I’ve gotten the organization bug this year. It’s time to get this house in order. The crap all over drives me nuts. It messes with my zen and puts my Feng Shui out of kilter. It makes me twitchy. When I’m twitchy, I’m also something that rhymes with twitchy. I’ve had to accept after five years, our house is not suddenly going to sprout another room or two. Five people, fifteen hundred square feet, no basement, no attic. When I look around at all the junk, I imagine our house like a cartoon, bulging and straining at the seams until it suddenly explodes, sending all our junk all over the neighborhood. It could happen.
So it’s time to get organized. I’ve gotten a pretty good start. Here are some tips for getting things organized that work for me.
1. If it’s not working, change it.
(I read this on a blog that I can’t remember if it’s you or someone you know, let me know so I can properly attribute.)
Brilliant. And duh. If there’s an area of your house that is driving you nuts, figure out a way to change it. Even if you’ve previously organized it.
Get rid of things you don’t need, want, or use.
Go through your closet, if it’s the wrong size, get rid of it. Don’t hold onto something hoping you’ll lose all the baby weight if it’s been a couple years since you had the baby. When you lose the weight, then get new stuff. If you haven’t worn it in a year, get rid of it. If you put it on it doesn’t fit quite right or hang right or you feel awkward in it, get rid of it.
Get rid of duplicates. Do you have two blenders because you got them for your wedding and didn’t get a gift receipt and they were both new so you couldn’t part with them? Get rid of one. Do you have multiple dish sets you could purge? I got rid of my everyday dishes, which is another blog post, but it made it so I don’t have sippy cups falling on my head every time I open a cupboard. Maybe you have more pots and pans than you need, or extra small appliances you thought you really needed but you don’t use. Get rid of them.
Have a garage sale, give them to charity, drop them on your neighbor’s driveway. Whatever, just get them out of your house.
3. Deal with the Toys
This is purging, but let’s be honest, the toys have taken over our homes, they deserve a separate mention. Get rid of things that you’re kids are too old for. If you’re youngest is two, and you’re done having kids, you do not need toys designed for a non-mobile infant. Get rid of them. Get rid of toys that are missing pieces or broken. Get rid of toys your kids don’t play with. Even if you really, really, really like them. Even if you bought them the cutest, softest stuffed white rabbit with long floppy ears for Easter and they never once played with it. Even that rabbit. Get rid of it. And the dried up Play-doh you find in the bottom of the toy box under the rabbit.
If you must, do it when the kids are asleep. But do it. I’m not telling you to get rid of their favorite things, even if they’re ratty with holes and they kind of smell. Kids like that smell. But do get rid of broken, unused, and outgrown toys.
Then organize the toys in stations. Just like they do in preschool. Musical instruments in one area, dress up clothes in one area, stuffed toys in another area, books somewhere else. You get the idea. It makes it easier for the kids to find what they want to play with and it makes it easier for them to put away. Win-win.
4. Get Containers
Figure out what needs to be in a container, buy an appropriate container with a lid, and put it away. I have new hair clip, hair binder, Play-doh, flour, sugar, granola, and art supply containers. Figure out what you need and get it.
5. Think Vertical
Utilize wall space more effectively. I’m not saying cover every square inch with stuff, but consider a few hooks. It can help get things off the floor. Maybe a coat rack near the door, some hooks for backpacks, towel hooks in the bathroom at child level, or hooks in the kitchen for aprons or reusable grocery bags. Maybe a wall calendar instead of one on the desk. Think about what could be hung out of the way and get some hooks.
6. Clear the Counters
Nothing will make your house seem cleaner and more organized than clear counter space. Putting things in containers that can be stacked helps. Try putting things away that you rarely use. For me, it was our coffee maker. I got it as a wedding gift, thinking I might have people over that wanted some coffee. Turns out, that rarely happens. Sean and I don’t drink coffee, but it was sitting on my kitchen counter taking up space. It is now in a box in the garage. I didn’t want to part with it, it does get used on occasion, but not often enough to deserve a spot on my counter. Counterspace is prime real estate. The stuff on it needs to earn the right to be there.
7. Deal with the Piles
Have a pile of papers on your desk? If you don’t want to deal with them, find a container to conceal them. An opaque container so you can’t see the mess inside. Get magazine holders instead of piling magazines on the corner of your desk or nightstand. Buy some bookends to keep the books you’re reading neatly organized instead of piled up somewhere. It may not actually be super organized, but it will look that way.
8. Maximize Storage Space
Get some drawer dividers for the kitchen for the utensils. Maybe a shoe rack is in order, hanging or on the floor, depending on what you’ve got. Get an under the bed box for things you don’t use often or bulky items. They make them with wheels if you need to get at them frequently. Get dividers for the sock and underwear drawers so they aren’t just all piled up.
9. Label Things
Put labels on things so they wind up in the right place. Label your sugar, flour, kitchen bulk items. Label bins for the kids’ toys so they get back in the right spot. You don’t need to go crazy, but some labels are nice. You can make them by hand out of paper, you can write on a piece of masking tape, you can use blank address labels, or you can use a label maker (maybe one with fancy designs, they’re kind of fun.)
10. Keep It Up
Once you have things organized, make the effort to put things away. It only works if you use it. If you’re not using it, than it’s not working. See tip 1.
Are you in an organizing mode right now? What are some of your tips?