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11 Key Habits of an Organized Lifestyle

11 Key Habits of an Organized Lifestyle

Organizing is not a project; it is a lifestyle. So, here are 11 key habits of an organized lifestyle. These will make a big difference in your home and how you live.

Make The Bed Every Morning

Making your bed makes the room feel in order and makes you feel accomplished from the time you get up. In addition, this action helps you face the date with a can-do attitude.

Keep A Donation Bag In Each Closet

Having a bag for things you no longer need or want allows you to make those decisions when you think about them. You will have a designated place for these items and won’t need to remember to gather them later. When the bag is full, schedule a donation run. When you put on a piece of clothing that you feel is no longer suitable or is ripped or screams dated, instead of hanging it back (or, God forbid, throwing it on the bed or a chair), you will place that item in the bag.

Create A Home For Everything In Your House

You will decide where things should go based on their use pattern in the home. The important thing is to assign one specific place to each category of items, preferably. If using an object requires storing it in more than one space, set those spaces up. Also, labeling storage areas allows everyone to know where to put things back. And remember, If anything can go anywhere, everything will go everywhere. 

Put Things Back In Their Place

To maintain an organized home, everyone must always return things where they belong. Hence, it is essential to label spaces until everyone knows the proper place for things. “I will put this here for the moment” does not work. It never has. It never will.

Shop Intentionally

The words “free,” “save,” and “discount” act like a drug on the brain. Please don’t fall for it. Before you buy, ask yourself if you need the item and have the space to store it. If not, please walk away. The less you own, the more living area you enjoy in your home, and the less you have to care for.

Remove Extra Packaging 

When bringing home bags or boxes, remove the contents and strip those items of outer packing as much as possible. That is making the stuff truly yours. It also makes the item(s) ready to be organized within your home. This process is a critical step we follow when organizing a space. You want everything as visible and ready to be used as possible. Removing all unnecessary packaging also saves lots of space and makes all items of the same kind look the same. The more homogeneous your collection, the more functional the system is and the prettier your areas look.

Discard Trash At Once

Entertained garbage makes up for most of the clutter in every household. If you commit to removing the packaging of what you bring home, go the distance and trash the garbage instead of allowing all the extra packing to linger around your home until who knows when. 

Process Mail Efficiently

Keep a recycle bin, a shredder, and a tray or sorter to process the mail. Preferably, have your filing cabinet where you process the mail. Most of the mail you receive is junk. Throw it away before it can clutter your home. Also, be a knowledgeable shredder. You only need to shred documents with account numbers, social security numbers, medical information, or bank offers. 

Having a shredder right where you sort the mail immediately lets you take care of this. 

Too often, I find boxes full of documents that need shredding, cluttering my clients’ lives—concerns about safety compound the problem. We accumulate more paper over time when we do not know what to destroy. 

Also, mail sorting and filing systems are critical for processing bills on time and filing what you keep in paper form. 

Plan Ahead

Take a few minutes to prepare for the next day at the end of each day. Evaluate your “to-do” list and set out everything you need to go through your planned errands the next day.

Practice Strategic Scheduling

Scheduling is Logistics 101. College business programs include courses on administration and logistics, with algorithms to determine the optimal sequence of events to complete a project or the most efficient routes to get around. 

Of course, you don’t need to go to such an extent, but you can gain significant efficiency and add more time to each day with some planning.

Clean Out Bags Daily

Whether it is your handbag, weekender, kids’ sports bags, or suitcases, emptying the contents of all bags allows you to assess what needs replacement, washing, trashing, or placing somewhere else. This practice is particularly beneficial in helping you plan for the following day or week. 

If you are a paper kind of person and love to write little reminders and notes to yourself throughout the day, consistently emptying your bag helps you remember that idea you wanted to pursue. Those reminders might be the start of more significant plans in the scope of your life.

Consistency Is Key

These 11 steps might seem like little, but combined and executed consistently, they will make a big difference in your life.

“When” Matters

“When” Matters

I discuss the concept of mindfulness quite often. Mindfulness is about being in the moment, each moment, noticing our actions, reactions, and feelings toward others and the environment. Mindfulness puts seemingly ordinary, routine, everyday life events under a magnifying glass for close inspection – the things few people notice. Under this mind-frame, we can’t help but see how “when” matters. The timeliness of things matters.

You have probably heard that clutter is, at its core, a bunch of postponed decisions. So, let’s put the concept of timeliness under that magnifying glass to illustrate its importance and consequences. 

