How to organized home?

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After living in our house for seven years, I feel like I finally have systems in place for all of the major elements in our home… just in time to move and start all over again. 🙂 Because I don’t want to spend another seven years figuring out systems in our new house, though, I tried to look at our current home and pinpoint the essential organized areas that keep it running smoothly so that I know what to focus on in our new space. And since it would be awfully selfish of me to keep my findings to myself, I thought I’d share them with you in case you’re looking to get more organized as well!

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

The 10 Organizational Systems that Keep Our House Running Smoothly

1. Paperwork

If you are like us, you have oodles and oodles of paperwork that enters your house on a daily basis. It never stops! There was a point in our lives where we really struggled to keep up with the inflow of paper because we were lacking a solid system.

And then we went paperless. And it has been the best thing we possibly could have done.

our favorite scanner

Basically, Donnie is in charge of scanning any incoming paperwork that we may need to reference in the future. He then files it digitally in a system we have set up in Evernote, and then we can discard the paper originals. We don’t have any filing cabinets stuffed full of bills and medical records; everything is digital. You can read more about how we manage our paperless system in this post.

Just when we thought we had the whole paperwork thing under control, though, our kids went to school. I have never seen so much paper come home in my entire life. Eeek. Once we realized how much paper they were bringing in the door daily, we realized that we needed a system for that too. After a little trial and error, we found a way to minimize their paper clutter, display their proudest pieces, and file some of our favorite items for future perusal. I explain our system for handling kids’ school paperwork in this post.

2. Schedule

One of the other areas that Donnie and I quickly learned that we needed a system for was organizing our schedule. It only took a few double booked appointments for us to realize that we needed to get on the same page, and fast. The easiest way we’ve found to do this is to utilize a shared Google calendar. We both add pertinent appointments to the digital calendar, and both of us can access it from our phones and computers. This way before we schedule anything, we can easily check to see if there are any other events that would interfere and we avoid the double booking problem.

Since I am a pen and paper girl at heart, I also keep a paper planner that I use on a day to day basis for my own notes, time blocking, goals, and plans.

3. Kitchen Supplies

Now let’s get down to our “stuff.” The kitchen, as they say, is the heart of the home, and it is also one of the first areas that can become unruly on the organization side of things! With so many gadgets, utensils, appliances, and pieces of dinnerware, cabinets and drawers can fill up fast.

acrylic organizer | contact paper

The number one thing I’ve done to combat this is to purge ruthlessly. I got rid of items I had multiples of. I ditched anything I wasn’t using often. I threw away or donated any specialty gadget whose purpose could be met by something else (for example, my grill or oven could take the place of my George Foreman grill, so it got the boot).

storage containers | mint bin | magic bullet

After purging, I was really intentional about how I filled my cabinets and drawers, placing the items I used most often within easy reach and the pieces I use more sporadically up higher. You can take a tour of all of our kitchen cabinets and drawers in this post.

4. Food

While we’re talking about the kitchen, the food also needs to be organized! I store dry goods in my pantry, which we made more functional with ALGOT shelving from IKEA. Once the shelving was in place, I used a combination of baskets, risers, and storage containers (with labels!) to organize the food in the most efficient way possible. More details about our pantry can be found in this post.

storage containers | spice jars

Our refrigerator is the second piece in the food organization puzzle, and though it is small, we’ve found ways to maximize the space using carefully chosen bins and specific placement for different types of food items. I wrote all about our organized refrigerator in this post.

5. Clothes

Clothes are another thing that can easily take over every drawer, closet, and extra nook and cranny in the house! I feel like we finally got our clothes under control when we applied the KonMari method, first purging everything that we didn’t absolutely love, and organizing the remainder. Donnie and I share one small-ish closet in the master bedroom and organize our clothes by type:

We use the filing method for our folded clothes to keep our drawers neat and organized. You can see a step by step explanation of how I fold our clothes this way in this post.

Since we have two boys, hand-me-downs are another thing we have to keep organized around here. I use plastic drawers and a labeling system to keep all of the different sizes straight, and you can snag my free printable labels in this post.

similar drawer

6. Coats and Outerwear

We live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where we experience four (sometimes fairly extreme!) seasons, so we have coats and jackets in just about every weight to accommodate the unpredictable weather. We each keep our go-to coat of the season in the mini-mudroom we created on the main level of our house:

All other coats are stored in a nook in the basement, which is right beside the door we use most often to enter and exit our house for easy access. I keep a bin for gloves and hats in this nook as well, so we can easily find what we need to bundle up in the winter. More information about our coat storage system can be found in this post.

7. Office and Craft Supplies

For the first few years that we lived in our house, I didn’t have a dedicated space for my craft and office supplies, and it drove me bonkers! Since I was trying to squeeze them in anywhere I could, they inevitably ended up all over the place and I could never find what I needed. A few years ago, though, we rearranged some of our spaces and I finally got an office of my own! I use a combination of open shelving + storage baskets to hold the majority of my supplies:

silhouette | laminator | baskets (similar) | bins | bookshelves | cube unit

I also have a few drawers to hold smaller items like paper clips, hole punches, sticky notes, etc.:

And finally, my closet holds most of my craft supplies (and extra pillows, of course!):

clear bins | cream bins

8. Toiletries

I’ve tried a few different under-the-sink organization methods, but our current setup seems to work the best for our needs. I use small plastic drawers to hold the majority of the items under our master bathroom sink:

And a combination of various bins to organize everything under the guest bathroom sink:

More details about our under-the-sink organization can be found in this post.

9. Seasonal Decor

I am not even a huge seasonal decorator (other than Christmas– then I go all out! 😉 ), but I still have several bins of seasonal decor that we store in our garage. As I’ve said with many of the other areas, the biggest thing I do is purge these bins on a regular basis. There is no reason to store items that I’m not going to use. I also use labels to tell me what is in each bin so that I can locate what I need quickly, and you can snag those in this post.

10. Toys

Finally, this area my not apply to every single house, but if you have kids (or pets!) toys can be one of the most challenging things to organize. My kids are currently 7 & 4 and I feel like I’ve tried about every system on earth to organize their stuff! We still have days when the house feels overrun with toys, but for the most part, we are able to keep them organized with 1) frequent purging; 2) labeled bins for smaller toys:

storage unit (similar) | bins (similar)

And 3) open shelving for larger items:

I used to keep these large toys on the floor, and they drove me bonkers. The open shelves were exactly what we needed to keep the big toys organized, and I tell the Cs that they can only have the big toys that fit on these shelves, so if they get something new, something old has to go. #meanmommy 😉

So those are the 10 main areas where intentional organizational systems have been absolutely essential for us! Now, there is not one perfect organizational system that will work for every family or every house– I’m sure some of ours will look similar in our new house and some will be quite a bit different! But if your goal is to get organized, hopefully this list can help you get started and know which areas to focus on to help make your home run as smoothly as possible.

Are there any other areas you would add to my list? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Have a wonderful day!

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

8 Organization Strategies For Your New House

Laura Gaskill, Houzz Contributor

When it comes to clutter and organizing, so often we start looking for solutions only once things have gotten completely out of hand. But if you’re moving into a new place, why not take this as an opportunity to do things right from the get-go? By putting these eight organizing systems in place at the beginning, it’ll be easier to keep things organized for the long term.

How To Organize Your Kitchen Drawers

1. Labels. The truth is, much of the labeling you see in beautifully styled home photos isn’t really necessary. However, there are times when it can be a real game changer. For instance, if you store your spices in a drawer, having labels on the lids means that you can find what you need at a glance instead of hunting through the jars. A simple roll of masking tape and a Sharpie can make quick labels in a pinch, and they’re ideal for labeling leftovers in the fridge or freezer with the name and date.

2. Small stuff sorters. Medications, first aid supplies, craft items, spare lightbulbs — every household has its share of little stuff. These kinds of items, which tend to come in all sorts of odd shapes and sizes, can quickly cause chaos in closets and drawers. Prevent toppling piles by stowing little things inside labeled boxes, which can be stacked on shelves.

