Your Guide to Lifelong Organization

Stay organized -- one day at a time -- with our easy-to-follow checklist.

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Too much on your to-do list? The key to staying organized is developing good habits that will last for life; but when your lists get unmanageable it's easy to backslide. If you consistently find yourself tackling clutter, it's time to rethink your getting organized system. Expert organizer Karen Ussery says to ask yourself these seven questions before beginning any organizing project:


  1. What do I need to have a place for?

  2. Does it need to be within arm's reach, or can it be put away?

  3. What supplies will help me stay organized?

  4. How can I label clearly so I remember the organizers' functions?

  5. Is this the easiest way, or is there a simpler way to do the same thing?

  6. Do I like the way my system looks and functions?

  7. How will I remind myself to use my new system until it becomes a habit?


Once your system is in place, get help staying organized with our handy checklist. Professional organizer Candita Clayton of Your Life Organized makes it easy with manageable tasks for every day, week and month of the year. Whether you need daily motivation or a long-range plan, stick to this list and you'll keep clutter and disorganization at bay.

STAY ORGANIZED CHECKLIST: DAILY
Things we handle on a daily basis often build up into a disorganization nightmare: think mail, toiletries and those scraps of paper that never seem to have a home. Develop a daily, routine system to stop messes before they start.

Mail
  • Discard junk mail and shred credit card offers as soon as they enter the house. (Need help?)

  • Keep bills to be paid immediately in an accessible area that's still in sight.

  • File notices and other paperwork that needs to be addressed. Mark the due date clearly on each important piece. (Need help?)

  • Bring catalogs and magazines to a designated area to be enjoyed. (Need help?)


  • Keys and Personal Items
  • Return keys to the same spot every time you come home, whether it's a hook by the back door or a decorative bowl on a foyer table.

  • Designate a drawer or shelf as a home for purses and wallets, cell phones and chargers, sunglasses and loose change.


  • Housekeeping
  • Before bedtime, tidy up the rooms you'll use in the morning.

  • Get belongings ready and placed by the door for quick morning pick-up.

  • Run the dishwasher at night and empty in the a.m.

  • Straighten up the coffee table, side tables and any other clutter catch-alls. (Need help?)


  • Children's Paperwork
    Implement a routine system that both you and your children can easily follow.
  • Sort through school papers, artwork, etc. Place the keepers in plastic containers immediately to avoid loose piles from forming.

  • Before bedtime, pack backpacks with books, homework and other school necessities. Place backpacks near the door to be easily located during the morning rush. (Need help?)
  • Plan the next day's outfit with your child, and lay it out before night-night.

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