10 Simple Habits that Will Help You Stay Organized

These 10 simple habits will help you stay organized and be more productive, and they’re so easy to implement into your daily routine!

White Bed with Floral Bedding in an Organized Bedroom

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about habits. I’m realizing more and more that habits are so important because they are our natural default. They’re what we resort to when we are going through the motions of our days.

Forming good habits and sticking to them over time can build phenomenal long term results. Whereas repeated bad habits over time will do the opposite– yikes!

Today I thought I’d share 10 little habits that help make life more productive and organized. These are all easy things to do that can help our days (and eventually weeks and months and years!) run more smoothly.

Get Organized and Stay that Way with These 10 Simple Habits

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

1. Make the bed.

A bed made up with throw pillows and decorations on the night stand

I never used to be a bed maker. I figured that I was just going to get into it again the next night anyway, so why bother? But more recently, I began making the bed each morning. And I cannot believe the difference it has made!

More than just making my bedroom look nicer, I feel like it gives me a positive start to the day. I’m beginning with order and a peaceful looking space. And it really helps to set a great tone for the rest of the day.

2. Clean up the kitchen and quickly straighten the house.

If making my bed is the thing I want to make sure I do right when I wake up in the morning, cleaning up the kitchen and straightening the house are the things I want to make sure we’ve done before we go to bed at night.

Our whole family comes together to make this one happen. After dinner, Donnie is the one who takes on the dishes and cleans up the kitchen while the boys and I do a quick pickup around the rest of the house. (Admittedly, this is much easier now that they’re teens/tweens than it was when they were toddlers.)

a neat and tidy kitchen with roses in the sink

(Now if only I could find a way to have beautiful fresh flowers casually laying in my sink looking beautiful all the time… 😉 )

kitchen organizing tips

Like making the bed, having a neat and tidy house before my head hits the pillow really puts me in the right mindset for keeping the rest of life organized. And I absolutely LOVE waking up, going downstairs, and being greeted by a living area that is clean and picked up.

3. Finish one task before moving on to the next.

Okay, all my creatives out there will relate to me on this one. You’re doing a project, you put the finishing touches on it and then all of the sudden you feel the urgent need to move on to the next task ASAP, leaving all of your project materials strewn about to be dealt with later.

Or you make lunch for your kids and as soon as you give them their plates you realize that you forgot to respond to that email. So you head to your computer, answer the email, browse around on Facebook, pin a couple of things on Pinterest, and forget all about the mess you left in the kitchen from making lunch.

Anybody with me? I do this ALL. THE. TIME.

an organized desk with a wreath hanging on a chalkboard

Because I’m constantly hopping from thing to thing to thing, I get to the end of the day and my house looks like a tornado has blown through, and I wonder how in the world it got that way. I am currently trying to re-train myself to finish a task all the way through– INCLUDING CLEAN UP– before I move onto the next thing.

When I do this successfully, I can plop down on the couch in the evening and be surrounded by a neat, clean, inviting space rather than mass chaos. It only takes a few more minutes, but it makes a huge difference later!

4. Use your wait time.

Abby sitting in a chair working on the computer

I used to be good at this before I had a smart phone. If I was heating something up in the microwave, I would use those few minutes to unload the dishwasher or wipe down the counters.

Now that I have the whole world wide web at my fingertips, I am tempted to check email or browse Instagram instead of tending to the tasks that would help me keep my house in order.

I am amazed at what I can get done while I’m waiting for my kids to get their shoes on or waiting for something to finish up in the oven when I commit to using my wait time wisely.

productivity tip

It’s surprising what can be done in just 15 minutes a day. This may be during down time or time that is set aside specifically for certain tasks. In 7 days, this little bit equals almost 2 hours that isn’t even missed and so much more gets done because it seems less overwhelming and more manageable.

5. Follow the “One In, One Out” rule.

In our house, if we bring in something new, something else has to go. I’ve realized that even a little bit of clutter can make the house feel like a big mess! I am constantly decluttering and throwing things away or donating them so that we are not buried under a mountain of stuff.

Organized Art Station in a Playroom

Toys are one of the worst offenders when it comes to creating clutter. If I don’t stay on top of them, then I feel like they take over the entire house. The boys know that when they get new toys, they will have to choose some of their old ones to give away.

If nothing else, committing to decluttering when we add something new helps to give a good reminder in case we tend to go a long time between bigger decluttering sessions.

6. Maintain a coordinated calendar.

Donnie is 100% responsible for instilling this habit in me. Our Google calendars are synced so we can each see what the other one has scheduled.

