Hint: It’s as easy as making a simple request.

By Lauren Phillips
January 28, 2019
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If there’s such a thing as the home maintenance Olympics, anyone who can follow organizing tips and stick to them for more than a few weeks should win a gold medal. Or a silver, at the very least. Because, as anyone who has tackled an organizing project will agree, the challenge doesn’t just lie in getting rid of clutter—it also lies in maintaining a clutter-free, organized space.

Even followers of Marie Kondo and her spark joy mantra will realize that, once the excess is gone, there are still items that need to be corralled, sorted, and organized. Professional organizers swear by systems: methods of containing, and then maintaining, possessions in ways that work for each individual. Setting up those systems can be easy, especially if it’s done in collaboration with a pro; maintaining them, especially once the pros are gone, is where many people run into trouble.

Fortunately, Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin, the verified organizing pros at The Home Edit, shared a solution with Real Simple—and this organizing tip is actually incredibly easy to follow. Shearer and Teplin swear by Alexa, Amazon’s smart home device personal assistant, for tackling everything from coordinating their work calendars to building to-do lists, and they revealed a way Alexa can also assist in organizing, no special add-ons necessary.

It’s as simple as asking Alexa (or even a reliable friend) to remind you to clear out the pantry, hall closet, or linen closet three or four months after your initial toss-and-sort endeavor. “For on-going management and maintenance, it’s a really amazing tool,” Shearer says. (An Alexa-enabled smart home assistant is available for as little as $30. To buy: Amazon Echo Dot, $30; amazon.com.)

Asking Alexa for a reminder eliminates the need to add yet another event to an already overbooked calendar; it automates a step in the maintenance process that can be daunting, especially for areas that only need to be cleaned out every several months or so. Established organizing systems in more high traffic areas, like the kitchen pantry, should be assessed and maintained every four months or so, while those that accumulate less clutter, like the hard-to-access attic, can be checked on once or twice a year. Who wants to scroll through six months of calendar in order to schedule a decidedly unexciting cleaning project? Using a smart home assistant, it is as easy as making a quick request. 

Breaking down a maintenance-focused clean-up into even smaller steps, even those that can be accomplished on a weeknight, is also possible. Shearer and Teplin suggest having Alexa create a checklist of what, exactly, needs to be done in each space; tossing expired pantry items or broken or damaged holiday decorations is a great place to start.

Small reminders—and regular, smaller-scale clean-outs—can be much less daunting than a whole-house purge. If a major, Marie Kondo–style assessment is necessary, following a regular maintenance guide makes it so you never have to spend a weekend going through every storage spot in the house again.