Even if you're not going back to school, September is a perfect time for a fresh start or change of routine. If organizing your home or your life is what needs a bit of tweaking, then read on for tips from productivity coach Clare Kumar for how to make improvements that will help boost your efficiency and make your day-to-day easier.

No time? Try this

Kumar has a four-step PLAN for getting organized. Prioritize how you want to spend your time and how you want your home to feel; Liberate, that is, get rid of, the things that don’t fit into those priorities; Arrange your space to achieve your goals; and Nurture what you’ve created. By that she means maintaining your system, and recommends using labels so that it’s easier for everyone to help keep it running smoothly. For people short on time, Kumar suggests starting by putting away all of the items you have that already have a specific home — whatever’s leftover will give a sense of where you need to get started. Then, when you have time, you can implement the plan. “I see a lot of people shop [for organizing supplies] before they do the liberating and then they're trying to organize for too much stuff,” she says.

Entrance exam

We’re all guilty of it. Coming home after a long day, and dumping a bunch of stuff in our entranceway. Kumar says it’s often the most cluttered area. “If there aren't homes for everything, it's a drop and dash instead of a stop and stash,” she explains. But wouldn’t it feel great if the first place you arrived was clean and organized? The first step in getting this area ship-shape she says is thinking about how much space you have, and how many people interact with it. Then, it’s time to set boundaries. “You've got to respect the limits of that space and work with it,” she notes. Maybe it’s saying you can only keep a certain number of pairs of shoes there, and then storing the rest in a more remote location.

Then, it’s time to create a system to house the items you want to live here. So, hang a hook for each person to place their coat on, or consider buying a bench to place in the entryway. You can choose one with storage or not (the former is good to store boots under or even bins for small outerwear). If you go for one with storage, think about what you plan to keep there before you buy. “I like drawers that are not too deep because those become endless pits,” Kumar advises. “If you have a big drawer, that can be where you stash a backpack, but if you’re going to want to do hats and mitts then you need a shallower type of drawer.”

Set the system up for success

Whatever space you are organizing, make sure to consider the capabilities of the people who are using it, notes Kumar. Bins that are placed too high won’t get used regularly, for example, while hooks for coats placed lower down will encourage kids to be more independent because they can reach them. “You definitely want to think about what people are capable of doing and design for that,” says Kumar. “If there’s anything that’s a barrier to comfort, people will just have an aversion to it, and you'll be like ‘why isn’t this working?’ But if it doesn’t feel good, you won't use it.”

Organize your time

If you don’t already have one, get thee a calendar! One that you can access from anywhere, says Kumar. It can be paper or electronic, just choose a system that works for you most of the time.

Then she suggests you ask yourself, “What are your big objectives around how you want to spend your time and how you want your existence to feel?” Once you’ve answered that, take a close look at your calendar and let go of any commitments you've made that are no longer serving those priorities, she explains. “Structure your calendar so there's breath, so you're not running without time to think, and without a buffer for accidents, and also so you can take advantage of wonderful spontaneous things that come up.”

Ready to tackle your home organization project? Remember to check Flipp before you head to the stores to find the products and prices on baskets, benches and more.