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The 6 rules for tidying that lasts over time

Maybe you have noticed that some of your attempts at tidying up seem destined to fail. It works for a day or two, then progressively the mess returns. Discouraging. Don’t let it get the better of you:  The 6 rules for tidying that I suggest can be applied to papers and to clothes, not forgetting decorative pastimes and the dishes. For you, a flowing interior, where everyone can find anything in less than 50 seconds!


Rule No. 1: Don’t confuse sorting and tidying

First comes sorting. Then tidying. In that order. Because we don’t tidy a mess. At best, we move it from one place to another. Tidying is finding the best place for the objects that we keep for good reasons.


Rule No. 2: Tidy things as close as possible to where you use them

For example, you’re supposed to take off your make-up in the evening in the bathroom, right? What aren’t you able to? Because being tired you go straight from your sofa to your bed. If you place a pretty basket (cf Knit collection page 8) near to your bed, with cotton and make-up remover, you increase your chances of falling asleep with clean skin.


Rule No. 3: Tidy according to your own way of life (and not like mum or like in a home decor magazine).

For example, if your living room is small, why fill up a sideboard with the best china that you only use once a year? It is true that your mum, and her mother before her, did it like that. But when I think that you are looking for somewhere to store the printer paper and the video games (your PC is in the living room and you play from your sofa)! Just move the china to the top of a cupboard to free up space in the sideboard, a much more practical place for your family. And never mind tradition.


Rule No. 4: Avoid repeated handling

Would you put the remote control at the bottom of a box with a lid, itself placed behind a vase on a shelf in a closed cupboard? No, of course not. Too many actions to perform. So remember this rule: the fewer actions needed to get an object or put it back in its place, the greater the chance that it will be tidied away. In other words, if your system for filing papers, for example, requires you to handle cardboard folders, paper folders, files, plastic pockets, don’t be surprised if you can’t be bothered to file them. Make it simple, as much as possible.


Rule No. 5: Love your labeller

You can get a labeller for a modest outlay. It will allow you to make standard, pretty labels that can be stuck and removed without damage. What’s the point?

  • they give a clean, professional look, which encourages you to respect your tidying
  • they show all members of the household where to find things (and therefore where to tidy them)
  • they help you to remember (what did I already put in there?) and thus avoid buying duplicate objects
  • all that to save time (we said 50 seconds, if you recall?)

Where to put them?

  • on the top edges of drawers. You only see them when they are open, so it doesn’t look too much like an office.
  • on folders.
  • on the edges of shelves (size 140 sheets / size 160 sheets, for example)
  • on the sides of bins, baskets and boxes, to identify what’s inside without moving everything
  • on the sides of household appliances, to better see the serial numbers
  • on cables, chargers and other objects that you need to identify quickly.

That’s it? Are you convinced?


Rule No. 6: Think of how often you use it

The more often you use an object, the closer it should be to you (cf the remote control above). Logical, isn't it? Pushing the reasoning a bit further. If we follow this rule, it follows that the objects that you almost never use... shouldn’t be so close to you. Further, you bump into them, they get in your way and they prevent you taking advantage of the best storage spaces: those nearest to you. Think again of the sideboard mentioned earlier and don’t hesitate to distance yourself mercilessly from what you rarely use (not forgetting the labels, OK?).