As that weirdo in college with an obsessive habit of deep-cleaning and reorganizing my apartment, my passion for organization has always fallen on the extreme side of the spectrum. But now, with a full-time job and a side hustle, organization falls to the wayside amid jam-packed schedules and ever-expanding to-do lists. Since I know that nonstop days are inevitable and my busy to-do list isn’t going anywhere, I’ve come up with a few tricks to keep my home as organized as I like it, without spending too much time. These habits make it possible for me to keep life organized, even when life threatens to overwhelm order. By committing to these five daily habits, I keep my clutter under control, and you can too. Read on for the organizational hacks I swear by keeping my life tidy, even during the busiest weeks.
1. Unpack your bag when you get home
Unpacking my bag immediately when I get home is a holy grail step for me. See, I’m a schlepper. I’m that person who totes a massive purse with her everywhere she goes. While I love the convenience of an oversized bag (it’s a lunchbox, backpack, and makeup bag!), I don’t love fishing around for headphones, my phone, or lip gloss. The fix? Reorganizing and unpacking regularly. As soon as I get home, I set my purse down and take everything out of it (à la Mary Poppins). I then put everything away (lunch container on the kitchen counter, shoes on the shelf, lipstick in the organizer, etc.) immediately so I don’t have any clutter in my purse or in my home.
2. Clean the kitchen while the coffee brews
By my calculation (or, you know, the kitchen clock), it takes eight minutes for my java to brew, which means I have eight minutes to tidy up before I can take that perfect first sip. Every morning, I spend a few minutes cleaning off the counter, putting dishes away, and cleaning anything leftover from the night before. I make sure that the kitchen is cleaned (in just a few minutes!) before I drink my coffee. Not only does this save me the hassle of having to straighten up after work, but it’s also a way for me to make the most out of those few precious minutes before it’s time to start the workday.
3. Put things back right away
Sounds like common sense that when you take something out, you put it away, right? Try telling yourself that when it’s 10 p.m. and you’re cozy in bed with your pajamas on and a cup of tea in hand. But the second you finish a book, you should place it back on your bookshelf. Or your laptop, a magazine, or your phone, etc. The point is that when you’re done with whatever it is, put it back where it belongs. Don’t leave it precariously at the end of the bed, don’t let it take up extra square footage on the couch, and don’t relegate it to a pile of “stuff” on the coffee table. Doing so just creates a visual eyesore and one that’s more time consuming to put away in the long run as item upon item stacks up. Get in the habit of putting everything back as soon as you’re doing using it to save you time and clutter in the wrong run.
4. Wash the dishes right after dinner
I know washing up after you’ve gone all MasterChef and prepared a showstopper of a dinner is probably the last thing you want to do. However, it’s best to do dishes as soon as possible so that food doesn’t stick onto pots and pans after sitting for a while. Because I’m the type of person who always needs dessert, I’ve incorporated cleaning up into my dessert routine. After making and enjoying dinner, I return to the kitchen to wash whatever pots and pans I used that night. While I’m washing, I multitask by turning on the kettle for tea. By the time I’ve scrubbed my last pot, the water is ready for my cup of chamomile and I reward myself with dessert.
5. Pick out your outfits on Sunday
A few months into working my current job, I noticed it was taking me longer and longer to get ready in the morning, all because of my outfits. I’d put on a shirt, realize it didn’t work with my skirt so I’d swap it out for a sweater only to decide it’s too bulky for the skirt. Before I knew it, 15-20 minutes had passed just focused on my outfit. I began carving out time on Sundays to pick out and plan my outfits for the week. Doing it in advance also allowed me to check the weather and review my schedule for the week. Am I working from home every day? Do I have meetings? Events? Planning everything out ahead of time saves me the hassle of figuring out what to wear the morning of. But the best part? There’s never an endless sea of clothes thrown around the room.