People often ask me what the key is to keeping a home organised and my answer is always the same – structure and consistency.
As an Interior Designer and Professional Organiser, I myself can often have conflicting desires within my home environment. The designer in me wants a plethora of cushions in a variety of shapes, colours and textures, whereas the organiser wants simplicity and only the amount of cushions that actually gets used regularly.
So, what does structure and consistency actually mean?
There is an old saying – a place for everything and everything in its place. I believe this is the foundation point of an organised home. If you do not have set places for objects within your home, no-one will know where to put them away and they will end up drifting from counter top to drawer, only to disappear into the back of a cupboard never to be seen again. Create storage places for all those odds and ends that never seem to live anywhere specific – batteries, plug adapters, school paperwork, kids’ artworks, handbags, keys and hats, etc. Once you have decided on the chosen location for these items, make sure that everyone in the household knows where they go.
Set up a household command centre in the corner of a room that is used on a daily basis – kitchen, living area, dining room. In this area have the following items:
- family calendar
- chores lists
- filing trays for incoming mail, bills to be paid, outgoing items, school letters and anything else that needs to be dealt with regularly
- white board for notes and reminders
- baskets for rubbish and recycling
- weekly menu list
Make sure that all family members know what is expected of them. If you give a child a new chore, give them clear guidelines as to how that chore is to be done. Often if a child is uncooperative it is because they are unsure of exactly what they are supposed to do. Perhaps create a checklist of each step until they are familiar with the job, just like a new employee would get when going into a new role in the business world.
Less really is usually more – stop buying things you don’t need for the life you would live in a parallel universe. In my parallel universe I would spend hours cooking, using the best appliances and serving the food in matching dishes, but the reality is that I don’t love cooking and therefore don’t need a cupboard full of Jamie Oliver’s serving dishes. Having less stuff in your home means more time to spend with your family, more time to spend doing things you love to do (who really loves cleaning anyway??). Less chaos and clutter means more peace, more relaxation and better relationships. The Soap & Detergent Association cites that getting rid of clutter can reduce housework by 40%. Just think what you could do with all that extra time!
I have heard so many times in my work “I spent a whole week cleaning and tidying and then two weeks later it’s back to how it was!” Why? Because in today’s world we want a quick fix – we want to watch a movie so we just download one, we want to read a new book so we buy one on our e-reader, we want to lose weight so we resort to pills and potions that promise instant weight-loss. We don’t want to do the work or commit the time necessary to ensure success, but the truth of the matter is that anything worth having has to be worked for. If we want to be fit and healthy, then we have to eat the food our body needs and we have to move our bodies regularly and not just from the couch to the fridge. If we want to have a successful career, then we need to grow and learn and work hard. If we want to be a good parent, we have to nurture, educate and assist our children to grow into adults who contribute to the world.
Having an organised home is not just a matter of working out where to put things, it is putting those things in the right places consistently. It is hard when you’ve had a long day, you are tired, you still have a hundred chores to do around the house and the last thing you feel like doing is put the clean washing away. The washing is folded and laid out on the bed to put away “later” – but when is later? Suddenly it’s time to go to bed and you had forgotten about the “bedrobe” that awaits you….. rather than putting the washing away you move it from the “bedrobe” to the “floordrobe” where it stays until morning when you pile it back on the “bedrobe” promising yourself that you’ll get to it during the day. There have been times in my house when the piles have gone between the bed and the floor several times before they make it into the cupboard. How much time do we actually waste on unnecessary moving of items because we just can’t be bothered to put them away properly in the first place?
There is no quick fix, no magic wand waving to be done, it is simply a matter of structure and consistency.
I wish I could give you an alternative (other than hiring a housekeeper), but the less stuff you have, the less time you will spend cleaning and putting away and the more time you will spend living with the ones you love.