I have a very strong desire – no, a very strong need – to live in an organized environment. If my living-place is disorganized, my mind is disorganized. There are times when all I can do is think about not knowing our upcoming meals for the week, or about that pile of mail on the desk that hasn’t been addressed in a month, or the fact that our apartment looks like it was hit by a toxic nuclear bomb.
So I have challenged myself in 2019 to come up with new ways to achieve the optimal organization for my high-maintenance mind. And I think I’ve finally done it. Read on to learn the different ways I have given myself peace-of-mind and an organized apartment.
The Living Room
Studies have said that the first thing you see in your home environment after a long day at work or a day out can set the tone for the rest of your evening. If you come home to a cluttered space and see it first thing upon walking in the door, then the rest of your evening may be spent in cluttered disorganization in your mind or emotions as well. That being said, the first thing I see when I walk into my apartment is my living room (which also includes my desk space as our second bedroom is currently my husband’s office/gaming room). I had to make sure that I had a system for keeping this space as organized as possible, so I came up with a few *little* things I can do each morning/night to make it so.
- The Mail: My husband and I would traditionally throw the mail on the desktop when we got home for it to never be looked at again, but now it is separated out into categories in a paper organizer. This reduces clutter on surfaces and serves as a constant visual reminder that we need to go through our mail.
- The Remotes: I still have to remind my husband that things have a certain place in our apartment, but he’s gotten much better about putting things back. However, I have a serious pet peeve that he constantly violates – the placement of the remote controls. They have a certain place and orientation on the end-table from which I can’t stand when they are removed. So every night before I go to bed and every morning when I wake up, I make sure that the remotes are exactly where they’re supposed to be. I know it sounds crazy and overbearing, but it helps me think clearly.
- The Couch Pillows: The same thing above goes for the couch pillows as well. I rearrange/fluff/fix the pillows every morning and night. This helps keep the idea of a clean and put-together home which helps my mind be put-together as well.
When I get home, after putting away my work bag and and coat/shoes, I head to the kitchen to unpack my lunch bag. If that space is also a wreck, the entire rest of the night is ruined as I try to salvage what’s left of the dishes and make sure the fridge is cleaned out. I experienced this most recently after our New Year’s Eve party; there were pizza boxes, empty bottles of what had previously been adult beverages, and plenty of dirty dishes scattered around the entire kitchen/dining room area. So I came up with a plan much like the morning/night check-in of the living room.
- The Dishes: Every night, I make sure that all of the dinner dishes are in the washer as soon as I’m done eating. This way I can’t be tempted to get lazy and sit on the couch for an hour to make the excuse that I’m too tired to do them once it gets close enough to bed-time. Once the dishes are done, I immediately put them away. This ensures that the washer is empty for any dishes we use the next morning for breakfast. Speaking of the next morning: I will make sure that all of my breakfast dishes go immediately into the washer so they’re not sitting in the sink waiting for me when I get home. This way, the washer only has a few dishes in it and is mostly empty and ready to be used for dinner dishes. (It’s a cleaning cycle that I’ve honestly come to love).
- The Fridge: Okay – I’m the most proud of this situation. I hated how our fridge would always fill up with stuff. We would have to deal with: expired goods from the grocery store that we didn’t get a chance to use before they went bad in a week, door shelves overflowing with condiments that we NEVER used, and no place to put drinks or leftovers. So I purchased these fridge organization containers and went to town. The top shelf is for milk, eggs, butter, and breakfast items. The middle shelf is for lunch meats, cheeses, and leftovers. And the bottom shelf is for drinks and have-to-be-refrigerated desserts. The crispers at the bottom of the fridge are for vegetables (in one) and (in the other) meat products that we will use within a day or two. (We keep meat products for the end of the week in the freezer so that they won’t go bad waiting on us.) My number one rule now is if you’re not going to eat it in a day or two, it doesn’t go in the fridge – meaning we can’t be just accumulating leftovers because that’s going to end with us throwing out a bunch of expired/gone-bad stuff anyway.
The Command Center
Yes, you read that right. I do have a command center. It isn’t a command center in the traditional Pinterest version of the word as it doesn’t include a mail section (since that’s near my desk in the living room) or cute inspo. But it works for us and for our purposes.
- Dry-erase Boards: On our fridge in the kitchen, I have a dry-erase calendar and a dry-erase week-at-a-glance board that I use to track my husband and I’s out-of-house schedules and meals. The calendar is how we know (if we haven’t already communicated it with each other) that one of us won’t be home at the normal time. The meals board serves as a way for us to meal plan (and sometimes meal prep). Ever Saturday night or Sunday morning, we get together in front of the meal board and think about what we might want to have for dinner each day of the coming week. I then use what’s on the meal board to build a Sunday afternoon/Monday evening grocery list. This process has become quite technological ever since we got an Amazon Echo for Christmas – now I ask the AI on my counter to build the list for me. 🙂
- My Household Planner: I don’t know if I consider this “my” planner because it does serve the household in general. But I’m the only one who really ever updates it… So I went to the Container Store (as you know because you’re following my Instagram account…and if you’re not then you should be…@gray_graph) and got a bunch of stuff from their planning aisles. This stuff I used to put together this household planner. I also used my computer and Microsoft know-how to come up with customized inserts for the planner. I’ll be posting a walk-through of the planner on my YouTube channel soon so keep an eye out for that, but I won’t share everything here as this post would be twice the size. I will tell you the general gist of things though and that’s that this planner contains a section for my husband and I to track our finances, a section to keep track of household chores that need to be done regularly, a section for a running to-do list based more on general things than on cleaning, and a few other sections relating to our recurring activities/commitments/etc. This planner stays in my home right next to our “command center” – I do not take it out of the house because it contains some sensitive information and because I just like to have it on-hand while I’m cooking or what-have-you at home.
And that’s basically what I’m doing to keep my home organized this year. I always get super motivated to do this kind of stuff right around the turn of the year – as I’m sure most of you do as well. If you have routines you’re starting this year to get more organized or to keep your head-space clear in other respects, please share them with me in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!