organizing.jpgWe all know having an organized home allows us to spend more time doing the things we want to do. For me it is more time to quilt, for others it may be gardening, exercising, cooking, working on a hobby, or spending more time with family. So how do we go about getting our family organized?

Remember the movie “Field of Dreams?” Build it and they will come. It is the same scenario with organizing. Begin by organizing drawers, cupboards, rooms, closets; have designated places for everything–where they will live and sure enough those things will find their way back to their homes. Family members actually like it better when they know where things belong. Label drawers or shelves to make it easier to put things back and to find them later.

Share the responsibilities in the home with everyone. Write out a simple contract with each family member and have them sign it. This gets their commitment and chances are greater that they will follow through with tasks assigned. Put the contracts along with the assigned task in a binder that is labeled and placed on a shelf were everyone can reach it. I don’t like to call them chores because just the name sounds like drudgery.

Keep tasks appropriate to age and capability. Start young teaching organization. Two year olds and even younger can start putting a book on a shelf or a toy in the toy box. By starting young it makes it much easier as it becomes a way of life for them to be organized.

I remember picking raspberries when I was a child. My mother was picking on the other side of the row. It was hot and tiring picking one or two berries at a time and placing them in my bucket tied around my waist. Once in awhile my mom would reach through the row and put a hand full of berries in my bucket. Wow, it was such a great feeling seeing my bucket getting fuller faster that it made me get back to work and work all the faster.

Show children exactly how to do the assigned task. Work along with them until they know what is expected. Once in awhile chip in and help them after they are able to do it on their own. This is a great boost to them and they will reciprocate by helping you stay organized or doing one of your tasks.

Charts are wonderful tools to inspire children and show them not only what needs to be done but they show their progress. Rotate assignments on a weekly basis. There are many charts that can be purchased to chart their progress. Or use a dry erase board; make one out of paper using stickers when a job is completed, or use a magnetic board. Point out what a good job they are doing and how good it feels to be organized.

Make organizing fun. It doesn’t have to be a chore. Make organizing interesting, get everyone’s input and ideas on the best way to do things, and use their ideas so they feel a sense of pride and ownership about the way things are done.

Notice where a family member is already organized and build on that strength by praising them. We are all good at doing some thing. By focusing on the positive and encouraging them to become organized, strengths will come out in other areas too without nagging or getting angry.

Motivating family members may be challenging at first, but it is rewarding when you see them putting things away where they belong and it takes much of the frustration out of what could be daily hassles. Not to mention all the time it saves.

Marilyn is a creative organizer who has been organizing for over 20 years. She is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers.She holds a bachelors degree in Social Work. She has reared five daughters and currently lives in Utah. Check out her website where you can find free organizing tips, interesting blogs and helpful articles on organizing.