There are two essential parts to being organized: getting organized and staying organized. Getting organized involves a lot of sorting, purging, and rethinking of your stuff. Sorry, there’s no way to stay organized without first processing out the excess. Once you’ve done that, however, there are certain factors that will help you stay organized.

Items in your home or office must move from one reliable stage to the next. Circulation prevents accumulation.

Easy habits
Your organizing habits should be so easy, they feel like cheating. If they’re not, rethink them. You’re too busy for anything less. Staying organized requires regular participation, so keep it easy. Sorting mail daily should take less than two minutes. Clearing your work surface daily should take less than 5 minutes. Launch pads make daily habits easy.

Dedicated zones
Whether they’re action zones or storage zones, you need dedicated zones where certain categories always go, reliably. Dedicated zones create limitations that help you stay organized.

Some items, like sitting files, sleeping files, and keepsakes, should be out of sight, out of mind, but it is essential that items that require action are visible. Even items behind closet doors, should be visible, so you are not buying items you already have.

Accessibility is a close friend of visibility. Maybe you have items extremely visible in beautifully labeled clear boxes, but if they are stacked and hard to get to, the contents are less likely to be used. Clear drawers are a good alternative for smaller items. Removing as many barriers as possible will make it easier to stay organized.

Clear surfaces
A clear surface is more than just a nice thing. It is nothing less than your number one most important organizing tool. Clear surfaces allow for processing and circulation. If you want to stay organized, rethink anything that you are storing on your surfaces.

Manageable Quantities
Maintaining manageable quantities doesn’t end when you get organized. It requires regular vigilance. Free up some space in those dedicated zones when they fill up and make it easy to circulate some of those old clothes to donation, regularly.

Manageable quantities is really the most important stay factor because it is the one that makes all the other ones possible. It is why decluttering is always an important first step before establishing systems to stay organized.