5 Secrets to Staying Organized

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Organization expert Tara Dodson-Wisshack shares her top tips

These first few months of the new year present the perfect opportunity to reflect on the areas of our lives that could use improvement. In addition to the classic health and fitness regrets, organization (or lack thereof) is another common pain point for many. Maybe you’ve tried to step up your organization game before but haven’t found much success. But what if we told you that you’ve been going about it all wrong?

We sat down with CEO and Founder of Bee Organized, Tara Dodson-Wisshack, to get you the inside scoop on how to effectively organize your home. Here are her top five tips!

1. Just purge it. Purging is a daunting task, but once you do it, you’ll gain a clear head and a stress-free environment. The less clutter you have, the less there is to organize.

Dodson explains that “Everyone struggles with purging; they hear the word and start getting concerned, thinking ‘I might fix this,’ or ‘I might need that later,’ even though they know they haven’t used the item in years.”

Dodson suggests dividing everything into separate piles while honestly asking yourself, “When was the last time I used this?” If it’s been longer than six months, let it go. And if you feel bad for trashing it, either fix it immediately or donate it so that someone else can enjoy it.

 “You will be surprised how much better you feel after the process is over,” Dodson explains. “Don’t spend too long with any one item because you might start to generate excuses as to why you still need it. Take your first gut reaction and stick to it. Then take the items out of your house as soon as possible.”

2. Go with the flow. “People think there is some magical pill or special trick to keeping the house organized forever. But cleaning and organizing are ongoing jobs, so don’t get frustrated when the kid's playroom goes back to looking like it just got hit by a cyclone,” Dodson encourages.

She suggests choosing small, daily tasks to keep the cleaning under control. Creating a schedule and completing one task a day is easier than spending your whole weekend trying to catch up.

 “If you have a family, get them involved; after all, cleaning is an important skill for adulthood, and everyone needs to learn how to pick up after themselves. Delegate tasks to each member of the family and create an accessible checklist to hold everyone accountable,” Dodson advises.

3. Contain yourself. “We all want to buy containers when we start a house cleaning/organizing project. I know it’s fun, but don’t do it!” Dodson warns.

When our clutter overwhelms us, we like to blame our disorganization on a lack of space and storage. But buying more storage items will not solve our problems. Dodson reminds us to go back to step one and purge first: “If you buy storage containers before cleaning the space out, you will end up keeping more than you need because you have more storage space for it. So instead, after you have removed as many items as you can, then you can go out and see what kind of organizational tools you need for whatever is left.”

4. Begin at the beginning. In the midst of an overwhelming mess, it’s hard to know where to start organizing. Dodson advises us to “Try not to look at the house as a whole; break it down into smaller sections. Find a corner in a room and start there, or start small with something like the junk drawer in your kitchen. (You know the one I’m talking about.) Think about the area of your home that you find the most frustrating and begin with that. There’s this great saying that says to ‘Eat the Frog First,’ meaning you should do the task you find the most overwhelming or difficult first, and everything else will seem easy comparatively.”

5. Find It a Home. “Every item needs a home, a place to live and to be found again and again. Without a home, things can get lost or misplaced. Having a designated place for everything will remind you to put things back when you’re finished with them,” Dodson explains.

It’s true that if we encourage ourselves to put things back in the places they belong, we can reduce our need to reorganize. If an object doesn’t have a home, it will end up in the way- in the corner of a room, on a counter or on the stairs.

Dodson reminds us: “If something doesn’t have a place to live, you might want to consider just getting rid of it. If that’s not an option, think about removing something else that is no longer needed so that the homeless item can live there. When everything is at home in your home, then so are you.”