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    A young girl with a box of donations for Goodwill

    Getting Organized: The 3 Biggest Maintenance Mistakes

    Getting organized is one thing, but staying organized is quite another! Here are three of the biggest mistakes I see people making as they organize any space, whether it is a closet, kitchen, laundry room, garage or bedroom.

    1. NO STRATEGY: Approaching a project with a “hurry up, clean it up” mentality, you are not thinking through the systems needed to keep the space running smoothly. You can “clean up” a laundry room by just throwing everything in cabinets to get it off the floor, and it looks better. But to keep it organized and be able to find what you need, you must think through who is using the space and what functions are happening there. A laundry room needs to have clothes put through cycles of sorting, pre-treating, washing, drying, folding and ironing. You may need to manage recycling or pet care duties in this space as well. Set up zones for each function, and think through the tasks required to maintain each zone.
    2. NO OWNERSHIP: Even if you’ve identified the maintenance tasks, they still may not get done if you don’t know who is supposed to do them. We often hear, “I thought you were going to do that!” and “No, I thought you were supposed to do it.” When there isn’t clarity on ownership, everyone thinks someone else is going to do it, and the task simply doesn’t get done.
    3. NO OUTBOX: Your office desk and your email apps have inboxes and outboxes. Does your house have an outbox? In my house, we call it a Donation Station. A good Donation Station is located in a closet, a spot in the garage or an out-of-the-way corner — whatever works for you and your family so you can set aside items you’ve decided you no longer need. The purpose is to have a place to corral all of those decisions as soon as you make them, giving them less chance of getting mixed back into your stuff again. Keep some containers you don’t mind giving away there, like paper grocery or shopping bags or boxes. When the containers are full, put them in your car for your next trip to Goodwill®!

    Establishing habits is key to maintaining your organized spaces. Systems and routines — like keeping the laundry, dishes, and cooking operations going on a daily basis — are the foundation of home organization. Create a strategy for having solid morning and evening routines each day and other specific jobs done weekly to give you the long-term results you want from your efforts!

    Finally, don’t forget to revisit the systems you’ve created. Few things are perfect the first time. Most systems and spaces need a little tweaking here and there, particularly because life goes on and things do change. When your life changes, your systems must change with it. When that happens, it’s a great time to donate to Goodwill.

    Kids growing up and leaving home, changing careers, moving to another house, divorces, breakups or weddings — all of these life changes mean new stuff, new priorities and new perspectives. When your old stuff no longer reflects your life, donating it to Goodwill means you are helping someone in your community receive services and opportunities like job training, job placement, financial literacy classes or résumé writing assistance so they can build a lifelong connection to work.

    Lorie Marrero
    is a Certified Professional Organizer® and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Clutter Diet: The Skinny on Organizing Your Home and Taking Control of Your Life and The Home Office Handbook. She is also the creator of ClutterDiet.com, an innovative program allowing anyone to get expert help at an affordable price. Her organizing books and products are sold online and in stores nationwide. Lorie is a spokesperson for Goodwill Industries International, and she is a Contributing Editor for Woman's Day. She has also served as a spokesperson for many other companies, including Staples, Brother, and Microsoft, and she happily lives in Austin TX.
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