3. Entryway landing zone. A neat spot to stash your belongings when you arrive home is essential. Without it, those coats, shoes, bags and papers will spread throughout the house in a heartbeat. A bench, shelving, wall hooks and shoe storage will keep everything contained and out of the way.

The most important thing when it comes to setting up your entryway is to decide on a specific spot to store each item you typically come home with — mail in a tray, keys in a basket, shoes on a shelf and so forth. If you’re extra vigilant about putting items where they belong right from the start, soon it will become a habit, and you won’t have to think about it at all.

Browse More Inspirational Entryway Photos

4. Giveaway collection basket. A sturdy basket, bin or tote bag is useful for collecting stuff bound for the charity shop. So often, we hold on to clutter simply because there’s no clear route to getting it out of the house. Having a dedicated spot to gather items we no longer want or need makes the clutter-clearing process more straightforward. When it’s full, just grab it and go.

5. Simple filing system. With the option to get paperless bills and statements, the amount of paperwork you have to file at home may not be much, but don’t let this lull you into thinking that you don’t need a filing system. Folders labeled in broad categories that make sense to you (car, home repairs, taxes) will help ensure that you have what you need at your fingertips. If you feel that you don’t have enough paper storage to justify purchasing a traditional filing cabinet, file boxes are just as functional, and you can use more or fewer as needed. Whatever filing system you choose, be sure to keep it in an easily accessible spot. If it’s too hard to use it, you probably won’t.

6. Laundry system. Simple is usually best when it comes to laundry, but there are a few small additions to your laundry area that can really help: a small basket to temporarily hold socks without mates, a dish to collect items emptied out of pockets, and a few extra baskets or bags to separate delicate and dry-clean-only items. If you have a lot of hand-wash items, you may also want to invest in a collapsible drying rack that can slide away when not in use.

7. Wall-mounted tool storage. In any storage area — whether it’s a garage, broom closet or basement — storing items off the floor is key for two reasons: It keeps things neat, and it protects your belongings from dampness. Long-handled tools can snap into wall-mounted holders, while other items rest on shelves.

Need Organization Help? Work With a Professional Organizer

8. Home maintenance schedule. If you’re a new homeowner, take the time early on to find the pros you want to work with and put regular home maintenance tasks (clean gutters in spring and late fall, check heating and cooling systems) on your calendar. Being organized about home maintenance will help the systems of your house run more smoothly and can prevent major problems down the road.

8 Organizational Systems That Will Make Your Life A Lot Easier

Getting organized isn’t always the hard part — it’s staying organized that’s the doozy. It’s why not just organizing, but developing organizational systems that you will actually stick to are so incredibly important when it comes to keeping things in your life streamlined and efficient.

The thing about organizational systems (for example, a process that you always stick to when it comes to how you put your clothes away) is that a little extra work up front means a lot less work overall. It’s the difference between a little daily maintenance and having to spend an entire weekend cleaning out your closet because you let the mess go so very far.

And it’s a lesson that took me a long time to learn. In fact, I didn’t start really organizing my life until I started having a lot of unexpected medical issues, which meant a lot of random yet super important paper work started flooding into my mailbox each week. I basically needed to develop a system for filing and organizing lest I lose something crazy important, and as soon as I realized how completely revolutionary this way, I was an organizational system convert.

If you’ve started to feel like clutter and disorganization are getting the best of you, here are eight super helpful organizational systems that will help you majorly keep things together.

1. A Command Center

You’ve probably seen them on Pinterest, but if you haven’t, all a “command center” really means is a centralized location in your home where important information is displayed. It’s where you can keep a hanging wall calendar, a running list of things you need from the store, and things like the Wi-Fi password. If you have multiple members of your household you can also include a box for each person’s incoming mail or for things you don’t want to lose, like your keys.

2. A Proper Filing System

White + Aqua Stow 3-Drawer File Cabinet, $229, Poppin.com

Investing in a filing cabinet is probably the single most important thing I have ever done for my personal organization. It meant I suddenly had a centralized location to keep things like bank information, eye prescriptions, and remote control directions, as well as fun momentos like birthday cards that I wanted to keep without creating clutter. Blogger and Slow Your Home podcaster Brooke McAlary recommends investing in a filing cabinet for all of the various papers in your home. For those new to an organizational system, she says to go through your space and grab every single item of paper clutter, and then spend time putting it in the appropriate file category.

3. A Mail System

In a piece for Good Housekeeping, Cheryl Eisen, home stager and President of the Interior Marketing Group, said she subjects every piece of mail that she gets to the “two F’s test.” If you can’t file it or frame it, then you should toss it asap. This will save you sorting through a pile of mail on the weekend, or worse, losing something important.

4. A Follow Up Box

Stacking Multiform Letter Tray, $8.95, Ultoffice.com

This is a personal tip that helps me ensure I never lose anything important or that needs attention. I keep a “follow up” box on my kitchen table for mail I need to address immediately, like bills or RSVPs. That way I don’t need to waste time looking for things when I actually have time to deal wit them.

5. E-mail Folders

Keeping things decluttered doesn’t just have to be about your physical space; it can be about your virtual space as well. In a piece for Apartment Therapy, personal organizer Jeni Aron strongly recommended creating email folders for all your different projects and information so that you don’t waste any time searching through hundreds of files for a single email. “You can do this with doctors, kid’s school emails (sort by year, teacher, kid) and every other area of your life. When the project or year is over, go nuts with deleting,” Aron said.

6. To Do List

This might seem super obvious, but it’s worth mentioning because it’s so incredibly helpful. In a piece for Forbes, productivity expert Vanessa Loder noted that to-do lists are extremely important in terms of keeping ourselves organized because they help us prioritize. However, she also stressed the importance of not overwhelming yourself with too many list items (in fact, she recommended keeping it to three, even though I personally like to keep track of every little thing in one place), and said to do the most important thing first. That way you’ll already have accomplished the most necessary list-item, even if you don’t get to everything.

7. A Personal Calendar

If a “command center” style wall calendar isn’t for you, you should probably consider a personal planner or a digital calendar system. A piece on OrganizeYourWorld.net on the effective use of personal calendars stressed the importance of keeping things simple. They noted that having too many calendars can be just as useless as not having one at all, as the more calendars you have to synch and update, the higher the likelihood something will fall through the cracks. They recommended sticking to a single calendar if you can, and two at most for work and home.

I personally like to keep all important dates and appointments in my calendar and keep a running to do and “to buy” list in a separate place, so that way whenever I find myself at the store I don’t have to worry about not remembering something I needed.

8. A System For Jewelry

A Real Tree Come True Jewelry Stand, $39.99, Modcloth.com

I find that unorganized jewelry is one of the fastest ways to forget what you have and to never actually end up wearing it. I started keeping my necklaces on a jewelry tree and everything else in a hanging organizer. That way I not only can easily see what I own, but nothing every gets annoyingly tangled.

Don’t let organization intimidate you. Just carve out a day to set up a few basic systems, and prepare to spend way less time cleaning and decluttering.

Images: Pexels (5)

The Lifehacker’s Ultimate Guide to Room-by-Room Organization

Many people wish they could be more organized. Whether you’re an older adult who has downsized (or perhaps you’re enjoying a freshly-empty nest), a college student with a ton of belongings crammedclosetorg into a very tiny space (that you just happen to have to share with a roommate), a young couple just beginning a life together and wanting to start out on the right foot with an organized home, or a frazzled parent who sees no end to the nonstop cycle of cleaning up while your kids are in the process of making an even bigger mess, this guide’s for you.

Because so many of us want to be more organized, but simply don’t know where to begin, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to organization hacks for every room of your home. Why get organized? Well, for starters, you’ll save tons of time you’d otherwise spend sorting through the clutter to find what you’re looking for. Not to mention, a clutter-free home is less stressful – both for you and the rest of your family (or roommates). Even if you live alone, these life hacks for room-by-room organization are sure to leave you feeling more relaxed and accomplished.

