Are you sick and tired of looking at the mess around you that seems to grow faster than you can clean it up? I want to help you stop the feelings of frustration & failure.
The truth is if you’re anything like me, you are busy and often too tired to do the things you KNOW need to be done after a long day of doing what you do. Whether you’re a working mom, a stay-at-home mom or a work-at-home mom – you’re 2 things. Busy & busy!
It’s disheartening to walk into a room (just pick one) just to find an overflowing laundry basket, dirty dishes piling in the sink, an unmade bed and/or dirty toilets. There are a million things that need to be done but other things take priority over doing anything more than the basics when taking care of your home.
That doesn’t mean that you don’t long for want a home that you can feel proud of. It simply means that you’re overwhelmed and just don’t know where to start.
Hopefully, your house doesn’t look nearly as bad as mine did before I FINALLY got a handle on things. I completely understand where you’re coming from and why you haven’t crossed all those housekeeping tasks of your very long To-Do list……
After searching high & low for something – anything, that would help me conquer all the chaos that my home was, I stumbled across this “secret”.
OK, so it’s not really a secret but it felt like I was unlocking the proverbial treasure chest once I figured out that this secret system worked for me.
As a matter of fact after just a few days my house looked better and I began to feel better about it.
After the full 30 days my own mother didn’t recognize it. 🙂
And the best thing?
I’m now able to keep chaos at bay spending just a few minutes a day to maintain.
That is exactly why I decided to share with you what worked for me.
So, let start getting your house, your home, your life organized?
Don’t believe me?
Just give me 30 days and you’ll see how easy it can be to get your home organized.
January is the perfect month to get your home sorted and refreshed for the year ahead, so why not now?
Of course, you can also come back to this challenge whenever you like!
Day 1- The “Spot”
Today’s task is to tackle “the spot”. You know the one. It’s the spot where you dump everything when you come home from work.
For some, it’s that little counter to the side of the fridge. For others, it’s the table in the foyer. It doesn’t matter where it is for you. Just get an empty box and dump everything in it.
Wipe “the spot” so that it’s nice and clean. Admire it for a moment.
Ok, now, it’s time to get to work. Set yourself up at the dining room table or your kitchen island.
Now, we’re going to sort through the box.
Make piles for mail, bills, books, things that need to go in other rooms etc. Throw out anything that you don’t need. Once it’s sorted, put each stack in its place.
This really shouldn’t take too long; it only seems overwhelming. Trust me. That’s it. You did it!
Day 1 is complete. ☺
Pat yourself on the back. Better yet, write yourself a note and stick it on the fridge. Remind yourself that you can and will get organized!
Day 2- Front Closet
Hey! Welcome back. Returning for Day 2 is a big step. You are that much closer to getting your home organized.
Ready for your next task?
Let’s tackle the front closet today.
Take everything out. The coats, the hangers, the boxes – everything. Sweep or vacuum the floor and wipe down the shelf.
Before you just stick everything back in and close the door – stop. Sort through what you own. Do you need it? Does it still fit? Be brutal.
This is the front closet, not a storage unit. Your guests will use this and it should look presentable.
Put nice, inexpensive baskets on the shelf for storing out of season gear, like hats, gloves and scarves. Get some wooden hangers for the coats, making sure that you have plenty of extra ones for guests to use. They may seem like an expensive item but you can get nice wood hangers for less than $10 at any Super Store. Line up any shoes or boots neatly in the back. After your purging, cleaning and new storage solutions, this closet should look like a million bucks.
If you have extra time today, take five minutes and step outside. Give the front porch a quick sweep, wipe the cobwebs off the coach light and shake out the welcome mat.
Doesn’t it feel better to have such a welcoming entrance to your home?
See you tomorrow.
Day 3 – Formal Living Room
Today we’re going to work on organizing the formal living room in your house.
If you think there’s not much to clean and sort through, you’re probably right …and wrong.
Most formal spaces are already neat as a pin. We don’t live in those rooms; sometimes we don’t even enter them. We tend to hide our chaos and clutter in the back of the house, in the rooms most guests don’t see. That’s fine. But, we are on this mission to organize our homes and taking a day for this room is still extremely useful.
