Simple Systems

Why Your House Doesn’t Stay Organized (And What to Do About It)

By nature, I’m a tidy person.

Basically, if you come over to my house, 95% of it will look great 95% of the time . . . until you open a drawer. The cluttery mess of tangled cords, toothbrushes and underwear is a dead giveaway that I shove stuff into dark corners to keep my living spaces clean.

I’m also “low follow-through.”

That generalization means I do NOT keep things organized. I organize my drawers, and next week they’re in a heap again.

Here’s the good news! Even if you’re a clutter-bug that doesn’t stick to anything, you CAN have a tidy and organized home . . . easily!

The key, is making your house stay organized by itself.

Here are my secrets. 

Stop Organizing Your House, and SYSTEMATIZE It

When you organize a drawer, you make it neat and tidy, but if you don’t systematize it, your habits will take over. You already have a habit of throwing the keys in the drawer, and your husband already has a habit of dumping the contents of his pockets in it after he comes home.

Your neat little organization job will be a wreck in a matter of days.


You will exert far to much will-power trying to remind yourself to put things in their proper place!

The key to keeping your house organized by itself is by working with those habits, instead of against them.

For instance, my husband has a habit of throwing his earbuds in the junk drawer. Right in the middle. Right on top of everything. The first time I “organized” our junk drawer, I neatly wound the earbuds and placed them in their own little section. But, honestly, is Elisha going to roll up his earbuds in a neat little bundle every time he uses them?

No, duh. (Neither would I.)

Instead of being the nagging wife, I then systematized the drawer with his habits in mind. Now, my drawer is neatly organized, and the ear buds have their own spot–unwound and twisted–right in the middle of the drawer. Elisha doesn’t have to change his habits, and my drawer stays organized . . .  by itself.

Have a Place for EVERYTHING

This goes back to working with your habits.

I organized a drawer in my kitchen, and found a ton of hair bands, bobby pins, and chapsticks. What?! Those don’t go in my kitchen!
During my first organizational pass, I took out the hair accessories and lip care, and finished organizing the drawer without those items.

But wait!! Give it five days, and hair items and lip gloss were back in the drawer! There wasn’t a place for these items (because those things don’t belong in my kitchen) so they were heaped all over my neat organizational job.

Apparently, I had a habit of dropping rubber bands in the drawer as I found them around the house, and didn’t want to run up to the bathroom. I also would bring lip gloss or chapstick down and apply it right before I headed out the door.

This drawer was handy for both those habits.

When I systematized my drawer, I finally included a little spot for hair items, and a bin for lip gloss. Wallah! My drawer stays organized . . . by itself . . . and I have to apply zero will power.

In other words, let your habits win.

When you organize a drawer, pay attention to what is in it. If there’s one random battery and the other 20 batteries are in another drawer, put that baby where it belongs. But if there’s numerous amounts of any one thing, give a little thought to why they’re there. You may have a habit, and if you want a house that organizes itself, you have to work in unity with those habits instead of in opposition.

Organize the Whole Drawer

Like all these examples, I show you what this looks like in my YOUTUBE video where I walk you through my house. But basically, if you want a drawer to keep itself organized, you have to organize the whole darn thing.

No space.

Any space that’s not accounted for is going to get filled up with clutter, mark my words.

Organizing the whole drawer also ensures items don’t slip and slide around when you open and shut it! This isn’t as important for shelving and cupboards, but when it comes to drawers . . . well, it’s no wonder drawers typically collect the most junk.

Get Rid of STUFF! (yes, we all can do it.) 

I’m totally guilty.

Enough said.

Get Rid of “Systems” That Are Too Complicated to Keep Up

In other words, it looks beautiful, but it’s impractical. We’ve already established that I don’t use will power to keep things organized, so this was a losing battle.

Now, I have dozens of SIMPLE SYSTEMS that are easier to do than not to do. My old clutter-war-zones keep themselves organized by themselves, and I spend NO time organizing anymore!

I’m excited to be sharing my favorite Simple Systems with you over the first 12 weeks of 2018 through my YouTube, Blog, and FB Lives.

If I can do it, you can do it. 



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2 thoughts on “Why Your House Doesn’t Stay Organized (And What to Do About It)

  1. Great ideas, Kathryn! I like the pictures of your drawers that show your ideas. I think my favorite is paying attention to what ends up where and realizing that there is a reason and then organize accordingly. I also like the “Elisha’s earbuds solution.” Kudos to Elisha for even getting them into the drawer instead of tossing them on the counter or coffee table!

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