11 Organization Tips to Steal from Parents—Even if You Don’t Have Kids

There are countless tricks and hacks crafted for busy parents who are trying to keep their kids’ lives in order—but singles and childless couples also can benefit from a little bit of added structure.

Organization for Everyone

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organization tips parents

The internet is full of advice for parents who want to get better organized. These tips are meant to get kids out the door faster in the morning, get them to bed on time, and ensure the house doesn’t descend into clutter chaos. But pet parents, plant parents, and people simply trying to take care of themselves can get just as much use out of these ideas. Whether you live alone, with roommates, with fur babies, or with a partner, these organizational tips may help get your life in order.

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Create a Command Center

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A command center is a space near the front door where parents organize backpacks, outerwear, equipment for extracurriculars, and any other items their children need for their busy days. This concept, however, is just as handy for those without children. Create an area in an entryway, vestibule, or mudroom to store keys, wallet, purse, gym bag, pet leashes, work shoes, and anything else needed to bring to the office. For households with multiple people, each one should have their own designated area. Depending on the size of the available space, this could be an entry table, a wardrobe, a set of hooks, a closet, or a bureau.

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Pick Out Clothes the Night Before

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In an effort to streamline busy mornings, many parenting experts recommend choosing children’s clothing the night before and setting it out so that it’s ready to put on in the morning. Some even suggest lining up outfits for the entire week. While this is certainly a good tip for those with little ones, it also can help busy adults. Getting dressed for work can be plagued with indecision, so making those choices ahead of time will leave more time to sit down with a cup of coffee and catch up on the news.

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Use a Wall Calendar

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Many of us have completely digitized our day planners and appointment books, but one place where a wall calendar comes in handy is keeping track of a household’s weekly tasks. While many families use a centrally-located dry erase calendar for planning out their kids’ extracurriculars, homework assignments, and doctor’s visits, the same tool can work well for child-free homes. Try using it to keep track of a plant watering schedule, the dates of a partner’s business trips, a pet’s vet appointments, and other errands and chores.

Related: 10 DIY Labels for Better Home Organization

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Prep Grab-and-Go Snacks

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Everyone can benefit from having healthy snacks at the ready. Whether they’re for throwing into a bag to bring to work or munching on while watching TV, storing cut up fruit and vegetables in reusable containers will make it easier to avoid snacking on junk food. It’s also smart to have a spot in the pantry for storing small containers of nuts, dried fruit, or trail mix, so that they’re ready to grab and go.

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Make Lunches in Advance

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If saving money by cutting down on ordering takeout at the office is a goal, consider prepping lunches in advance. Mornings can be hectic even without kids, but it’s easier to eat homemade lunches when they are prepped the night before. This is an especially handy tip for non-morning people who find it challenging to accomplish anything in the morning—beyond just getting out the door.

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Use Color-Coding

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While color-coding is often used for clearly organizing children’s toys and school folders, it also can come in handy when classifying belongings. It can be used in a closet, file cabinet, pantry, or craft area to keep like items together. This can mean keeping all white shirts together, or using red folders for financial documents. While color-coded bookshelves may irk some Dewey Decimal system devotees, color can be a useful way for those with visual memories to know where to find favorite novels. 

Related: 18 Photos That Prove Home Organization Is an Art Form

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Make a Chore Chart

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Even adults appreciate a gold star for a job well done. Whether living alone or with a partner or roommates, a chore chart is a useful way to ensure important household tasks are completed on a regular schedule. Charts can include cleaning as well as paying bills, picking up dry cleaning, and grocery shopping. Though it can be made with just a paper and pen, there are plenty of dry erase chore charts available that make it easy to input the same tasks each week.

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Break Chores into Multiple Parts

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Childcare professionals often advise keeping children focused by allowing them to break up tasks into smaller, more manageable segments. This trick works just as well for grown ups. If the idea of cleaning out an entire garage makes you shudder, split up the chore into shorter tasks by making a list of all the smaller tasks. These can include organizing sports equipment, cleaning the floors, and donating unwanted items.

Related: The Biggest Mistakes You’re Making with Your Coat Closet

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Implement a Weekly Bag Clean-Out

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Parents are advised to clean out their kids’ school bags at least once a week to make sure there aren’t any old sandwich crusts or lost homework assignments hanging around in there. This same wisdom, however, can be applied to adult carryalls as well. Whether you use a purse, briefcase, or backpack, it’s prudent to go through it regularly to get rid of unneeded receipts, gum wrappers, and other detritus. If lucky, you might even find that long-lost lip balm or some extra cash.

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Get Organized on the Go

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After mastering organization at home, it’s time to corral the items in your car. Phone chargers, auxiliary cords, tissues, snacks, and reusable shopping bags can create a chaotic atmosphere if they don’t have a designated space. While there are storage areas in most cars, there also are products available that will take automotive organization to the next level. A trunk organizer ensures that groceries and larger items are in order while a mesh organizer can be hung between the front seats for storing things that require easy access.

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Create a Bedtime Routine

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Kids aren’t the only ones who benefit from having a structured bedtime routine. Set an alarm on your phone for when it’s time to start winding down. Brushing teeth, face washing, reading, and dimming the lights in the bedroom can signal to your body that it’s time to relax. Put away the phone and other electronic devices, and get cozy in bed. You might even want to consider a bedtime story for adults by checking out sleep stories available on the Calm app.

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