If you have clutter or objects that do not belong in this room, by all means, take care of it now. If not, what have you always wanted to do to this room? Take the time now to try the sofa on another wall. Take the time to finally hang up that picture. Or, even, take the time to order new curtains.
Do whatever it is that you have been putting off.
So much of our lives is disorganized because we are constantly on the go and do not take time to do the little things. The next thing you know the little things have piled up into one massive BIG thing! I hereby grant you the time today.
What are you going to do with it?
Day 4 – The Family Room
Today we are tackling one of the messiest rooms in the house. The Family Room.
Take a deep breath and let’s get to it.
Get four tubs or boxes and label them “Toss”, “Donate”, “Keep” and “Relocate”. Keep is for items that will stay in this room and Relocate is for things that need to go somewhere else in the house. Starting in a corner, work your way around the room. Clear off the top of each horizontal surface and empty out every drawer. Put the items in the appropriate bins.
Be strict with yourself about what you keep. Do you really need your collection of design magazines from 1992? Do you need a Barney VHS video when your “baby” just turned 12? Your local library loves donations like this. Better yet, with today’s modern technology and streaming services like Netflix, you can probably watch most of the movies in your collection at no additional charge. Why not donate them all? Imagine all that extra space.
Games are another challenge for the family room. If you can find all the pieces, then make space in a cabinet so your family can easily access the fun. If you are missing too many pieces to make it work, get rid of it. Who wants to play Yahtzee with only 3 die?
Make sure you clean, dust, wipe, whatever before you replace the Keep items. This includes the back of the electronics, the top of the picture frames, everything. You’ll thank me when you’re done.
Day 5 – Keeping It Organized
Today is an easy day. Yesterday was tough and you made it through. If you have anything left to finish, go ahead and do that now.
Pick up any mess your family has made in the last 24 hours. Run the vacuum in your clean new family room, straighten a pillow or two, or just stand back and admire how amazing it looks.
Next, why not reward yourself for your determination and do a little shopping?
Head to a Super Store, an office supply store or your favorite storage specialty store and have some fun. Buy a label maker. These useful little things may seem a little Type-A but Type-A is good in your new, organized home.
Your plan is to stay organized, right?
The process of discretely labeling boxes and other containers can help you both remember what is in them, and make it easier and faster to replace that item properly.
You can also investigate nice storage tubs, pretty file folders and unique baskets. They do not have to be expensive to be effective. If you can afford it, buy a bunch; we have 25 more days of organizing to get to and a lot of rooms, drawers and shelves to organize.
Day 6- The Junk Drawer
The dreaded junk drawer.
No wait. Don’t run screaming out of the room. Don’t pull your hair out. You CAN do this!
Your junk drawer may be in the kitchen or the laundry room. You may even have two or three. Wherever they are, however many you have, let’s get them organized. Don’t worry about the rest of the stuff in the room; we are just concentrating on the junk drawer(s).
Literally. Do. It. Now.
Dump everything out on the counter next to you. Now, as gross as it may be, wipe the drawer with whatever all-purpose cleaner you use. It may be so bad that it needs to be vacuumed first; just do what you need to do to get it cleaned.
Now, get out that labeler and some disposable plastic tubs. The same company that makes the zipper top sandwich bags makes a line of cheap plastic food storage tubs that fit perfectly in junk drawers. Usually four fit inside the drawer. They can be labeled with anything from keys to change, from nails and screws to first aid.
Sort through your pile and put each usable, salvageable item in the appropriate tub. Anything that is broken or no longer useable, toss. Anything that goes in another room should be returned to that room.
When you are done, I dare you to resist the temptation to pull open that drawer 101 times to stare at its perfection!
Day 7 – Mud Room/Laundry Room
Wow! You made it a whole week. Congrats!
Today we are tackling your mudroom/laundry room. This room can get quite neglected, especially if you have kids and pets. Muddy boots, wet dogs and spilled dog food are everyday events in this workhorse of a room. It’s time for a little TLC.
Our process is the same in this little room as in the previous ones. Get everything off the horizontal surfaces, off shelves and out of drawers. Toss or donate anything that doesn’t get used, doesn’t fit or just is out of date.
