When you stop to look around your home after the holidays, does it seem as though you’ll never find a place for all the new toys and gadgets? Or perhaps your home is just long overdue for some reorganizing. Fear not! With some simple tips for decluttering and rearranging, you’ll set the tone for the whole year and keep your belongings exactly where they should be.
You’ll need to clear out the clutter before you can move on to getting organized. Let’s start here:
- Sort your belongings into Keep, Donate, and Toss piles, which will start the ball rolling as you begin your home’s transformation.
- If you got a new one for a holiday gift, get rid of the old one. Clothing with stains or holes should be replaced with updated versions. Sort through your bookshelves to make room for new books, plus, your local library or school will be grateful for a donation.
- Be sure to deal with your Toss and Donate piles on the same day you made them — if you leave piles sitting around, it might feel even more cluttered than before you started!
- Don’t overwhelm yourself, however: this is not a one-day job. Be realistic about what you can get done. Break it up by room or by area. Living and dining room one day, kitchen and laundry room the next, and then on to the bedrooms.
A place for everything, and everything in its place. That’s important to remember as you move on to organizing: If you can’t find or make a home for it, then it doesn’t belong in your home. Boxes, baskets, jars, shelves; plastic, wicker, wire, glass: There are so many options for neatening your possessions and ensuring they’re readily accessible. Whatever you choose, here are some basics for keeping them organized and functional:
- Put like with like. This seems like a no-brainer, until you realize you have 12 tubes of toothpaste.
- Favorites up front. Things you use the most need to be the easiest to get to.
- Label everything. If you’re not using clear containers, this is an especially crucial step, but even if you are, you can’t go wrong by labeling them. That way no one in your home will have an excuse for not putting things where they belong.
- Break down storage spaces into even smaller units. Drawer dividers separate socks from underwear; under-sink shelves allow you to see how much toilet paper you have left and your cleaning supplies; a table or shelf in your entryway with (labeled!) baskets and bowls will ensure keys, purses, backpacks, and mail can all be found quickly and easily.
Well, some of these aren’t really hacks, but they are ways to maximize your storage, minimize your clutter, and help you get more organized so you can tackle other projects in your life (like decluttering your desk, or getting the kids to pick up after themselves).
- Look up — and down. Under the bed, over the door, on the side of a cabinet, on the landing: These are all places where a box, hook, shelf, or storage unit can be stashed.
- Store neatly. If you have an attic, basement, or garage, be sure you’re (neatly!) storing items there that you use infrequently but need to keep, such as holiday decorations or party supplies.
- Think vertically. Cookie sheets don’t have to lie flat. Shelving doesn’t have to stop at eye level. Re-purpose a hanging shoe organizer for seasonal clothes like sweaters and tank tops. Or an over-the-door organizer for toiletries, freeing up your linen closet shelves for … you got it! Linens!
- Re-purpose. A magazine holder full of pot lids. A spice rack full of beauty supplies. An old dresser drawer with wheels attached slipped under the bed. When you think creatively, you can switch storage meant for one item to a completely different purpose.
If you maintain an office in your home, these tips can help you keep that area organized as well:
- Go paperless whenever possible.
- Color code your files.
- Label the wires leading from your computer, printer, speakers, etc.
- Clear your desk of office supplies. Store them all in drawers or in a storage system similar to what you’ve just done in the rest of your home.
- Set up a bulletin board that holds the day’s priorities.
- Set aside 10 minutes at the end of the day to reorganize and prep for the next day.
Your productivity will go up as your stacks of clutter go down!
Of course, the most important part of this whole process is to stick to it. If you get it out, put it back. If you open it, close it. If it’s dirty, wash it. If it’s damaged, fix it. If you don’t use it, get rid of it. As Benjamin Franklin once said: “For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.”
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