On This Page:

  1. Organization Hacks for the Living Room
  2. Organization Hacks for the Kitchen
  3. Super Organization Tips and Tricks for Your Office
  4. Organization Hacks for the Bedroom
  5. Get a Grip on Closet Organization
  6. Dining Room Organization Made Simple
  7. Messy Bathrooms No More
  8. Tricks and Hacks for Organized Play Spaces
  9. Laundry Room/Mud Room Organization Tricks
  10. Organization Hacks for the Dorm Room

Organization Hacks for the Living Room

The information and resources in this section will have you on your way to an organized, spacious living room (no matter how small) that suits the many purposes for the space.

Photo courtesy of Classic Remodeling & Construction, Inc. in Johns Island, SC

Prioritize flow. When designing the layout of your living room (or any other space, for that matter), think about how you’ll likely move through the room and ensure that your furniture layout doesn’t interrupt the natural flow of traffic.

Set up different areas depending on how they are used. For example, if you use one area of your living space for watching television, designate an area for this purpose with seating, and create a separate area for socializing and conversing with friends and family.

Make sure your living room has enough seats so that no one has to sit on the floor. Once you’ve determined how many seats your living room should have, you can plan the seating arrangement to maximize space utilization. (Hint: The number of seats in your living room should have at least as many chairs as your dining room table has, if not a few more.)

Install some ceiling shelves to store things like books, picture frames, and other items that you probably don’t need to use every day. To take advantage of this tip, install built-in shelves that hang down from the ceiling. The best part of this hack? All that shelving space takes up zero needed space, and it looks pretty nice, too. This hack can be used in any room in the home.

An adjustable table pulls double-duty as a coffee table and kitchen/dining table. Short on living room space? Does your living room often double as your dining room, with your family enjoying meals while relaxing and watching TV? If that sounds like you, this adjustable table hack from Lifehack.org is your dream come true.

Disguise and hide unsightly items like litter boxes inside furniture. Got cats? Small living space? No problem. This article explains that you can hide both the box and some of the unpleasant odors that come with it by hiding it discreetly (but within kitty access) in a cabinet.

Store magazines and books in decorative baskets, and use open shelving to store both books and a few decorative items. This article also offers tips for minimizing clutter by sticking to one decorative theme and not showcasing too many different collections.

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Organization Hacks for the Kitchen

The kitchen is one of the most difficult-to-organize areas in the home. The tips and resources in this section will help you figure out how to store all those pots and pans, organize your ever-expanding lid collection, and discover more storage space where you didn’t think you had any.

Photo courtesy of Bay Cities Construction in Los Angeles, CA

Follow this guide to organize your refrigerator like a pro, placing different types of items on the shelves and in the drawers where they’ll fare best. Of course, having a place for everything means no more fridge clutter and no more endless searching for that jar of pickles that’s stashed in the back of the fridge behind a few dozen other containers. Check out this article for a before-and-after refrigerator makeover. If you’re looking for more refrigerator sanity-saving advice, The Kitchn offers up some professional fridge organization suggestions, too.

Attach a magazine rack to the inside of a cupboard to easily store those pesky lids for your pots and pans. Few things in life are more frustrating than trying to find a place for all those loose lids among your carefully stacked pots and pans; this hack from Get Organized Wizard saves the day.

A lazy Susan is the kitchen organizer’s must-have tool. These can be used in any cabinet to make items more organized and easier to reach, but they’re a definite must for storing sticky or easily spilled items. That’s because you can quickly pull out and empty a lazy Susan for a good cleaning, while cleaning the inside of a kitchen cabinet isn’t always so speedy and straightforward.

Use tension rods to create dividers in kitchen cabinets. This allows you to place things like cutting boards and baking pans in their own slots, saving you time digging through a stack of kitchenware every time you need something.

Take charge of your kitchen junk drawer once and for all. Add a drawer organizer and group like items together. Small containers work wonders for keeping tabs on your supply of tiny items like pushpins, rubber bands, paper clips, and twisty ties.

Use that tiny space between the refrigerator and the wall or cabinets it sits next to as a thin, vertical storage option for small items like spices. This article shows a great example of a slide-out storage option created with a fashionable chevron pattern to spice up the look.

Paint the inside of a pantry door with chalkboard paint and use chalk to keep a running shopping list that never runs out of paper. As a bonus, it’s out of sight when the pantry is closed, and even if a guest catches you with it open, the chalkboard trick makes it both chic and classy.

The “zone” concept works exceptionally well for organizing your pantry, as well. This article from Better Homes and Gardens breaks down the how-to. And don’t forget to de-clutter and purge all those expired and outdated items.

Store your measuring spoons in a jar near the stove. This makes them easy to grab in the moment as they’re within reach, and it looks both cute and orderly.

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Super Organization Tips and Tricks for Your Office

Offices are often among the most cluttered areas of the home, with mail, documents, files, and office supplies galore to sort, stack, and keep track of. The information and resources in this section will help you figure out how to maximize your storage space, create storage even if your office has no closet, and keep your desk clutter-free.

Photo courtesy of Boudreaux Design Studio, Inc. in Miami, FL

Establish work zones. Like designating areas of your living space for certain activities, the same can be achieved in your office space. Where do you file papers? Where do you work at your computer? This article suggests a main workspace, such as your desk, a reference area for filing cabinets, binders, and shelves, and a supply area, which may consist of a closet, shelves, and drawers.

Use a combination of bins and shelves to organize. This is especially helpful if your office space lacks a closet for storage. Bins can be anything that coordinates with your office décor, such as baskets or sleek metal bins, and you can label them with attractive tags or signs so you know exactly what belongs where.

What to do with all those magazine articles you’d like to save for later reference? Create a separate storage file for dated, long-term storage, or scan them into your computer to cut down on the amount of paper you need to find space for. This article also offers additional tips for keeping not only your office organized, but your workday, too.

Keep two document trays on your desk: one for items that have just come across your desk that need to be reviewed or dealt with, and another for items you’ve already looked at but still need to address.

Color-code your filing system. This article suggests a color-coded filing system for easily keeping track of what documents relate to what, so that you can easily find important files when you need them. HGTV suggests five color-coded categories, including green for financial documents, red for medical documents, orange for personal documents, yellow for insurance, and blue for documents and files related to your home.

A mini magnetic strip bulletin board is the perfect tool for attaching important notes and memos right by your desk. This article also offers an abundance of organization tricks and hacks for organizing files, prioritizing email, and more to keep your work space in check.

Stack mason jars in a pyramid-like shape on their sides to create instant, organized storage for pens, pencils, markers, and other odds and ends that you need to have at arm’s reach on top of your desk. This setup will match practically any décor, and it keeps your essential items both organized and readily available.

Get a label maker that’s easy to use. It will become your partner-in-crime. Labeling everything means that everything has a designated space – including sections of drawer dividers, shelves, bins, cabinets, filing cabinet drawers, and even individual cubbies in your desktop organizer.

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Organization Hacks for the Bedroom

Your bedroom should be a clean, clutter-free, serene space where you can relax. Too often, it’s a catch-all for clothes that don’t fit in the closet, laundry that needs to be done, and stored items that somehow seem to keep creeping out from under the bed where you thought they were out of sight, out of mind. These tips and resources will help you gain control over the mess once and for all.

Photo courtesy of Organic Healthy Cleaning & Painting in Union City, NJ

Make use of your vertical wall space by adding some built-in shelves that add both a charming, classy look and valuable storage space. This article also offers suggestions such as building a custom headboard that offers built-in storage.