Give everything a good cleaning. Wipe down the front and top of your washer and then run it, once with 2 cups of vinegar and hot water and again with just hot water. Your dryer could use some attention, too. Empty the lint trap and vacuum well behind, underneath and along the sides.
Now, time to organize. Larger baskets can hold out of season items like boots, gloves and scarves and be kept on the uppermost shelves. Store dog food, cat food and kitty litter in large plastic tubs to avoid spills from ripped bags. A smaller basket can hide the detergent, dryer sheets and all those laundry extras like stain sticks and hydrogen peroxide (takes blood out in seconds).
If you have money to invest, now would be a great time to invest in some stylish yet sturdy wood lockers. Each family member can have their own space in which to corral all their personal gear such as shoes, coats and backpacks.
Day 8 – Home Office
We are about to start out first 2 day project -Your home office or office area. Don’t freak out; you can do it.
Don’t picture the 12 years of tax receipts spilling out of shoeboxes or the pile of need-to-file bills shoved in the back of the drawer waiting for you to have some extra time. Concentrate on getting this project done in small, manageable chunks.
First, clear everything off your desk; use the large work surface as a staging area. As you empty out each drawer, create piles of similar items on your desktop. Continue until you have emptied every possible place there is for clutter to hide in this room or work space.
You will have a lot of piles: bills, tax documents, house paperwork, investment stuff, warranties, and insurance policies. A lot. Not to mention, staplers, pens, pencils, 3-hole punches, staple-taker-outer-things and all the other necessities of a well-stocked office.
Don’t worry about organizing this today.
Just get it out in the open. Concentrate on sorting through it.
Anything that doesn’t belong in this room needs to be returned to its home. Clean the drawers and shelves that you will be using again so that everything is ready for your next task tomorrow.
Day 9 – Home Office
Back to the office or work space. So, if you did everything you were supposed to yesterday, you should have a room full of piles of stuff. It probably looks worse than it did before you started.
Go through each pile and see if you can toss anything out. Old utility records really don’t need to be kept more than 12 months back. Most tax records and receipts do not need to be kept longer than 10 years. Give your accountant a quick call and ask if you can shred anything older with a high quality cross- shredder.
Take the time to go through each and every file folder. Eliminate unnecessary paperwork. Make a new label, if needed, or even a whole new file folder. Once all your paperwork is contained, channel your inner librarian and put them in alphabetical order before putting the files back in the drawer. Move the little plastic tabs so they can easily be seen and accessed.
Organize your desk or work space according to need; if you don’t use it, either donate the item or put in on the highest shelf.
Get everything off the floors. If your diploma is sitting on the floor, looking forlorn, take the time to hang it up.
When you are done with this room, everything should be clean and organized, purged and simplified, lean and mean.
Day 10 – Create a Home Management Binder
You worked so hard the last two days getting your office running smoothly that I thought this would be a great time for an easier, slightly more fun project.
We are going to create a “Family Binder”. You will need a 3-ring binder and some plastic document sleeves. This binder will make you feel like the Queen of the Organized, I promise. Basically, it just collects everything you need to know about each member of your family in one spot.
For each child include their pediatrician’s, dentist’s and any specialist’s names, addresses and phone numbers, any known allergies, regular medications, health insurance information (policy number, phone numbers, required hospital) and a copy of their birth certificate.
Each adult member of the family should have the above information as well as a copy of their marriage certificate (or divorce decree), a copy of their will, life insurance policy information (policy number, phone number), a copy of their living will or medical power of attorney, and a list of credit card account numbers and contact information (in case your wallet is ever stolen). If you are online a lot, a list of computer screen names and passwords is helpful.
Create a list of important contact names should an emergency arise. For example, your mother-in-law will have no way of knowing how to contact your brother in California, if something happens to both you and your spouse.
Keep this book in your office, yet tell a few family members so they know what to do. If you don’t have a will, living will or medical power of attorney yet, now would be a good time to talk about it.
This book should come together rather quickly because you have such a nice, clean and organized office.
Day 11 – The Pantry
Today it’s back to cleaning.
Today we are going to concentrate on the kitchen pantry only. If you don’t have a pantry, clean out the cupboards that are used primarily for food storage.
