11 organising tips

house kept tidy and uncluttered2009 was my year of decluttering and I didn’t quite make it!

I had a couple of brilliant months, where I could really see my goal coming into fruition, but then overwhelm crept in, along with daily life and I’m not much further forward than where I was a year ago.

However, I have learned a lot. And it is through taking these lessons forwards into 2010 that I know I will achieve my goal. Maybe it won’t be within the year, but that no longer matters. What matter is I’ve chosen to let my learnings guide me ever closer.

We’re wasting time!

This week I learned that American men take an average of 8 minutes and women take 7 minutes a week looking for the TV remote. Six minutes is the average time Americans
take looking for car keys before going to work.

A woman can spend one year of her life deciding what to wear and apparently we spend 2 months per year looking for things. That sounds like an over estimation to me, but it’s still a sobering thought.

So are we hopelessly disorganised, just plain messy or do we have too much stuff?

Shine that sink

During 2009 I absorbed a lot of organisation programmes. Starting with FlyLady, I learned how important it was to shine my sink and declutter in 15 minute bursts. One of my traits has been to burn myself out. My inner perfectionist demands that when I set myself a task, it doesn’t take 2 months, it takes 2 hours.

I’ve learned that this does not serve me and it really is a case of the tortoise wins the race.[amazon-product align=”right” small=”1″]0553382179[/amazon-product]

I’m going to share some of the things that have helped me over the course of a year and I’d love to hear your suggestions too. What’s great about my list is that I’m not some organising guru, I’m not an expert, I don’t live in organised bliss; I’m simply me and I’m trying to find my way, just like you are to a sense of order in my life. So take what is helpful and leave the rest!

Tips for organising your life

Everything in its place

This is the key – everything in your home needs a home of its own. If you have to shut a cupboard door and run, then something is not right. Either get some more storage or better still get rid of the excess stuff.

Ask yourself if the item is easy to retrieve and easy to put away.

Time vampires

What are the things that take your time? Mine is frittering time on the computer. Instead of being focused and setting myself tasks, I find myself browsing facebook, checking emails or cavorting on Twitter.

[amazon-product small=”1″]0446677671[/amazon-product]On the mornings I decide not to turn the computer on until I have done an hour’s work – this can be housework, exercise or yoga, I get so much more done.

What are the things that you fritter your time on? Can you manage them in a different way or use them as a reward when you’ve done some cleaning or tidying?

One in, one out

This is a great tip and so simple. Every time you bring a new item into the house toss something out. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an item of clothing, a new magazine or a kitchen corkscrew – Either recycle the old item, give it away to someone who would like it or donate it to charity. If it’s really past its best, then into the bin it goes.

Swish and swipe

This is a FlyLady tip and one which serves me well. Every morning when I get up I have a pee and a wash. After my pee I wipe around the toilet seat and rim with a cloth. The I brush the floor and quickly wipe around the sink and bath with a cloth, using a tiny squirt of cleaner.

Any toothpaste marks are rubbed off the mirror with a microfiber cloth. All of this takes less than 5 minutes and means my day starts with a clean bathroom!

Attach a new habit to an old one[amazon-product align=”right” small=”1″]1600940560[/amazon-product]

You see in the above example how I attached a new habit to an old one? EVERY morning without fail I start my day with a pee; I know it’s going to happen without me thinking about it. One of the best ways to put a new habit in place is to attach it to an old one.

Perhaps you have a shower every morning – why not take a cloth in there and wipe it down when you’ve finished.

While you make your morning coffee, why not fill up the washing machine

When you unload the dishwasher, why not brush the floor.

Add one new small habit onto an old one and see how easy they are to maintain

YOUR priorities

Maintaining a sense of order in your home is a personal thing. First up decide what is important to YOU, not anyone else, and not something a website or book tells you.

For me it’s important to have a clean bathroom and kitchen. Then I can deal with muddles in the house. If the bathroom is dirty and the kitchen is cluttered, it tips my scales of tolerance and I’m prone to erupt at the entire family.

If you’re just starting out, then focus on the areas in your home that depress you the most and spend a couple of months figuring out how to get order and the level of cleanliness and tidiness you require to feel in control.


[amazon-product small=”1″]0743250907[/amazon-product]Here’s my simple tip for getting rid of those pending piles of paperwork:

Deal with mail the moment it comes through the door. (or as soon as you come back from work if it arrives late)

I’m the world’s best procrastinator when it comes to mail. I can’t be bothered to find the piece of paperwork I need or find the relevant telephone number. My new goal for this month is to deal with it immediately.

This means I no longer have a pending pile of unread mail. Phew!

Upstairs downstairs

Never walk upstairs without taking something from downstairs that lives upstairs and never walk downstairs without taking some with you that lives there. A new toilet roll, laundry, pens, books – deliver it when you’re walking up and downstairs anyway!

The two minute rule

If it takes less than two minutes to do, then do it IMMEDIATELY! No procrastination, no buts, just do it.[amazon-product align=”right” small=”1″]0340836776[/amazon-product]

Put the scissors back, hang your shirt up, put the socks in the laundry bin rather than the floor, reply to a quick email. You can do it!

Put it back

Following on from the two minute rule, put everything away after use. Cups, plates, clothes, books, stationary, CDs – whatever it is, when you’ve finished using it put it in its place (it does have a place, doesn’t it? If not, go back to tip 1 and work on that one until completed).

Clearing clutter

I read hundreds of books which told me clutter was something you didn’t love or wasn’t useful. That was never very helpful to me and everything ended up in a ‘maybe’ genre, which meant I never got rid of anything.

Now the thing which helps me release things the most is “Does this item represent me now or who I was in the past?” This is so powerful to me and helps me release things that are holding me back.


  1. FLYLADYPADDI on January 22, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Dear Mrs. Green,

    Just a little encouragement from the FlyLadyPaddi to tell you how proud we are of all the progress you made last year. One thing we would like to see more of this year from you is a few “Go Me” cheers when you have de-cluttered and a few rewards for your accomplishments.

    We are very proud of you.

    Please remember to use your timer this year.

    FlyLady Paddi
    from http://WWW.FLYLADY.NET

    🙂 Yes we DO really care about our FlyBabies.

  2. Going Green Tips on January 29, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Amazing post! Thanks for sharing your experience. I especially liked that tip of not turning in the pc in the morning.

  3. Mrs Green on February 10, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    @FLYLADYPADDI: Oh bless you – what a lovely message; You bought a smile to my day!

    @Going Green Tips: Hi there – welcome to the site and I’m glad the tip helped you.