Don’t waste the space under your bed, but do keep your under-bed storage organized. It’s easy to take the “out of sight, out of mind” approach and simply stuff unneeded items under the bed, but you’ll be much happier when you can find what you need without sorting through endless piles of shoes, slippers, and out-of-season clothing (not to mention the dust bunnies that will inevitably come along for the ride) just to find one item. To keep it organized, store like items together in labeled containers with lids (to keep those dust bunnies at bay).

Make your own DIY storage ottoman using simple wooden crates. Whether you place it at the foot of your bed or use it as a coffee table for your living room, this crafty piece of furniture also doubles as a storage area.

Old-fashioned trunks and metal suitcases, which may have been passed down to you from relatives, can actually make beautiful decorations as makeshift coffee tables or corner accents. And, here’s the great thing: They hold stuff, like blankets, unused seasonal décor, and other items you don’t need often.

Use a shadow box or empty paint palette to store (and display) your frequently worn jewelry. This article from Martha Stewart offers these and several other clever hacks to keep your bedroom clean, organized, and pleasant on the eyes.

In a spare bedroom that doubles as your office space or fitness room, a murphy bed with sliding doors and storage could be the perfect solution for a functional, multi-purpose space. This article from Lifehack.org explains how to set it up perfectly, giving you added storage space and concealing the bed when it’s not in use.

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Get a Grip on Closet Organization

Closets tend to get a bad rap. If you dream of having a color-coded, ultra-organized closet in which all your shoes are perfectly situated, your clothes fit neatly on hangers, and where you can find precisely the shirt or pants you’re looking for on a rushed weekday morning, the following tips and resources will have you on your way to closet utopia in no time.

Photo courtesy of The Closet Works, Inc. in Montgomeryville, PA

The Discardia Closet Trick is just the hack you need to eliminate clothing that you no longer wear (because we all know how difficult it is to let things go, even items that have been loitering in your closet for years with the price tag still on). How do you do it? Place all clothes facing the same direction on the hangers, and every time you wear an item, turn it the other way. After six months, anything that’s still facing the original way hasn’t been worn and must go.

Color-code your clothes and store similar-colored items together. This may seem a little obsessive, but you’ll thank us later when you’re looking for the perfect cream-colored top to pair with that skirt and know right where to find it. Plus, your closet will look like an orderly, lovely rainbow.

Most-used items should be stored at eye level in your closet. The less often you use an item, the higher up you can store it on your closet shelves.

Lose the shoeboxes. They take up too much space, and they don’t make for a visually appealing space – even if it is your closet. Instead, save a ton of space by turning the heel of one shoe around to organize pairs.

Make your own scarf hanger easily to keep scarves from becoming tangled and damaged among your clothes or bunched up in a drawer. All it takes is a wooden hanger, some shower curtain rings in various sizes, and a bit of glue and wrapping thread or embroidery floss, and you’re well on your way to a super-organized and orderly way to store your growing collection of scarves.

A DIY rack to store your tights makes it easy to find just the pair that perfectly complements your outfit each day. Lana Red offers a how-to tutorial on the simple steps needed to create this ultra-organized and chic wooden clothes pins rack to tidy up your tights.

Learn how to fold – really fold – those fitted sheets. It really is possible to fold these frustrating-but-necessary sheets in an orderly fashion that doesn’t end up looking like a 6-year-old rolled it into a big, wrinkled ball and crammed it into the remaining space on an already-cluttered shelf. This article shows you exactly how to get it done.

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Dining Room Organization Made Simple

Dining rooms are often multi-purpose spaces that are used for more than just sharing a meal. Some families pay bills there. Others have kids who do their homework at the dining room table, thus leading the space to become the catch-all for backpacks, boots, coats, and other items (not to mention the daily collection of junk mail that arrives in your mailbox). Get your dining room under control and take it back as a useful space again, no matter what you use it for, by utilizing the tips and strategies offered in the resources below.

Photo courtesy of Koss Construction, Inc. in Woodinville, WA

Don’t let your dining room become your catch-all space. This often happens in homes where the dining room is used for special occasions, but on regular evenings, the family eats in the kitchen or living room. Allowing the space to become the default repository for backpacks, coats, paperwork, and other odds and ends is a recipe for clutter – unless you design and implement a plan to keep it all organized and in-check.

Define what your dining room space is and what it will be used for. Do you pay bills at the dining room table? Do your children do their homework here? It doesn’t matter how you use it, as long as you understand the various purposes the room serves – allowing you to designate the right storage and organization options to keep it all orderly and functional.

Sideboards and buffets make the perfect complement to dining room décor and offer some valuable storage space in a room that typically doesn’t start with much more than four bare walls. These pieces of accent furniture not only make the dining room more visually interesting, but they provide the ideal space for storing fine china, everyday dinnerware, and other items.

If you have a large dining room set, consider moving unneeded chairs out of the room when you’re not using them to reduce clutter. Most families don’t need 12 chairs around the dining room table at all times. This article also suggests using a bench for storing backpacks and other items if your dining room serves as a homework area, as the bench can be pushed back against a wall.

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Messy Bathrooms No More

Even if your bathroom is spacious, you probably still struggle to find an ideal place to store the many items you might need in your bathroom, which may include towels, linens, makeup, curling irons, and toiletries. The following resources offer information on devising clever storage strategies to keep the clutter off of your bathroom countertop while still keeping those necessary items within reach.

Photo courtesy of Organizing U., LLC in Lake Worth, FL

Let go of old, tired products. We tend to hang on to products like lotions and gels for far too long (often because they were costly and we can’t bear the thought of wasting them), but these products don’t work as well after they’ve become outdated. If any product is discolored or doesn’t smell quite like it should, it’s time to toss it.

Organize your medicine cabinet. Try self-adhesive, flat-backed cups that attach to the inside of the cabinet door for storing things like toothbrushes, brushes, combs, and toothpaste, which don’t fare well and create clutter when stored flat on a shelf.

A metal file box hung on a wall near the sink area is great for storing items like hair dryers and curling irons, as they can’t be tucked away while they’re hot immediately after use. A metal file box, on the other hand, can accommodate these items even when they’re hot to the touch, and they won’t clutter up your vanity top all day long.

A shower curtain rod and towel bar combination can be just the solution for hanging towels and other items to dry without leaving them on display in your bathroom. This option means they’ll hang subtly behind the shower curtain, where they can drip dry into the tub.

Open shelving, which is becoming more widely integrated into modern bathroom designs, provides the perfect combination of aesthetics and storage space. These areas can be used to store lotions, towels, and other essential bathroom supplies.

Store bobby pins in a spruced-up tic-tac container. Are your bobby pins always disappearing, or worse, left haphazardly around the house? This tic-tac container hack from Lovely Indeed solves the bobby pin struggle for good.

Mason jars cleverly attached to a rustic wooden board (or chic, modern backdrop of your choice) provide a simple, cost-effective, and attractive solution for storing loose items like Q-Tips, cotton balls, and makeup brushes. By hanging the jars on a wall-mounted shelf or backdrop, you’ll reduce the clutter from your bathroom counter while adding some visual appeal to your bathroom.

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Tricks and Hacks for Organized Play Spaces

Any family with children knows it’s far too difficult to keep up with the endless cycle of picking up the mess while your kids are busy creating an even bigger one. But with the strategies and tips you’ll find in these resources, you might just create the perfect play space that’s so clever, your kids think picking up is FUN.

Photo courtesy of Minimize Organize Simplify in Acton, MA

Organize the room with a focus on access, using the 80/20 rule. This article suggests storing the 20 percent of items your kids use most frequently in easily accessible areas, while the remaining 80 percent can be less accessible.

Containerizing is key. Containers can be used when you’re in the purging process of getting rid of old toys and other knickknacks that accumulate in the play area. Use four bins or containers: keep, donate, trash, and other room. Then sort the items accordingly. When you’re done purging, organize everything you’re keeping into containers – small cups, big bins, whatever works – and label everything so there’s a place for everything. Don’t forget to make sure your kids know how to put everything in its place so the area stays tidy!

