5 minutes, it probably means that your stuff doesn’t have a dedicated space in this room This is a good sign that you need to do a purge. This leads us to the fourth principle of home organization systems:
4. Purge, purge, purge
Since I applied Marie Condo’s method and did my first big purge (it took me an entire week to go through all my stuff), it is something I now do on a regular basis.
I would love to be able to tell you that you only have to do it once and then be free of clutter forever. But that wouldn’t be true. Keeping a tidy and free-of-clutter home is a never-ending process and we should all be aware of that. As with everything in life, you can’t expect it to last forever. Things change and evolve and there will be a moment when you’ll need to purge again.
On the bright side, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Now, when I see that there are a lot of things lying around that I haven’t decided where they belong, I take 15 minutes and sort them out. I probably do this once every two weeks. it can be more, it can be less it will really depend on your habits.
Bonus: universal organization tips
These tips are meant to help almost anyone keep most of the clutter away. They are simple and can be set up easily.
Creating drop-off areas
As I said earlier you need to make your life easy. For example, when you arrive home, the last thing you want is to make the process of getting rid of your coat, bag, shoes, etc… more difficult than it should be.
So hooks and peg rails in the entryway relatively close to the entry door are a must as are a defined space where to put your shoes, maybe a nice entryway bench. As long as it remains open and doesn’t demand too much effort on your part.
You can at some point decide to conceal your shoes and coats in the cupboard but until that moment your stuff will be neatly stowed.
Drop-off areas are also a must for bedrooms, where the clutter often comes from pieces of clothing that are neither dirty nor clean.
Regrouping stuff on counters
In a home, we all have counters in almost every room. It’s often a place that feels cluttered. Most of the time it’s because things are just lying there by themselves looking really weird.
A good tip is to simply regroup and unite them thanks to a tray or else. It will make an immediate difference. It can be on a nightstand, kitchen counter, shelving system, or dining table this tip will work on any kind of surface.
Drawers instead of deep shelves
As much as possible try to go with drawers. It just makes everything easier to reach. You can have a clear overview of the contents of your drawers, whereas it’s rarely the case with shelves. This is also a valid tip for almost every room, from the bathroom to the kitchen.
As I said drawers are not always a possible option moreover, rental apartment such as mine often comes with built-in cabinets. So, to optimize the space as much as possible you can use rotating organizers for smaller items. It will allow you to easily access everything that is concealed in your cabinets.
One place for each of your things
This has been my motto since I read Marie Kondo’s book. It’s a discipline that is not always easy to have but if you respect it you should be relatively free of clutter.
It consists of deciding where to put each new item you bring back into your home even if it’s the smallest thing. Doing that will make you realize that there is a lot of stuff that you unconsciously keep moving around your home just because you haven’t decided where to put them. Sometimes it’s because the obvious decision should be to get rid of it. But either way, deciding where its place should be will keep the clutter to a minimum.
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