(Family Features) We all want a clean and tidy home, without having to spend the time and effort to make it clean and tidy. But the truth is - if you don't keep it maintained, it takes much longer to sort and organize. Here are some tips to keep your home organized as you go:
- Set up an HQ. Set aside one section of your home as your command central, where you keep your lists, your keys, your cell phone charger, etc. If you have enough space in your kitchen, set aside room there, but even a table in the entryway can work as well. Use drawers to store key items and make sure everything has its own place.
- Make lists, mark dates. Keeping everything - and everyone - organized comes down to planning and forethought. Make sure you have one place in which you keep your grocery list, your pharmacy list, the family calendar, etc. Grocery shopping is much easier when you have a clear idea of what's missing in the refrigerator at home.
- Stick to a schedule. Dust on Monday, sweep on Tuesday, clean the bathroom on Wednesday, etc. If you do these tasks a little at a time, you'll end up with more time each day to help with homework. Also, think in terms of multi-tasking. Before you start supper, throw in a load of laundry. If your child needs help sorting through a book, ask them to read aloud while you iron, etc.
- Put everything in its place. Items such as backpacks, jackets, umbrellas, shoes and keys should all go in the same spot when you return home each night. Install hooks along the entryway wall to easily store these items. The same goes for the kitchen - make sure you store items near where you use them most, for instance, drinking glasses should be stored near the sink, while pots and pans should be stored near the stove.
- Purchase multi-functioning furniture. No matter how much space you have, you always need more. Look to furniture that offers additional storage. For example, some beds have built-in under bed storage drawers. Likewise, a trunk can function as a seat at the end of a bed, or an ottoman could store blankets, pillows or DVDs.
- Utilize shelving. If you run out of space to store items, start thinking vertically. Hang high shelves in your closets, as well as around your home to store and organize items. In your living, room, use shelving to display trinkets and photos that might otherwise sit on a table surface.
- Buy time-saving and space-saving products. To eliminate mold or mildew on your shower curtain, opt for a cotton shower curtain you can throw in with the wash once a week. Look to baskets of various shapes and sizes to help you neatly store bathroom items such as extra floss, toothpaste, towels, etc.
- Don't wait 'til later. Clean and organize as you go. If you have ten minutes until the lasagna is done, empty the dishwasher. Keep household cleansers within reach so you can sanitize the kitchen counter or sink as soon as you finish prepping foods as well.
- Make technology work for you. If you're a tech-savvy smartphone user, check out apps that can help you save time and stay organized. If you're managing household finances, look to the Mint.com app, and for large households, consider Grocery IQ for iPhones, which allows family members to collaboratively prepare a grocery list that can be accessed via the app itself.
Finding what works best for you is key, but with a little prep time, you can keep your home and your life organized.