Labeled drawers – labeled by day of the week – are the perfect solution for keeping track of what equipment and gear your kids need to remember to take to school or practice each day of the week. No more forgetting essentials at home or making unplanned trips to your child’s school to drop off forgotten after-school practice gear. Another genius hack from this Buzzfeed article is to store puzzles in zipper pouches to save space.

A wine rack makes an excellent solution for storing art supplies like markers (and it’s also a super useful hack for organizing pens and other loose items in your office). A tabletop wine rack and some affordable dollar-store plastic or glass cups of your choice, and you’re all set.

Repurpose a garden stool as a ball storage container, or a dish rack as a book storage rack. This article showcases some brilliant ways to repurpose items from around the house for better playroom organization.

Sort and organize Legos by color in simple white or colorful, coordinated bins. On Lego overload? This organization hack from Architecture & Design offers a clever solution for this and other common playroom clutter challenges.

Make playroom cleanup fun. When you get your kids involved in the cleanup process and make it fun for them, they’ll be more likely to want to pick up in between major cleaning and organizing days.

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Laundry Room/Mud Room Organization Tricks

Don’t let your laundry room or mud room become a cluttered mess. Rely on the tricks and tips in the resources below to design your laundry area to maximize available space for a functional laundry room.

Photo courtesy of DesignMine

Maximize the space you have by keeping your workspace as simple as possible. Shelving such as that over a built-in washer and dryer provides valuable storage space without blocking windows.

Designate a work surface – other than the top of your dryer, which is probably covered with lint. Instead, designate a table, countertop, or other flat area where you have space to fold laundry and sort it out.

Get a laundry hamper with compartments so you can sort while you undress, saving you time on laundry day. These compartmentalized laundry bins are often collapsible or on wheels, adding even more functionality.

Use a basket, bin, or caddy as a designated “cleaning caddy.” Store all your cleaning supplies in this caddy and keep it within easy reach, such as on top of your washing machine.

Washer and dryer pedestals are a must. You can make one yourself for far less than you might spend buying one at the store, and they add tons of built-in storage space where you can place baskets of laundry or supplies.

Hang up a cute change jar to add style to your laundry room. This provides a handy way to collect all that spare change you find in your pockets – which might help fund your next DIY project!

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Organization Hacks for the Dorm Room

If you’re living in a college dorm, we didn’t forget about you. We know how challenging it is to try to fit all the belongings you might possibly need in such a small space. Not to worry; the tips and hacks in these resources will have your roommates and neighbors asking you for organizational tips. A little side consulting business while you go through school, perhaps?

Photo courtesy of Closet Organizing Systems, LLC in Bartlett, IL

A plastic shoe storage rack makes the perfect over-the-door, organized snack storage solution. While your roommates might dip into your stash, you’ll be sure to know exactly where your favorite snacks are, when your supply is running low, and keep all the snack-y clutter from messing up the rest of your dorm. This article has some other helpful dorm room-organization tips, too, such as using soda can tabs as handy closet-space expanders. How? Slip one over the hook of a hanger, and hang another hanger from it. Because the hangers aren’t side-by-side on the bar, they’ll take up less space.

A sturdier shoe rack is also a must for the bottom of your closet, so you can keep your shoes neatly organized in pairs rather than spend the last few minutes before class frantically searching for your matching shoe (the only pair that goes with your outfit, of course).

Beverages taking up too much space in your dorm room’s mini-fridge? A couple of binder clips create a neat and organized rack for bottles and cans. This article also shares a number of other life hacks which, while less oriented towards your desire to be clean and organized, will help you survive life in a dorm room. (For example, if you’re too lazy to do the dishes, a tortilla shell serves as a perfectly suitable clean plate alternative.)

Chair pockets don’t take up much space – in fact, they save a lot of space you’d otherwise use for notebooks, pens, pencils, and other school supplies by storing them right in the back of your chair. There are few innovative ways to use the back of a chair, so why not use it for something useful?

Make a geometric memo board. It’s cute, fashionable, and affordable to make. Plus, it will save you from endless notes and paper clutter strewn across your desk.

Don’t use the same old t-shirt folding technique you’ve been using for years (unless your mom is an organizing genius). Instead, follow this strategy from TheGloss.com to maximize drawer space.

If you’re visiting home at the right time, take summer clothes back home to store them and bring your fall/winter wardrobe back with you. That means you don’t have to find room to store out-of-season clothes that you won’t be able to wear anyway. This article also offers additional tips for dorm room organization, including coordinating with your roommate in advance so you don’t double-up on items you only need one of, like a microwave, refrigerator, toaster oven, or television.

Organizing your entire home, apartment, or dorm room doesn’t have to be a nightmare. With the organization tips and hacks in this guide and the resources included here, you, too, can have a home that looks as though it came straight from the pages of a magazine – or perhaps your favorite Pinterest board!

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Having an organized home is very different from merely having a clean home. Yes, they’re both vital to maintaining a happy, comfortable living space, but it takes a bit of creativity and smarts to implement easy ways to keep all your (and your kids’!) belongings in their rightful place — and not all over the floor.

Ahead, we’ve gathered 34 genius ways to maximize every inch of your home, from your kitchen and living room to your bathroom and bedrooms (including your closets). You might even spot a few DIY projects you wished you thought of first.

More: 7 Smart Hacks for Designing a Nursery in a Tiny Space

In the living room…

1. Have a “household information center” — like a stackable file cart — to prevent papers, magazines and books from accumulating on flat surfaces of the living room.

2. Have a multifunctional coffee table, like one with extra drawers or shelves, or an ottoman with hidden storage to store remotes, books, blankets, etc.

3. Get your cords under control. Joto has a cable-management sleeve ($14.97 at Amazon) that’ll wrap up all those pesky cords and keep them out of sight.

4. Toss toys and games in an unused corner of the room so they don’t overcrowd bookshelves and the floor.

5. You may not see wastebaskets in living rooms, but if you notice trash tends to accumulate in that space, grab one that matches the decor and the aesthetic of your living room so it doesn’t look totally out of place.

6. Have too many small picture frames scattered throughout the room? Rethink how you display them so you can declutter. One idea is hanging them up on the wall instead.

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Use a letter tray to organize games. Photo 📷from Money Saving Sisters. #games #gamenight #familyfun #organizedfamily #organizedlivingroom #organizedfamilyroom #gettingorganized #becomingorganized #organized #organizedlife #organizedliving #organizingexpert #professionalorganizer #lifeorganizer

A post shared by Janet M. Taylor (@organizerjanet) on Apr 13, 2018 at 6:47am PDT

7. Use a letter tray to organize your board games.

8. If you have a ridiculous number of DVDs, it might be time to finally buy a DVD tower or a DVD case. Use the freed-up bookshelf space to display other decor or slide in a storage cube to store toys and other nonessential items.

In the kitchen…

9. If you don’t have a lazy Susan, get a lazy Susan already. You won’t find a better way to organize all those spices.

10. Sports bottles are the worst, right? They come in so many different sizes, and you never really know where to put them — not to mention they fall over all the time. One idea is to use a magazine holder and store the bottles on their sides or simply get a stackable water bottle storage rack ($19.99 at Amazon).

11. Use Mason jars to organize your spatulas, tongs and whisks for easy access.

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Tiny bit of Easter in the kitchen. #mytinykitchen#enamel#eastereggmould#potsandpans#emmabridgewater

A post shared by @ rattling_on on Mar 31, 2018 at 3:26am PDT

12. Hang your pots, pans and mugs. This will clear up cabinet space.

13. Invest in a lid rack ($8.87 at Amazon) to keep all those pot and pan lids organized.

14. Have a snack stack! Place a tiered basket on your counter and toss healthy snacks in it for easy access.

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Can we talk about how brilliant this charging drawer by @jennysteffenshobick is? 💜👏🏻💕 Having a charging station or a home where all your electronics come to rest can help keep all your electronics organized. There are so many cute ones out there. However, I’m partial to this one because I love a clean counter top. #chargingststation

A post shared by Megan | Professional Organizer (@simple.organized.life) on Jul 7, 2018 at 8:47am PDT

15. Dedicate one of the drawers as a charging drawer to keep phone, laptop and tablet chargers tucked away and out of sight.

