Life in an organized home feels so much calmer but we all know easy it is to shift from clear to cluttered. One minute you can see the surface of your kitchen table, the next, it’s covered in papers and other household items. The secret to an organized house can be summed up in one word – systems. If you’re tired of living under the weight of stuff, try these strategies and clear the clutter.

1. A Place for Everything, and Everything in its Place
No matter what the item is, everything—from scissors to socks—needs to have a designated spot. Returning things to their place will not only speed up cleaning but it will improve life in the house because you won’t be searching high and low for whatever you need. When working out where to store items, think about creating the smallest walking distance between two points – items should be stored where they are used. For example, scissors could be kept in a kitchen drawer or in an office drawer, or you may decide to have two pairs if they are used often in both locations. You don’t want to be going backwards and forwards constantly. For items that don’t have a regular home, set up a miscellaneous bowl or basket. Just make sure you clear it out regularly. If there are several people in your home, consider color-coding. Allocate each person in the home their own color and attach that color to their items. It means you can easily pile up and return people’s stuff. For shared items, use a household color. It’s a great way for the household to sort and store things.

2. Do a Little Bit Often
It’s easy to let things pile up but you’re just creating more work for yourself. Keep in mind that old saying: ‘a stitch in time saves nine’. It’s better to have one pile than nine. And let’s be honest: no matter how busy you are, you can always find some time in your day if you really want to. Schedule it if you need to. You’d be surprised at how much you can do in just 15 minutes. Sort, file or toss.

3. Introduce the ‘Clutter Bucket’
This makes so much sense. When sorting a room, everything that doesn’t belong in that room should go into a ‘clutter bucket’ and moved in one go. It’s common to move a couple of items at a time, with a lot of time spent walking between two spots. Move it all at once with the clutter bucket.

4. Have the Right Cleaning Tools for the Job
It’s really important to have the right cleaning tools for the job. You might like to carry items in buckets or plastic toolboxes – it depends on your storage situation and preferences. Whatever you decide to use, just make sure the kit isn’t too heavy. It means you won’t waste time or put off cleaning because you don’t have the right cleaning items. Your kit is always ready to go.

5. Have Daily, Weekly and Monthly Cleaning Schedules
Make your life more organized and easy by creating daily, weekly and monthly cleaning schedules. For example, when you clean the oven once a week, you won’t create a mega-task for yourself. That baked on gunk just gets harder to clean the longer you leave it. Tasks such as clearing out your wardrobe can be done twice a year. Having a schedule – written and placed on the inside door in the laundry, for example – means you have a plan and know what you need to do when you need to do it.

Ensure everyone in the house is aware of your systems. It means they’ll develop good habits and automatically return items to designated spots. In no time, your home will become a well-oiled machine.

Jennifer Fleming is author of six books including Completely Spotless. Buy it through the ABC Shop. Follow her on Twitter.