Today I have four more thoughts to share on home organization. I hope the first four from Tuesday’s post have inspired you in some way. Even if it’s not new information, sometimes it’s just the push we need to get started.  
Number Five: Simplify
This may seem like a no-brainer, but the most repeated “challenge” to getting our messes under control is that we simply have too much stuff. The more we have, the more chance there is of it spilling over where it doesn’t belong. So how do we get rid of extraneous toys, dishes, clothes etc? How much is too much?


One rule of thumb is to ask yourself when the last time you or your family used or wore it. If it’s been one year, it is suspect. If it’s been two or more, it could be cluttering your life unnecessarily. I have difficulty with this when it comes to clothes I might fit into again “when I lose those extra pounds.” So I am talking to myself here as well.
Practicing a system of rotation helps me appreciate or evaluate what I have. When my girls were little, I rotated “extra” toys to a box in the top of their closets, trading them out occasionally. If a toy went in the box and was not missed and met with no fanfare when it came back, it was a good clue we didn’t need to keep it. The same process works with my clothes and “toys.” I pack away out of season items. If I don’t miss an item or use it when it comes back, I know it’s time to give it away.
We usually sorted toys and outgrown clothes in the fall and spring to give away. Just before Christmas, when feelings of generosity are high, and as part of our “spring cleaning” spree when our energy bursts forth with the weather change.
Six: Handle once whenever possible
The next hint saves more time than you can possibly realize. I suppose you’ve noticed that anything lying in a pile tends to attract more of the same. Once you’ve dropped your clothes on the floor by the bed at the end of the day, or set a few things aside to “deal with later” the mound begins to grow. And the bigger it grows, the more time it takes to clean up later. So, as much as possible, try to handle an item only once. For instance:
·        take off clothes and immediately hang, fold, or put in the wash
·        take dishes to the kitchen and put them in the dishwasher, not the sink or counter
·        open the mail and throw away junk, file needed info, and put the bills in bill basket
·        bring in groceries and put them away in cupboards, refrigerator, or their final destination


Seven: Get your kids (and husband) involved
If you like things done to a certain standard, this can be a tough one. But how else can kids learn to do a good job unless we let them participate? The rub is that when they are willing helpers, they lack the skill to do things as well as we can. But by the time they are capable of doing quality work they seem to have lost interest. So we have to have reasonable expectations and show appreciation for their efforts. This can be especially important with husbands! After all, who wants to get criticized when they try to help, or see you go behind them and “fix” their work? Kind of takes the joy out of it.
Yet, at the same time, we want things done well. My husband is a master at this with his construction crew, and when I help him with projects. He believes in doing quality work, but he is also a kind and patient teacher. If the work needs improvement he corrects without belittling. I learn so much from the way he treats me!
Eight: Maintenance
My sister got this last tip from her mother-in-law. It’s called “Nita’s Pick-up Box.” Every morning, she would grab her box and start collecting things in the room she was in that needed to go elsewhere. Then she would proceed to the next room, put things away that went there and pick up new items for other rooms. In approximately 10 minutes, she had cleared the entire house of clutter without making numerous trips back and forth across their large farmhouse. Whether you have stairs to transverse or just want to save a few steps, this is a great plan.
The main point to remember is to have a regular time every day when you practice maintenance. Ten minutes a day is much easier to fit in than an hour once a week. This is something your family can definitely help with. Put it to music and your kids will think of it as a game. In a way it is, and everyone wins.
That’s it for organizing external clutter. After Valentines, we’ll take a look at some ways to organize the mess that tends to build inside of us, in our mind and emotions.