16. Risers ($14.99 at Amazon) are a lifesaver. They’ll give cabinets twice as much space.

17. Purchase a few reusable bags/totes to cut down on the number of plastic bags accumulating in your kitchen.

18. Add a bonus pantry. Slide a slim storage cart ($41.97 at Amazon) between the fridge and the wall (if you have the space).

19. Hit up the dollar store and buy containers to keep rice, cereal, flour, sugar, etc. Then label the containers so you know what’s what. Not only will it reduce clutter, it’ll look cohesive and chic too.

Next: Organizing the bedroom and bathroom

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I’m a moderate minimalist. I don’t want our home to be sparse and bare, rather selective and edited. Living simply doesn’t exactly come easy to me, but I’m learning, and it’s making my family’s life easier.

Some positives I’m seeing from living a more minimal life:

  1. Less mess to clean up.
  2. Saves money not shopping for unneeded things.
  3. Makes everyday life and trying to find things simpler.
  4. Helps use available space to its full potential.
  5. Feels peaceful in a clutter-free home.

Game plan

Simply put, the less you have, the better it will fit into your home and the less organizing you will have to do. These are my personal guidelines for owning and editing the things at our house:

Every thing needs it’s own spot to be put away.

A place for everything and everything in its place, as they say. Bills, bags, books — each item needs it’s own space. If there isn’t a specific spot for an item on a shelf or in a basket somewhere, it will never be put away, and be left to sit out (right there on the counter, if your family is like mine!).

Try not to own more than one of something.

I understand this doesn’t work with everything, because we each have a passion or two that calls for extras. For example, my husband likes to cook and has, in my opinion, a knife or 10 more than we need. But I think he’d tell you I don’t need to keep 10 cans of paint sitting around in the garage for my projects. But when we were purging, we both agreed we didn’t need two weed wackers or five kinds of pasta strainers, etc. Ditch the duplicates.

If you don’t use it (or like it), lose it.

I held onto a modern white leather office chair that I loved, but had been ruined by my kids and cat with scratches and pen marks. I had a crazy idea that maybe I could recover it myself. Or that I could cover it with some sort of fabric tape. But I didn’t, and it sat around for ages. I finally realized I can’t salvage everything and if it’s not in use, it needs to go.

Some items might be difficult to part with if they have sentimental value. Only you know if it’s worth it to hang onto, but if it’s weighing you down, consider giving it to another home to love.

Keep it up.

It takes time to go through your house and cut out the clutter, and really it’s a never-ending task. Stuff will always find its way into your house — especially with kids! Take the time to keep evaluating and editing what you’re accumulating.

Shopping

Here are some questions to ask yourself when you’re shopping — and the same goes for donations or garage sale treasures. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it belongs in your space.

Is it something I will use on a regular basis?

Do I actually plan on juicing things weekly with this juicer my friend is giving away? Or will it just take up valuable cabinet space after I lose interest?

Do I already have something similar?

Don’t we all tend to buy a couple of the same pieces of clothing over and over? For me it’s stripes. I would really think I would be sick of them by now, but I’m not. I simply cannot walk by a navy and white striped top without taking a second look. I blame my mother. We both usually look like we’re ready to go yachting at the drop of a hat. A shame no one ever asks us.

Where will it go when I get it home?

If I can’t think of a place where it can have it’s own spot, then I probably won’t buy it. It will just add clutter.

Room by room

So you know my game plan, now here’s a breakdown of what I did to simplify and organize each space in my house:

Before I minimized our kitchen things a few years ago, our cabinets were overflowing with gadgets and various types of tupperware. We couldn’t use half of them even if we wanted to because they were so buried.

Over a few nights, I pulled everything out of the cabinets and put it in the middle of the floor. I threw out or gave away about a third of it and then organized the rest.

We got a lucky break on these cabinet drawers. The previous homeowners put them in, and they’ve proved useful and versatile. As you can see, I only keep a limited number of pots and pans.

I used adjustable drawer dividers to separate utensils in the drawer beside the stove.

The kid dishes and cups occupy half of a cabinet shared with glasses. I try to keep all their dishes the same so they will stack well, and all the sippy cups the same so the parts will interchange easily.

I finally put a container in the cabinet to hold all the sippy cup pieces! It’s just not realistic to think I will put the cups together the way they should go before putting them away.

Before I cleaned out my tupperware cabinet, it looked as if I were some sort of avid collector. I tossed most of the plastic pieces (keeping a few for sending leftovers home with friends) and got a smaller glass set. The blue basket, above, holds the lids.

I put labels in the fridge to help keep it organized. For the shelves, I use labels for: ingredients, snacks, vegetables, fruit, and the most important one, leftovers. Having a specific place for leftovers keeps them from getting left in the back and going to waste.

Visually, my pantry is a work in progress. (See my wire shelf makeover here from our last house.) But we’ve been using dollar store baskets for a couple years and they’ve worked great to organize things. I put labels on the most frequently used ones.

I put up a mini command center on a corner wall to help with scheduling, menus and family info for the babysitter. Get the printables here.

Simplifying our kitchen went something like this:

• Create a space for every appliance, pan, and gadget to go every time it’s put back.

• If we can’t remember the last time we used a gadget or appliance, sayonora.

• Get rid of the random dishes that don’t belong to a set.

• Toss coffee stained, chipped mugs. Where do they all come from? No need taking up good cabinet space when you can’t possibly need all of them.

• Limit the number of reusable water bottles. We currently have five.

• Separate utensils used for cooking on the stove and gadgets into two drawers.

• Put in drawer dividers.

• Streamline kids dishes and cups. Throw away pieces that have seen better days.

• Stop buying random sippy cups and buy only the same ones so they all the pieces fit together.

• Add a basket for kid lids, straws, and pieces.

• Toss the mismatched, stained tupperware containers and invest in a new, smaller glass set. That 60-piece set was getting me nowhere fast.

• Add a basket for tupperware lids.

• Put in baskets and labels for food in pantry.

• Throw out old spices.

• Put labels in the fridge. The most important label we use is “leftovers”. Leftovers would get poked in the side or pushed to the back and go to waste. If they’re all in one place, we know where to look so we can eat them first.

• Start only buying the food we need for the week so the fridge stays organized and we don’t waste food.

• Put a small basket on the counter for those little things that are always sitting around.

• If there is still not enough space for everything, it means more has to go.

My weak spot? The junk drawer. I’ve chosen to let it go. After all, it is called the junk drawer.

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Before we moved into our current house, we lived at my parents house for five months. We naively thought we would be there for a month or two, so I only packed a suitcase full of clothes for myself. I brought my favorite everyday pieces and a few pairs of shoes.

Much to my surprise, I actually enjoyed having less clothes to choose from. And it was much easier to get dressed when there were only my favorites hanging in the closet. They weren’t buried in clothes that I might wear at some point or hated to get rid of because the tags were still on. I also got more creative and put combinations together I hadn’t thought of before. (See some of my mix and match outfits here.)

I loved the simplicity so much that when we finally did move into our new house, I donated a huge portion of the clothes that had been in storage. After only keeping my absolute favorites, I actually didn’t have a whole lot more hanging in my new closet than what came out of my suitcase at my parent’s house. I will probably add a few things to what I have now — but when I do make a purchase, I will make sure that I absolutely adore it and that fits well.

One treat I gave myself for clearing out my closet was to buy matching no-slip hangers because I didn’t need as many. (Costco had them on sale in the store at $7.99 for 35.) It could be a good thing to only have a set amount of hangers too! I counted about 100 hangers in my closet (not including coats). My goal is try to keep it somewhere around that number. (I should add, however, that I live in southern Florida and don’t really switch out clothes for different seasons.)