Clutter, Mess, and Chaos Creep In

If a drop of tomato sauce falls on the floor while you cook, one of two things will likely happen: you take four seconds to wipe the area clean at that moment, or you keep cooking undisturbed because you can always clean it later (Oh, later).

You continue with your culinary endeavor. Then, you or someone else inadvertently step on the spot once or twice. As a result, the inoffensive tomato drop that could have taken four seconds to clean is now significantly spread on the kitchen floor. 

Also, mixed with shoe dirt, it has transformed that four-second job into a floor-moping task that adds five minutes to your schedule. But that is just the time. Consider the effort of prepping the mop, mopping the floor, and then cleaning that mop afterward.

The Toxic Build-Up

It is your choice to postpone taking any action – of course! But understand that the timeliness of actions does matter, and when we delay decisions, consequences usually follow. 

Often, those consequences come in the form of additional time and effort required to achieve the same goal. The extra effort needed to accomplish the goal grows each minute while the likelihood of taking action decreases. However, the situation (now compounded) will still be there for you to resolve later. Ignoring the situation won’t make it go away.

The tomato drop example might seem insignificant. But unnecessarily postponed tasks and decisions bring more impactful consequences. 

Life constantly provides us with opportunities to neglect or delay actions and decisions. And the consequences related to ignoring them might not bother us, especially if we don’t immediately notice. But sooner or later, we’ll find out that the results accumulated due to neglected or postponed decisions and actions are such that we no longer feel capable of bringing back balance or control to the situation, home, or life (whatever it is).

Neglected Actions Create Chain Reactions

Because Dad is an early riser, he gets assigned the chore of emptying the dishwasher and feeding the dog in the morning. There is an understanding that these activities should happen before the rest of the family gets up.

But Dad starts wasting precious morning time doing something other than those two chores under his responsibility. As the rest of the family members get up and want breakfast, the equipment they need is still inside the dishwasher. Therefore, everyone tries to get what they need directly from the machine. Dad tries to complete his unfinished tasks at that (very inopportune) time.

Everyone trips over the dishwasher’s open door and steps over a wet kitchen floor. It turns out the stuff coming out of the washer is still wet because the dishwasher is a piece of junk, and no one has bothered to replace it or call for repair service. So, the floor is now a mess that will require mopping with cleaner instead of a piece of towel paper to dry some water. 

Remember the dog that has yet to eat. The poor thing is in the middle of it all and pretty hungry. Dad knows he should have fed the dog and starts mixing the stuff into her bowl. He takes up considerable counter space to complete the task while others deal with their breakfast in the reduced counter space left.

But everyone has responsibilities and places to go – delaying breakfast is not an option.

Each person usually rinses their things and puts them inside the dishwasher. It takes about one minute to do so. 

On this day, however, since the dishwasher is still partially loaded with clean items, dirty stuff cannot yet go in the machine. So, the first person to finish breakfast puts dirty utensils in the sink without rinsing (because rinsing is associated with placing things inside the dishwasher, which is not the case this time). 

The action taken by the first person is the cue for all others to do the same, even when the dishwasher becomes available in the next three minutes. (You know, “so and so did not do it, why do I have to do it?” syndrome). 

Dishes are piling up in the sink and on the counter, with food remaining, making them crusty (yeah!). 

The day goes by with the pile of dirty stuff over the kitchen counter and in the sink. It will take more time and effort to rinse those dishes and place them inside the dishwasher now. 

Also, the process will require someone (as in mom) to have the extra time and willingness to do so. Unfortunately, that one-minute job has become a ten-minute ordeal (with resentment!). 

And who will happily volunteer to take on the task when everyone is tired at the end of the day? Let’s remember that the kitchen needs some cleaning up before dinner cooking starts. Hello, kitchen clutter!

Often, we do not take action or make decisions because we forget- not necessarily because we purposely run away from it. But that is yet another consequence of delaying or postponing. 

Take that alarm on your iPhone that reminds you of your noon pills, for example. Can you count the times it has gone off, and you have ignored it, thinking you will take care of it in five minutes? Then, hours later, you realize you did not take your pills.

A Nourishing Home

When you live in a household, you are part of a system. Everyone’s actions and inactions directly impact the unit’s function. If you are relied upon to complete specific tasks, please understand that such chores are tethered to a time frame and not subject to when you “feel like it.” “Feeling like it” might never come, and it is not a reliable time frame.

