Emily of Optimal Organization is the kind of person you want around when you’re stuck at home or feeling life is a little out of hand. She’s made it her business mission to help her clients find sustainable organizing solutions!

In light of COVID-19 and the chaotic new normal, Emily wrote this article to help you make the most of this crazy season by bringing order back into the most important place in your life: your home.

By the way, Emily also offers virtual organization services. That’s right, virtual. So, if you like what you see here, be sure to drop by her site and see how you can take it to the next level with her help! Click here to get your home in tip top shape.

5 Steps to Organizing Any Area of Your Home

These 5 steps come from the Japanese practice called 5s. This process is used in many manufacturing facilities, and I have adapted it to use in all my client’s homes. These basic steps can be a great start to getting organized and rediscover your possessions. My suggestion is to start small with one drawer and build into doing larger areas. For the purpose of explaining, I will use a multipurpose drawer as an example.

  1. Sort. Anything that does not belong, get rid of! Throw away any trash, set aside anything to donate, and decide what you are keeping in this space. At the end of this step, anything that does not belong should be out of the space. Throw away any trash, broken rubber bands, dead batteries, scraps of paper no longer needed, etc.
  2. Shine. Now that it is emptied out, it is time for a nice deep clean. Wipe down the area, vacuum, or dust, whatever you need to do to get the space nice and clean. Take everything out and vacuum/wipe out the drawer.
  3. Set in Order. Group like items and designate their new permanent home. Group all the batteries together, all the notepads, pens/pencils, etc. Arrange them in the drawer of how you want them arranged.
  4. Standardize. Now that your drawer is only what you are keeping and it is all grouped together, you know exactly what size containers to get. This could look like reusing to-go containers or Tupperware or purchasing drawer organizers. The takeaway here is you know exactly how many of these items that you have so you can get the appropriate size containers. By sorting with containers, you are more likely to keep it organized because everything has a spot to go back to. The final step of standardizing is labeling if applicable. See Pictures.
  5. Sustain. Take a picture of the drawer perfectly organized. Reference this picture every day, week, or every time you open the drawer.

By the way… want to include your kids?

Tasks like these are great learning and bonding opportunities, especially when you’re not in school! Here are some tips to get them in on the action:

Turn on your family’s favorite tunes. 

The key to this one is it is timed, and the music helps make it fun! Assign an area to each child that they must get done before the song is over. For younger kids, their area might be putting their toys in a bin, making their bed, or putting the shoes away. Older kids you can give a larger area to – entire living room, kitchen, etc.

Chore Countdown (or UP!)

Create a master list of all the chores – empty/fill the dishwasher, make their bed, pick up their room (entire floor must be visible!), collect the trash, etc. Start the week off with each child having to complete 5 items. As the week goes on, if they completed all the tasks from the prior day, they have one less task. For example: Monday – 5 tasks, Tuesday – 4 tasks, Wednesday – 3 tasks, and so on. If they do not complete it, it stays at 5 (on Monday if only 3 tasks were completed, Tuesday they would have to do 5 again). At the end of the week they not only have just one task to complete, but they can have a reward of your choosing. 

Ready, Set, Clean. 

Healthy competition is great with kids. Set the timer and see who can complete their chores first. You can go one step further with chores and have them organize. Have them go through their closet, drawers or toys and pick 5 things to donate. First one to finish can have a reward of your choosing.

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