While I was at a friend's house the other day, the subject of organization came up... she wanted to organize a "command center" for her house with all of her to-do lists, bills, kids' schedules, etc. So we started talking about all the different options with mail holders, dry erase boards, calendars, jars and bins. It was enough to make me giddy like a kid on Christmas morning.
See, I've always been a bit of a geek when it comes to all things organization. In fact, for awhile, I even considered working as a professional organizer. Over the years, I've organized numerous places - my homes (obviously), the homes of friends and family and offices I've worked in. There's just something really satisfying about taking a chaotic mess and organizing it into a neat and orderly system.
When you're in a tiny house (or just a tiny space), being organized becomes particularly important. With only a small amount of space to work with, you don't want it cluttered up with junk or you'll be feeling claustrophobic and overwhelmed in no time. Everything in a tiny house has its own place and its own function. Which actually makes it even easier to stay organized!
But whether you live in a tiny space or not, staying organized will help keep your life moving smoothly and happily and help keep you sane!
So check out some of my favorite tips for staying organized right here:
1. Make Your Bed Every Day
I just recently told a friend of mine how I had read that Pauly D. (yes, that guy from Jersey Shore) said you needed to start each day by making your bed. Sure, I wouldn't take hair or self-tanning advice from him, but he makes a good point about the bed. When I turn around first thing when I get up and make the bed, I start off the day with a more energized, productive feel. Whereas, those days, when I walk back into my room (or more recently, climb back up to my loft) and see an unkempt, messy bed, I feel disorganized and a little scattered. Making your bed everyday is not only a good way to keep your house, it also initiates a daily routine and develops self-discipline.
2. GO THROUGH YOUR MAIL AND TOSS THE JUNK
I've never really been one to ever let mail accumulate around my house. But since I've moved into a tiny house, it's become even more important to go through my mail every day. I immediately throw away all the junk mail, credit card offers and catalogs/sales flyers that I don't need to be looking at anyway. The bills (or other pieces of mail that require attention) go in a small stack on my computer shelf (see my Tiny House Hacks post) and the due date is marked on my computer's calendar. Then as the due dates come up, I pull down the appropriate bill, pay it, mark the date on it and file it away in my ottoman (again, see Tiny House Hacks post). I don't ever let any stacks of paper accumulate on my counter top. There's no need for it to stick around, so pitch it or preferably, recycle it... but get rid of it!
3. Put your clothes away
One of the quickest ways to mess up a space is to leave clothes laying around. In my tiny house, I keep a small, rectangular hamper in the storage space underneath my stairs. Every day, when I change my clothes, the dirty items go directly into the hamper. Not on the floor... not on the bed... not on the couch. In the hamper. And when I finish washing clothes, I immediately take the time to fold or hang everything and put them away. I don't leave them sitting around the house. It keeps the living space neat and tidy, and makes getting dressed every day quick and easy!
4. clean out the fridge and the pantry
Even being the rather OCD-organized person that I am, an area of my house that always seemed to get a little cluttered was the kitchen. But not the countertops or the cabinets... the fridge and the pantry. I would tend to buy ingredients for recipes and never make them or buy products that I never got around to using and would then end up with a crowded fridge or pantry shelf. I'd end up "cleaning out" the unused foods after a few weeks or months, donating what was still good to my church or a food pantry, and starting over on my next grocery trip. But when I moved into my tiny house, I thankfully didn't have the luxury to clutter up my kitchen. With a fridge that's only 7.4 cu ft. and a "pantry" that's made up of only four shelves that are about 5" deep, space is precious. I can't keep things hanging around that I don't use. Instead, I only buy about a week's worth of food at a time and if I plan to make a recipe, I do it. Then when those meals have been made and consumed (and the shelves start to empty), I go back to the store the next week and repeat the process.
5. pick up the dog's (or kid's) toys
When you have two Jack Russells mixes, toys are kind of a given. I actually had to "downsize" their toy collection when I was downsizing my own belongings, reducing it to a small basket's worth. But during the day, the dogs will pull the toys out to play with or chew on, so by the end of the day, it's possible to find a little trail of toys down the main walking space of the house. Again, when that space is really the only open space in the house, you want to keep it unobstructed. So while I let the dogs have the toys out during the day, when it comes time for bed, I pick them all up and put them back in the basket. It saves me from tripping on them if I have to get up in the middle of the night and it starts the next day out with a clean slate.
6. wash your dishes
Washing dishes has never been one of my favorite things. In fact, I've been known to eat with a spoon to save me from having to wash a dirty fork. But to keep things organized, you don't want dirty dishes piling up in the sink or on the counter. I do have a dishwasher, but for those things that don't go in it, like the Vitamix that I use every day for my smoothies, I wash them right after I use them and then let them dry on a drying mat on the counter. And when they're dry, I put them away and put the mat back under the sink. When you only have a small amount of free counter space in the kitchen, the last thing you want is for it to be taken up by a pyramid of dirty dishes.
7. have a place for your everyday items
Everyone has a few items that they interact with every day... your keys, your purse or wallet, your glasses or the dog's leash. You use them every single day so they need to be somewhere handy but to stay organized, you don't want these things just lying around haphazardly. Instead, you should have a designated space for each item so you know exactly where to go each day to get them, as well as to put them away. For me, I bought a decorative hook that matches my decor and hung it right inside the front door to my tiny house. That's where the dogs leashes/collars go. My keys stay on the magnetic clip inside of my purse and my purse sits in the storage area underneath my stairs. And after I'm done using them to read or work on the computer, my glasses go back in their case, which then goes back inside my purse. You might have a rack for everything by the door or a designated drawer or bowl in a place that is convenient for you. But the important part is that everything has a designated spot and you put everything away in that spot each day.
8. keep a calendar
With work obligations, doctor appointments, kids activities and personal get-togethers, it's easy to feel confused and overwhelmed by your own schedule. So to stay organized, keep one calendar that lists everything in one place. This can be a paper calendar, a dry-erase calendar, or the calendar on your phone or laptop - whatever is most convenient for you. But the important part is to keep everything in one central location. I personally use the calendar on my computer, which also automatically syncs with my phone. That way I have access to it both when I am at home and when I'm out and about. If your spouse and/or kids need to have access to the schedule too, a dry erase calendar is a great option because you can use different color pens for each family member.
9. make a to-do list
I've always been a huge fan of lists. I LOVE making lists and checking off the items as I accomplish them. I guess because of just that... the sense of accomplishment that I get when I mark something off. But it also keeps my brain clear and helps me stay organized each day. Making a "to do" list each day helps keep you on track and away from distraction. It also prevents you from forgetting things (a biggie for me!) that need to get done. I like to use the post-it note app on my desktop to keep track of long term things like work assignments, while I use good old fashioned pen and paper to make list items that I need to buy at the store or things I need to accomplish that particular day. I also have a decorative chalkboard in my kitchen where I will jot down important things down for the week. It has an aqua-colored frame (the accent color in my house) and says, "Be Uncommon | Be Brave," so it acts as a piece of decor, besides being functional.
10. Keep it simple
Perhaps the easiest way to stay organized though is the very basis of tiny living... keep it simple. So don't be afraid to downsize and simplify. Get rid of those clothes you don't wear anymore, sell or donate books after you read them, digitize your photos and get rid of all your "duplicate" items. The less stuff you have, the easier it is to keep it organized. So simplify, simplify, simplify!
Like what you read here and want to institute it in your own home? Grab the cheat sheet with the ten tips right here!