If you haven't read my post on decluttering, yet - do that. Then, try to implement that habit for awhile. If you focus on the habit of decluttering for 15 minutes per day, you'll find that getting organized doesn't seem so overwhelming, since you'll have way less stuff to deal with.
I originally was going to break all of this content up into a series of blog posts, but I realized that it might be more useful to have it all in one place for you to refer to as needed.If, however, you're ready to get going with organizing your home, your time, and basically streamline you life in general, this monster of a blog post should help you get started!
There are all sorts of organizational tools you can buy, but I'm big fan of not doing that. Sometimes, it makes sense, but we should all try to use what we already have around. When you're trying to get organized, the answer is very, very seldom to buy more stuff.
So, repurpose things you have already. Make garbage cute with paint, paper, etc. For example, you can hang onto:
- Cardboard boxes
- Coffee cans
- Plastic containers (like for sour cream, cottage cheese, etc.)
- Glass bottles and jars
- Gift boxes
- Scrapbook paper
If you do have to buy things, I recommend focusing on the things you would have a hard time making yourself, like maybe shelves. Even then, try to go green & buy used!
Managing Paper Clutter
- Go through your mail at the post office and don't bring anything out that you don't need to actually deal with. Be generous to the recycling bin at the post office. (If your PO doesn't have a recycling bin, holler at them. Or sweetly bring it to their attention.)
- Set up automatic bill paying for everything and turn off paper statements for all your accounts. Pretty much every company and bank offers this now, so take advantage of it.
- If you get magazines, consider subscribing to digital versions instead. If that's a no-go, don't hang on to them forever, telling yourself "Oh but there's a recipe I want to clip!" or whatever. The internet has all the recipes, friend. Get rid of magazines. You can donate them!
- Don't keep your kids' artwork. Not all of it, anyway. They aren't going to care. Seriously - are you mad at your mom for not keeping your toddler scribbles? Take pictures of the good stuff and call it good.
- Reduce your paper use so you have less to deal with in the first place.
Organizing Your Wardrobe
Store out-of-season clothes in old suitcases, drawers, garment bags or trunks. Keep only current season’s coats and jackets in your coat closet.
Organizing Your Laundry Room
- Clear out all of the clutter and remove everything but the machines and large furniture.
- Locate a good sorting area. If you do not have one, make one! Use light and dark pillowcases attached to the wall or side of a cabinet with a bracket. Use curtain clips to hold the pillowcase in place. The pillowcases are a smart sorting method when taking laundry to a laundry mat, too.
- Use up empty wall space over the machines. Install wire shelving. Install a bar for hanging clothes as they come out of the dryer.
- Store your necessities in attractive canisters and decorative jars.
- Place the ironing board off the floor. Hang it closer to your machines for convenience.
- Where you have extra space, place a wheeled cart between your machines for added storage. To make your own, use four 1 x 6' pieces of lumber, cut to the length of your machines, some trip pieces, screws, wheels and a little paint. Screw the front and back panels to the bottom and middle shelves. Next, nail trip to the sides and around the top. Attach wheels and paint.
Organizing in the Kitchen
- Install smaller wall shelves to hold canisters and small appliances.
- Store away (or give away) appliances or kitchenware that is no longer being used.
- Put shelf organizers inside cabinets with high shelf space.
- Put a pegboard on walls to hang light or smaller items.
- Use plastic drawer organizers under your kitchen sink to make better use of wasted space.
Meal planning is a good way to stay organized in the kitchen, too!
Labels are the best way to teach your children what to put where. Whether or not your child can read yet, a combination of pictures and words are a great way to label bins, drawers, and shelves inside a closet. If you have some of those upcycled containers ready to go in the closet you might use one for toy cars and label it with a picture of a car and the word “CARS” underneath.
Organizing a child’s closet can get a little tricky, you are not just dealing with clothes here – chances are a fair amount of toys are going to have to be dealt with too. I like to hang up the clothes - it takes up the least space, and then you can use the floor space and shelves for everything else.
If you have multiple children, especially of the same gender, just hang everything up and sort it by size. If you're not expecting, you can then just put away clothes that your smallest child doesn't fit any more as he or she grows out of them, labeling the container "Boy - newborn" or whatever. This makes it easy to pull those clothes back out for your next kid or borrow/give them to a friend if you want.
Organizing Your Time
- exercise and watching TV
- doing dishes while talking on the telephone
- catching up on paperwork while waiting for an appointment