3 Steps to Reclaim Your Once Orderly Home

orderly home
Photo by Johnson Wang on Unsplash

If youre feeling overwhelmed by your less than orderly home, youre not alone. There are many stories all variations on a single theme. Once upon a time, everything was very organized.

Bills were paid on time, incoming mail was handled in a timely fashion, and errands accomplished. Laundry was done regularly. Things were put away when not in use and everything had its place. Then there was a death, divorce, or other loss. Maybe you or a family member got sick. Or, in addition to taking care of your own life, you were taking care of your parents everyday lives, leaving you little time for your own life.

Whatever the story, the result is generally the same. Something happened to upset the balance within your orderly home and you never quite recovered any sense of equilibrium.

Step 1: Take the Blinders Off

Whens the last time you really looked at your surroundings?Many of us go through our home with blinders on. We think we know whats there, but we dont REALLY see it. Or we see things getting out of hand, but we make a mental note to get after the mess on our next day off.

When the blinders come off, we suddenly see whats right in front of us. And yes, it can be quite a shock to see that our once carefully organized and tidy home has become overrun.

Perhaps your kitchen counters are piled with unopened mail, unread magazines, unsorted papers and unfinished tasks. With no clear space for meal prep, cooking is a challenge and youve resorted to take-out meals.

Or maybe your den or guest bedroom is now full of extra furniture or other stuff you inherited from your parents. You didnt know what to do with it, so you moved it into your home YIKES!

What happened to cause the organization in your home get sidetracked? If you were once very organized, its hard painful even to look around and admit that you are not at all organized. The good news is that if you were once able to maintain an orderly home, you can do it again.

Step 2: Reclaim Orderly Home Habits One at a Time

How do you regain your footing? Where do you start?Honestly, since the disorganization didnt happen overnight. It cannot be turned around overnight either. It probably started with letting go of one routine or system after another until there were no more routines or systems to follow.

For instance, if your habit was to deal with the mail every day after breakfast, start with that. Pick up a pile of mail. Sort it into three piles: Shred, Recycle, or Deal with.

Then look at each piece of mail in your Deal with pile. Label and sort each one with the next action you will take. Is it a bill? Label it PAY. Does it require a phone call? Label it CALL. Is it an email? Label it EMAIL. Is it a document to file? Label it FILE.

Now, schedule time to do these things in your planner or calendar. If you only have one or two phone calls to make, consider doing them right away. That would make one less task to schedule and one more thing accomplished.

If you do this every day, the piles of mail will disappear, and you will feel more in control of that aspect of your life.By the way, it also helps to reduce the amount of unwanted mail coming in by opting out of delivery.

Step 3: Assert Yourself Over Clutter

I have a friend who only keeps magazines for one month. Her rule is that if she hasnt read a magazine in 30 days, she will take it to the doctors office and let the people in the waiting room enjoy it.

To reclaim your orderly home, assert yourself by setting some personal rules for how long you will keep things like magazines. If they are more than one or two months old, why not recycle them or pass them on to your library, senior center, or doctors office?

Every little bit that you can do will clear space. Focusing on one area at a time, like the mail, helps you practice one habit at a time.

As you become comfortable with that first orderly home habit, pick another habit to re-institute. Look around your home and decide where you want to focus your efforts. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself the grace to get back in control of your home one small space at a time.

Before you know it, your home will once again be neat, tidy, and organized.


Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer, Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. Diane teaches busy people how to become organized and provides them with strategies and solutions for maintaining order in their lives. She specializes in residential and home-office organizing and in working with people affected by ADD, Hoarding, and Chronic Disorganization. Shes currently writing a book entitled Filled-Up and Overflowing: What to Do When Life Events, Chronic Disorganization and Hoarding Go Overboard.

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