January 19, 2016  

13 Practical Habits That Will Keep Your Home Organized

Many people tell me that they can’t keep their home organized because they’re just not a naturally organized person. But I believe organizing is a skill that can be learned and improved over time. I often share specific organizing ideas and tools to help you hone in on organizing one area of your home at a time, but today I want to focus on developing good habits. You can spend all the time in the world organizing various spaces, but your home will never entirely feel organized unless you form some good organizing habits.

Organizing habits are key to maintaining a feeling of calm in your house. All that time you spend organizing will be wasted if you never form habits to maintain that organization. For example, I could spend an hour hanging up coat hooks in our entryway and I would feel very proud and organized after completing the project. However, those hooks are quite useless unless I form a habit of actually hanging my coat on them every day. Do you see how that habit is ultimately what keeps your home organized for the long run? While the coat hook is an important organizing tool, it is quite worthless unless I form a habit of hanging my coat on it.

Today, I’m sharing some simple habits that will help you not only keep your home organized, but keep it that way every day. This post is an installment in the Resolve to Get Organized series, where I’ve been chatting about all things organizing all month long. While we’ve been honing in on organizing various areas of our lives over the past few weeks, I thought it would be good to step back today and chat about the importance of forming some positive habits to go along with all of those specific organization projects.

Ready to form some lifelong organizing habits? Let’s do this!

What a great list of practical habits for an organized home.

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Keep Your Home Organized With These Habits:

1 | Make A To-Do List

I’ll just get this one out of the way right off the bat. You know I’m a big list-maker, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’m including to-do lists here. Keep a running list of things that need to be done around the house so you won’t forget anything and you won’t waste any time trying to remember what you should be doing. I like keeping my lists in Evernote so they travel with me on my phone wherever I go. I also like to use paper to-do lists to plan out my home projects for my weekend. You can learn more about how I combine digital tools and paper lists here.

What a great list of practical habits for an organized home.

2 | Follow The One-Minute Rule

If something will take you less than one minute to complete, do it right then and there. I have to constantly work at this one. It’s so easy to get lazy and leave my cereal bowl on the counter for later, but it only takes a couple extra seconds to rinse out the milk and load it in the dishwasher. Cleaning it up right then helps keep my kitchen organized and saves me cleaning time later. There are many instances like this that happen throughout the day, and I really work to take those extra seconds to put things away and clean things up. All of the small stuff can really pile up and make for an unorganized home if you don’t take a little time to clean up as you go.

3 | Use Your Wait Time

If you miraculously get ready for work with five minutes to spare, make those extra minutes count. Tidy up the living room, wipe down the kitchen counters, clean the bathroom sink…there are so many quick cleaning tasks like this that you can do when you have a couple minutes to spare. I take this habit pretty seriously. If I have two minutes to wait while my lunch warms up in the microwave, I make it a game and see if I can get the dishwasher unloaded before the timer chimes. Most people spend their wait time idly scrolling through their facebook newsfeed, but that time can be spent doing so many more productive things.

4 | Never Leave A Room Empty-Handed

Keep your home organized by picking up things as you go from room-to-room during the day. If you make it a habit to never leave a room empty-handed, you’ll be tidying up your house all day long without it seeming like a chore. This habit is so ingrained into my routine that I don’t even notice I do it most of the time.

5 | Find A Place For Everything

If you ever want to get your home organized, you need to have a place for everything. Most homes have surfaces that become dumping grounds for the things you don’t know what to do with. To avoid things piling up, designate a permanent place for everything. Do a walk-through of your house and find anything that’s out of place. Put it all away, and if it doesn’t have a home, give it one. You can’t put things away if you’ve never decided where to store them. When you’re finding places to store things, try to keep them near where you use them. That way they’re stored in a convenient place and you’ll be more likely to put them away after you use them.

Read more: How To Organize Any Space In 7 Steps

What a great list of practical habits for an organized home.

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6 | Designate Drop Zones

This goes along with number 5. If you don’t already have an organized drop zone by your door(s), take a little time to set one up. When you come and go, you usually have a lot of stuff. Keep it all organized and in one place by having hooks or a closet for your coat, a hook or tray for your keys, a place for your purse, a file or tray for the mail, etc. (If you want some advice for organizing your mail and paper clutter, check out this post.)

7 | Make The Bed

I’ll admit I’m not great at this one all the time. But I’m a firm believer in making your bed and I’ll keep trying to make it a daily habit because an unmade bed will instantly make your entire bedroom messy and disorganized.

This navy bedroom is gorgeous! Check out what she did in just five weeks for the One Room Challenge. Lots of bedroom DIY projects and pretty details.

