“Organize” is a familiar word heard on many of today’s popular decorating shows. Every family has its struggles with some type of clutter whether it is stacks of papers or a cluttered and cramped bathroom. In fact, the National Association of Professional Organizers reports that 80% of what we keep we never use, we wear 20% of the clothes we own while the other 80% hangs there just in case, and 25% of adults say they pay bills late because they lost them.
If you have stacks of papers, frazzled mornings, or lost car keys, use the following ideas to help you organize your family and home.
1. If you have rushed mornings, make lunches, set out clothes, and put everything you need for the next day in a designated area the night before. Have kids pack homework and books in their backpack so they will be ready for the next day.
2. Place your purse, briefcase and keys in a designated area every day so you always know where they are.
3. Decide the night before what is on the menu for breakfast the next morning. If the family is to have cereal, set out the cereal boxes, bowls, and spoons.
4. Make a “to do” list for the next day and organize it according to what task needs to be completed first.
5. Fill the gas tank the day before so you won’t have to worry about getting gas if you are running late the next morning.
6. To organize countertop clutter, purchase a plastic tub with a handle on top. Place all of your accessories such as hair spray and lotion, in the tub and place under the counter. Take the tub out when you are ready to use it and then put it back under the counter when you are finished with it.
7. To organize your shower, buy shower caddies to place your soaps and shampoos in. There are numerous styles available in many discount and fine department stores.
8. To help keep your shower doors clean, buy a water squeegee (like you use on your windows) and place it in the shower. When you are done taking a shower just wipe down the doors with the squeegee and you’ll have a clean and dry shower door. Many of the squeegees come with a whole in the handle, which is convenient for hanging it up in the shower with a suction cup.
9. Install a straight magnet in your medicine cabinet for tweezers, nail clippers, and scissors.
10. Store reading material in a decorative magazine rack. As you add new magazines, throw away the older ones to keep the magazine rack from overflowing.
11. Throw away items in your bathroom that are old or you don’t use anymore, such as make-up, lotions, prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, old razors, sunscreen, and perfume.
12. If you are out of space in your bathroom cabinets for towels, roll them up and display them in a decorative basket next to the shower or bath tub.
13. Install hooks on the back of your bathroom door or wall space for towels and robes.
14. Use drawer organizers for makeup, jewelry, ponytail holders, and other loose items.
15. Place a shelving unit above the toilet for storing extra towels, washcloths, and other accessories.
16. Put a clock in each bathroom so everyone can be on time.
17. Place baskets in your closet for laundry and dry cleaning.
18. Sort through your clothes and anything you don’t wear anymore, bag and donate to a local charity. This includes clothes that are no longer in fashion, no longer fit, or clothes you haven’t worn in a year. Also, get rid of those worn out and/or uncomfortable shoes you no longer wear.
19. Separate your clothes by season. If you have a tall closet with several rows of rods, place current seasons clothes on the lowest level and move out of season clothes on the tallest rods.
20. Categorize your clothes by purpose, such as work, casual, and formal.
21. Gather all unused wire hangers and take them to the dry cleaners to recycle.
22. Hang scarves on a hanger or scarf rack. Also, hang belts and ties on hangers or racks.
23. Use a shoe rack to keep shoes organized and throw out shoe boxes that clutter the floor.
24. Install hooks on the closet wall to hang up hats and purses.
25. Store clothes that you want to save in a vacuum sealed plastic bag. These bags pack down for storing under the bed or in a closet. Remember to save only the clothes that you think will be worn!
26. Organize your cabinets into several categories such as plates, glasses, Tupperware, kid’s plates and sippy cups. Place the plates on one shelf, the glasses on another shelf, and so on. This way when you empty the dishwasher, you or other family members will always know where everything goes.
27. Group your foods together in the pantry for easy access and to help you identify when inventory is getting low. For example, group together your canned goods, cereals, pasta, etc.
28. Place all packets (gravy, Jell-O, sauces) in a basket and place on shelf.
29. Purchase a spice rack that works best for your cabinet. Alphabetize your spices and place frequently used spices on the front of the rack and all others towards the back of the rack.
30. For all of those plastic containers and Tupperware items, dedicate one cabinet or drawer for those items and try to purchase stackable containers to maximize your space.
31. Save your countertop space for items you use daily. Only display cookbooks that you really use and if possible store your canister set in your pantry instead of on the counter.
32. If you have a collection of clipped recipes that are filling drawers and countertop space, purchase a three-ring binder in a color that matches your decor, a box of plastic sheet protectors (to protect your recipes), paper, and a set of dividers with tabs. Glue each recipe onto a piece of paper (use front and back of each piece of paper) and then place into a sheet protector. Categorize recipes (breakfast, desert, etc.), label the tabs, and place recipes in binder. Additional tip, if you purchase a binder that has pockets, store clipped recipes that you want to try in the pockets before adding them to your collection.
33. Do you have mounds of plastic bags from the grocery store? Place about 10 bags inside of 1 bag and throw the rest away. You can always get more the next time you go to the grocery store.
34. Get in a habit of cleaning out your refrigerator every time you bring home groceries. Dispose of any food that is no longer edible or your family is not going to eat.
35. In a boy’s room, put a basketball hoop over a laundry basket for slam-dunking dirty clothes.
36. Place a two-compartment hamper in your kid’s room so he or she can sort light clothes from dark clothes as they undress.
37. String a clothesline in your child’s room and have your child clothespin his or her favorite artwork.
38. Hang a fish net from the ceiling to store stuffed animals, dolls, or action figures.
39. Add a bookshelf and help your child organize their books.
40. Buy the kids their own alarm clocks and teach them how to get up on time.
41. Make sure everything in your house has a home. Teach all family members to mind their own messes. For example, if you take it out, put it back; if you open it, close it; if you throw it down, pick it up; if you make a mess, clean it up; and so on.
42. Put wastebaskets in every room and place several unused trash bags in the bottom of each one. This will eliminate countless trips to retrieve new trash bags and give all family members a place to throw away their trash.
43. Place a decorative basket on the coffee table to keep remote controls in.
44. Use a plastic caddy (instead of shelf space) to store cleaning supplies in and tote it from room to room.
45. Keep baskets or tubs for toys in every room for fast pickup and play time.
46. For kids’ outdoor toys, purchase a weatherproof, bench-style storage box and store toys inside. Also, gather all outdoor balls and place into a large, mesh drawstring bag and store in garage.
47. Each night before bedtime, have all family members pick up clutter for 15 minutes. Make a game out of it and see who can pick up the most things in the shortest amount of time.
48. Create a family message center on the refrigerator or other prominent place and use it for shopping lists, reminders, calendars, and phone messages.
49. Make a master grocery list on your computer from a spreadsheet or Word document. Categorize the groceries into sections such as frozen, dairy, and so on. In each category, list the most frequent items that you buy. Organize the grocery list according to the way your favorite grocery store’s isles are set up. Print copies and keep one copy handy for the current week. When you see you are low on a product or you’re preparing your grocery list for the week, simply highlight whatever items you need. Keep the document current by adding new items and/or deleting items you no longer buy. Also, create a space on the document for Misc. items where your family members can write down what they need that is not on your list.
50. Create an in box on your desk for papers (bills, permission slips, etc.) that need your attention.
The goal of organizing isn’t to make your home pristine but rather to make your life more calm and functional. Work with the above ideas and you will end up having less clutter, a simplified home, more quality time for yourself and your family, and improved productivity.