His appointments are in blue, my appointments are in pink, and it’s really easy to check and see what the other one has going on if we’re trying to make plans or coordinate with someone else.

screenshot of a family schedule on the Google app

I am naturally more of a pen and paper girl, so this was a challenge for me (and sometimes I still forget to add things to the calendar). However, I definitely think the digital version is the way to go on this one.

I almost always have my phone with me, so it’s easy to add new appointments and events. And a shared digital calendar is the easiest way for Donnie and I both to stay up to date on what’s going on without having to consult several different paper calendars.

7. Strive for inbox zero.

Gah. Email. Email is rough for me and is definitely something I’m still working on. Again, Donnie my digital guru helped me set up a system of tagging and archiving my emails, so I’m a lot better than I used to be. But my ultimate goal is to have my inbox at zero before I go to bed every night.

In order to do this, I need to schedule in time each day to respond to emails, or it just won’t happen. I will never just have all this extra time in my schedule to sit and work on email. It’s another one of those things, though, that if I stay on top of it, it’s quick and painless and not at all hard to do.

Woman looking at a laptop computer

8. Have a system for paperwork.

The actual system will vary for each person and family, but I think it is so important to have some sort of plan in place for all of the papers that enter your home– from mail to schoolwork to coupons to newspapers to whatever else finds its way in the door.

In our house, we handle this a couple different ways. I take care of the boys’ school information and paperwork each night, throwing away/recycling things we don’t need, displaying some of their favorite items, and taking photos of their favorite pieces for their yearly photo books.

pegboards with kids' artwork and craft supplies

And then Donnie takes care of all of the mail, bills, forms, and pretty much everything else using a paperless system, which he described in detail in this post.

Computer sitting on a white desk with a with document in Evernote on the screen

This paperless system has been absolutely revolutionary for us as far as home organization goes, so if you haven’t seen how Donnie does it yet, I highly recommend that you pop over and check it out. He’s amazing!

9. Make your to-do list.

You probably could have guessed that this was going to be on here! I may be just slightly obsessed with lists. I love making them, I love checking things off of them, and sometimes I make them just so I can check things off of them.

Using a digital task manager for all of my to-do lists and long-term plans has been a total game changer.

Or if you prefer pen and paper, grab our daily planning printable with time blocking here.

top view of printable planning sheets in a binder

10. Get some sleep.

“But Abby,” you’re thinking, “what does sleep have to do with productivity and organization?!” Friend, it has everything to do with it. My natural inclination is to stay up as late as possible to get things done, but then the next day I’m lethargic and unproductive because I’m having trouble keeping my eyes open!

Since I realized just how much getting a good night’s sleep impacts my day, I have tried to be so intentional about getting to bed earlier and getting enough sleep. And I can confidently say that there is a major difference in the amount I’m able to accomplish when I’ve gotten my sleep versus those times when I’m running on empty. Get your sleep, people!

Organized Bedroom

Getting & Staying Organized: Frequently Asked Questions

Choose a single area to work on. This can be a space, scheduling, or a category like paperwork.

Getting started is the hardest part! Use the 10 simple habits above to start building routines that are manageable for any family.

Once the first area is organized, move on to the next. Avoid getting discouraged and starting with too much. This makes the process tougher and we are less likely to finish our tasks.

When I am overwhelmed, I do a brain dump. This means writing all of my thoughts down on a piece of paper without any rhyme or reason. Then categorize them by priorities or deadlines. Delegate if possible, then schedule the list out over the next few days.

Then I repeat this process on a weekly basis or if we are planning a big trip or project.

Get more ideas for getting organized when you feel overwhelmed here.

Want to save this post to revisit later? Be sure to pin the image below so you can find it easily!

10 Simple Habits to Help You Stay Organized

So those are my 10! I know there are probably about 100 more that I could add to this list, so if you have a tip that helps you to be more organized and productive, I’d love for you to share it in the comments! 

Have a wonderful day!

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.


  1. Tela @ Sweet Southern T says:

    I have been using your organization printables for a while now. I love them and thank you for sharing. I was just wondering where I could find the “Peek at the week” one if you have it to share. It would be wonderful to have. Thanks so much!!

  2. Lindsay Eidahl says:

    These are all great tips. My favorite one which we do all the time here and I think it really helps is pick up the thing you are doing before you move on to something else. This is so great for kids because it really helps so the toy mess isn’t taking over your house!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      ^Agreed! I SO need to get better at that one!!

