The Organised Home

November 3, 2008 by  
Filed under Organising Space

As a housewife in the 1950s, my mother-in-law would polish her home’s brass house number and letterbox every week. Hands up who has time for that these days? Hmm, me neither.

Times have changed. There are now very few of us who would consider a shiny letterbox a top priority. But then, what is a top priority? What do we expect from our homes? The answer to that is different for everyone. What do you want your home to be?

  • A place for friends to gather
  • A showpiece
  • A sanctuary
  • Warmth
  • Comfort
  • Efficiency
  • A bed for the night
  • Privacy
  • Party central
  • A play space
  • The neighbourhood drop-in centre
  • A base for your business
  • Somewhere to store your precious things
  • A status symbol

Whatever you expect from your home, it can also be organised.

What does organised mean?  When people know I’m a Professional Organiser they often ask, “So is your house always tidy?” Well, no, it’s not. But it is always organised. There’s a big difference between tidy and organised. Take these examples –

  • a 6-year-old’s bedroom may have all clothes and toys neatly put away in cupboards and drawers. But the school clothes are in the top of the wardrobe and the toys are stacked in boxes so high it requires an adult to take them out and put them away. Tidy but not organised.
  • A family with 5 children at 3 different schools keep track of school and sports activities and equipment by keeping it close to where the action is, in the front entry hall. Each backpack, sports kit, team list and school notice is located there. There’s a huge pinboard covered in papers and 5 tubs to hold each child’s stuff. Not tidy but organised.

The good news is it doesn’t have to be either one or the other. There are ways to have both.

The great news is that being organised in the home can save time, money and effort. No more hunting for keys when you should be already out the door. No more repurchasing an item because the first was misplaced. No more redoing tasks because they weren’t done right the first time.

Being organised in the home boils down to a few basic principles. The first is – A place for everything, and everything in its place. Figure out what belongs in your home and assign it a place. Once an item that belongs in your home has a place assigned for it, you should always be able to find that item.

Which brings us to the second basic principle – Share. Share information. Share tasks. Share responsibility. Sharing information means teaching others how to do tasks, comparing diaries and communicating expectations. Sharing tasks means delegating, either to other family members or outside the home. Sharing responsibility means anyone who’s old enough gets to share in the rights and responsibilities of being part of the family home.

The third basic principle states – Do what works. From choosing low maintenance materials to setting up low maintenance routines, do what works to achieve maximum effect with minimum effort.

And the final basic principle is – Maintenance. It’s easier to keep organised than to get organised. Once you have a system established, keep it up with a regular quick tidy and toss. Review and tweak where necessary.

I know, it sometimes sounds easier said than done, so here’s a little something to get you started. I call it the Launch Pad. The Launch Pad is simply a place to keep all you need to head out the door with you, on your way to work, play, school, shopping or to see friends. It’s a place to keep anything from your wallet, keys and phone to your library books and magazines to pass to friends. It can be a small shelf or a whole cupboard. It should be on your way out the door and it should be a visual reminder so you never leave home without all you need. And it should be the place where you stop and go through your checklist, either mental or actual. Shopping bags? Check. Prescription to fill? Check. Phone? Check. Letters to post? Check. Peace of mind? Check.


3 Responses to “The Organised Home”
  1. SignArtist says:

    A brass house number and letterbox that is polished every week does take on a rather nice smooth and almost golden quality. However, without a regular polish the brass will soon tarnish and darken. When time is at a premium, to keep the brass on your house number and letterbox looking good you should apply a few coats of a clear spray laquer – should last a good few years!