Spring cleaning, dejunking, moving — whatever your motivation for getting organized, it can be daunting to start! Follow these 6 tips to get — and stay — organized.
1. Now that you’re in organizing-mode, avoid the temptation to run out and start buying containers.
Chances are, you’ve already got several (hundred?) mismatched bins, baskets, and boxes lying around. It happens to all of us. At first, you collect whatever you can get, occasionally buy a set or two that match, and then you stumble upon a really cute purple polka-dot bin at the dollar store (there’s only one, but it’s sooooo cute – surely you have a place for it somewhere!)… Before you know it, you’re buried in bins that don’t have much purpose and rarely “go together.” So DON’T add to the pile. Start with what you’ve got. If you have similar sizes and varieties, try to use them together. Try covering them in paper or fabric following a tutorial like this one from iHeart Organizing if you want a more uniform look.
2. All the planning and pinning in the world won’t get you organized.
As nice as it is to spend hours imagining the tremendous amounts of organizing you will do and pouring over the endless examples on Pinterest, you will never get organized if you don’t simply begin. Just do it. Right now. Open that drawer, take 15-20 minutes, and just make a decision for each item in front of you. KEEP. TOSS. DONATE. SELL. The faster you make the decision, the better. If you really can’t decide (or an item isn’t yours to decide on), put it in a box to revisit later, perhaps when you are not likely to be too emotional or too rash. Try not to revisit any items you’ve already made the decision for. Simply decide, and move on.
3. Stop giving things more value than they deserve.
If you don’t love it now, it is highly unlikely that you will ever love it. That sweater from mom that’s a bit too big? The collection of Precious Moments figurines from grandma? Christmas cards from years past? Just because someone you value gave it to you doesn’t mean it is of value. It may, however, be of value to someone else, in which case you can take a step in the right direction by selling it, offering it to friends or family, or donating. And those piles of magazines with snippets you read and thought would be useful, so you kept the whole magazine? Not worth the space they take up. If you really want to keep snippets, just keep the snippets. Create a filing system for yourself for the ideas you really like, and recycle the rest.
4. Having a place for everything keeps the clutter down on every surface.
You know the place(s) in the house where everyone seems to dump their pockets? Those are the places that will benefit most from being organized. To do it, you’ve got to give each of those “dumpable” items a specific home. Loose change, mail, homework, keys, lone socks, game and puzzle pieces, batteries, phone chargers… there are enough of these types of things for each person in the house that they cause clutter in a hurry. A “junk drawer” just tends to hide the problem. Find or create a home for every item. If needed, keep a basket for every family member, where odds and ends belonging to each person can be placed. At a specific time during the day or week, this basket can be handed off to its owner, who can then put his or her items away in their proper places.
5. Join or follow a challenge for new ideas and a little fun!
A challenge of any kind, when you commit, can be extremely helpful. A challenge gets you moving. A challenge forces you to look at places you may typically avoid! Remember to be flexible – if a specific challenge doesn’t address an area that’s nagging at you, be ready to mold it to fit your personal needs and time frame. If a 12-week challenge sounds too tedious, try a 31 day challenge, or a week long challenge. There’s an organizing challenge for everyone! If you’re looking for a few ideas, try these:
- Year-long challenge (one challenge per week) from The Good Wife.
- 12-week challenge from Crafted Spaces.
- 31-day challenge from Organizing Made Fun.
- 30-day challenge from Homeketeers.
- 21-day challenge from A Bowl Full of Lemons.
- A simple 7-day challenge from A Taylor Made Home.
- Mini challenges to take on whenever you have a 15 minute block of time from Organizing Made Fun.
6. Once you’ve got it organized, do whatever it takes to keep it that way.
Organization becomes a lifelong success when you make the effort each day to keep up with what you’ve done. Show your new ideas to the other people in your home and let them know that you’d appreciate their help in keeping things looking great. Use simple labels to encourage husbands, children, and others to put items in their assigned spaces. It may take time to find what works best for you or for your family as a whole, but it will be well worth the effort.
feature image via Better Homes and Gardens
Kayla Lilly is a photographer, writer, wife, and mama making a house a home in eastern Idaho. She met her mister while working at an amusement park and married him a year later after deciding there was no way to live without him. The amusement has continued as they’ve added three kids and a passel of pets to their lives while finishing college and starting a photography business. Drawing inspiration from the whirlwinds of marriage, parenthood, and the media, Kayla blogs at www.utterlyinexperienced.blogspot.com, and spends the rest of her time chasing chickens, organizing junk drawers, diapering toddlers, and photographing everyone willing to step in front of her lens.