Clear off your kitchen table and pull it right up to the pantry. No need for extra steps today. Take everything out. Yes, everything. It’s important to get a good cleaning in before you start organizing. You’d be surprised how many stray bits of dog food, onion skins and stale heels of bread you’ll find.
Once it is all out, give all the shelves and floor a thorough cleaning. Place plastic storage tubs on the floor. If you have larger items, like 50 pound bags of dog food or 100-roll packs of toilet paper from the warehouse club, this would be a great solution for hiding them out of the way.
Put larger appliances that you do not use on a regular basis up on the top shelf. The stand mixer, bread machine and automatic ice cream maker all fit neatly out of the way up there.
Put items that tend to get messy in plastic, zipper bags or in clear containers. Flour, sugar and dried pasta are all well-suited for this.
Sort your cans into like items and line then up neatly, label side out. Group other like items as well, such as rice, pastas and extra condiments. You can even use baskets for things like baking items, so they can be easily accessed at once by simply removing the entire basket.
A few extra minutes spent reorganizing every time you grocery shop can easily maintain this ordered look.
Day 12 – Your Refrigerator
Today we’re tackling the fridge.
We need to empty and clean it. While not technically part of organizing your home, we always run out of time for projects like this so I am giving you the gift of time – now get to scrubbing!
Remove all the food from your refrigerator. Check the dates and throw out any expired items. Remove all the shelves, trays and drawers and wash according to your manufacturer’s instructions and then clean the inside as well.
Replace the food and condiments in an orderly fashion. Try to group like items, salad dressings on one shelf, breakfast items like jam and syrup on another.
Repeat the process of removing everything, cleaning and then re-organizing with the freezer. If any items have been in your freezer longer than 6-12 months, now would be a good time to toss them.
This is also a good time to replace or re-order the filter for your in-fridge water system.
Now, take off all that stuff stuck to the outside of your fridge. Scrub down the exterior and replace just one or two pictures with magnets. You would be surprised how cluttered all that stuff makes your kitchen appear. Try to go for a minimal look.
Day 13 – Kitchen
You guessed it. We are working on the rest of the kitchen today. It’s a big project.
Be vigilant. Empty out each of your cupboards and wipe them down, inside and out. Before replacing the cooking paraphernalia, make sure it is not cracked, broken, never used or missing pieces. Toss or donate it. Be strong.
A larger plastic tub for food storage containers and their matching lids is a great way to corral them. Also, many kitchen stores sell special organizers just for pot lids that may help in your kitchen as well.
The silverware drawers can be super messy. Remove everything, clean the tray and replace. Toss or donate any kitchen gadgets that you once thought were amazing but really never use.
Unless you use an item daily, like the coffee pot, get it off your counter. An array of small appliances lining your counters is just more clutter. Find a place to put them.
Sort through your spices. They usually only last a year or so. If you haven’t used it in ages, smell it. If it’s old, it probably doesn’t smell strongly any longer. Throw it out.
You can purchase a container that attaches to the door of the sink cabinet to stuff all the plastic grocery bags in and a basket or plastic tub can hold all the soaps, sponges and scrubbies.
Aaaahhh! Doesn’t that feel better?!
Day 14 – Preserving Memories
Today is another sit-down day. Get all your recipes and cookbooks together. All those pages discretely torn out of magazines while waiting at the doctor’s office, the quickly scribbled notes at the office pot luck, the pre-printed recipe cards from that cookie exchange you attended 4 years ago, grab them all. Sit down and sort through them. If there is only one recipe you like in an entire book, rip it out and donate the book. No sense in having it take up space.
Take this time to call your mom, your grandma and your best friend’s cousin. Ask for your favorite recipes. Do it now before the recipe is lost or forgotten.
Now take the time to put everything in a book.
Do a little research online; there are tons of websites that specialize in self- publishing or cookbooks. Getting all those loose pieces of paper into one cookbook is a great way to get organized and it saves a ton of space.
You can even take this one step further and order extra copies for holiday gifts. If you always wanted your mother-in-law’s recipe for homemade salami, chances are other family members did, too and you can actually claim to be the prepared gift-giver this year.