I like to hang my tops from sleeveless to long sleeve, and then by color.

Putting ballet flats in a drawer keeps them organized and saves the cubbies for wedges and heels. I use the drawer below this one for flip flops.

I used dishes and pretty drawer dividers (TJ Maxx) to organize jewelry in flat drawers.

Here is my closet simplify list:

• Take everything out.

• Examine every article of clothing and pair of shoes.

• Donate what does not fit well.

• Donate what you wouldn’t buy now.

• Donate clothes that are no longer your style — or age. I just hit my mid thirties and had to get rid of some party dresses that made me look like I was trying to be 22. Not what I’m going for.

• Donate what you have too much of. How many pairs of jeans does a girl need? Which ones do I actually wear?

• Limit T-shirts to one drawer. Any overflow goes.

• Determine a number of hangers that fit your closet and wardrobe and try to stick with that number of hangers in the future.

I few ideas to slim down your closet over time:

• Try turning all the hangers around in the closet. After wearing a piece, turn the hanger facing the other way when you put it back. You can see what has been worn the past year, and donate what hasn’t.

• Stop buying multiples of the same item. (Stripes, Kate! Stripes.)

• Or try to stop buying clothes for six months to a year and realize what you already have in your closet.

Staying at my parents also taught me that I have way too many products. I did fine with the basic things I brought to their house. I didn’t need half of the things clogging my bathroom vanity.

Store pretty things like a set of brushes, a few pieces of jewelry, or perfume bottles out in the open and save cabinet cabinet space for the less attractive necessities. P.S. Here’s one way to shorten a lamp cord.

Once I put the makeup I only wear on occasion in another container, it made it easier to organize and access my everyday makeup in one drawer.

I got so sick of all the cords of my hair straighteners and curling irons tangling together that I ditched all but two of them and cleared out a drawer just for them. I separated them with a tray.

After I used up and threw away products I didn’t use, everything fit easily under the sink.

I sort of went crazy in my house with small, clear storage boxes from the dollar store. There are definitely more beautiful storage containers out there but I prefer these because I can see what’s inside without having to open them. Also, you can’t beat the price. These are things that I don’t use every day.

Here was how I sorted out my bathroom products:

• Throw away all the older or expired bottles — perfume, makeup, masks, nail polish … That will get rid of more than you think!

• Pull out makeup only used on occasion out of the drawer and put it in another container nearby. Then I can simplify my everyday makeup and see it easily.

• Limit myself to 2 sets of shampoo and conditioner. And subsequently, only buy another set when one has run out.

• Limit myself to 3 or 4 hair stylers — curling irons, hair straighteners, hairdryer, etc.

• If I haven’t used anything left in the last 6 months, get rid of it.

See a full tour of my master bathroom (with before and after pictures) here.

In our new house, I eliminated the linen closet in the master by turning it back into a man closet, so we got creative with storage and put shelves over the toilet. This left no room for the random towels or wash cloths that tend to linger in the linen closet. I don’t exactly want to look at that orange and brown floral towel from who knows where up there. All our towels had been around quite awhile, so they became “garage towels” and we started with a new set. (I’m also told you can donate unwanted towels to animal rescue shelters.)

• Get rid of towels and wash cloths with stains or frayed edges.

• Donate or make “garage towels” out of the few odd towels that don’t match the set.

• For now, we will limit ourselves to six towels in the master bathroom and four in the guest bath. (That’s not counting beach towels.)

• Pitch sheets that have started looking dingy or are no longer used.

• Rotate the towels so the get the same wear and will eventually all be ready to replaced at the same time, keeping the set the same.

• Limit ourselves to two or three old blankets for picnics or “tents” with the kids. Why do I keep them all?

Drawer organizers work wonders with office supplies. This one is from Ikea. To see how I put our home office/play room together from Ikea, go here. To see the space with bird art, go here.

Tackling the file cabinet might be the biggest office challenge. Label folders clearly and shred what is outdated.

Office space is something I think varies widely from house to house. I’ll just share what worked for us:

• Get a file cabinet or drawer.

• Assign the following folders: house, health insurance, cars, taxes, financial, each child, pets, manuals, receipts for purchases under warranty.

• Go through every paper and toss what is no longer needed.

• Whatever is left goes in the appropriate folder.

• Create or update family folder with important numbers and documents: social security cards, birth certificates, titles, emergency contacts. (I put this in a separate place than the office area for safety.)

• Take out items that don’t belong in the office area.

• Throw away pens and markers that don’t work.

• Store small office supplies (paper clips, Post-its, tape) in a drawer organizer.

• Put like things in drawers (all paper is together, all dvds, cds).

I wish I had space in our office area for a gift wrap/art station, but I was able to set up shop in a corner of our garage.

A family friend commented on how many toys our kids had a couple years ago. Slightly defensive, I explained that I buy nearly all of their toys at the consignment store for next to nothing. I remember his response exactly: “So it’s ok to spoil them as long as it’s cheap.”

Ooooh, that stung. But I wasn’t angry, because I knew he was right.

I don’t think I consciously linked that comment with minimizing our toys, but it was a turning point for me. Slowly over the last couple years, I’ve bought less and less, and edited more and more. I have found that the boys have more concentrated and creative play for longer periods of time with less toys. Maybe they aren’t as distracted or overwhelmed now that they have fewer toys? (I know I am!)

Not only did I stop buying so many toys, but now I also sort and put certain toys in baskets on the high shelves in their closet — mainly the toys with lots of pieces like blocks, play food, and puzzles. And equally as important, we put all the pieces back as soon as they’re done playing. It took a little bit of training (for all of us), but it’s working so far. They seem to play with the sets or activity longer because it seems more special because it’s not out all the time.

After putting the kids to bed at night, I used to just leave all the toys out, scattered across the floor. Who had the energy for all that? But now that there significantly fewer toys, I’m more motivated to take a couple minutes to do it.

If you’re in a place you’d like to start cutting back on toys, here are the steps I started with:

• Get rid of toys that don’t work or have missing pieces.

• Donate toys your children are too old for instead of keeping them in the toy box mix.

• Give away those toys that you thought they’d love, but just don’t get much attention.

• Recycle the little cheap plastic toys brought home from a party or restaurant.

• Sort the play sets with lots of pieces and store them out of reach so they don’t get scattered about.

• Put concentrated effort into thinking about and limiting birthday and Christmas presents to special selections. (These are our favorites.)

• Ask family members to buy tickets to the zoo or swim lessons or museum visit, etc. instead of more toys.

• Don’t get mad when they buy them toys anyway 🙂

The baskets on top and the shoebox-size storage boxes below help keep toys organized. We try to take one thing out at a time and put it back when they’re done.

The bigger sets of toys are completely out of reach. These dollar store baskets have held up seriously well over the last couple years. I bought about a dozen of them and use them for all sorts of kids stuff.

More smaller clear storage containers! When all the pieces were at the bottom of the toy box they boys didn’t play with them. After I took them out and separated them, they’re more interested.

When I started out as a mom, I packed the dresser and closet full of clothes for my first newborn. But after being overwhelmed by what still fit and what matched what, I scaled back. Way back. I was also a little disillusioned by the similarity in most boys clothing. Would you like blue and green stripes or blue and green plaid? If we had a girl, I’m sure it would be more of a struggle!

Here is how I organize our boys’ clothing:

• To handle hand-me-downs from one son to another, keep clear bins in the garage with 2 sizes of clothing each.

• Do not keep clothes that don’t fit them in the dresser. Once I realize a shirt is too snug, I place it in a basket I have off to the side in the closet, and then on occasion put it in the appropriate garage bin.