8 | Keep Clothes Off The Floor

I’m guilty about leaving my clothes on the floor, but it only takes a few pieces of clothing to make your bedroom look very disorganized. I use over-the-door hooks on the backs of our bedroom, bathroom, and closet doors and they really help us keep clothes and towels off the floor. I may be too lazy to fold everything back up all the time, but I can handle hanging my PJs on a hook.

Read More: My Secret For Keeping Clothing Off Our Bedroom Floor

9 | Follow A Meal Plan

I’m a fairly new meal planner, and I have no idea why I avoided meal planning for so long. There are sooo many benefits. Having a plan means I know exactly what food to buy and it also means I don’t buy a lot of extra, unnecessary ingredients, which saves me money. It also saves me cupboard space, which is a plus for keeping things organized. Kitchens never seem to have enough cupboard space, do they? And because I have a plan for meals, I no longer pull out half of the things in cupboard trying to magically decide on a meal to make with them. My plan is already laid out and I already know I have the ingredients I need.

10 | Clean Up After Meals

This one can be difficult because we all just want to relax right after dinner. But it makes a big difference if you spend just a few minutes putting dishes in the dishwasher, quickly washing any pots and pans, and wiping down the counters. That way the kitchen is clean and ready for your next meal. No one likes cooking in a messy kitchen, and it seems like a small stack of dirty dishes quickly multiplies into a toppling tower.

11 | Wipe Down The Bathroom

Isn’t it insane how fast bathrooms get dirty? Seriously, there’s only two of us in our house and we’re fairly clean people, but I feel like I’m constantly cleaning the sink and counter. My advice is to store cleaning supplies in your bathroom and take time to do general wipe downs often. It always feels like an eternity to blow dry my hair in the morning, so I regularly clean the mirror and sink with one hand while holding my blow dryer with the other. (Bonus hair-drying-related tip: Put in ear buds and listen to a podcast while drying your hair. You’ll spend that time learning something useful rather than having staring contests with yourself in the mirror.)

Check out this neutral gray bathroom with white board and batten. Love this One Room Challenge room makeover! It's amazing what you can do to transform a small bathroom.

12 | Edit & Purge

Constantly edit your belongings. When you’re looking for an outfit to wear, pull out that shirt that never fit quite right and get it out of your closet instead of leaving it hanging in there taking up valuable closet space. I recommend keeping “donate” and “sell” bins or boxes in your house so you can add things to them all the time. Once they’re full, take those things to the thrift store or post them for sale online and make a few bucks from your clutter. A great way to keep your home organized is just to have less stuff taking up space.

Read More: Lessons Learned From The KonMari Method Of Organizing

13 | Reset Each Night

Spend ten minutes tidying up before you go to bed every single night. Those few minutes make such a big impact and it will feel so good to wake up to a clean, orderly house. That way you’re starting your day off on an organized foot rather than being behind before the day even begins.

What a great list of practical habits for an organized home.

Crush Your Week Promo Bar

There you have it. Thirteen simple habits to incorporate into your daily routine to keep your home organized. Remember that changing your behavior and forming new habits doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll need to practice them until they become a natural part of your routine. So don’t get discouraged and give up, keep working at these things and they will eventually become lifelong habits that will help you keep your home organized.

What did I forget to include? I know there are so many more that could be added to this list – leave a comment below and share your top organizing habits!

Other Posts In This Series

Introduction: Resolve To Get Organized

Part 1: Setting Goals & Designing a Road Map to Crush Them

Part 2: Dominate Your To-Do List With This Time-Saving System

Part 3: How I Organize My Week for Maximum Productivity & Focus

Part 4: 7 Steps to Ruthlessly Organize Your Email

Part 5: How to Organize Your Mail to Eliminate Paper Clutter

Part 6: 13 Practical Habits That Will Keep Your Home Organized – you’re here!

Part 7: Organize Like a Pro With Free Printable Storage Labels

Part 8: How to Organize Any Space in 7 Steps

Conclusion: 6 Warning Signs Your Organizing Attempts Will Backfire


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About the author

Emily Counts is the founder of Small Stuff Counts, a home and organization blog she created in 2013. Her goal is to help moms make home life easier so they can create beautiful, organized, and thriving homes. She shares life at home as a mom juggling two young kids and being a working mom with a corporate job. The Iowa-based blogger lives in the suburbs of Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband, two children, and rescue dog. Emily has collaborated with brands including The Container Store, Cricut, Command Brand, Bissell, Sam's Club and Rubbermaid.

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  1. I loooove these! I do most of these things and feel that they contribute to my productivity in a HUGE way. Especially list-making! If I don’t make a list, I might as well kiss that whole day goodbye. 😉

    1. Agreed on the need to make a list! Without one, the whole day just seems to disappear! Thanks for visiting and have a great day!

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