Day 15 – Master Bedroom
The halfway point in our “30 days to an Organized Home” is your master bedroom.
Clutter in this room is unacceptable.
This is your sanctuary, the place you go to rest and rejuvenate yourself. It should not be in disarray.
In fact, there should be nothing in here except your clothes, your bed and a good book or two. It is designed for relaxing and who can relax with four piles of unfolded laundry, a half empty suitcase teetering on the edge of the chair and a box of tax returns in the corner?
Get everything out of your room that doesn’t belong.
Empty the drawers of your night stands, armoire, dresser, and bureau, whatever. Purge what you don’t want, need or use. Sort through the rest and put it back neatly.
Strip the linens off the bed. You’re in here, might as well get a little laundry done, too. Drag anything out from underneath your bed and sort through it. How can you get a good night’s sleep when you are lying atop clutter?
Vacuum your mattress. Then, flip it and vacuum the other side. Wow. Do you feel a sense of accomplishment? It feels good to do the things you hear about on TV shows but never have time for.
Day 16 – Master Closet
Today, we’re headed over to the master closet.
Take a deep breath. Ready? Ok, let’s head in.
Be brutally honest with yourself. You do NOT need three sizes of clothes. Get rid of anything that is torn, stained, doesn’t fit or is out of style. If you haven’t worn it, donate it. If you wore it in high school, donate it. If you still have pregnancy clothes and your baby has gone off to college, donate them.
I’ll let you keep one killer “diet” dress. You know the one that you are going to wear when you lose “the weight”. Just one, though, not a whole other wardrobe.
Get rid of the ratty, metal hangers from the dry cleaners. Sort through your remaining clothes and organize them. You can put outfits together or color code everything, starting with whites and gradually progressing through all the colors, darker and darker until you hit blacks.
Put any out of season gear in pretty bins or baskets on your shelf. Line up your shoes neatly. Tossing our any that are in disrepair, don’t fit or give you blisters. In fact, what is the point of keeping a pair of shoes that you never wear because you can’t balance in them? They just take up space.
Stand back and take a moment to admire all your hard work.
Day 17 – Master Bath
We are still not done with your master suite.
We need to tackle the master bath. If you don’t have one, just pick the bathroom that you use the most and get organizing.
We are going to stick with the routine that works the best. Empty out all the drawers, clear off the shelves and drag stuff out from all the dark places that you have hidden them. Pile them all on the counter and in the sink.
Take the time to clean the entire sticky residue from toothpaste, leaky shampoo bottles and who knows what else.
Toss anything that is old. Makeup only lasts 3-6 months. Unclog hairspray bottles. Toss lotions and perfumes that only have a squirt or two left. No need to hang on to stuff like that.
Use nice baskets or smaller tubs to sort items into groupings. Put all the shampoos and conditioners in one. First aid gear into another. Bubble bath stuff in a third and so on. Use a silverware caddy in the drawer to organize some of the smaller items.
You shouldn’t have anything left on the counter when you are finished. Every single item, including the blow dryer should have its own new spot. If you replace each item after use (which is what we tell our kids to do), it will stay looking clean and organized.
Now, take a minute or two to wipe the counter and clean the mirror. Ahhh! Doesn’t that look so much better?
Day 18 – Closets
Today we are taking on the chaos that you call your closets.
We are going to go through all of your other non-clothes closets. Linen closets, storage closets, junk closets. Whatever name you have given them, we are cleaning them.
Same routine. Take everything out. Everything. Do not leave anything in the closet. We want to give it a fresh start. Once the stuff is out we need to wipe down all the shelves and clean or vacuum the floor.
Sort through your things. Do you really need to save grandpa’s entire 112 piece lighter collection? Why not keep your five favorite and sell the rest online? It is not disrespectful. Your grandfather enjoyed his collection and would want to pass on that joy to another collector.
Other items that you want to save, like a Christening gown, wedding dress or antique photographs should be stored properly in acid-free containers in order to preserve then for generations. You can buy these containers at specialty storage shops or online.
Pay attention to “how” you store each item as well. Textiles (fabrics) should not be folded as it can cause undue stress on the fabric at the fold that will eventually result in a tear. The best method is to roll the items. If you can’t, many experts suggest re-folding in a different way every few months.