• Only buy a limited number of tops and bottoms. Just to give you an idea, when my oldest pushes through to a new size, I buy him probably 12-14 shirts, 6-8 pairs of shorts, 3 or 4 pairs of pants, and 4-6 sweaters/long sleeve shirts. (Again, we live in Florida, so we can get away with less layering.) After a growth spurt, I hit our local consignment shop, and then maybe pick up another top or bottom off the sale rack as I’m out an about. But it’s not a constant thing I’m looking for. Once he has around this amount of clothing, I simply stop. When you buy most of it at once, you can also make sure it can all mix and match together.

• Same with shoes. They usually have sneakers, crocs, sandals and something fun like a bright pair of Converse.

• Laundry works differently for every home. Around here, I keep a basket for each of them and wash them once a week, keeping them separate. For me, this is easier to keep their things sorted. For my daily cleaning schedule, Go here.

And so …

My house still gets messy (a lot) and dishes still pile up around the sink (a lot), but now with half the stuff, it takes half the time to pick up and put away. It’s not as overwhelming. I’m determined to not let material things be the center of my life by allowing them to consume my time, attention, and space.

Here is a printable home organization checklist to help sum things up:

Click image to download high-res version.
Sources: Canisters | Hanger | Box |Basket
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Did you ever notice that your self-improvement pacts with yourself are action oriented? Walk 10,000 steps a day. Fix that leaky faucet. Register for VolunteerMatch.

But “get organized”? It’s a goal so broad that just trying to figure out what action to take makes you wonder what you were thinking in the first place. It’s like you need an organizing plan for your organizing.

Ta da!

Here it is. Follow these steps, spending less than an hour day (sometimes just a few moments), to a better organized home:

1. Do That Project

“What about your space is making you feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed?” asks Amy Trager, a professional organizer in Chicago. Is it the paperwork disaster in your office? The pile of clothes teetering on your dresser? Or that mess that surrounds your doorway? Start with what’s annoying you, she says. One hour on that task will get your organizing engine revving.

2. Create a “Go Away” Box

Put anything you’re planning to donate in it (or give to a friend, or take to recycle). And keep it by the door so you can easily grab it when you’re leaving.

3. Deal With the Decorations

Hallelujah — the holidays are over! When you’re putting away your décor, donate anything you didn’t bring out last season, and separate decorations by holiday. No need to dig through your St. Patty’s clovers when you’re searching for a menorah.

4. Create a System for Your Entryway

Set up a “command center” so your front door doesn’t become a lawless accessories arena, especially during winter months. Add hooks for coats, bins for shoes, and a mail sorter if you need it. (Remember to keep a place for your “go away” box).

5. Wrangle Your Pet Supplies

Minimize the time spent scrambling when your pup is desperate for a walk or eager for a meal. Hang hooks and cubbies near the door and keep leashes, kibble, bowls, and toys in one convenient spot.

6. Organize Your Spices

Arrange your herbs and spices alphabetically, by cuisine, or by brand — whatever makes them easier to find when you’re in the middle of your noodle stir fry.

7. Pare Down Your Utensils

You’ve accumulated several dozen kitchen utensils in your culinary career: can openers, microplanes, four (what?!) wine openers. Pare down the collection and use drawer dividers to keep the remainders in order.

8. Reconfigure Your Pots and Pans

Stop digging around in your shelves for the oversized, cast-iron skillet. Donate the pots and pans you hardly use, and install cupboard organizers to help manage the rest.

9. Throw Away Expired Foods

You never use Worcestershire sauce — except that one time. Go through your refrigerator and pantry and ditch or donate anything past its prime.

10. Stack Your Pantry Staples

Make better use of your pantry by sorting through your staple dry goods — think flour, sugar, pasta, oatmeal, dry beans — and putting them in airtight, stackable containers. You’ll free up a ton of space, too.

11. Downsize Your Kitchen Gadgets

You had noble intentions when you purchased that spiralizer. (Zucchini noodles every night, right?) Give those space hogs to someone else with lofty dreams.

12. Say No to Coffee Mug Over-Saturation

Every time you lose a sock, a new coffee mug appears. Keep one or two mugs for every coffee or tea drinker, and donate the rest.

13. Sort Your Food Storage Containers

No singles allowed. Toss any tops or bottoms that have no mates.

14. Reassess Your Display Shelves

Shelves crammed with knickknacks, books you’ll never read, and stuff you somehow accumulated are just a waste of space. Donate books to the library, discard the junk, and arrange what’s left in a way that pleases you.

15. Deal With Your Cables

With a Roku, PlayStation, DVD player, and a cable box, it’s no surprise your entertainment center is a mess. Create ID tags for each plug from bread tags or cable ties, and bundle the clutter together with velcro strips.

16. Put Clothes on New Hangers

Switch your clothes over to the slimmer, grabbier hangers. They use less space and keep your clothes from sliding down to your closet floor. As you do this, discard the clothes you never wear.

17. Corral Your Accessories

Belts, scarves, purses, hats — all the accessories that don’t have a drawer or spot in the closet can end up everywhere. Buy an accessories hanger or install a simple series of hooks to give your wardrobe’s smallest members a home.

18. Purge Under the Bed

Under-bed storage is ideal for out-of-season clothing. But when out-of-season becomes out-of-sight and out-of-mind, clear out those clothes you’ll never wear again from this precious storage space.

19. Declutter Your Desk

When your workspace is swimming with collectibles, staplers, Post-its, and more, paring down can keep you focused when it’s time to hunker down.

20. Shred Old Paperwork

Not every form, statement, and tax record needs to stay in your filing cabinet forever. Check out this list to make sure you’re not wasting space. Shred the rest to ward off identity thieves.

21. Tidy Your Files

Now that you’ve shredded the paperwork you don’t need, tidy up your files by organizing them and labeling them clearly. Colorful folders can help organize by theme (home stuff, tax stuff, work stuff, etc.).

22. Get Rid of Mystery Electronics

Admit it. You’ve got a drawer where black mystery cords, chargers, and oddball electronic bits go to die. Free that drawer up for better uses, or at least get rid of the ones you know for sure are “dead.”

23. Pare Down Your Personal Care Stuff

Your intentions were honorable when you bought that curl-enhancing shampoo — but it expired two years ago, and you haven’t used it since. Throw away any expired potions, salves, hair products, and medicines.

24. Tackle Under-the-Sink Storage

Clean everything out. You’ll be amazed at what you find (like those Magic Erasers you could never find). Then put back everything you’re keeping in bins you can easily pull out so nothing gets lost again.

25. Hang a Shelf

Wall storage is so often overlooked. Find a spot in your home where a shelf would solve a problem, and hang it. Maybe it’s for some toiletries in the bathroom, or laundry supplies, or for your kid’s stuffed toys.

Related: Yep, You Can Put Shelves There: 5 Inspired Storage Ideas

26. Reduce Your Towels and Linens

There are the towels you use — and the stack of towels you never use. Donate them to the animal shelter. Those torn pillowcases? Convert to rags or toss. Same for napkins, dishtowels, pot holders, etc.

27. Hang a Shoe Organizer

Hanging shoe organizers can solve a ton of storage problems beyond the obvious. They can store scarves, mittens, cleaning supplies, craft supplies. You can even cut them to custom-fit inside a cabinet door.

Related: Ideas for Using Shoe Organizers

28. Organize Your Junk Drawer for Good

There’s no shame in a junk drawer — but why not organize it? Dump the whole thing on one surface and sort everything into piles. Use drawer dividers to keep each pile in its own space.

29. Store Your Tools the Right Way

Finding the right Phillips-head screwdriver to put together that cute IKEA bookshelf shouldn’t be so hard. Track down your hammers and screwdrivers, and arrange them in one easy-to-access spot, such as a pegboard.

30. Plan for the Future

See how much you’ve accomplished! Take a look around your newly organized home, making note of any spaces you missed. Then dream a bit about your next home project. Maybe paint that dining room, finally?

Related: Genius Entryway Storage Ideas to Get You Out the Door Faster