Assign every item a “home” close to where it is used. Keep the items you use most often in the most accessible places.
Group like items together.
Label containers. Labeling makes it easy to find and return things. It also lets other members of the household know where things go.
Keep your systems simple. The more complicated an organizing system is, the less likely it is to be maintained.
Make rules for flat surfaces. What is “allowed” to be placed on this surface? What is considered clutter (and not allowed)? Entryway tables, dining room tables, dressers, coffee tables, and kitchen countertops are key areas where rule-making can be beneficial.
Go vertical. Create storage solutions along the walls when horizontal space is limited.
After use, return items to their homes. Additionally, scan the room before you leave and relocate any items that go elsewhere.
Declutter daily. Make time at the end of your day to do a walk-through. Remove clutter and restore order to your surfaces. (This is especially important if you have children.)
Put your keys and wallet/purse in the same place every day. Consider using hooks by the door.
Unpack immediately after a trip. This includes trips ranging from simple errands to weeklong excursions.
Reposition all clothes hangers backwards. After washing, re-hang clothes normally going forward. Mark your calendar to check back in one year. Clothing on backwards hangers has not been worn for one year and should be considered for donation.
Honor collectibles by displaying them. If they are not precious enough to display, you may consider letting them go.
Bin up seasonal decorations and categorize by holiday. Sort, purge, then pack and label.
Be selective about what you bring into your home. Consider the time it takes to maintain the item, where you will put the item, and what you will need to get rid of to make space for it.
Choose quality over quantity. Save time and money in the long run by reducing the frequency of replacements.
When you buy something new, get rid of something.
Resist the urge to acquire the "latest and greatest" thing. Leave closets, drawers and other storage spaces only half full so it’s easy to put items away.
Getting things out
Create a “launching pad.” Choose a (visible) space near the door you exit for items that need to leave the home (e.g., library books, dry cleaning, items to return to friends or the store, etc.). Consider a basket in the mudroom. Be sure to give the basket a quick look every time you head out the door.
Designate a basket for donations and load them in your car when it gets full. Make regular donation runs by associating the task with another errand. In many areas, there is a Rescue Mission trailer right next to Wegmans.
If a task takes less time than it does to brush your teeth, do it now.
Use only one calendar and depend on it. (Smart phone users - Sync your calendar with your spouse.)
Protect your time, learn to say no!
Don't strive for perfection in every aspect of your life. Do what is important very well and do everything else to the point of completion.
Take note of the actual time it takes to do things. We tend to underestimate time, resulting in lateness.
Check your calendar every evening and prepare for the next day. Lay out clothes, prepare lunches/snacks, pack up homework and papers to return to school/work and put backpacks/workbags near the door.
Don't be afraid to delegate! If you find yourself getting behind, ask for help from a family member, friend, or your favorite Professional Organizer.
Get rid of junk mail immediately. Sort mail daily over a recycling bin.
File papers you plan to keep right away to avoid piles.
When the kids get home, sort through papers they brought home immediately. Toss unneeded items right away and put away what you are keeping. Designate a bag or bin for each child for "keepers."
Choose a time once a week to pay bills. Treat it like an appointment with yourself. Record date paid and check number on your copy of paid bills prior to filing.
Unsubscribe to magazines you don't read. Free yourself from the obligation to get through unread magazines and reading material.