      ~Abby =)

  3. Katie @ Little House of Four says:

    Great tips! I usually manage to make my bed every morning, but the kitchen is a completely different story! I told my husband that’s his job (since I cook dinner), so you can guess there’s always dishes in the sink! I agree on the “get more sleep” advice, but I have yet to figured out how to do that, lol! I stay up WAY too late working on blog stuff as well and always regret it the next morning! Have a great weekend, friend 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      I hear ya! I feel like my sleeping and exercising both went out the door when I started blogging. I’m finally starting to bring those back and be a little more balanced, but it’s definitely a process! Hope you’re having a great weekend, friend!

      ~Abby =)

      1. Charlotte says:

        My husband and I have a rule that whoever gets up second has to make the bed. When I get up at 5 am 3x/week to work out, he makes the bed. Other mornings he gets up first and I make the bed.

  4. I can totally relate to each of these. Two that I work on everyday is: make your bed (my Mom has always said that if you make the bed, the room looks cleaner) and clean the kitchen after the evening meal. Without a dishwasher, this is a must, else those dishes pile up quick. Enjoyed your post!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Love that and totally agree! Hope you’re enjoying your weekend, Trish!

      ~Abby =)

  5. Theresa @DearCreatives says:

    For me the inbox is the worst. Emails, emails……Thanks for the tips!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Agree! I am terrible at email, but trying to improve slowly but surely! Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

      ~Abby =)

      1. Michele Sifuentes says:

        Ugh! The emails! In #7 you mentioned that Donnie had set you up with an awesome tagging and archiving system. I would love to learn more about that! Pretty please! I’m drowning over here! 😉

  6. Shawna@nottheformerthings.com says:

    I have been so encouraged by this series, and today’s post in particular. I was always a very organized person when I worked outside the home, but somehow, that natural inclination is lost when I home with my two boys. Both have been diagnosed with different special needs in the past few years, and I have really been struggling to figure out all the details of our life and home. Thank you for being real, encouraging and writing with such grace.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Being a mama is definitely hard work– always so much to balance! I know no matter how many lists I make or strategies I put in place, I’m always a work in progress! Hugs, friend!

      ~Abby =)

    2. Michele Sifuentes says:

      Shawna, you mirror my life!!! I was the epitome of organization until i started staying home! Then little by little, diagnosis by diagnosis, therapy by therapy, it just got more and more unraveled! I homeschool the boys now and that has forced a bit more organization back into our crazy lives.
      This post has fabulous advice! I may have know much of it deep down somewhere, but definitely needed this refresher!!! Thanks!

  7. These are great tips Abby! I am not good about making my bed, but my kitchen IS clean at night. If not, I feel like I wake up already behind in my day.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      I hear ya! Hope you’re having a wonderful Sunday!

      ~Abby =)

  8. Carrie @ Curly Crafty Mom says:

    This has been a great series, Abby! I have been doing several of these, but some I haven’t been doing and I will need to try them. One that I have been trying to be better about is going to bed at 10:00 p.m., since I get up at 5:30 a.m.! I really try to keep my InBox empty, too… but, if there is a day or two where my week gets really busy, I feel my InBox gets out of control (and everything else). It is so hard to stay on top of everything, but I try my best. I also feel like making a to do list with time blocks really does help! I do this on my busiest days and I try to make the time blocks realistic, too! And, I make my bed AND the kids beds every morning… whew. I really need to get them started on making their own beds!!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      You are a better mom than me, lol! My boys have bunk beds and they are a bear to make! Sounds like you have some great systems in place, Miss Carrie! Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

      ~Abby =)

  9. Selene Galindo says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with all the above tips!! Little things seem small on their own but when you combine them all together they make a world of difference! I need to work on finishing projects one at a time- I just get so distracted sometimes! I try to get the kitchen all clean every evening but on the evenings I don’t I regret it in the morning- big time!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      I am on the distraction train right there with you! Totally! That is one of my biggest things I need to work on. We’ll get there! Hope you’re having a great weekend, Selene!

      ~Abby =)

  10. I love this list. I’m either working on them, have mastered them (only one or two) or plan on it soon. Currently #4 and 5 are my focus. My smart phone is a trouble maker. I need to learn to plug it in to charge and leave it!!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Amen! Those smart phones can be so pesky! 😉 Have a wonderful week, Carol!

      ~Abby =)

  11. These are great tips. I have a few that I do great at (making the bed, cleaning the kitchen, email inbox) and some that are definitive things to work on (one in , one out & finishing a project!). I like this list because it doesn’t feel too overwhelming!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thanks so much, Chanelle! I’m glad it gave some food for thought without being too much! 🙂 Have a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  12. Krista @the happy housie says:

    This is fabulous Abby. I follow many of these tips already and they work so well. Especially using your wait time! And I always try to keep on top of the daily things like bed making, finishing before moving on etc. My downfall is my email. I NEED to do that!! Next goal: email.

