It’s no secret that organization is a key to health and happiness. But what if your M.O. has always been a bit on the messier side? Don’t worry! It’s easier to get organized than you think.
You can organize your way to happier, healthier you. This organizing 101 crash course will give you the skills you need to create the space you want. Don’t believe me? Give them a try.
Organizing 101: Creating a Space You Love One Room At a Time
1. Write Things Down
Kind of person that remembers every important detail? Lucky you. For the rest of us, odds are things slip through the cracks. It’s for that reason that in order to get organized — you need to write things down.
This might seem like silly or common-sense advice. But, it’s the key to getting yourself organized. Write down everything. Every scheduled daily regimen (down to the last night time vitamin), every meeting, every phone number, every birthday. Get yourself a planner and keep track of all of the ins and outs of your day. You’ll be shocked at how quickly things start falling into place. If you do it right, you might even find yourself showing up ahead of time to events, parties and family events…that is…if you want to.
You can always spend that extra time not trying to remember stuff getting yourself a coffee or two or three.
Experiment: Write down your ideal morning and nightly routines (to the last minute). For two weeks, stick to those times rigidly. Review. Did things get easier? Did you manage to save any time?
2. Don’t Procrastinate
Even if you write things down, organizing can become difficult if you procrastinate. The longer you put things off, the longer they are going to linger and leave you on edge. Organized things and tackle them as soon as you possibly can. That way, you have more time to do the things you enjoy and don’t have to spend time dwelling on the things that stress you out.
Experiment: For one week, tackle every obstacle or organizational challenge as soon as you become free to do so. After one week, stop and review your feelings. Are things easier to deal with now? Do you feel less stress in your life?
3. Put Everything in Its Place
There’s no doubt about it, clutter = stress. That means that organizing = happiness! When things are put away in the proper order and their proper places, we are filled with a sense of security and peace that you just can’t get from a cluttered mess. Designate places for all those things that clutter up your life. If you don’t have room, consider additional storage, like these bins from Ikea.
Make easy access storage for the things that you use all the time, but don’t be afraid to put those lesser-used things out of sight. They’ll still be their waiting for you, but they don’t need to clutter up your home!
Experiment: Designate a place for all your morning and evening routine materials (ie makeup, vitamins, skin care, bathing materials, etc.). Each morning and each evening, replace these items immediately after use. Repeat for 2 weeks. At the end of the two weeks, review. How do you feel? How does your home look?
4. Only Keep What You Really Need
We humans are creatures of habit and attachment, and that goes double for our stuff. Often, we cling to things for sentimental value or plain laziness alone. Try getting rid of the things that you no longer use. Throw them out or donate them to charity, making room for the things you use on a regular basis. Think of it as making room for all the new things that are inevitably making their way into your life.
Experiment: Go into your garage, junk closet, junk drawer, etc. Throw out all the things that you haven’t looked at, touched, or used in 6 months or more. How much space did you free? How many things did you throw away/give to charity?
5. Keep Going
Organizing isn’t always easy, especially if, like me, you’re a normally scattered person. But organizing is something that not only makes your life easier, but also helps you feel better as well. Spend a little time each day committing yourself to your new organization goals. Set aside time each week to declutter and replace items that have fallen out of place. If you work hard and keep at it, you’ll be organized and stress free in no time. I promise!
Experiment: Think about a moment when you gave up. What would have happened differently if you had only worked a little bit harder?
Let’s apply it.
So, you’ve done the experiments for a couple of weeks and thinned through some of the junk. How can you actually apply these basics to your house.
Sometimes, when it comes to getting organized, less is more. Discover how you, like me, can transform your life through simplifying your home and your organizing patterns.
Why simplify to organize?
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that the less you have, the easier it is to organize. Not only is minimalism a great way to streamline your organization, but it’s also terribly, terribly en vogue. By minimizing your possessions and your clutter, you can transform your home and discover an exciting new array of interior design options.
Some of the immediate benefits of living a more minimal lifestyle:
- Less clutter.
- Save money (no unnecessary shopping).
- Make daily routines simpler and less daunting.
- Realize the full potential of your home / office space.
- Create a sense of peace.
Make a plan.
