There are five steps in the organizing process. The final step is to create a system to maintain what you’ve organized. In order to keep a space organized, you might add labels, determine how often you’ll tidy up the space, or create a schedule to purge. The trick isn’t to come up with the perfect system; the trick is to think through what will work for you and then follow through. Therefore, the system you create is essential in not only getting organized, but staying organized as well. This blog post is dedicated to systems. I’ve set up many systems in my home and in client’s homes and this post will give you ideas of systems to set up in your home too!
Household Systems Are Endless
For most activities we manage in our households, we can come up with a system to make our household more efficient. After all, the more efficient we are, the more down time we will have to spend quality time with our family. Here are a few examples of household tasks that could be made more efficient with a system in place:
- Meal planning/grocery shopping/meal preparation
- Switching out seasonal clothes
Pro Tip: Create a custom system for your household by asking yourself a few questions: What is working in my household? What isn’t working? How can I turn this task into a process that will work for my family and will be something we can maintain? What works with my family’s schedule, routine, habits, strengths, and weaknesses?
Let’s Explore Three Examples of Systems in More Detail
1. The Mail System
Mail can quickly become overwhelming without a system in place. It should be processed on a daily basis and there are a few tools/tricks that are necessary in creating a system.
- You’ll need an incoming area to corral mail as well as a space to process it and an outgoing area for mail leaving the home.
- Stock your processing center with pens, envelopes, stamps, return address stickers, folders for separating papers, and a bin to collect shredding and recycling.
- Decide when you will act on your “action items” such as RSVP to parties and pay bills. Will this be weekly? Bimonthly?
2. The Paper System
The paper system follows the mail system because once paper is processed and you’ve determined the item must be kept, it’s important to create a paper file system. You’ll need to determine how to set up your system, for example the names of your categories, as well as how often you’ll purge from your system. There are other types of paper you have that don’t belong in a formal filing system, such as invitations, coupons, gift certificates, or school papers. Where do you want these papers to “live?” Where is their “home?” When deciding on this, it’s important to think through the appropriate zone in your home. Where will you need this information? In your office? Or, perhaps near the door so you can grab it as you leave? Every household is different, so there is no ‘right” answer. The most important trick is to think about your home and where it makes the most sense to corral these paper categories.
Pro Tip: Kids bring home a lot of school papers. Process daily, save the most special papers, cull through these papers bimonthly or monthly, and save in a special keepsake container.
3. The Purging System
Have you heard of the one in, one out rule? I recommend to my clients that if something new enters the home, something else should leave. You can sell items, donate items, or simply throw away/recycle. Furthermore, you can set up a system for purging items from your home. Try one of these “hacks” in your home:
- Keep a donation box in each bedroom and on the main floor of your home. When the box is full, it’s time to set up a donation pick up or drop off.
- Pick a date once a week to purge items from the main living areas of your home and once a quarter to purge off-season clothing.
- Create rules for purging such as recycle magazines the first of each month or bills/receipts each quarter.
Pro Tip: For more helpful purging information, check out my blog post, “Secrets Professional Organizers Use to Help Clients Purge from the Home” by clicking here.
So what do you think? Are you going to set up a system in your household? Which one will you try first? For more information on household organizing, THIS is a good place to start!