    Thanks for the inspiration. This is a great post!! Sharing…


  13. Amber Kristine says:

    Okay, I love love love this list! That book shelf is super cute by the way 🙂 Finishing one task before I move onto the next is definitely one that I struggle with. {Especially with blogging!!} I’m always so chaotic and everywhere with my mind going a million directions with things that need to be done. I’ve started making a todo list ordered by importance and it’s helping so far!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Oh girl, that totally sounds like me! I’m all over the place! Hopefully I can re-train myself to focus on one thing at a time– we’ll see! Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

      ~Abby =)

  14. I am SO guilty of #3!
    A few months ago I implemented the one in, one out rule and it’s really helping.
    As for making the bed, that would be #1 on my list too. I will be late for work before leaving my bed unmade!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Ugh. 3 is the biggest struggle for me as well! Baby steps! 😉 Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend, Roxanne!

      ~Abby =)

  15. #3 is my struggle and I have decided to make this one of my goals to work on for the year. Finish the task I am working on before moving to the next task. I want to be a good example to my kids when it comes to this habit. I see them do what I do.
    Great post!

  16. Wendy Tomlinson says:

    Great tips. I still haven’t quite got to grips with one in one out, although I am incredibly careful about what actually comes into the house anyway. If I don’t love it or need it it doesn’t come in.
    Aiming for a zero inbox is certainly something that makes a big difference in my own life and regular unsubscribing sessions.

  17. Stephanie B says:

    Thanks for this post! It was great! I really enjoyed it. I became a bed maker myself and it really makes a difference. If I can’t get to it because I’m in a rush, then it devastates me. I’ve even gotten my boyfriend into the habit and he’ll do it if I can’t. It’s great. I’m working on keeping my kitchen clean, (because of my boyfriend) I hate dishes, so now I’ll load up the dish washer :).

  18. A woman after my own heart, I LOVE making lists and checking things off. I too have been known to make a list after the fact just so I can cross the items off. My husband thinks I’m nuts ☺

  19. Catherine says:

    A really great list. I use a lot of these ideas and find them very helpful. I am going to try to be a bit more intentional with getting rid of one thing when one thing comes into the home. I think that could help with clutter a lot more. One more I could add to the list is to have a power nap each day. I get so much more accomplished when I have a 20 min sleep at lunch time.

  20. thank you so much for these useful information

  21. What did you use on your cube drawers? Is it vinyl? I love it!

  22. Thanks for this list. Way more helpful than those to-do lists that just look mindnumbingly dull and stressful to me. I have an 8-week old baby and a 3 1/2 year old and am also a full time graphic designer working at home. Man…my desk is such a mess and I am going to start some of these ideas instantly. I can apply many of them to my business as well as home.

  23. Heather @ Simply Save says:

    It’s amazing the difference that making the bed can do! The room looks better and you just FEEL better! Also, I’d be so lost without my calendar!

  24. Muff Dunlap says:

    Love, love, love this! ;

  25. Tiffany (@TiffanyDownLane) says:

    Hi, Abby ~ This post popped up in my feed this morning, and I’m so glad it did! Too many Christmas projects, not finishing my Christmas decorating before I started those aforementioned projects, not putting things away, and letting go of my calendar, bed making, and paper management habits have turned my house into a danger zone! 2016 is all about getting organized, decluttering, and reestablishing those helpful habits. Step one? Printing my Intentional Life Planner and putting it in my notebook. :0) Thanks for the timely reminder!

  26. Great List! All things we know but don’t always practice. I need to focus on finishing 1 thing before starting another. And more sleep. Thank you for sharing.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Yes, SLEEP! haha That is a big one for me this year too! Hope you’re having a great week! ~Abby =)

  27. I know this is an older post but it’s always so good to go back and re-read them! I still love this one just as much. I needed some inspiration to get back into things!
    Thank you!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Aw, thank you, Jessica! So glad it was helpful! Have a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  28. Jane (Modern Housewives) says:

    Thanks for the tips! I have a serious problem with staying organised at all times and I have the nasty habit of starting 10 tasks at once without finishing any of them. I have to start creating to-do lists, I guess, otherwise my home will never be as organised as I want it to.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Yes! It is so easy to start doing a million things at once and not completing any of them! To-do lists have helped me so much! Happy organizing! 🙂

      ~Abby =)

  29. Kristel Miley says:

    Number seven is so, SO hard for me, especially as a new blogger! I find that my inbox is constantly cluttered with tons of emails that I always say I’ll “read later.” I like your idea of making sure your inbox is at zero before you go to bed. Definitely going to use that tip. Awesome post! 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful for you, Kristel! Have a great week!

