282 – What Is “Maintenance?”

Organize 365 Podcast
282 - What Is "Maintenance?"

Most of us like to form our own opinions about what maintenance means to us. On the podcast, we talk a lot about the cycle of getting organized and increasing productivity.

But what about the maintenance stage of your organizational journey?

What does it mean to maintain something?

According to the good old dictionary, maintenance is the process of maintaining or preserving a condition or situation or the state of being preserved.

While this gives us more clarity on the meaning of maintenance, it doesn’t dive into the details or tell us how it equates to the maintenance of our homes.

As we go through the 100-Day Home Organization Program and declutter and organize each space in our homes for the third or even fourth time, we enter a phase of maintenance which I want to unpack with you in this episode of the podcast.

What Maintenance Looks Like In The Physical Areas Of Your Home

If you asked me what stage of the organizational journey I’m currently in, I would say I’m living in maintenance. I don’t do much. Everything in my house is decluttered and organized (I am a professional organizer, after all).

But that doesn’t mean I don’t do the dishes or laundry. I still have non-organizational, cleaning-related tasks to do just like anyone else. I still have to put things away at the end of the day. However, once you’ve decluttered and organized your entire house, it usually stays organized.

A few reasons why your house might not stay organized is because of the kids. I don’t mean just the toddlers either. No matter what age they are, kids are like little chaos creators. They tumble through the house like mini tornadoes and just have a way of messing things up.

But if your kids tend to mess up their rooms and the joint family rooms but stay out of your storage room and primary bedroom, etc., the work you’ve done to get the majority of your home organized is probably well maintained.

To me, living an organized life that’s maintained is when you reach the end of the day and you don’t have to start decluttering and organizing everything. All you have to do is pick things up and put them back where they go. It’s simple.

Maintenance In Different Seasons Of Life

As you move through different seasons and stages of life, there may come a time when you must revert to the decluttering stage.

Take me as an example. We’re moving into spring/summer and so I did some shopping and bought new clothes. The problem was that when I got home, I realized I needed to go through my closet. I couldn’t fit more clothes in there without going through the items of clothing that were taking up all the space.

So, I took out all my winter clothes and stored them away. I probably won’t need a dozen woolly jumpers over the summer months so there’s no point letting them take up space in my closet. I had to revert and declutter and organize my entire closet all over again, even though I’ve already done it and the 100-Day Home Organization Program… a million times.

But I wouldn’t call organizing my closet maintenance. It was more decluttering and organizing than maintaining something I had already organized.

Maintenance doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll never have to do any more organizing in your house. It just means being able to go through your house at the end of the day and put things back where they belong.

When you reach a new season or stage in life, you might need to go through the cycle of organization again. But it won’t be as strenuous or take the same amount of time as it did the first time you did the 100-Day Home Organization Program. Each time you do it, the easier it gets because you’ve already developed those important organizational muscles.

Maintenance In Everyday Home Life

So now that we know and understand what maintenance means (i.e. putting things back where you found them), we can tackle the next problem – having people in the house who are not as organizationally inclined as you.

I’ve been an avid organizer for years. I host dozens of Masterclasses on the topic from “3 Reasons You Can’t Get Organized And What To Do About It,” to “The Sunday Basket Masterclass,” and many more. My entire career is based around organizing and yet, my own family is pretty useless at it.

My daughter has a habit of leaving her shoes all around the house. As soon as she walks through the door, she tosses them off her feet and it frustrates me so much. But I’ve learned to stop letting it bother me. I don’t live in a museum. It’s never going to be perfect because people live here.

My house is not perfect. And that’s okay because it doesn’t have to be perfect. I’m in the maintenance stage of the organizational journey which means that at the end of the day, all I have to do is put things back where they came from. It’s simple and I don’t have to spend a lot of time doing it.

What Does Maintenance Mean With Your Paper?

The next obstacle I want to tackle with you is about maintaining your paper organization. When it comes to paper, you’ve got a few options to choose from.

If you’ve gone through The Sunday Basket System, you’ve eliminated your filing cabinets. So instead of having to maintain a bunch of filing cabinets, you just need to organize and maintain your four binders. This includes your Medical Organizing Binder, Financial Organizing Binder, Household Operations Binder, and Household Reference Binder.

Your Sunday Basket is where you keep all the to-dos, mail, and papers. On Sundays, you go through your basket and when you’re in the maintenance phase, it’ll probably take you around 90 minutes or so to go through everything in the basket.

If you’re in the maintenance stage of your organization journey like me, you can eliminate things from your calendar and free up your time. If you want to find out more about how to approach this, listen to Episode 276 of the podcast, “Sunday Basket 3.0.”

When you get into a habit of doing the Sunday Basket every Sunday, you’ll enter the maintenance stage and you’ll just be maintaining the organization of all your paper. Eliminating your filing cabinet is hard work, I’ll admit. But once it’s done, it’s heavenly.

One thing that you need to understand when it comes to organizing is that your home will never be perfect. Perfect is not the end goal here. The end goal is to live a more organized and functional life and be able to maintain it as a result.

If you enjoyed this episode, please take a screenshot of yourself listening to the show and share it on social media by tagging me @organize365, I’d appreciate it!

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