10 things to do every day to stay organized

cherry blossoms

source: peter lee

This post was originally published several years ago but continues to be one of our most popular. If you’re looking for simple, effective strategies to get organized, start here!

The number one question I get from my readers is “help, I’m so overwhelmed with my home, where do I start?”

Maybe you can relate?

Sometimes it isn’t so much about starting with this pile here or that pile over there but more a matter of introducing a few daily organizational habits to help keep the clutter and chaos from becoming more than you can manage.

Here are 10 things you can do today to help you stay organized.

1. Utilize a list notebook.

Often chaos ensues because we are trying to juggle too many things in our brains. We can’t focus on any one thing because we are trying to remember everything. It’s exhausting to say the least.

Grab yourself a notebook and just start brain dumping all that needs to be done. Be very detailed with this list because the more steps you list out, the less you have to try and remember. It makes a huge difference to your mental clutter even if you aren’t able to get everything crossed off that list in one day.

list notebook

source: organizing junkie

2. Update your family calendar.

Now take your list to your calendar (and if you don’t have a central family calendar, get one quick!) Make sure your calendar is updated with appointments, school events, things to bring, etc.

For instance, if you need to bring cupcakes to school on Friday, add a note to Thursday’s square to pick them up or make them that day.

3. Menu plan for today.

You may not be menu planning for the whole week yet, but you can menu plan for TODAY. Instead of waiting until the witching hour (isn’t that the worst!), plan what you’ll eat that night in the morning.

Check your freezer, pull some meat out, look up a recipe and you’re all set. 10 minutes of pre-planning will again allow you to stop worrying about it for the rest of the day and free up all sorts of head space. See the pattern here?

Mental clutter = overwhelmed

4. Never leave a room empty-handed.

One of my best tips for staying on top of clutter is to make sure you take something with you every time you leave a room. Do it as you go…dirty dishes, laundry, toys, mail, you name it. If it belongs in a room you’ll be going to or passing, bring it with you!

5. Assign a task to your children.

Too many moms are trying to do it alone. Get your kids involved. Start today. Assign them each one task off your list to complete. I know it’s often faster for us just to do it ourselves but the training has to start somewhere.

kids chores

source: threeifbybike

6. Create a donation station.

Every home needs somewhere to collect the things we no longer need. Grab yourself a big box, mark it with the words donation station and let everyone know what it’s for.

7. Add 5 things to that donation station everyday.

Have every person in your household collect 5 things today to add to that donation station. Set a timer and make a game out of it. See who can be the first to collect their 5 things. Before you know it, that donation station will be full!

8. Create an “I’m Outta Here” shelf.

Similarly you need an errand bin by your front door. I call it my “I’m Outta Here” shelf and it’s somewhere I can collect things that need to be returned to a friend, mailed, returned, etc. That way when I’m heading out I can easily remember what needs to be done and tasks don’t get backlogged.

9. Do a 10-minute tidy before bed.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Do a 10 minute tidy each night before bed to set up your next day for success. Plug in cell phones, check and update your calendar, tidy surfaces, make lunches or whatever it is that needs to be done in order to start the following day on the right foot. It makes a world of difference!

10. Check your attitude.

Finally, stop beating yourself up! Coming down hard on yourself does nothing except make you miserable. Tomorrow is another day. Celebrate every accomplishment no matter how small.

Happy Organizing!!

What daily habits have you implemented to stay on top of clutter and chaos?

Laura is a wife and mother to three great kids, lives in Alberta, Canada and is an addict of all things organizing. You can find her blogging regularly at I’m an Organizing Junkie, and is the author of Clutter Rehab: 101 Organizing Tips & Tricks to Become an Organization Junkie and Love It!
  • zoeknitsinco

    It is very liberating to cross items off this list. Conversely, when you feel like you didn’t get anything done during the day. Write Down EVERYTHING you did that day. Include all the small things like feeding the kids. Things we do every day and don’t really think about as work.

  • snoringcat

    When I feel overwhelmed I focus on one room and large surfaces like clearing counters or table tops. See thru drawers in the fridge have helped us eat/cook more and buy less food at a time. So at least my fridge is always clean and organized now.

  • http://absolutelytara.com/ Tara Schiller

    I love these little tips, especially the one about taking something with you every time you leave a room. I think I’l start that. I am also a huge list writer, because holding things in my head drives me crazy. And call me obsessive, but crossing out blue or black ink with a red pen is so satisfying to me. It somehow makes crossing off a list that much more exciting.
    Glad you reposted. Thanks for sharing.
    http://absolutelytara.com

  • Penny

    My boyfriend has commented that it takes me 30-40 minutes to actually get into bed at night. It’s because I do the “mom” thing of picking up and prepping on my way. My mornings are crazy enough without doing that little extra before going to sleep.

  • http://myoverflowingcup.com Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    This is such a great list, but #10 takes the cake! I find that I can be easily flustered until I remember to give myself a little grace. Changing our perspective changes our homes. Thanks for sharing these daily tips with us, Laura. Blessings to you and yours.

  • Jess

    #4 is my favorite. I started doing that sometime in the last year, and it’s made such a difference! It also helps me feel very productive, that I’m always in the mode of taking care of something and doing “little” things that make a big impact over the course of the day.

    Great list!