Replace the items that you are determined to keep in the proper containers, nicely labeled and neatly on the shelves.
Day 19 – Bathrooms
Today we’re going back to the bathrooms.
We are working our way through your house and today it’s time to attack any other bathrooms you have. Guest baths, half baths, the kid’s bathroom. All of them.
Start with the easiest, the smallest and work your way to the tough one. We always get excited when we buy a new house until we realize that having 2.5 baths means we have to clean 2.5 baths!
Empty the drawers, cabinets and any closets. Sort through everything and toss old lotions, dried up nail polishes and sample hotel soaps from that vacation two years ago.
Use nice containers or baskets to store like items neatly, including extra toilet paper. There is no reason to have half used rolls and plastic packaging just sitting under the sink. Put the rolls in a nice basket for yourself and for guests.
Then, take a few minutes to clean before you repeat this process for every bathroom. There is no excuse for stuff to be left out. Even bath toys can be stored in a plastic container instead of just strewn about in the bathtub.
Take this time to give the toilets a really good scrubbing and maybe toss a product in the back of the tank that keeps them clean for the next 30 days. Staying clean and organized will make your life easier in the long run. If you want, you can even treat yourself to some nice, new bath towels in a vibrant color to celebrate.
Day 20 – Your Computer
Let’s take a break today and do some less strenuous work. Head over to that super clean home office or workspace. Today we are going to take the time to organize your computer. It’s one of those jobs that get put off because we have so much more pressing matters to attend to in our lives. Well, no longer! Today is the day.
First, head to your documents. Make virtual folders and sub-folders for everything. No more loose word docs floating around. No more lists to run through in an attempt to find something. Organize it by clients, subject matter, family member, whatever works for you, as long as it is neat and orderly.
Next, log on to the internet and do the same thing with your favorites and bookmarked sites. Make folders and organize them by subject matter. What is the point of saving 312 recipes, if you can never find them again?
Now, head over to your email; delete the ones that are read but just filling up your inbox. If there is some important tidbit, make a folder and save it.
The last organizing we need to do today is making a list of your profiles and passwords. If you use the same one everywhere, fine but if you have several different ones, take the time to type out a nice list.
Now you are even organized in the virtual world.
Day 21 – Important Documents
Wow! Just one week to go. Congrats on staying this long. The end is in sight! Our organizing task today is more of a “gathering” task. You need to gather all your important papers, irreplaceable documents and valuable jewelry. Find each family member’s original social security card and birth certificate, as well as original copies of death certificates, marriage licenses and divorce decrees. Get the actual policy for your life, homeowner’s or renter’s insurances as well as the original copies of your will, living will and medical power of attorney.
Find your grandmother’s wedding band, your dad’s senior picture and any other irreplaceable items that would just break your heart if you lost. You can also grab the memory stick that you use to back up your hard drive (although research using the “cloud” for this as it is now more efficient).
Where am I going with this? A safe, of course. As you can see from the items we collected, you don’t need to be wealthy to need a safe. Make sure it is large enough to accommodate everything and fire rated for at least 2 hours.
Don’t automatically store it in your master bedroom closet. That’s the first place a thief would look. Think about natural disasters. If you live in a tornado prone area, keep your safe in the basement. If you live in an area that floods, keep it near the door so you can grab it and go.
Today’s task may seem silly to some of you but you would be surprised how many people do not take the time for this and regret it later. Being organized also means being prepared.
Day 22 – Kids’ Rooms
We’re on the home stretch. On this day we are going to organize your kid’s rooms.
If your kids are older, you can enlist them to help or maybe they already had their “last warning”. Whatever the case, we need to purge.
The biggest issues in kid’s rooms are clothes and storage. Let’s start with clothes. Go through the dresser and pull out anything that is too small, ripped or stained. Donate the good stuff; toss the rest. Try using small baskets inside the dresser drawers to corral socks and underwear. Fold the rest of the clothes and assign them to a particular drawer. Pack out of season clothes in tubs for storage.
Follow the same procedure with your child’s closet. Be ruthless. If there is a brand new sweater that has never left the closet because junior hates it, don’t bother saving it. Take a deep breath and toss it in the donate pile.
