When you start out trying to organize an entire room or area, the task can be daunting. Here are some tips to get you started on specific areas of your home. These tasks all take 10 minutes or less, but make a big difference in the visual presentation of the area. Many times, these 10-minute tasks can lead you to get into a groove and continue tidying up other areas too!
KITCHEN: Declutter the front of your refrigerator. Even if you look at your refrigerator right now and think "..But I want all that there"... STILL take everything off and give it a quick wipe-down. Now decide what you actually want to keep on the front of your refrigerator. Many times after the items are off, you can assess them better and end up with less things, which ultimately means less clutter. Additional Tips: If you have a lot of pictures, choose only 3-4 pictures to display. Plan to frame the others or file them away (you can even rotate them out periodically from your pile!). Any take-out menus or other paperwork should be kept elsewhere and not cluttering the front of your refrigerator so take those off too! Assess how many magnets you really need.
BEDROOM: Make your bed. I know you probably have heard this before, but this really does work! If you make your bed, immediately your room will look just a little bit more clean and inviting!
Okay-- since you've probably heard that one, here's another one: Clear surfaces such as nightstands and dressers. Even if you think you want to keep everything you have on those spaces, still take everything off and quickly wipe the surface with a damp rag. Now decide what you want to actually put back on now that everything is already off. Additional Tips: ONLY keep items you use every day on the top of your dressers-- you don't need 7 different perfumes if you only use the same one throughout the week. Depending on the size of your dresser(s) or nightstand(s), 1 picture frame or knick-knack is plenty, along with a box of tissues and potentially some small items that you use daily. Putting those items on a small tray or in a small basket can help clear up the space too!
LIVING ROOM: Tidy up the couch area. This is similar to making your bed. Straighten the couch cushions, fluff and straighten the pillows, fold any blankets on the couch, and corral all of the remotes to one area. Poof! You're living room looks better already! Clearing surfaces such as end tables and the coffee table can also make a huge difference! Just like your nightstand and dressers in your bedroom, the less things you have on the surfaces, the cleaner and more relaxing the space feels. A small basket on your coffee table can house all of the remotes. Declutter the amount of books and magazines that are sitting out while you're there (just choose a few you actually may want to read and look at soon and store or get rid of the rest).
ENTRY AREA: Tidy up the shoe area. Whether you have a large mud room or a small entry way, it's likely there are shoes scattered around. Grab a basket or box and gather the shoes (and anything else in the area while you're at it) leaving one pair for each member of your family. Put the rest of the shoes back where they belong (or at least into the closet of each person's room to organize later).
BATHROOM: Clear off and clean surfaces. The bathroom counters tend to collect a lot of products. Removing these and wiping down the counter and sink area helps create a more clean and uncluttered look immediately. If you have so many items and you're thinking... "I can't get this done in 10 minutes", then grab a basket (or several small baskets) and put all the things in that basket to leave on your counter. Your space will look a little more put together and give the illusion it's more organized than it is... until you have time to really tackle the space and organize it for good!
LINEN CLOSET: Take out towels, blankets, sheets, and/or pillow cases-- RE-FOLD and STACK. Doing this alone will make your linen closet immediately look more organized. Bonus: While folding the items, quickly decide if you even still use and want it or if you could get rid of it.
KIDS ROOM: Collect all things on the floor into a large box (or two, or three...). Get a laundry basket or large box from somewhere in your house and gather all the items on the floor into the box. [You'll probably want a bag with you too, to throw away any garbage as you go.] You don't have to deal with all the items now, just get them off the floor and contained to make the room feel more calming (or at the least, to ensure you don't hurt yourself walking in next time)!
The physical act of organizing can be daunting but even starting to think about organizing (like what to organize, when to find time to organize, how you're going to get the job done, and what you want it to look like) can be daunting too. Frequently just the daily chores around the house can be overwhelming. So how can we get the motivation to organize and complete these tasks day in a day? I have compiled a list of five things you can do to help get yourself started and motivated to get the job done. Maybe all of these will work for you or only a few, but even if just one thing on this list helps keep you motivated and get started, it will be a success!
1. What are some day-to-day tasks that are necessary to complete but you just really don't like? Try timing yourself completing one of these 'dreaded' activities. You'll likely find that these tasks only take several minutes (e.g., laundry, emptying dishwasher, etc.). Then the next time you really don't want to do it but know you should, you can remind yourself that it really only takes 4 minutes so it will be over before you know it! Sometimes this is enough for me to just do it but but other times this isn't powerful enough. Give it a try for some of your 'dreaded' tasks!
2. Start with a small area in your home (this can be a small room or even a small drawer) that you see on a regular basis. When you start with something that is small and more manageable, the likelihood of completing that task in a shorter time is higher. When you complete something that you're proud of and that you get to see frequently, this can sometimes be enough motivation to start the next project!
3. Along the same lines of starting with a small area, try starting with an area of your house that gives you the most problem during the day. This frequently is the entrance of your home, area of the kitchen, somewhere in your bedroom/closet, or even your bathroom. When you're able to tackle an area that gets rid of clutter and makes the space more purposeful and functional, you'll start to see how impactful organizing can be in your everyday life making you motivated to keep going!
4. This next trick works for tasks that you need to complete regularly, but with more space in between (e.g., not a daily or weekly task). For example, paying bills or reviewing your budget may happen monthly. Things like scheduling your children's extracurricular activities or calling various places to schedule doctor appointments/vet visits may even be less often. Tasks like these could be paired with a special treat like a favorite drink or dessert. You could even plan to complete these activities with a particular song playing or go to your favorite coffee shop to complete these tasks. Pairing dreaded tasks like this with something that you like may make completing these things easier and more enjoyable.
5. The behavior analyst in me needs to add this last little 'trick' known as the Premack Principle. This basically states that behaviors and activities that are more reinforcing/enjoyable will occur only after engaging in behaviors and activities that are less reinforcing/enjoyable (as a sort of reward). To enforce this rule, first develop a short "to-do" list (cheat code: this can even be one task long) that you want to complete. Next, decide what your enjoyable task will be (e.g., watching a recorded T.V. show, playing a game, reading a book, etc.). Lastly, help yourself commit to this by ensuring your 'reward' is off limits until you complete the task. For example, my husband and I have a box that is equipped with a timed lock which can be set for various durations. He will sometimes put controllers (game or T.V.) in this box and set the timer to stay locked until a specified time to ensure he completes a particular activity before going back to the preferred activity. You could also ask a friend or family member to help ensure you complete your task(s) before allowing you to engage in your 'rewarding' behavior to hold you accountable.