How to Make Your Organization Last!
Happy Family Day everyone!! Here in Alberta, Canada, every winter I look forward to this weekend so much. We have a tradition in my family of going to the cabin on the frozen lake. Every year we all look forward to it so much as we get to spend time playing in the snow, building forts, eating tons of good food, playing board games, and spending quality, uninterrupted time as an extended family. My husband's cousins and aunts and uncles all join us and we have fires and go sledding and spend time snowmobiling - just a fabulous, Canadian winter adventure.
If you haven't had a chance in your lifetime to experience an Alberta winter, I invite you to take a vacation up here once! It is an amazing experience. Nothing beats the feeling of red cheeks and sparkly eyes from being out in the cold.
When we go to the cabin every year, all of us are driving a few hours to get there. I have 3 children and my van is our primary mode of travel. Now in our day to day lives, our van gets USED. Like, a lot. We run to hockey and piano and dance and to the city and to grandparents homes and nothing is a short trip. Therefore it is vital to our success as a family to have a well organized and clean vehicle. And I have to admit, this weekend when we left I was annoyed with myself. I organize my van and feel like it just falls apart. So when I was thinking this week about what I wanted to write in the blog, this immediately felt like the topic I NEEDED TO HEAR. So today I write for myself as well as for those of you who need to hear it, and you're welcome to come along for the ride!
Let's get into it! My best 3 tips for keeping up your organization systems!
Tip #1: Put items away after you use them - EVERY TIME.
Okay. I know this is basic. But it is the most effective basic tip ever.
Let's look at my van. What happens after I've organized it? The kids bring items in to read or play with while we travel, or I pull out a coffee mug for my drive to work, or I bring an item with me to deliver to someone and it does not get delivered. It is in my best interest to IMMEDIATELY put those items away when my trip is complete.
Now let's look at your home. If you take out an item to play with your kids - let's say it's a board game - and you use it and clean it up after but do not put it away, it becomes clutter on your table. Fast forward 3 days. It is now still sitting on the table and so are the other things we have now used for the past 3 days.
This causes chaos! I am as guilty of this as everyone else. As a mom especially, I need to teach my children this rule and everything would stay 95% cleaner. Truthfully some days I am better at this and others I am not. But it is vital in maintaining an organization system you have set up in your home. So work at this every day and you will see results.
Tip #2: Designate a place for every item.
Every single item that comes into your home (or your vehicle!) needs a place to live. If it is paper, have a file system that deals with items as they come in. I talk about this in my post here on the Home Management Binder. If it is a new decorative item, have a spot in mind before you bring it home. If it doesn't have a space once it is inside your home, return it. Items should all have a location to live, and if it doesn't, create one.
Look at each item and decide where it will best serve you. Make sure this item is something you love, need and use. Then create storage for it and place it and any other like items together. This must make sense to you and your family, and not anyone else. Find a way to store this item and label it if necessary. This way everyone in your home will know exactly where it belongs.
Once you have set up the organization for this item, it is so important to remember tip #3 ...
Tip #3: Be willing to change what isn't working!
Organizing your home is fluid and does not need to stay the same way you did it the first time. You may find that the way you set it up did not work how you wanted it to! You may find that your family doesn't like the system and therefore doesn't clean up as you hoped. You also may just not like the way it looks after a while.
That is okay! Feel free to change your systems.
I don't ever want anyone to feel stuck in something that is not working for you. Just as your style and needs change over time, so will your priorities and organizational ideas. This is good because it means you are moving into a new time of life and understanding better what it is that works for you and your family. This is my goal every time I work with a client, that we identify not what looks great on Pinterest, but what works for them, right now, in their life. Do not be afraid to change it to suit you better.
When we take the time to organize our homes and our spaces, it is freeing and feels like we will never end up back where we were. But it's so important to know that we can fall back into our old habits IF we do not keep up with the organization. Doing these 3 things consistently will help to keep your home organized in a way that works for you and your family. And this is, in the end, what we all hope for.