Learn the top three organizing habits to build into your day so that organization happens more naturally and feels less like work!
Today I am so excited to be joining a bunch of my fellow organization-loving friends to share our top top three organizing tips! Be sure to stick around until the end of the post to see them all!
As I was thinking about what I wanted to share today, there were SO many different ideas that came to mind. But ultimately I wanted to talk about the organizing tips that have made the biggest impact on my life. And when I thought about it that way, I just knew I had to focus in on habits.
Habits may not sound as thrilling as a big, huge room transformation. BUT habits are phenomenal because they are generally small things that can be easily added into our day. And when we are consistent about them, we will start to notice a big difference over time.
And that is really exciting!
3 Organizing Habits that Can Make a BIG Difference in Your Day
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
You can catch my three favorite organizing habits via video right here. Or keep reading if you prefer words and pictures!
Habit #1- Scan and Fix
I know you’re supposed to save your favorite for last. But I’m just going to break all of the rules and share my favorite habit first. #rebel 😂
This is the habit that I give the most credit for taking me from “scatterbrained mess” to generally organized. It is what I like to call the "Scan and Fix."
The scan and fix is exactly what it sounds like. Any time I open a cabinet or drawer or walk through a room and see something that is out of place, I take a few seconds to straighten it up and put it back where it goes.
If I open a cabinet and some cups are on their side, I will set them upright before grabbing what I need and moving on with my day.
Or if I open a drawer and see a shirt that is no longer folded, I take the time to fold it back up and put it in the drawer neatly. If there are a lot of things out of place, I just choose one thing and make it right. And then the next time I need to get something out of the drawer, I will pick another thing to fix.
The Key to Keeping a Consistently Tidy Home
Now if you are kind of naturally wired for organization, you might be thinking, “Well of course! Doesn’t everybody do this already?” And the answer to that would be no! I know this because I myself didn’t do this naturally for a long, long time.
I always wondered how people could keep these uncluttered, tidy homes all the time when mine always looked like a tornado went through. And the answer was that they used habits like the scan and fix as they went about their day.
I had to train myself to do this until it became a habit. But now that it is, it’s a total game changer and organizing feels a lot less like work!
Each of these actions only takes a few seconds, but they really do add up. Everything may not be exactly where I want it immediately. But when I am consistent about scanning and fixing over time, our house gets and stays a lot tidier.
The scan and fix also keeps small messes from becoming big messes. If I’m not scanning and fixing as I go, at first it may seem like only one or two things are out of place. But after a while, more and more items are displaced. And before I know it, I have a great big organizing overhaul on my hands, rather than just some small things that can be easily remedied.
The scan and fix is a quick habit that, when used consistently, can really make a big impact on the overall tidiness of our home.
Habit #2- Close the Loop
The second organizing habit that has been really helpful to incorporate into my day is what I call "Close the Loop."
When I say “close the loop,” I just mean that I want to make it my goal to finish whatever task I’m working on to completion-- including clean up-- before I move on to the next thing.
I admit that this one was a pretty big struggle for me. And I am definitely not perfect at it yet! My natural tendency is to start a project, get part of the way through, remember that I have another project I need to work on, hop over to that one and continue flitting from thing to thing, leaving a mess in my wake.
Take, for example, my messy office after failing to close some of my loops.
I was working on some bags for my son’s hockey team, finished the bags, but then left all of my machines and supplies laying around instead of putting them back where they go.
There are some props left over from a photo shoot that I never cleaned up.
I did yoga and just left the mat laying in the middle of the room instead of rolling it up and putting it away.
And I was getting some of my boys’ supplies organized for back to school and kind of just gave up in the middle of it.
The Benefits of Closing the Loop
Instead, when I’m on the ball with closing my loops, my office is returned to its neat and tidy state after each project and activity. And it’s always ready to go when I want to start something else, which saves me time and frustration.
Some other examples of closing loops in my day would be things like...
- Doing all of the dishes and wiping down the counters after we’re done cooking and eating dinner
- Putting the laundry away right after I finish folding instead of leaving it for later (and having to mess up all of that effort effort when we pull stuff straight from the laundry basket!)
- Cleaning up a board game and putting it back in the game closet when we're finished playing with it
- I could go on and on!
It can take some time to tweak our mindset and remind ourselves that no task is fully complete until everything is cleaned up and put away. But when we are consistently closing our loops, there are so many great benefits!
- When we go into a space to start a new project, we don’t have to work around mess and clutter that’s in the way. We have a clean slate to start from.
