The Lowe Down
Q&A: Sticking to an organizing system when you're low on time
I know you were expecting your regular installment of The Wellthy Mama today but I received a great question and wanted to use this space and time to answer it. I want this community to be a place where you feel heard and acknowledged so after you read the Q&A, please take the poll at the bottom of this post. It’ll stay open for a week. And if you choose the option “Something else altogether”, just know I’m expecting an email from you with more details. Don’t leave a girl hanging! 😂
Q: What’s the best way to stick to an organizing system in my home when I’m short on time? I’ve already organized most of my spaces but find them getting a bit unruly when I’m putting groceries, kids supplies, etc. away in a hurry… how do I stay on top of things when I’m in a rush?
A: This is such a great question. Thanks so much for submitting it. I had to make some assumptions here but the first thing that comes to mind is that your existing system might be organized but possibly not aligned with the way your family lives. Let me give you an example. In our home, we take our shoes off at the door. I first tried the method of asking everyone to take their shoes off and carry them into the room. That was a giant fail and there were embarrassing piles of shoes as soon as you entered our home. Then, I tried those small shoe benches but those got full super quickly (my husband is a size 12 shoe) and I was still tripping over shoes when I got through the door. I finally got fed up and realized that I was trying to fit a round peg in a square hole. I wasn’t considering what came natural to us as a family. This led me to an unconventional idea of using a buffet cabinet that usually stores dinnerware for our family’s shoes in the entryway. Now, there is a place for everyone’s shoes where they naturally take them off and they’re all hidden behind the magic that is a closed cabinet door.
The point is that I had organizational systems before but they didn’t quite work with how my family lived. Instead of trying to get them to fit into my system, I created a system that fit into our natural lifestyle.
If you’re using the right system maybe you need to decide on the correct order or doing things. You mentioned putting the groceries away as an example. One thing that works for us is to take everything out of the bags and put them onto the island in categories like frozen foods, toiletries, pantry snacks, etc. The key is to NOT put anything away yet. Just get everything out of the bags and grouped. Then, we assign a person to each group. Eden puts away the pantry snacks, Steve puts away the toiletries cause he’s taller, Jax puts away the drinks in the mini fridge and I put the cold items away because I care where the strawberries are vs the bread. It’s like a beautiful food orchestra. We’re each playing our instrument but still working together. Most importantly, we stay out of each other’s way.
Even if you’re putting it all away yourself, you’ll have an easier time of fitting everything in the first time around because you can see it all. Nobody wants to shuffle the bagels around 3 times because you opened a new bag and forgot there were even more cold items. That’s the stuff that wastes your time, zaps your energy and keeps you frazzled. The last thing I’d like to address is the “being in a rush” part of the question. I might get in trouble for saying this but I’m going to say it anyway…
As moms, we can have a lot on our plates but I also want to challenge the idea that a particular task NEEDS to be done right away (except for putting away things that melt).
Waiting until the house is quieter or you have more energy is also a real option that we don’t always consider. I want to say this loud and proud. You are 100%, without a doubt, abso-freakin-lutely allowed to enjoy your life even if your house is messy. I could write a whole blog post about this but I’ll get off my imperfect soapbox and move on. Now, it might be helpful to create a drop zone to corral the items so you’re not creating a mess in the meantime.
We use a drop zone for papers by the front door because art and mail are right up there with the ever growing monster that is laundry. When the kids have gone to bed (or honestly, on the weekend) I check the paper box and can think about what needs to be trashed vs paid when I have more time instead of trying to fit it into my already busy weekday. Everything is contained until I can get to it and I can focus on the things that matter like finding out what was good about the kids’ day or reading with them before bedtime.
I hope that was helpful. And if I got it wrong, feel free to reach out and let me know. I want to help you get to a solution that works for you and your family. I really enjoyed this format as I love solving problems of any size so click the card below to submit your own anonymous question about simplifying your life so you have more time for the stuff that matters.
P.S. Keep the conversation going in the comments. If you have any tips or advice that work for you and your family, please share so we can help each other!
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Great post. Easy read, thoughtful and useful.