As I mentioned in my last post, there are two main styles when it comes to staying organized—proactive organizing and reactive organizing. It’s important to note, however, that these approaches fall on a continuum. If you start with your basic preference (proactive or reactive) then you can look for ways to incorporate strategies that are most inline with what works best for you.
Organizing Maintenance Strategies | From Proactive to Reactive
Maintain as you go. One of the most proactive strategies is to maintain as you go. This involves creating habits such as putting things away as soon as you’re finished using them, and using the one-in-one-out rule. This means you let go of something old every time you purchase something new. For example, if you buy a new pair of pants, you immediately pull an old pair of pants out of your closet and drop it into a donation bag.
Scheduled maintenance — Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly or Seasonally. The next series of proactive strategies is to schedule set times to organize and maintain your organizing systems. Maintaining spaces on a set schedule, whether they need it or not. (i.e. cleaning out the refrigerator once a week versus when you begin to notice drips, crumbs or crowding that makes it difficult to put items away.) The more frequently you schedule these maintenance sessions, the more proactive you’ll be. For example, you could carve out time in your daily routine for tidying up, or you could set aside a certain day of the week for maintaining order. Or you could schedule monthly, quarterly or seasonal organizing sessions. The longer time between scheduled sessions, the more reactive, and the more you’ll begin to see visual evidence that you need to tidy up. In other words, the less often you maintain order, the more clutter will begin to build up.
Maintain it when it needs it. The last approach to maintaining order is completely reactive. You intervene only when a space truly needs an intervention. Again, this can be the most stressful—especially if clutter paralyzes you or you worry about what other people think of your home. But, if you love the process of organizing, it can be the most rewarding.
Putting It Into Action!
If you’ve never had an official organizing maintenance plan before and you feel your style is more proactive, consider creating maintain-as-you-go habits. As a backup plan, schedule frequent maintenance sessions such as adding a “daily tidy” to your to-do list, or scheduling a weekly maintenance session. Once you begin regular maintenance you may find that your home needs less regular interventions and you can spread out your scheduled maintenance sessions.
Whatever approach you choose, take note of how you feel in the upcoming weeks and months. Do you feel good about your home and your approach to organizing? Do you feel like you’re spending the right amount of time on keeping things tidy? If so, you’re on the right track for you. If not, try a different approach until you find the maintenance plan that fits your organizing style and lifestyle.
I’d love to hear what approaches you currently use or have decided to try as a result of reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comments!