- We don’t end up with a big, huge mess that will take a long time to clean up because we’ve taken care of things as we go.
- And when we get to the end of the day, we get to relax in a tidier space rather than having more messes that need to be cleaned up hanging over our heads.
So close those loops, and enjoy the neat and uncluttered space that results!
Now, I wish I was perfect at the scan and fix and closing all of my loops and that doing those things just kept my house totally neat and organized all the time. But I am human and the other members of my family are human. So inevitably, stuff still gets left laying around the house sometimes. This is where our last habit comes in...
Habit #3- Team Straighten
The third and final habit I wanted to talk about today is what I call the "10 minute team straighten."
Anytime I start talking about organizing habits, I have people who inevitably say to me, “I have good organizing habits, but no one else in my family does and I’m so sick of cleaning up their mess!”
Of course everyone in the household can work on the scan and fix and closing the loops too. But this last habit is specifically designed to get everybody in the household involved!
When I have talked to Donnie and the boys about what helps them feel motivated to get and keep their stuff organized, one of the first things they always say is that having someone do it with them is helpful!
So a few nights a week-- usually after dinner-- we will have a time where we all work together for a few minutes to do a quick straighten up of the house.
It can be fun to set a timer and make it a race against the clock.
Maybe everyone can take turns being the DJ and picking the music for clean up time.
When the boys were smaller, it also helped if I gave them a very specific category to work on during this time. Like, “Connor, you are in charge of picking up any LEGOs that are laying around. And Caleb, you are in charge of toy cars.”
This would help keep them from getting overwhelmed and just sitting around because they weren’t sure what to work on. These days, they’re better at being able to pinpoint what needs to be done, so they don’t need as much direction.
How often should we team straighten?
Depending on how messy the house gets during the day, your household may need these team straightens more or less often. If you have littles who are home all day, it might need to happen every day. If you have older kids or are an empty nester, every few days or once per week may suffice.
The key is to make it a consistent habit so that everyone in the family knows what to expect. That way it doesn’t feel as much like we have to nag and coax everyone to get on board. It just becomes part of the routine and something we do as part of our day.
To help create this habit, it can help to tack it on to something we’re already doing. So if we always eat dinner together, maybe as part of the dinner cleanup process, we run the 10 minute team straighten as well.
If we have a consistent bedtime routine, maybe right before the routine starts, we could do the team straighten.
If we all watch a certain show together, make it a rule that we all work together to straighten up for 10 minutes before the show starts.
There are a lot of ways to make the team straighten a part of our day so it just feels like part of the routine and less like work.
New organizing habits take time!
Building new habits is HARD. It takes months and years of consistency until something is fully ingrained into our lives. And this is especially true with kids.
My kids are 10 and 12 right now, and I have been working on organizing habits with them since they were really little. It has only been within the past few years that I feel like I have seen things start to click for them more consistently. And we are all still far from perfect at it!
But I have also seen the major payoff that happens when we are able to successfully build habits like the scan and fix, closing the loop, and the team straighten into our day.
Habits like this are the absolute key to being able to stay organized for the long haul. They make organization come more naturally and feel less like a chore. AND we get to live in a house that feels peaceful and calm rather than cluttered and chaotic. And that has positive effects on every area of our life!
Join Me at Get Organized HQ!
I am so excited to join more than 70 other organizers as part of the [FREE!] Get Organized HQ Virtual Summit this year! From September 13-17, 2021 there will be more than a dozen sessions each day that cover nearly every area of organization. And YOU are invited to be a part of it!
I will be teaching a class called 3 Smart Systems that Will Save You Time and Stress. And there are going to be tons of other incredible classes from some of my favorite bloggers, including...
- Taming the Email Monster with Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom
- Creating a Beautifully Organized Home and Work Life with Nikki Boyd of At Home with Nikki
- Top Tips from a Professional Organizer with Kenika Williams of Tidied by K
- How to Get Your Family Onboard with Ashley Buffa of Freedom Moms
- How to Reset Your Home in Two Days with Kayse Pratt of Anchored Women
- And SO MANY MORE!
(And since the summit is virtual, you can watch from home in your PJs while sipping your favorite beverage-- yippee!)
Some of my fellow summit speakers are also sharing their top three organizing tips today. You can see them all here!
Do you have any organizing habits that help your day run more smoothly? I'd love to hear about them in the comments below!
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See these posts for more ideas on building healthy organizing habits:
Thank you so much for following along! Have a wonderful day!
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.