Even You Can Be Organized (No, Seriously, You Can)

So, you’re three envelopes, one rubber-band, and two empty margarine tubs away from being on an episode of Hoarders. Okay, maybe the situation isn’t that extreme, but looking around your house at all the excess stuff makes it all feel a little overwhelming. Lucky for you, Hoarders was cancelled, and getting your house and life organized isn’t the mammoth task you imagine it to be.

If you want to be successful, you’ll have to continually remind yourself throughout the process, Rome wasn’t built in a day. If you set aside a weekend to get your house organized, but continually put that weekend off because the task seems too daunting, you definitely need to break it up into more manageable chunks. This advice will serve you well in most jobs that you put off because of the time and effort needed to complete them. Many small tasks are easier to work through than one big one that feels like it will crush you before you even start.

Where to Begin?

Start small. Work on one room, workspace, or closet at a time. Make that area your goal. Write out a list of these small goals to check off as you complete each one so you can see you’re making progress. Begin with the space that will make the biggest difference in your daily routine. If your family room is out of control with toys, books, magazines, and junk mail strewn from one end to the other and this is where you and your family spend the most time, then start here. Wherever a change from havoc to organization will be most noticeable is the place to begin. Why? Because it’s easier to continue a project and feel motivated to make more progress if we actually see positive results. If we started a diet and lost ten pounds after the first day, we’d be much more likely to stick to it. While that scenario is unlikely, you can make a significant difference in a short time when getting organized.

Home Storage Solutions

De-clutter Ferociously

For many, this is the hardest part – throwing things away. Most of us are more packrat than we like to admit, but hanging onto things we never use and may never need again is what got us in this mess in the first place. Get rid of it! You can’t get organized if you have more stuff than you have room to store it.

As you sort through the space, keep a strong trash bag right beside you. Determine the usefulness of each item. Throw away duplicates. Unless the cost of replacing an item in the future, should the need arise, is prohibitive, toss it. If you hang onto every little thing in your house on the off chance you may need it in the future, you’ll never get rid of anything. Purge!

Of course, some items have sentimental value. For a lot of us, too many things have sentimental value. Choose just a few to keep. One place you’ll probably run into this problem is children’s artwork and school projects. How can you ever throw anything away that little Timmy made with his own hands when he was seven years old? Select a few items to keep, like the ceramic hand print, and take pictures to keep of the rest. Pictures can be stored electronically and won’t need the space that 3-D, papier-mâché capital-T-for-Timmy needs. If he’s old enough, have Timmy help you decide what is important to him.

Have a large plastic storage bin handy for items to drop off at the local charity organization – things you don’t need, but that aren’t necessarily trash. This way you won’t feel so wasteful and you can pass your unneeded things onto someone who will appreciate them. Keep the storage bin in the back of your car. This will make it easier to get it to the charity drop off and will keep you from sneaking items back out.

Compartmentalize Your Life

No, literally.

Use plastic storage boxes, bins, and stackable shelving to organize all those things cluttering up every usable surface in your home. Smaller and medium sized stackable bins are incredibly handy for things like make-up and toiletries; arts and crafts supplies and projects; smaller toys with lots of little pieces; medications; the nuts, bolts, nails and doohickeys from your tool drawer. They can also help keep paperwork and mail from falling victim to daily sprawl. They are open in the front for quick access, and easily fit in closets and corners to keep items together and out of the way. Utilizing vertical space by stacking the containers will keep your house much less cluttered.

Larger bins are perfect for keeping toys off the floor; tools in one, handy place; storing books and magazines in one, convenient location; or for keeping shoes tucked away (stack a few near entryways to keep a clear path).

Extra large stackable bins can store towels, sheets, blankets, and pillows – even outdoor toys. Color-coordinate each bin for one family member or household category: kitchen (stacking bins in kitchen cupboards will make much better use of the space), bathroom, linen, tools, etc.

Storage Bins for Organizing

Clothes Clutter

Our wardrobe is one of the most difficult projects to tackle. For whatever reason, many of us insist on hanging on to clothes we never wear. Up to a point, clothing can have sentimental value, representing how we felt about ourselves at a certain point in our lives, who we loved, maybe a place in time we’d like to get back to.

Get over it! You’ll never look as good in that blouse you wore on your first date with your ex-husband, again. If you want to save your skinny jeans for when you lose weight, go one step further and promise yourself a shopping trip for new jeans when the time comes. Unless it’s a formal dress or suit, get rid of it if it hasn’t left the hanger in over a year.

Utilize the space in your closet with storage bins. You can free up drawer space by keeping socks and underwear in the top bin. Store the clothes you don’t wear often in lower bins. Make a separate stack for shoes.


Baby Steps

If you can work on one room for a few minutes every, or every other day, you’ll soon see results. You’ll wonder why you didn’t do this before. Just keep in mind that to stay organized, you’ll have to implement long-term changes: throwing things away straight off, reminding your family to use their new storage systems rather than leaving their things lying around, and taking the time to put things in their place.


A few additional tips:

Switch to paperless billing where you can.

Put a trashcan in every room.

Go through mail by the trashcan so you can toss junk right away.

Use the spring and fall time changes to clean out places where clutter forms quickly.