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22 Real-Life Habits That'll Actually Help You Get Organized

Practical habits and tips.

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1. Think about making your bed as the first task to accomplish each day, or as an easy way to make your bedroom look neat without actually cleaning.

instagram.com

I try to make my bed every morning before I come out of my room so I already feel like I accomplished something.

katiechristinec

I make my bed every morning, and I know it’s just a little thing, but even if everything else is a bit of a mess, I always feel better put together with a tidy bed!

elysemorris

I make my bed every morning. No matter what. It makes me feel productive and starts the day off on a good note.

sydmacrox

2. Or choose a nightly habit that leaves your home a little bit neater, like tidying the sofa or never leaving dirty dishes in the sink overnight.

instagram.com

I never leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight.

katiechristinec

Tidy up the house before going to bed: put things in their proper places, straighten up the pillows in the couch, reposition the rug/ottoman/chairs, etc. And never leave dirty dishes overnight.

eimeel

Have trouble sticking to habits? Get some tips here.

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3. Find a decluttering system and schedule that works for you — like choosing one room or place in your house or apartment to organize each week.

entirelysmitten.typepad.com

I organize one room or place in the house every single week. Under the sink, my closet, the junk drawer, my makeup drawer, the fridge...I always end up with a way more organized home, I can find things quicker, and it just feels nice to have a place for everything. The best part is finding something you’d forgotten about that you get excited to use again!

chelseym4f457db4b

From Entirely Smitten.

4. Or choosing to keep only the stuff you actually use in real life. Or that ~sparks joy~. Or whatever works for you.

NBC

Honestly? Decluttering helped me the most. Having much less stuff makes it so much less overwhelming to keep organized. It limits the amount of mess that can be made. I’m no minimalist, and my house is far from perfect, but it’s so much better than it used to be. My rule is to only keep stuff I actually use in real life. No “maybe, someday, what-if” stuff.

caroliner4f34a2a95

Throw shit out. I'm notorious for holding on to things I don't really want or need, just because "WAH THIS WAS $40 WHEN I BOUGHT IT". But now, it if it just floats around my apartment with no real place or purpose? BOY, BYE. It goes to the freecycle corner in my apartment so somebody else can give it a better home.

—Stephanie Marie, Facebook

5. Decide you'll never leave a room empty handed — always grab something you can put away.

NBC

Whenever you're walking to a different room, don't go empty handed. Look around and see if there's something that doesn't belong. (I've got a toddler who seems to spend his day bringing things to random places in the house, so there's always something to put away.)

—Megan Ann Clarke, Facebook

6. Designate a place for all the ~important stuff~ (keys, phone, wallet, etc.), and always put the important stuff in its place.

amazon.com, amazon.com

Stuff that needs to stay found gets designated places to be. And gets religiously put in its places. (Keys go on the key hook, the iPhone X has three charge pads and goes on the pad in office, bedroom, and shop when it's not on me, etc.) The rest of the chaos is much more manageable if I have what I absolutely need in it's place.

—Deb Rebel, Facebook

Get the pictured key hook on Amazon for $12.99 and the charging pad (for iPhone X, 8, and 8 plus, and other wireless-charging phones) for $12.99.

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7. And find ways to designate a place for other still-important-but-not-essential-things you use all the time, like batteries.

instagram.com

I bought a battery organizer just so I would stop confusing which batteries were used or new. It even has a tester on it so I don't accidentally throw away good batteries out of frustration! —kricha14

Get a similar battery organizer on Amazon for $15.99.

8. Set up your Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, or whatever other digital calendar you like best, and let it remember things for you. And sync with your family.

instagram.com

Google Calendar is a LIFESAVER. Being able to update my schedule from anywhere in the world helps me keep everything so well-organized. And it lets me know when I have things that need doing. It's great.

fredzesty

I list literally everything I need to do in the calendar on my phone. I use different colors for work or personal. The pop-up reminders have saved me so many times! I even synced my calendar with my teenaged daughter. I always know if she has to stay after school or has an event because it pops up. So perfect.

keshawna80

If you have a Gmail account, you can access your Google Calendar. (And download the app on your phone.) If you have an Apple iCloud account, you can sync your calendar across your devices, and across several accounts like Facebook or Microsoft Exchange — learn more here.

9. Or get an old-fashioned paper planner, and actually bring it with you and use it.

instagram.com

Even if I use a planning app or calendar on my phone, I need a good old fashioned year-long daily paper planner. There’s something so satisfying writing it down with pen and paper and being able to have it all there. It keeps me much more organized than using my phone to remember things because the act of writing down something I need to do or remember helps to solidify it in my brain.

gretcheno3

I bought a planner. One of those big ones that has one week on two pages. Enough room to write detailed notes and to do lists on every day. GAME CHANGER. I am more organized and stay on top of everything so much easier. It's made my work and personal life so much better.

ktf27

Get the pictured Panda Planner on Amazon for $26.97. And read a review of it and other great planner options here.

10. Consider formally blocking out your day by half hours, whether you use a Post-It note, a weekly appointment book, or a bullet journal.

@theprocrastiplanner / instagram.com, @mila_plans /instagram.com

I use a large Post-It note every day and map out my day by half hours. Blocking out the whole day makes me more likely to accomplish things, even when things take longer than I originally thought.

dmitche2

Get an hourly planner from Erin Condren starting at $55.

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12. Try the snarky Carrot app to help motivate you to finish your to-dos.

Carrot / natashamileshina / instagram.com, Carrot / natashamileshina / instagram.com

I recommend an app called CARROT, a snarky AI. You give her your to-do list, and if you get things done quickly, she rewards you with plot advancement and a pet kitty. If you slack off, she punishes you for being the naughty meatbag you are. (Just don’t poke her ocular sensor.)

