It’s that time of the year again! New Year’s resolutions abound, and on most everyone’s list: get organized.
We know because it’s on our list too. We had a funny experience when we were looking for tips online to plan how, exactly, we were going to “get organized.” It seems all of the “home organization tips” blogs out there are actually advertisements for home organizing supplies. What we were looking for was a real, raw, list of what to do, not what to buy.
So we, instead, went to our resident home designer and organization aficionado for 19 home organization tips to help us get our home organized for the new year.
1. Start one room at a time. Choose one room to complete first. Take five minutes to decide what your goals are for the room — what tasks do you want completed in it? Use these goals as a guide for what stays and what gos in the room.
Bring four baskets and a trash bag in with you. Use one basket for items that need to be taken to another room, one basket for things that belong in kids’ rooms, one basket for items to be donated, one basket for items that need to be placed in storage, and a garbage bag for garbage (of course). Put things away in other rooms as you go, then do a final “put-away” when all rooms are completed.
2. Don’t be a stingy donator. Do you really need 4 ice cream scoops? Or two can openers? Do you ever actually use those hot rollers or that electric blanket? If it’s an item that you haven’t needed to replace or use in the past year, it’s probably time to donate.
3. Store duplicates… in storage. Too many notebooks, spare toothbrushes, markers, and kleenex in a room can start to feel cluttered. Keep one or two of necessary items in the room in which they’re needed, then store duplicates in a storage room or closet in clear, labeled storage containers or on a shelf where you can see them.
Keep a list of the items you like to keep in stock and keep a stock of at least 2 month’s worth of supplies. Check those stocks once a month for items you need to replace (instead of trying to replace them as you go, which negates the purpose of storing them in the first place). Make a habit of checking your list of stored items when you’re writing your grocery list, so you don’t accidentally double up on something you already have.
4. Tackle the junk drawers first. And use drawer organizers. Make a goal to tidy these drawers once a month so they stay organized.
5. Designate all-of-a-kind drawers. Corral frequently used items of the same type (like batteries or candles and matches) into a single drawer. This way you can always find them when you need them. It also means you won’t overstock or understock since you can see at a glance what you already have.
6. Use only one type of hangers in each closet. This makes things look and feel more organized Don’t mix plastics with wood and wire. Though you can make an exception for those wooden slack hangers.
7. If you haven’t worn it in over a year, donate it. Keep your current size of pants in your drawers, as well as 2 pairs one size smaller, and 2 pairs one size bigger. But don’t keep an entire wardrobe for every weight you’ve ever been. Get rid of ill-fitting, ragged, or out-dated clothing (donate if possible, or sell if you’re up for a yard sale), and you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to pick out an outfit in the morning.
8. If your shoes don’t fit in a single row, get a shoe rack. If your shoes take up more than one row in your closet, get a shoe rack to display the shoes on different levels so you can see them all at once. It will also consolidate the space needed for your collection.
9. Rethink your winter clothes storage. You only need one or two hats, scarves, and pairs of gloves per person in your household. And only one pair of snowpants and boots each. Store these in an easily accessible, well-labeled seasonal supplies box. Donate the rest (or if you have growing kids, put them in well-labeled containers and store them).
10. Organize sheet sets. Donate or throw away incomplete sets of sheets (including extra pillow cases, lone flat sheets, or sheets that don’t fit any beds that you currently have in the house). While you’re at it throw away pillows that haven’t been used in over a year. Most households only need 1 or 2 extra pillows for the occasional guest.
11. Consolidate your towels. Each home needs only 2 bath towels per person (and one or two for guests), 2 hand towels per bathroom, one beach towel per person, 6 kitchen towels, and enough rags to complete one week of chores (usually 12-15). Throw away ragged towels, and donate gently used ones.
12. Teach your family to fold. Teach your family to fold towels and linens in a uniform way. That way then they’re stacked in the linen closet, they look and feel less like a jumbled mess.
13. Go through the toy box. Kids benefit from a good categorization of toys. Instead of throwing them all into one toy box, consider a shelf, cube storage, or drawers. Separate toys by function and label their designated space accordingly.
A more organized play area creates calmer mindsets for children, increasing focus. It also gives them more structure and instruction when cleaning up, which helps create more organized and structured personal habits in the future.
14. Designate key space. Once and for all, designate a place near the front door for your keys and never lose them again.
15. Style your bookshelves. Open shelves that you see on a daily basis can be stylized instead of just using them for storage. Not only does this look nicer, but it also helps the family subconsciously feel more motivated to put things where they belong on the shelves instead of just shoving things wherever they fit. Learn how to stylize shelves here: http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/1338801/list/handmade-home-how-to-style-your-bookcase.
16. In-Progress Projects Storage. “My husband used to be in the middle of 15 projects at a time… and sometimes I did the same. when we were done working on a project for the day, if it wasn’t completed, we’d put the tools and supplies into a box and tuck it away until we had time to work on it again. That way we were more likely to ‘clean up’ mid-project, and our home didn’t seem like a massive collection of unfinished projects.”
17. Go through your papers. Shred and recycle papers you don’t need any more. Only keep things that you’ll need within the next 6-12 months in your home office area; file the rest in an organized, well-labeled file system in your storage space.
18. Set up “Cleaning Kits.” Organize cleaning kits in handy carrying containers. Maybe you have a “kitchen cleaning kit,” a “bathroom cleaning kit,” and a “dust and polish kit.” Store extra or duplicate cleaning supplies where you can replace them when you run out, but where they won’t be in the way. This will help minimize duplicates and make it an easy grab-and-go when you’re cleaning.
19. Fresh coat. Once everything is tidy, freshen up the paint on the walls of one or two rooms per month, covering up skid marks from kids toys, shoes, and furniture, while patching cracks and holes. You’ll love how fresh and clean a new coat of paint can make a room feel.
Save extra paint in a labeled mason jar or baby food jar for touch-ups — there’s no reason to keep a big gallon-sized can of paint around when there’s only a pint of paint in it.
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