Blue Question MarkA reader asks: “My house is in a wreck but, I can’t seem to get the rest of the family to pitch in and help. They can’t seem to stop leaving their clothes, plates, everywhere. What can I do to change this habit?”

I always tell people to start with themselves. Make sure that you’re living up to the standard you’d like those in your family to live up to. This can be hard to do when you feel like you’re picking up after everyone else, a few of your things strewn here or there hardly seems like a crime. However, it’s an important point to be sure you’re asking of yourself the same as you’re asking of everyone else.

Once this is in place, sit down and have a talk. Do this at a time when you’re not frustrated but are calm and open. Share your feelings about your situation and ask your family for their thoughts. If you’ve made some organizational changes in your own life, share this with your family. Tell them about the efforts you’ve gone through. Tell them which parts of it were difficult for you and which things were rewarding. And then, ask for their help. Set realistic goals and then, start small by asking for their help on a few specific hot spots. Good things come in small steps.

Find an incentive that is compelling to your family and then, be your family’s biggest cheerleader. Look for all the signs of improvement and steps in the right direction. When you catch your family members helping out as you’d like, reward them with a surprise — dinner out, a movie, or something else that shows them how important this is to you.

Little by little, with patience and perseverance, you can work together to create a home environment you will all enjoy.

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Aby Garvey is a creative organizing expert and simplify 101’s founder. She has created 14 online organizing classes, which she has been teaching since 2007, helping thousands of people around the world get organized. Aby loves to help people create positive change in their lives through her online classes and organizing eBooks.

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