In some ways, summer and staying organized seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum. Summer means unscheduled days, spontaneity, and a generally more relaxed approach to life. On the other hand, being organized is often associated with schedules and rigidity.
I propose we can have both…the fun and spontaneity of summer, with just the right amount of order that we don’t find ourselves facing a three-month clutter dig out come fall. Sound like a plan? Here are five ideas to try.
1. Evaluate your priorities. What’s most important to you this summer? Is it time with the kids? Getting projects done around the house? Relaxing and hanging out with friends? Make a quick list and then prioritize it. If “keep the house organized” or “organize (insert room of choice here)” doesn’t make the list, that’s great! I believe that getting and staying organized are means to another end. So, if your focus this summer is what’s on the other side of organized, embrace this! (And read on for some simple strategies!)
2. Try doing a little bit, often. If getting or staying organized didn’t top your priority list, the “little and often” approach is for you. Focus on doing a little bit of maintaining once a day or several times a day. Carry something with you and put it away each time you go to another room. Put things away right after you take them out. And do a quick tidy each night before bed. This will allow you to enjoy the benefits of being organized, without making it a time-consuming effort.
3. Establish drop zones. Summer means outings to the pool, park, etc. which means you’re transporting gear like beach towels, sunscreen, coolers and bug spray into and out of the house. Set up a drop zone so these items don’t spread out and create clutter throughout your home. A hook or shelf by the main entrance/exit of your home makes a terrific drop zone. As an added bonus, this area can also serve as a launch pad when you’re ready to head out on your next summer outing.
4. Call on your little helpers. The kids are out of school which means they’re probably creating more messes than they do during the school year. (More time at home simply means more opportunities for stuff to come out of storage and pile up on flat surfaces!) Make it part of your kids’ daily routine to pick up and put away items they use. Get them involved in your daily bed-time declutter, or work on having them put things away before they transition to a new activity. This is a terrific habit to work on over the summer because it will also serve you and your kids well during the school year.
5. Build in some breathing room. A little downtime in your schedule can be good for everyone—your kids and you. If you feel like you’ve been running from activity to activity with no time to catch your breath, your surroundings may start to reflect this in the form of surface clutter, overflowing laundry baskets, and dishes in the sink. Take a look at your upcoming planned activities and see if you can cross a few things off the list to create a more relaxed summer schedule. The result will be more time to stay caught up and, maybe even, put your feet up and relax.