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How to get the rest of the family on board with staying organized


I’d love to hear some of the professional organizers’ advice/opinions on how to get the rest of the family on board with staying organized. The standard advice is get the family involved in each organization project and/or that the results will be so fabulous it will motivate everyone to keep the newly organized space in shape.  My family is a special breed of “could care less” and “stop nagging me!” and I’m willing to bet I’m not the only working mom who has given up because I can’t shoulder the entire burden of maintaining organization by myself. An article more in depth about the culture change it takes to really develop buy-in from everyone would be great.


Organizing is not fun for most people, except us odd professional organizers and some organizing junkies out there. So how do you get people to get organized when they don’t want to?
Well how do you get anyone to do anything they don’t want to? Motivate them!

If being a role model isn’t doing the trick, incentivize – go for positive rewards or negative consequences.
When dealing with children, this is a little easier because you are clearly the one in charge.
Figure out what it is your child wants, and then hold it out as a carrot. I have one child who likes money to buy games and toys. So when he doesn’t want to do something, we make it a chore that is for money. It works 90% of the time.

My other child couldn’t care less about money. She doesn’t want anything. But she loves to go out and have social time. So I needed to implement a negative consequence instead. If she doesn’t do something, she is not be allowed to X, Y, or Z.

Regarding nagging: That’s your job. That’s why you are the parent. You have my permission to nag away because your primary role in their life is to make them responsible, conscientious adults. If they fuss, don’t you worry. Studies show that kids/teens are actually happier when they are contributing to the family in some way. They  might balk about it, but when they grow up, they won’t feel guilt for taking advantage and never giving of themselves.

Other things that help:

  • Be clear about your expectations.
  • Map out the steps to a job if they don’t “get” how to do it.
  • Demonstrate how you want the job done.
  • Offer incentives.
  • Make sure there are consequences for NOT accomplishing a task.
  • Help do the job if the person is young or just needs someone around to do it with (social organizing is powerful for kids who get lonely)

— Allison


Allison Carter likes fun and funky organizing. She is a creative, right brainer and thinks it is more fun to organize if you love how your space looks. So she utilitzes color, shape, pattern and texture to keep herself and her stuff organized. Check out her web site at The Professional Organizer!

Do you have a room or area in your home that needs organization help?

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