Bust clutter. Rid your house of clutter that’s causing stress in your environment. Rather than trying to tackle a big job all at once and becoming overwhelmed, schedule small bits of time to regularly work on getting rid of clutter, room by room, until your whole house is organized. Prepare for your work by having trash bags, storage bins, etc. on hand. Eliminate what you don’t want, need, or use. Concentrate on what you use, need, and care about. For every item you handle, ask: “When is the last time this was used, worn, or played with?”, “Does it deserve space in our home? If it weren’t here, what would be here instead?”, “Are there memories attached to it?” and “What will I do with it – fix it, sell it, store it, toss it, or donate it?” Be sure to follow through on your decisions promptly to avoid second thoughts; put objects you’ve chosen to keep in their proper places and drop off donations and take out trash soon after de-cluttering. Set deadlines for your work to stay on track. Every time a new items comes into the house, take an old item out to make room for it. Think and pray about why you’ve accumulated too much stuff in the first place, and how you can avoid cluttering your house with more stuff in the future.

Use your time wisely. Set up a “control central” area in your home to organize and track your family’s schedule (consider places like a desk, countertop, or home office). Use a “daily hit list” to categorize the various jobs you hope to accomplish each day into seven areas: home and property, food, family and friends, financial, special events, and self. Then consider what you can delegate to others, and what you can delete. Move necessary jobs that you haven’t finished on a certain day to the next day’s list. Set realistic expectations for how much you and your family members can accomplish in a given time period. Make lifestyle changes gradually and rely on God’s strength as you do. Encourage each other and hold each other accountable as you all try to manage your time well while creating a better environment at home.

Manage your money well. Build your financial decisions around what’s most important to your family; remind yourselves of your priorities often. Figure out how you’re currently wasting money, and how you can save money without sacrificing a fulfilling family lifestyle. Scrutinize every area in your budget for ways you can reduce expenses. Before buying something, ask: “Do we really need it?”, “Can we make do with what we have?”, “How often will we use it?”, “How much care does it require?”, “Is it durable?”, “Does its design and quality meet our standards?”, “Is there information available to help us make our decision?”, “Is the price right? Could we find it at a secondhand store?”, “How much difference will its addition to our home and family life really make?”. Avoid debt and pay down any debt you already have. Save for unexpected expenses and large purchases like family vacations or new appliances. Learn how to invest wisely. Give generously. Develop an effective filing and bill-paying system.

Take care of yourself. Realize that you can’t successfully manage your family’s needs if you don’t take care of your own needs. If you go to bed feeling more resentful than fulfilled, realize that you may be burned out. Step up your efforts to care for your body, mind, and spirit by setting some specific goals for your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Every day, no matter what demands you face, make time to do something that refreshes you. Say “no” to activities that don’t reflect your priorities so you’ll be free to say “yes” to activities that help you pursue your dreams. When evaluating whether or not to undertake an activity, ask: “Am I passionate about this?”, “What will it cost in terms of my time and energy?” and “What are the potential benefits?”. Ask God to help you pursue the right dreams in the right way, and trust Him to make them come true at the right time. Be assured that each small positive change you make in your life will eventually lead to big blessings. Develop and nurture a close relationship with God from which to draw strength every day.

Adapted from Desperate Households: How to Restore Order and Harmony to Your Life and Home, copyright 2007 by Kathy Peel. Published by Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Ill., www.tyndale.com.     

Kathy Peel is founder and CEO of Family Manager. Her company trains, coaches, encourages, and equips women worldwide to build strong families and happy, organized homes (www.familymanager.com). Kathy has written 18 books, which have sold more than two million copies. She is AOL’s Family and Kids Coach and writes for numerous magazines, including Family Circle, Reader’s Digest, Parenting, and HomeLife. She is a popular speaker and media personality whose Family Manager Makeover stories have appeared on programs such as Oprah, The Early Show, and HGTV.