Those who know me, know that I love organizing, it is both a hobby and a natural gift that I have. So today I want to share some tips with you on how to attack the clutter and organize your stuff effectively. If you really are serious about organizing and you feel like you don’t even know where to start, I recommend picking a room or a section of your house and then working from there. Pick a new area every week or month and give it a thorough organizing makeover.
Sometimes the best way to do this is to take everything out of the space, put it in a pile and then go through it, getting rid of the stuff you no longer need or want and putting the rest back in an orderly fashion. You can do this step by step by going through one drawer, one box, one shelf at a time.
Read on to see my 7 strategies to organize your home and keep it that way.
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Everything needs a home
This is probably my number 1 tip for organizing. If you establish that every item has a designated place, then you can teach yourself and members of your household (including young children) to put items back into the correct spots. This practice not only keeps things tidy but it also helps you or your family members not constantly lose needed items because you can’t remember where you set them down. The key is to get in the habit of always putting things back in their home after you use them.
For instance, my keys always go in my purse and my purse always goes on the top shelf of my bedroom closet. All the bills we have to pay each month go directly from the mail box to a mail sorter inside my desk cupboard, the kids’ shoes go in the hanging shore holder over their closet door, TV remotes live in a basket on our living room end table, ect.
Bonus Tip: If you need a new perspective about your space, consider reordering the room to freshen up the look and to give you new ideas on where to put objects.
This goes hand in hand with the above point. Grouping items together will keep them organized, easy to go through when you are purging and easy to put back when you are done using them.
For instance, all my husband’s computer cords and parts are in a box together so he can find what he needs when he is fixing a computer. All of our kids’ toys are organized by category and type. All the Disney figurines are in one bin, the blocks are in another bin, the stuffed animals are together in a toy chest etc. All my scrapbooking accessories are organized in cubbies right next to our storage drawers of crafting supplies down in the office space in the basement.
Bonus tip: If our bins and totes of related objects are overflowing, that means we have too much of one type of item. Instead of buying more storage to keep up with the overflow, I go through and pare down that particular container until it can comfortably hold its contents again. The extra items get donated.
Lose the Sentiment
This might sound harsh, but if you want to pare down your material possessions you have to be willing to let them go. There is nothing wrong with saving certain items for emotional, sentimental, nostalgic reasons but make sure that the emotion is really worth taking up space in your home. You don’t want to keep boxes or piles of useless items that you just have a superficial connection to or zero connection to.
Here is what I mean: My husband and I each have a wooden box of letters that we wrote to each other while we were dating long distance- those we will always keep because they filled a whole two years of our lives and they represent the blossoming of our relationship.
On the other hand, I recently went through a huge box of my old papers, journals and creative projects from my girl-hood and school days. Most of them I threw out because I no longer felt a connection to them. A few papers and journals I kept because I was very proud of them and they portrayed the best sampling of my younger accomplishments. They got transferred to a much smaller box and I then had an open tote to use for other storage.
Bonus tip: ask yourself these questions when deciding the emotional value of your treasured possessions:
- Is this an item I have a deep attachment to or a shallow attachment to?
- Is this an item I used to have a deeper connection to and now the connection is not as strong?
- Is this an item I’m going to want to look at again in 20 years or not?
By honestly answering these questions, you should be able to figure out if you really need to keep these nostalgic items around or if they are just taking up space.
Out with the old, in with the new
It’s much easier to keep organized if you have less instead of more. If you are able to keep about the same amount of items in your home at all times, you can better maintain organization and have space for all of it without being overcrowded. If you want to freshen up your decor or buy new clothes, try to get rid of the old pieces at the same time that you bring in the new replacements. Throwing away, recycling, donating or selling old or unwanted items are great ways to make space for new items without adding stuff.
Bonus tip: If you have items that are still in good condition you can try to sell them through a garage sale, Ebay, Craigslist or other local sales outlets such as Facebook consignment groups.
Play hide and seek
There are some types of clutter you just have to keep, such as paper clutter like tax forms, insurance policies, shopping coupons, recipes, kids’ art work, school and work forms. Other items that tend to accumulate are junk drawer type items like tape, thumb tacks, receipts, notes and scissors. If you don’t have a place for them, they can take over your counter or table space. My solution is to play the hide and seek game.
Use envelopes, binders and dividers, filing cabinets, baskets and drawer organizers to reorder all these items and consider keeping them out of sight. Categorize the items so they are easier to find. Use a binder for tax documents, another for recipes, another for each insurance policy ect. Find a space under your bed, in a cupboard or a closet shelf to hide unsightly clutter and keep it that way.
Also don’t forget to go through those binders/drawers/envelopes once or twice a year to weed out the outdated information when it’s not longer needed.
Bonus tip: Do you use coupons for eating out or shopping? Cut them out and put them in a manilla envelope or a thin binder and stick out of sight under the front seat in your car. Then when you go to purchase something they are already in your car so you don’t forget or lose them.
Purge often and don’t look back
No matter how hard we try, our homes continue to accumulate stuff and if we don’t watch out, the clutter and chaos will take over our space again. So ideally, once you give your house a major organizational overhaul once, you can keep it that way by purging and reorganizing on a regular basis but on a much smaller scale. I usually go through our things every few months whenever I start to notice the disarray piling up.
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Particularly during times of the year where we are accumulating many new gift items like after Christmas or birthday celebrations, I use those opportunities to pare down and rearrange the parts of our house that tend to get cluttered such as the playroom areas.
My general rule is to get rid of items if we haven’t used them in the past year or if they are broken, outdated or outgrown. This rule applies to toys, appliances, clothes, movies, decorations, books, furniture, tools, dishes, knick knacks, electronics, and pretty much anything else you have around.
Bonus tip: sometimes all your room needs is a little rearranging and re-straightening to make it look more organized. Messy piles of books, clothes, and papers can give a cluttered look but a little restacking/rearranging can make all the difference.
Make it pretty
Making your space pretty and uniquely your style is the last part of organizing. It’s way more fun to put your house in order if you have pretty totes/baskets/shelves/dividers to use. They are a great way to again hide those unsightly items and to give your rooms a cohesive look.
There are so many different options out there, here are just a few of my favorites:
Bonus tip: Buying storage containers that match your decor and style will add a lovely element to each space you organize.
*I’m linking up with some of these parties.