Whether you are planning to downsize or are just going to try your best with the things you have, you have to start with a plan. Minimizing your clutter doesn’t take much explanation, but the process is more daunting than you would think. It’s important to go into such a move with a firm plan of action and disposal in mind. The steps below are a great way to start decluttering, whether minimizing or not.
Everything Needs Its Own Home
It’s just like your mother or grandmother always said: “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Everything you own needs to have a place to call home, and if it doesn’t you probably don’t need it. Whether its drawer space, outdoor storage, or an interior linen closet, make sure everything has a spot to belong and get stored.
It’s Okay to be Single
Contrary to what some may say, it’s not necessary to own more than 1 of most items. Try to get rid of duplicate items, either through re-gifting, recycling or donating to a local charity.
If You Don’t Use It, Lose It
This is a bit of a spin on the old saying, but it also stands true. Don’t hold onto items that you no longer use. If they’re in good condition, consider passing them on to a friend or coworker, or donating the items to charity. You can even make extra money (perfect near the holidays) by selling your extra items on sites like eBay.
Getting your home organized will always start better if you just accept that it’s a never-ending battle. If you have a family, clutter is going to add up even quicker, so it’s important not to get disheartened and to stay committed to the routines you develop. Take some time every month or so to stop and assess where you’re at. What’s going well? What could go better? What do you need to change?
We don’t always think of shopping when it comes to organizing. Unless, of course, you’re like me and are addicted to shopping for cute organizing tools. Either way, you have to take your shopping habits into consideration before getting started on your organizing journey. Are you an over-shopper? Do you frequently find yourself coming home with items you know you’ll never use or can’t imagine a specific space for in your home? When you are shopping, take a second before you put that pretty top in your cart and ask yourself these 3 questions:
Is this something I’ll use on a regular basis?
Is this item something that you’re going to use all the time. Can you not wait to get it home and use it, or are you picturing the next 18x you’ll get to use your new toy? If the item you’re debating doesn’t seem like something you’ll use very often, maybe it’s better to set it aside. If nothing else, give yourself a 24 hour cooling period.
Do I already have something similar to this?
Think about the items you already own. Are any of them similar to what you want to purchase now? If you already own products that serve the same uses or purposes, give yourself a cooling off period and step away from the purchase. If all else fails, imagine the excess clutter it will add to your home.
Where will I put it at home?
You need to think about where you will potentially store your new purchase. Do you already have a place for it, or are you going to have to make space for it? What will you do with the items that you move? If you don’t have a place for it at home, put the item down and walk away. You can come back and purchase it if or when you’ve made room for it your home (often by getting rid of something else).
Room By Room
So now that you’ve set a game plan, simplified your clutter and curbed your shopping habits, it’s time to get organized. I recommend the little-by-little method, going from room to room and taking your time. This is your chance to really get your home put together and create a new and simple way of doing things.
Kitchens are often the source of much of the homes clutter. Pantries and cabinets offer a perfect place to cast off infrequently used items and forget about them. It’s usually not until the pans come clattering down on our heads that we even realize it’s time to take action!
Tackle your cabinets first and separate the accessories and gadgets that you use most often from the ones you never use. Recycle or donate the items you no longer use, or store them in plastic containers and keep them in an attic or other indoor storage space.
Make sure you take your time pulling everything out of your cabinets and consider investing in cabinet drawers to help simplify your kitchen organizing. This will make your pots, pans and baking items easier to find and easier to access, and it will also utilize your cabinet storage face in a more efficient way.
You can also organize your drawers by investing in drawer organizers, which are a cheap and easy way to make sure all your little cooking accessories stay in place and don’t leave your kitchen looking messy. Simply drop your clean kitchen utensils in the appropriate slots and voila! Simple organization.
Once your cabinets and drawers have been tackled, move on to your pantry and refrigerator.
In the pantry, move older items to the front and newer items to the rear, making sure the older items are getting used sooner (thereby saving you money and making you more efficient). Think about using plastic baskets, shelf organizers and hanging organizers to keep can, packets and boxed labeled, accessible and organized on pantry shelves.