Place seasonal items in tubs on the floor of the closet or on the shelf. When you are through everything should have a place.
Kids have stuff. Lots of stuff. Give them storage options so that the stuff can co- habitat with you without driving you nuts. Buy toy chests, tubs that roll under the bed, cute baskets for the desk area, anything to contain the mess. Everything needs a home. If it helps, you can take your child with you to a container store and let them pick.
Day 23 – The “House” Book
Today’s task is another kitchen table project. We are making a House Book. What? You’ve never heard of a House Book? That’s because you’ve never been this organized before.
A House Book is where you keep all the information about your house and how to take care of it. It should be so easy to use that grandma can crack it open when you are on vacation and know how to solve any house related problem, quickly and easily.
Start with your purchase paperwork and closing documents, title insurance and the inspection report.
Add all your owner’s manuals and warranties for big items. You really don’t have to save the warranty on that $10 toaster.
Next, gather a list of companies that you have used (and liked). Names, phone numbers, web addresses, business cards and past invoices for the window cleaner, painters, bug guy, roofers, lawn service, pool guy, plumber, electrician, appliance repair man, HVAC crew, and even the company you used to pump out the septic tank.
Use a really big three-ring binder and plastic document sleeves. Divide it into sections so it is easy to locate information when you need to get to it quickly. You can even take out the personal information and pass it on to the next owner when you sell the house.
Are you feeling uber organized yet?
Day 24 – The “Odd” Rooms
Time to hit the basement, the attic, the playroom or any room we didn’t cover yet (the garage is tomorrow). You should know what to do by now.
For the playroom, toss any toy, puzzle or game that is broken or missing pieces. Likewise with all those Happy Meal toys, they are just junk and need to go in the trash.
Analyze what’s left. Do your kids play with everything still in the room? A perfectly good tea set is just a dust collector if your kids aren’t into it. Donate anything that your kids don’t play with anymore or never played with. Get those baskets, tubs and containers to give each remaining toy a home.
For the basement and attic, the space is really a giant storage closet. Organize it as such. Empty out shelves, open all the boxes. See what you’ve really got down there (or up there). Toss, donate or sell anything that you just don’t use or need. Getting a blender for your wedding is a great gift but it is just taking up space if it sits in the basement, year after year, move after move, and never leaves the original box. Give the poor thing a chance to find a loving home and donate it.
Almost done. See you tomorrow.
Day 25 – Garage: Day 1
Time to roll up your sleeves and clean out that garage.
The garage can be one of the worst spots for just dumping stuff. Garage clutter can multiple overnight while we are sleeping, too. In fact, many homes have a two car garage that only fits one car. Sad, but true.
To start, pull your cars out into the street. You need the room to get organized. Pull everything out of your garage. Sort it into piles in the driveway. Holiday items, sports equipment, camping gear, seasonal items, tools, lawn stuff and household items can all have their own pile.
Once everything is out, scrub it clean. Get rid of the cobwebs and dirt. You could even take this opportunity to buy an epoxy floor kit at your local home improvement store. They aren’t that expensive and look great.
Now, while the paint is drying, turn your attention to those piles. Sort through each one. If you don’t use it, donate it. If it’s broken, toss it. Aim to reduce each pile at least by half. The household stuff could even go in the house. After cleaning out all your closets, you should have room inside now.
Once you’ve accomplished everything above, take a break. We’ll finish tomorrow.
Day 26 – Garage: Day 2
It’s almost over, I promise.
First, let’s dispose of any chemicals. Check with your local municipality or recycling center. Each will have their own rules. For example, many prefer that excess paint be soaked up with clumping-style kitty litter before disposal. Don’t just dump these items in the trash or, worse, down your storm drain. Please dispose of them properly.
Now, let’s get some storage solutions up in that garage. They make a hook or a hanging system for everything now: bikes, shovels, soccer balls, you name it. They even make a lift to hoist the riding lawn mower up to the ceiling and out of the way when not in use.
Put other items in large plastic bins such as the pillows for the lawn chairs, camping gear and outdoor holiday lights. When you next need to drag them out, you can quickly and easily go to the right tub, pull it out and be on your way. No more hunting and digging through stuff to find what you need.
