31 Daily Habits to Get and Stay Organized
Editor's Note: Most of us wish we were better organized, but where should we even start? Certified Professional Organizer Darla DeMorrow has 31 suggestions for how to conquer the chaos.
1. Assign a home/ hook/ bowl for your keys (and only your keys), and put them there every single time.
2. Check your calendar first thing in the morning.
3. Look at your to-do list. Pick three items to complete today.
4. Hang up your jacket.
5. Hang up or put away 5 items of laundry.*
6. Plan dinner for tomorrow night and assemble the ingredients.
7. Avoid buying something that you would otherwise have bought.
8. Carry something upstairs and put it where it belongs inside a dresser, closet or cabinet.
9. Put 1 thing in a donation bag or box in or near your car.*
10. Carry something downstairs and put it away where it belongs in a dresser, closet or cabinet.
11. Write down one appointment to take care of your physical self in the next week or month (work out, get haircut, schedule doctor’s appointment, etc.).
12. Read one thing that you’ve been looking forward to reading (article, website or part of a book).
13. Clean all the trash out of your car, briefcase or backpack.
14. Fix or make arrangements to fix one thing that’s broken or that needs mending.
15. Organize your wallet, pay bills, check your balance or make a savings deposit.**
16. Recycle five magazines, catalogs or newspapers into the recycle bin.
17. Delete 10 bad-quality photographs from your phone or cloud service.
18. Learn to use your favorite timer (on the microwave, phone or egg timer) for 15-minute organizing projects.
19. Quickly organize one small drawer, shelf or basket of items. This should take you less than 15 minutes.
20. Read one document that you’ve been putting off (insurance papers, financial statement, instruction manual, etc.).
21. Call, email or mail one person you’d like to stay in contact with.
22. Put one thing on your written or electronic shopping list (but don’t buy it today!).
23. Put a label on one thing.*
24. Go through everything in one small drawer/bag/toy bin/calendar week WITH your child or spouse. ***
25. Empty or throw out one item or container from the refrigerator.
26. File something. Anything.
27. Tie up, roll up, fold up, stack up or close up something.
28. Wipe down one horizontal surface like a bathroom vanity, the kitchen counter or even your car dashboard.
29. Recycle something into your everyday routine, like mason jars or storage boxes.
30. Decide if something that isn’t getting done needs to be delegated or hired out to someone else.
31. Stand back and admire an organized part of your life.
*Don’t go crazy, here. Remember, if you do a little each day, you’ll have it all organized in no time. Modify this instruction to fit if you don’t have an upstairs/car/basement/ etc.
**Yes, interacting with and keeping track of your money is a completely reasonable daily task.
***This is an advanced skill. Start small, go slow and be nice.
To review, just do the first item only today. Tomorrow do 1 and 2. Or if you already do 2 routinely, then do 1,2 and 3. Keep adding one thing a day, until you are doing about 31 organizing habits automatically each and every day. You’ll be surprised at how much more in control of your life you feel. Or maybe you won’t be surprised at all.