—Mary-Ruth Hooper, Facebook

Get it on the Apple App Store for $2.99.

13. Every evening, set out your clothes for the next day.

thechicsite.com

I lay out all of my work clothes at night before I go to bed (including accessories and underwear), so that I can just grab my whole outfit and throw it on. It saves time looking for things, and I definitely dress better when wardrobe decisions aren't left up to my sleepy, grouchy morning self.

—Claudia Cravens McCormack, Facebook

From the Chic Site.

14. Or go above and beyond and put five days of outfits together on Sundays.

thegunnysack.com, makelifelovely.com

I realized that preparing my outfits for the next day took about the same amount of time as preparing them for the entire work week, since I'm going to be digging in one drawer, then searching for stuff in a closet, and so on. So on Sundays I just check the weather for the week, put on some music, and get everything ready.

Not having to think of that or take the time after a long day of work, or in the morning, saves time and energy that I happily use elsewhere.

tiggaplease

Get a 5-shelf organizer similar to the Gunny Sack's on Amazon for $9.99, and get the free printable M–F hanger labels on Make Life Lovely.

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15. If you have two or more floors in your home, keep a basket by the stairs on each floor to dump all the stuff that needs to go to another floor.

instagram.com

We live on a house that has four floors including the basement. We keep one basket each on the floors that we use most often to put all the small things that need to be taken to the first floor (like an empty mouthwash bottle to recycle) or basement (new box of detergent you just bought). This way, we don't have to make extra trips down or up stairs, but when one of us *does* take that trip anyway, they just pick up the basket while they're on the way.

—Jana Gibhardt Engle, Facebook

Get a similar basket on Wayfair for $59.99.

16. Set a timer to clean for 10 minutes a day, every day. Or just aim for 10 nonconsecutive minutes.

20th Century Fox

I clean for 10 minutes a day. Not even necessarily 10 consecutive minutes, but 10 minutes every day. It's a good way to keep the little daily things from piling up. You realize a lot of those tasks only take 2-3 minutes, and its easy to give up a just small amount of time to accomplish a task that isn't your favorite.

itzjessme

17. Or maybe set aside an hour once a month to deep-clean one room.

onegoodthingbyjillee.com

About once a month, I do a deep clean in my bathroom. Like, scrub the bathtub with Comet and clean the grout on the floor. Something about a bright and clean bathroom makes me feel like I have it together. It takes about an hour or so but I always feel so accomplished.

kshepp10

Learn how to clean your tub with a broom and dish soap on One Good Thing By Jillee.

18. If you really have trouble keeping the dishes clean, restrict yourself just to the dishes you need for one full day.

Fox / giphy.com

Don't buy more dishes than you need for one day (plates, bowls, glasses, etc.). Keep extra dishes for guests in a separate place and only use if you actually have company. This will reduce the temptation to let dirty dishes pile up. Keep those guest dishes in a different cupboard in a different room if possible.

squeakywheel

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19. Organize your grocery list according to the aisles and layout of the store so you can shop efficiently.

instagram.com

When I go food shopping, I arrange my list by aisle (fruits/veggie, meat, deli, dairy, etc) so I'm not running back and forth in the supermarket. This also helps prevent me from wandering into aisles I shouldn't be in (such as the candy and/or junk food aisle). It takes just a few extra minutes to organize the list, but it saves me A LOT of time at the supermarket.

innaa4e7dc7f37

I divide my grocery list by aisle. In the end, if I DON'T get distracted by store sales/discounts, I can do my shopping and check out in an hour. Yes, I do know my Kroger supermarket layout by heart.

—Ione Lynne Stevens, Facebook

20. Try meal prepping one day of the week so you can spend the rest of the week doing something besides cooking or figuring out what to cook.

damndelicious.net, eatyourselfskinny.com

I meal prep every Sunday. I make my lunches and plan my dinners. I make sure everything in the fridge is organized my meal to make everything easier in the morning. It's all about routines! Once you get settled in, it becomes second nature and you don't even think twice. It saves me so much time in the morning, and I save money on food, too.

katw4b1392c53

I meal prep every Sunday with snacks. Makes it very easy during the week to fit in workouts and have some relaxing me time every night.

damarisg4236d1fd2

Get the recipe for the steak cobb salad on Damn Delicious, and the recipe for the honey sriracha glazed meatballs on Eat Yourself Skinny — and check out these 21 Healthyish Dinners You Can Make Ahead of Time.

21. Make-ahead breakfast smoothies can be time and money savers, too — especially if you use a NutriBullet or other single-serving blender.

sweetpeasandsaffron.com, jennychengux / instagram.com

One of my 2018 goals is to start making breakfast at home every weekday, but I don't have time to cook before work, so I make a protein smoothie. I pre-load the nutri-blender individual serving size cups with fruit, leafy greens, supplements and a little protein powder at night and store in the freezer, then add almond milk or coconut water in the morning, and blend. Total time it takes is probably less than 5 minutes and I can drink it on my drive to the office. It's pretty satisfying and healthy.

itzjessme

Get five recipes for make-ahead smoothies on Sweet Peas and Saffron and a 12-piece NutriBullet on Amazon for $69.99.

22. Or if meticulous meal prep's not for you, just write down what you want to have for dinner each night.

instagram.com

Every Sunday I plan out every meal and snack I want to eat for the week on a calendar grid, and make a grocery list based on that. Even if I don't stick to it exactly, the act of writing it down and setting the intention to eat mostly foods I cook myself has saved me money, kept my fridge more organized, and helped me lose a little weight!

britav

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Responses have been edited for length and clarity.