Make sure you leave plenty of room so both cars can fit in the garage comfortably. If you have any extra time, put some smaller tubs in the trunk of your car or the back of your minivan. It will help contain all the beach gear and sporting stuff and prevent it from rolling around.
Day 27 – Create a Disaster Kit
You don’t have to be an extremist to see the need for a Disaster Kit. Now that your garage is clean and organized, you have plenty of room for an extra plastic bin to use for this purpose.
You should have:
- 3 day’s worth of water (a gallon per person/day – plus more for pets)
- 3 day’s worth of non-perishable food (and a can opener)
- Dog or cat food, plus an extra collar and leash
- Portable radio or TV with extra batteries
- Flashlight with extra batteries or a crank-style that requires no batteries
- First aid kit
- Personal hygiene items (baby wipes, diapers, toilet paper)
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Photocopies of identification for each family member
- Basic camping gear, in case you need to leave your home
- Special items for your family (hearing aid batteries, formula and bottles, etc.)
- An extra set of clothes for everyone, including undergarments and shoes
- Blankets, coats and other cold weather gear
You can slowly add to this kit as you have extra money. You can also look for many of the items at off-season sales. The point is to be prepared.
Day 28 – Protect Your Valuables: Part 1
Almost done. Today is a fun day. Charge up that camera battery and get ready to click.
In order to be the most organized person you know, we are going to complete one last two-day project. We are creating another book but this time it is for insurance purposes.
Take an overview picture of each room in your house and then a second picture of each item. So, for your family room, take a shot looking into the room then one of just the sofa, the TV cabinet, the end tables and coffee table, the artwork and then the TV and stereo equipment. You can have a partner follow you around with a video camera, if you like but we want still pictures for this project. Don’t forget the kitchen appliances, the new furnace you installed last year, the inside of your closets and the patio furniture and other outdoor gear. Be sure to take close-ups of any specialty items like jewelry, artwork and furs.
Give the video tape to a friend or relative to keep at their house and take the time tonight to get those pictures off your camera and onto your computer, all properly labeled. Order a copy of each one to be picked up tomorrow. Many large super stores have one-hour photo departments for pennies a picture.
We’ll finish up tomorrow.
Day 29 – Protect Your Valuables: Part 2
Almost there. Just one last project to finish up.
Buy a 3-ring binder and get organized for your homeowner’s insurance. Group those pictures from yesterday into rooms. Type a detailed list of what is in each room including material, measurements, when you bought it, where and for how much. If you have the original receipt or packaging slip, include it. If the item is still for sale on the company’s website or in their catalog, include a copy. You want as much information as possible.
For more valuable items, like jewelry or original artwork, consider getting a current appraisal of their value. You can also try reputable online sources for recent sales that are comparable to your item.
Your goal is to have as much information as possible before tragedy strikes. Trying to gather information on your belongings after the fact can be difficult, especially if much of the paperwork was destroyed.
Sure, your homeowner’s insurance still covers you if you aren’t organized but the process will go a lot smoother if you are prepared. In fact, this book should probably go in your safe. If it doesn’t fit, you can leave it at a relative’s home. Better yet, get them to create one as well and trade.
Day 30 – Finishing Up
Phew! Done. I don’t know about you but I am wiped out. You worked hard, got messy and triumphed over the clutter. You are now the proud owner of a completely organized house. Congrats!
Maintaining the organized perfection takes just a little effort each day. First and foremost, don’t fall into the habit of “the spot” again; it will only lead you done the path of chaotic mess. You’ve been there and don’t want to go back.
Update all your books as you switch doctors, change insurance providers or inherit grandma’s brooch. If you do these things as they happen, it will take much less time than if you put it off and try to do it all at once.
Keep this list of “30 Days to an Organized Home”. Try to run through each day maybe once a week in order to stay on top of each area.
Some people like the concept of a big Spring Cleaning each year but truly organized people know that staying on top of things on a daily and weekly basis is the way to go. Preventing the clutter and disorganization in the first place eliminates the need for a massive cleaning effort.
Good luck. You can do it!