      ~Abby =)

  30. Elizabeth Nepal O'Connor says:

    I am going to use the new printable you released and make a commitment to make #2 a habit! I could not agree more; that a clean kitchen just starts they say out right! The alternative is a messy kitchen which leads to a chaotic morning and a stressed Mommy! If I make this commitment now than by the time school starts up it will be a habit and just another piece of helping everyone get out the door a bit less frazzled ?❤️

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Yay! So glad it will be helpful for you, Elizabeth! A clean kitchen really does make such a huge difference!

      ~Abby =)

  31. Julie Rogers says:

    You are very much an inspiration to me. Thank you for all your posts. Each one is informative and practical. You are by far one of my favorite bloggers and always look forward to your posts. Keep doing what you’re doing.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      You are too sweet! Thank you so much for your kinds words, Julie! Hope you’re having a wonderful week! <3

      ~Abby =)

  32. Abby, thanks for sharing your tips and love reading them! Honestly I’m surprised to see that you put “make the bed” on top of the list 🙂 Because I think it should be a normal thing (well, my mom trained me since small) but I also realized that some don’t make the bed at all. Sometimes I even straighten the bed so that it looks better but this is a bit too much haha! Another one is clean up the kitchen and empty the sink as I find it easier to wash the dishes now than later. I also learn something new from you as you mentioned #5. No wonder I’ve accumulated so much stuff over the years. For me, it should be”one in, five out” 😀

    1. justagirlabby says:

      That would work, too! 🙂 haha. Thanks for reading, Erina! Have a great evening!

      ~Abby =)

  33. ellen from ask away says:

    I’m a stickler for making the bed! And the one in one out rule rules my life. I tell people it’ll be life changing if they embrace it!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Yes! Complete game changer! 🙂

      ~Abby =)

  34. Karen Hobson says:

    Finally!! A couple things that I have always done and you are just starting. Lol. The bed ALWAYS gets made – sometimes I do it and sometimes hubby does it -but it’s a requirement. But, was not so much instilled in our kids. I tried and made them do it until the battle became too much – but they know how if and when the urge ever kicks in. Lol. And, I always picked the house up before going to bed when kids were growing up and even when granddaughter came along and lived with us. Her play corner had to be straight before going to bed. I don’t function well in clutter. Now, kids are grown and it’s just hubby and me – so things do become easier with time.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      That’s good to know! 🙂 Thanks for reading, Karen!!

      ~Abby =)

  35. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Abby,
    Great tips as usual! I always had to make my bed growing up and when I don’t now, I hear my mother’s voice in my head! Quick question…what size are the three large square pillows on your bed? I love the look!
    Thanks for all the great posts!

  36. Audrey Johnson says:

    Abby, I love your organization tips. Many are the same that I use but it lets me know I am on the right track. Thanks for sharing.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad they’re helpful for you, Audrey! Have a great evening! <3

      ~Abby =)

  37. Mayo Earnest says:

    Making the bed is so important for two reasons! It gives the bedroom a look of order, but even more, when I go in there at bedtime, it looks welcoming and tranquil. A gift from me to me!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Yes! So true! 🙂

      ~Abby =)

  38. It’s so strange how something as quick as making a bed can really change the tone for the start of a day. I’m like you and clean the kitchen the night before. I also use my “wait time” fairly efficiently. I really need to work on the sleep thing. because I know it’s affecting the quality of my work and my energy. Thanks for all your wonderful tips.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad they were helpful, Deanna! Hope you’re having a wonderful week! <3

      ~Abby =)

  39. Lauren@thechocolatesunflower says:

    These are perfect! I struggle keeping anything organized. If I could get a handle on one thing at a time I think a lot of my problems would be solved! Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful for you, Lauren! You can do it!! <3

      ~Abby =)

  40. Great ideas! As for to do lists, if I accomplish something that wasn’t on my list, I add it to the list and cross it off. ? It’s a good feeling!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      I definitely do that. LOL Makes me feel SO much more productive! 🙂

      ~Abby =)

  41. Hi Abby!

    I LOVE that wire hanging thing you have for the boys’ art projects! My daughter just started school this year and I have beautiful art projects coming out my ears and no where to display them. Where can I find one of those?


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