Author for Houzz Australia: Liz Durnan

We all know those super-organised people, don’t we? They’re up at the crack of dawn baking muffins for the school fundraiser, work nine-to-five in a high-powered job, have numerous well-turned out children and, on top of it all, their house is always perfectly clean and organised – without any paid help. Do they make you sick, or do you secretly envy them? Don’t waste your energy. Instead, watch how they do it and see what you can learn.

Our homes shouldn’t be driving us mad; they should be our sanctuary. As much as I wish I could pay one of those personal organisers to come into my house and turn it upside down, I don’t have the spare budget (sigh). So I’ve learned from my clean-freak friends and I’m forever reading up about what I can do to take control of my home. Here’s what I’ve found helpful:

Regular clean-ups

Like many people, I’m more of a regular procrastinator than a regular cleaner, often preferring the motto “Why do it it today, if I can do it tomorrow?” However, since having kids and a home to look after, I’ve learnt the hard way that this motto isn’t really doing that much for me.

I’ve often watched friends with tidy homes and wondered what their secret is. Now I know; they simply clean up as they go rather than wait for the magic fairy to come in and do it.

They never wake up to a kitchen full of dirty dishes.

By doing a little bit each day in bite-sized chunks – and getting other members of the household to do the same – things don’t pile up and become overwhelming. Create a roster so that everyone knows what they have to do and when.

A place for everything
I know Marie Kondo didn’t invent this idea, but if there’s one thing I’ve taken from her much talked-about book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, it’s the idea of having a place for everything and putting everything back there.

Apply this rule to all areas of the house – from the kitchen and the laundry to the linen cupboard. Take stock of every single item you own and ensure there’s a place for each one.

Best of all? Your mornings will be transformed. No more running around the house first thing in the morning looking for your keys, your coat or the other shoe – you’ll know exactly where to find everything, and fast.

Use storage wisely
However, good storage with a place for everything only works if you’re managing it. Have you ever blamed your messiness on your lack of storage? I used to, but recently I finally got the new fitted wardrobes and mudroom of my dreams installed, only to find we were still messy – alas, the storage doesn’t magically tidy up for you. Of course it helps, but you still have to do the work of keeping it organised. The other members of the household need to be schooled in the simple ways of putting their things away too

Declutter sprees

One of the ways our houses can drive us mad is by having too much stuff. Are you forever unable to find things – your wallet, the potato masher, your favourite pan? This is often because we can’t see the stuff we’re looking for among the chaos. If you have a family and new things regularly coming into the home, it’s important to get rid of stuff often too. Regularly – even as often as monthly – go through kitchen drawers, pantries and wardrobes and take stock of what you have, getting rid of what you’re not using.

Buy less

Which brings me to my next point. The less stuff we buy, the easier our things will be to organise. Shop wisely – never on a whim – and only for things you really need. Buy one expensive item of clothing over five cheap ones.

If it’s all clearly visible and you can see what you actually have, you’ll be less likely to fall into the trap of buying things you already own. The things you buy will be the things you really need.

This rule applies not just to the clothes hanging in your wardrobe, but to every other area of your home too, including your kitchen and food pantry.

Clean up your tech

With so many of us working from home these days or, at the very least, bringing work and technology home with us, we often find it creeping into all areas of the house – computer and phone cords everywhere, laptops and phones invading areas of the house that should be kept for relaxing. If you don’t have a dedicated home office space, see if you can find an area to squeeze one in, and then buy filing boxes to keep your life admin and important documents under control.

Keep a separate drawer or cupboard for tech stuff – cameras, phones, laptop and all their associated chargers and cords, so you can find everything when you need it.

Make lists

I couldn’t do without my daily to-do list. If you create daily goals, write them down and tick them off as you go – you’re more likely to get things done and the ticking off part really adds to the feeling of satisfaction.