Every chore becomes manageable when all household members understand and accept the home systems and perform their duties on time. As a result, such a home efficiently keeps the chaos at bay, improves family relationships, and enhances the positive energy flow. It is a nourishing, supportive, and efficient place.

Does this ring a bell? Observe these patterns in your life for about a week – on the significant and seemingly insignificant things. You will probably see the cause/effect of delayed decisions and observe their ripple effect in your life. You will make amazing discoveries!

Make Space to Create The Life You Want

Make Space to Create The Life You Want

Creating The Life You Want

It is possible to create the life you want for yourself. And you might not even imagine how much this has to do with being organized, but let me connect the dots. Keep reading.

We, Organizers, preach how much easier life becomes when we get rid of clutter and get organized. We discuss how organization saves money and gives us more time to relax and enjoy what matters. But those benefits are only achievable if you do your part. They require attention, intention, and slowing down.

Your commitment to learning and practicing new habits and systems until they become second nature to you and all others sharing your home space is fundamental to freeing your brain and soul to find the point of creation within you.

Slow Down to Find That Point

How about you possibly slowing down with everything to do every day? So many things need your attention and intervention. There are so many things you must solve.

Rene Descartes once said: I think, therefore I am. And he was entirely correct. We are co-creators in this universe. Thus, we must be able to create the life we want.

Whether we call it God, the Universe, Vortex, Life Force, or Spirit, there is a place in the human mind where the power to create our reality resides.

We can decide what we want our lives to look, feel, and be like. We can manifest it!

In this high-paced world, most people don’t ever stop to reflect on their high-level ideas. However, people who meditate, for example, can decrease their pace and raise the vibration of their creative energy. That’s when and where the magic happens- they access their point of creation and create the life they want.

But how do we slow down or free up headspace? Breathe. Listen.

That learning curve in the organizing process requires that you stop and understand some essential things:

    • There are habits to eliminate, while there are new ones to adopt
    • You need to understand the systems implemented as your physical space is organized – understand how these systems work to maximize your productivity and efficiency.
    • From this point on, it is essential to become intentional in everything you do

Like a Well-Oiled Machine

As a Certified Professional Organizer, I am responsible for educating my clients in organizing methodologies and principles, uncovering the root cause of their clutter, designing solutions for them, and showing them strategies and tactics to move forward confidently.

My clients seek results and effectively solve those issues that cause them to live small, disorganized, over-complicated lives.

However, their understanding of the organizing process and their long-term commitment to it are crucial to the long-term success of any organizing project. Without their understanding and commitment to the process, the best systems and most detailed organization efforts will fail.

When your home space is transformed, your old habits and routines won’t support the new way of living anymore. You can’t expect results compatible with your new home environment, acting as you did before.

Also, the brain depends on action repetition for the body to develop that “muscle memory” to adopt a more intuitive way to do things. This is how routines become second nature – when newly created habits flow effortlessly. That’s when you have achieved a home that runs like a well-oiled machine.

Systems to Engage Autopilot

A system is a series of sequential actions to execute any given activity. Simple examples of household systems are how and when someone does the laundry, how they plan meals (or not), and even how they shower.

When we declutter, we remove excess from our home. But when we organize, we sort through things, classify, allocate, and then custom-develop systems for the household and individuals within.

However, the multiple benefits of an organized life depend on that person’s ability to systematize and automate their day-to-day tasks and effectively incorporate those systems and routines into their everyday life.

When daily tasks run “on auto-pilot,” that’s when a person finds the time and headspace to rise to the level of creation in their life.

When New Habits Become Second Nature

When new habits and routines become second nature to you and yours, then you can:

    • Be proactive instead of reactive.
    • Dedicate time to what matters most to you.
    • Spend more time with those you love.
    • Work towards the achievement of your goals.
    • Create your life and circumstances (in every sense of the word).

Voila! Those are the benefits of an organized home and life.

Higher Thoughts Turn Into Goals

Imagine three levels of existence within you. All those menial, mundane tasks should happen at the base (lower level). The mid-level is where you execute most of the time and where your attention should be 85% of the time. That mid-level is where you make things happen, no matter if it is stuff from the basic level or the upper one. Finally, the upper level is for high-level, life-changing thoughts and goals.

When you have lower-level tasks on autopilot, they don’t need much of your attention. On the other hand, upper-level ideas need sufficient attention from you to bring them down to the mid-level. Bringing those thoughts to the mid-level is crucial because it is in the mid-level where you give them shape through concrete planning and execution. This is where goals come from!

