Each of us has personal feelings about cleaning and home keeping. But what remains remarkably similar across the board is the trouble spots that we all find tricky to solve. Which, by extension, means that those perpetually organized people who never seem to have the stuff explosions most of us fall prey to have found successful ways to address these very same sticking points.
They have a system for incoming paper and mail
Nothing multiplies like paper piles. People who stay on top of paper clutter have a system that works and that they stick to. Such systems might include:
- Walking straight to the recycling bin when mail is in-hand and tossing circulars, offers, and other junk straight into it.
- Dealing with time-sensitive papers right away. The field trip permission form gets signed within the first ten minutes your kid puts it on your desk, for instance. You don't have to remember to turn it in later, and the paper is back in your child's folder and out of sight.
- Treating kids' paper deliveries like the mail. While it's in your hand, recycle what you don't need, take care of papers that require action right away, and store or photograph art that you might want to save.
- Have a place for everything else. Bills that you can't deal with right away, insurance documents you have to make phone calls about, and papers you plan to file in Evernote — these need a basket or bin to contain them. The only way to keep this spot from growing out of control is to have a designated, regular time to deal with these papers. Organized people all do it.
They have a system for not-quite dirty clothes
Clothes that have been worn but don't yet need to be washed are a clean bedroom's and picked-up closet's downfall. You've got to have a plan and place for them or these clothes will end up slung over chairs and/or pooled on the closet floor. Wardrobe Purgatory: Where to Store Your Worn (But Not Dirty) Clothes has some great suggestions and tools to help, including over-the-door hooks, stands, and racks.
They have a daily routine to clear their most common surfaces
Surfaces are breeding grounds for clutter and if they aren't cleared off vigilantly, they'll always be cluttered. Think of your bathroom counter, kitchen counters, and dining room table for starters. Make certain spaces off-limits for the entire family as a set-down spot (for instance, the dining room table), and address the other surfaces nightly. Put bathroom and kitchen counter items back where they belong or corral things that must remain out on trays. Remember that that first thing you place on the counter because you don't want to put it away invites more items to join it, so resist the urge.