Organize-It Tip of the Day
I don't care how much of a neat freak you are, we all leave clutter around the house from time to time. You set your keys down on the table, the mail on the couch, the DVD you just watched on top of the TV, your jacket on the back of the chair. No big deal. Until, like me, you realize there is a trail of your personal effects in every spot you've been in the house.
To declutter the little things that accumulate over time, I tried having lofty goals. "Oh, I'll just make sure I always put the mail in this nice little bin out of the way." Or, "I'll always put my shoes over there." Well, it works for a day. And before you know it, it's far too hard to organize your life. Most clutter consists of items we use and rearrange every day. Clothes, toiletries, papers, shoes. Things that aren't used daily can easily be organized into closets, pantries, etc. But your everyday items have to be easily accessible if they're going to stay organized.
What I've found after a lot of clutter in my life is that there's no substitute for your daily routine. There's a reason your mail ends up on the kitchen table. And your shoes end up in the middle of the living room. You don't want your house to be the fourth reich of the Nazi regime (too soon?), you want it to be comfortable and feel like home. So taking your shoes off in the living room or reading your mail at the table is a good thing! The key to shoot for is form AND function. It needs to look good, and function as it should.
Because we are such creatures of habit, it's far harder to stick to an organizational strategy that involves us going out of our way. You're far more likely to get and stay organized if organization can become a part of your daily flow. So, the solution is to incorporate organizational methods into your "path," if you will.
Begin by allowing the house naturally clutter-up. Let it get pretty bad. And then start to look at where things are, and what is left out, and identify individual solutions for each clutter-zone. If there are important papers and mail on the table, consider putting a decorative basket or bin on the table itself. It may not be the best choice for decor, but it's better than clutter, and can easily be emptied if company is coming. In the bedroom, maybe there's a pile of clean(ish) clothes on the floor. Consider putting a clothes basket right there. In the living room, maybe there are keys, wallets, loose change, etc. on the coffee table. Put a bowl or bin right there. If your bathroom sink fills up with shaving cream, soap, razors and toothpaste that can't find their way into the cabinet, put a basket on top to house it all. In your kitchen, consider putting a nice serving tray on the counter to house cooking artifacts.
In all these cases, it'll be easy to get into the new habit if it feels like what you'd naturally do, and you'll be on your way to a clutter-free house!