Removing Attention From Menial Tasks

The benefits of being organized and having an efficiently managed home do not negate the need to attend to the menial daily chores. However, when we plan, schedule, and streamline everything that should happen in everyday life, we automate all those lower-level tasks.

This requires paying attention to planning and executing the menial stuff before automating these things. But once we do this, we can operate in a more stable environment, thus making it possible to focus on bigger, more important things.

In other words, daily living tasks get streamlined and automated in our schedule so that they don’t require our constant attention. When this happens (and these tasks become second nature), we hardly notice them. As a result, we stop feeling these to-dos bug us. And thanks to greater efficiency, we have more time and headspace for the big picture and higher-level thoughts, which is where the point of creation resides.

Move Forward To Create The Life You Want

And this is how you move forward to create the life you desire. The more streamlined and automated the lower-level tasks and ideas are, the greater the space in your mind to shape, plan, and execute more significant thoughts – our goals and dreams – the point of creation.

Not having the space or capacity to attend to the planning and execution of those ideas means living in the rat race where everything has the same priority and where we continually run around putting off fires.

That is an exhausting, reactive life. This unintentional life does not provide space or energy to think about what we want in life, much less to make it happen.

The Universe Conspires And The Energy Follows

The Universe Conspires And The Energy Follows

The Universe Conspires

Paulo Coelho, the author of “The Alchemist,” said, “And when you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it.”

This quote makes me think of a blog I wrote some time ago, highlighting the importance of summoning your strength and will and using your head when your heart won’t take you where you ought to be. And when you do that, the universe responds accordingly by boosting your journey.

The Energy Follows

Some weeks ago, a dear friend wrote to me recounting her story, reminding me of the words from Paulo Coelho and my blog.

Thinking about her journey, I saw that some instances are more challenging than others. However, no matter the circumstances, when we put our attention and intention towards a goal, the energy around us will carry us forward.

When emotions prevent us from acting, we must do whatever it takes to bypass those emotions and raise our energy. Soon, that energy will change your feelings. In time, it will feel easier to achieve your goal.

A Story of Hope

Here is the story of my dear friend and her emotional journey following one of the most challenging times of her life:

After my marriage ended, the kids and I returned to our previous home in the Fall of 2017 after Hurricane María. We came to a sad, dark, beaten, dirty house without running water or power. Even remembering this makes me so emotional.

Right after we moved back, as sad, dark, and dirty as the house was, I knew I had to face this move with grace, determination, efficiency, and elegance, or the situation would defeat me.

So, I started cleaning, decluttering, and organizing right away. And then something fantastic happened! Plants welcomed me with palpable excitement, birds would come to watch me rebuild our life here, and orchids suddenly bloomed. I felt like Snow White!

I had stimulated the home’s energy, and it came to my rescue. I felt at peace. Only the home office remained to tackle. But one day, I just felt exhausted. So, I shut the door to the home office to avoid dealing with that room for a while.

This room quickly became chaotic because I had momentarily abandoned my systematic decluttering and organizing efforts. And maybe because this room was already messy, the movers continued piling random things and unopened boxes in that room whenever something else came home from the last house.

As time passed, I recognized why this home office was a pause point for me. It carried a heavy emotional burden for all that it represented:

  • a broken business partnership
  • the place where we envisioned so many family plans
  • pictures and memories of a once happy couple
  • past team effort toward my professional goals
  • a smaller space where I needed to start all over again now
  • physical and emotional clutter I needed to let go of to move forward

It was a lot, and I had placed all these emotions in that room. So, finally, I had to pause and decided to shut the door.

Although that room still needs attention, my feelings have now changed. At this moment, I feel the strength to open that door and face it all. Even more, this change in feelings has a lot to do with the fresh energy brought by the much-needed pause I gave myself. I recharged my emotional battery by keeping the house organized and clutter-free.

Maristella, your blog validates my path on this journey. Along the way, reading your blog, that connection between clutter and emotions you write about dawned on me. I saw how the states my home had been through correlated with my path to emotional healing!

Your blogs are very helpful, even for those of us who have already experienced what you preach. The life principles you promote through your business are a vital ministry that enhances the lives of others, helping us heal and live with greater peace and well-being.

So, please send me your best wishes and energies to engage in this final effort – I promise to send you pictures of the room once I finish!

You’ve Got This!

When you direct your attention, intention, and best effort toward those big goals in your life, the universe conspires in your favor. It whispers: “You’ve got this! I’ve got your back.”. Don’t doubt it!