When it comes to the fridge, use the same rotation techniques (older in the front, new in the back), but also make sure food is organized in air-tight containers and appropriate wire baskets and storage drawers. Don’t be afraid to use labels — if needed. Also consider using kitchen printables and meal planners to keep your grocery lists organized and efficient.
Some other helpful places to start:
- Get rid of random plates and dishes that don’t belong in a set.
- Limit your reusable water bottle collection (do you really need more than 5 bottles?).
- Use baskets to store little items like straws, tops, lids, etc.
- Throw out old spices.
- Only buy the food you need.
- Use a counter basket
- for those random bits and bobs that clutter up.
The closet can be a scary and emotional place, so I don’t recommend starting on this one. Start by going through every item and disposing of the items that you no longer wear, need or use. Really take a second to think about your needs and get rid of anything clothing or other miscellaneous items that no longer fit your needs.
Get crafty with your shoe storage and invest in an under-the-bed shoe storage container, or store shoes in fold out organizers and on shelves. Throw out shoes that have gotten worn down over the years and only keep shoes that you could see using in the immediate future. For shoes that are out of season, store in an airtight container and store out of sight in a closet or beneath the bed.
After you’ve gotten rid of the clothing you no longer need, it’s time to tackle the clothing that got left behind. For clothing folded on shelves, use shelf dividers to keep things looking tidy and organized. For clothing that needs to be hung, invest in no-slip hangers. For scarves, belts and other awkward-to-store accessories, consider using leveled hangers to save on space and create an easily accessible display.
Some other helpful places to start:
- Donate items you wouldn’t purchase today in the store.
- Get rid of clothes that no longer fit your “age”.
- Minimize your t-shirt collection to the important ones only.
- Find out exactly how many hangers your closet can hold and only ever use that amount.
- Attempt to buy no new clothes for 6 months. Is it easy or hard? Do you really need the same amount of clothes you thought you did?
Most of the clutter in a bathroom happens beneath the sink, in the shower and on the counter tops. Focus on your problem areas and identify what you will need to resolve those problems. Make a list of all the items you will need to get your bathroom organized.
Cut back on products first. Get rid of old make-up brushes, sponges and any other random clutter that has found its way into your bathroom.
Once you’ve eliminated the clutter, invest in the items you will need to keep your space clutter free. Maybe for the countertop that means getting a few baskets or other decorative organizers to keep hair, skin and perfume bottles organized. For beneath the sink, invest in a caddy or hang your cleaning supplies by using a curtain wire or small shower curtain rod.
Some other helpful places to start:
- Throw away old or expired bottles of perfume, shampoo, conditioner, face wash and any other beauty and health items. If you store your vitamins in the bathroom, discard old and out of date vitamins and medications.
- Store rarely used make up beneath the counter. Keep only daily use cosmetics on the counter top.
- Discard anything unused in the past 6 months.
If your home office is anything like mine, it quickly becomes an extra storage closet and is often the scene of an exceptionally messy desk top. Start just as you would with any other room and purge your office of any items that are no longer being used or are no longer useful. The cleaner your office is the better you will be able to concentrate and the better your productivity will be!
If your home desk doesn’t include file storage space, get a small filing cabinet where you can not only keep your important work documents but also important family documents like health insurance information, mortgage or lease agreements, emergency forms, etc. For more sensitive documents make sure you purchase a filing cabinet with the ability to lock.
Here again, drawer organizersare key to keeping your desk drawers from that cluttered and messy mass of rubber bands, staples and paperclips. Don’t be afraid to get creative here, either, and remember to throw out all the items that are just taking up space.
Some other helpful places to start:
- Assign folders for all your most important documents., ie: insurance, health documents, etc.
- Update important family documents.
- Throw away pens and markers that don’t work.
- Remove items that have no purpose in the office area.
Putting it all together…
With just a little effort, you can simplify your life and your organizing style. By downsizing your life and your clutter, you can get motivated and get your home organized. Take time to thin out and separate the things you no longer need or use. Instead of trying to do everything at once, take a deep breath and create a plan of attack that allows you to successfully conquer one space at a time.
Change doesn’t happen over night. It happens little-by-little. So, if you want to go from sloppy to organized — take a deep breath and take it day-by-day.