10 Tips for Getting Organized

photo by Rubbermaid Products via Flickr

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.

 

2. Purge

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.

Before Organization

After Drawer Divider

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?


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About Jessica Anne

11 Responses to “10 Tips for Getting Organized”

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  1. MultipleMum says:

    I am in love with this post! It is totally what I needed to read today. “If it isn’t working, change it”. So simple. So true. Why didn’t I think of that?

  2. Kristin @ Peace, Love and Muesli
    Twitter: kristinglas
    says:

    You tweeted or wrote about using your label maker and I had to have one. The toys are sorted. The boxes are labeled. And the kids actually like it. I’m noticing them playing more bc they know where stuff is.

  3. doreen mcgettigan
    Twitter: doreenb8
    says:

    I have had the organizing bug for days now…thanks for sharing the tips!

  4. Lorrie No
    Twitter: Moogirl
    says:

    We have one space for the living room and office. We just bought two sets of cheap Target brand 6-square shelves and use them to organize all the baby toys, some books, and animals for playtime and put a basket of diapers and wipes there too on the side. The top of the 2-level shelves is good for more toys and games. It’s cleaned up our living room quite a bit and hides the ugly tv cables from the wall mounted tv.

    I still need to work on the desk more. I made one pile smaller, but your post made me think about rearranging the office a little so I can make use of one of the file cabinets that I can’t seem to reach right now.

    I need to purge cables and old chargers and organize my scrapbooking, card making, stationary, and cards bin. I need to buy more containers to do the organizing though. My kitchen is in quite good shape. That was my first goal before the baby came.

  5. Moomser
    Twitter: moomser
    says:

    We are SO on the same wavelength! I am in total de-clutter mode. I’m actually writing a post on this now! Saturday the husband and I filled three huge garbage bags with clothes to give away, you should see my underwear drawer! I found some awesome bras from before my first pregnancy hiding under all the maternity crap. I’m attacking all the boxes of baby clothes next, but gave myself a caveat, so I don’t freak out and get all sentimental, I get to keep five items per size per kid that I love. I’ll get rid of those after I’m positive I’m done having babies.
    Thanks for the tips, the only think I’m in doubt over is hiding piles in a box… I’d just have to deal with it later, wouldn’t I?

    • Jessica Anne says:

      Great minds think alike. :) And yay to new bras! I wish I’d have found some. You’re right, the pile in a box is a cheat. But it would look neater at least. Sometimes there are things that you just kind of need close at hand and not filed away. That being said, I did deal with my pile of junk on the desk corner. :)

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