Maintaining a space

Tips & Tricks to Make Life Easier 

from Molly Boren of Simplicity Works Decluttering and Organizing Services

Below are my tips for *keeping* the surfaces clear in your living spaces once you’ve done the work to get them that way.  Not there yet? These ideas also help gradually declutter, and keep new accumulation at bay. (This “maintenance” is a separate project from decluttering or organizing.  All three are linked and mutually supportive, but you can also focus on each individually.)



Organized schedule

If you’re trying to make your living space calmer, don’t overwhelm yourself by trying five new strategies at once.  Instead, choose one and see if you can make it a habit over the course of a couple of weeks. 


Welcome home sign

As soon as you get home, put away everything that you’re carrying in.  For me, this usually includes my lunch bag and its contents, whatever file folders or books I’ve been carrying in my bag, and new mail.  Try hard to quickly put everything into its true home before moving on to the next thing you do.  In my work, I see lots of unpacked bags with contents that their owners have completely forgotten about!



Puppy in bed

Before bedtime, imagine a laser coming from your eyes and sweeping across every surface (tables, floors, counters) they see – like a special effect in a movie.  With each item the laser hits, consider if it’s in its true home.  If it’s not, collect it to take to its home.  If the number of items that aren’t in their homes is daunting, try just 3 things each night!



Women chatting

Talk regularly with the people who share your space about where the homes are for each category of item.  This *can* be done in the spirit of cooperation and curiosity, instead of conflict or blaming!  Categories that may not have homes yet can include the other person’s items that you find on surfaces; maybe their home can be the owner’s favorite chair, etc.




A helpful phrase in the Professional Organizing world is: “Task-completion is an organizing skill.”  (Thank you, Judith Koldberg!) Try to be aware of small projects that you’ve almost finished but still need a final step or two, and complete them as soon as possible – including returning supplies to their homes.  Examples are: a paper left out because you need to ask someone about it, clean laundry that hasn’t been put away yet, a gadget left out because you need to change its battery…



Kitchen sink is a great DIY decluttering-and-organizing “coach” and community that “teaches you to eliminate your clutter and establish simple routines.” She recommends starting with the one habit of leaving your kitchen sink empty and clean each night. 



Organizer Lori Marrero suggests these handy mnemonics:

Dishes cleaned

Three morning reminders…

  • D: Dishes away

  • E: Eating plan

  • W: Wash / move the laundry along one step

And three evening reminders…

  • Start the dishwasher (or do them by hand)

  • Straighten Up

  • Set for tomorrow

Read a quick description here.



Like any good bouncer, we should make it harder for trouble-making clutter to get into our home, and be sure items are leaving as others are entering (one in, one out). 

Women stopping herself

Be aware of the consequences of bringing new things into the home. (Does it have a storage place? Will taking care of this item be more trouble than it’s worth?)

Make it easy for things to leave by creating a collection point for donations, just as you have for garbage and recycling.  When your “Donate Bag” is full (I like to keep one in each bedroom closet), take it to a thrift store or drop-box. And replace the bag!