Eight easy to follow tips for organizing your house and your life. Tackle a project in manageable “bites” with these tips for organizing.
I’m sure there are people out there who don’t get turned on from cleaning out the pantry, but I am not one of them. I don’t apologize for liking things neat and tidy. I happen to enjoy knowing where my stuff is and not having to search for things. Call me crazy.
When you want to learn to garden, you talk to an experienced gardener. If you are interested in understanding basketball, watching Lebron James play could teach you a few things. And if you want to get rid of excess stuff in your life, and need tips for organizing, you talk to me. I’m the queen of the purge and a ninja with the label maker. And I’m here to help.
There is a reason that every store has organization materials on sale during the time between Christmas and New Years (aka “gooch week”). People feel burdened by their new gifts/old stuff/clutter and they are ready for a new start. Few things give people motivation with turning a new leaf like New Year’s resolution. Whether you’re ready to start a whole new way of life or just need to be able to feel comfortable in your house, the following eight tips for organizing will get you on the right track.
And by all means, get yourself a label maker.
Tip One: Goals
What do you want to accomplish? Is it organizing a part of your house? Your whole house? Freeing yourself of excess clutter? Finding a permanent solution for a super annoying re-occurring organizing problem? Figure out what your end goal is so that you can decide where to start. Make the goal specific; you’ll get in the weeds if the goal is too general.
Example of a specific goal: I want to clean out my pantry to make items easier to find, and cooking more enjoyable. (For inspiration, additional details are located in this pantry organizing post).
Tip Two: Manageable Timeline
I often find that once I get started cleaning something, I pretty much can’t stop until it is done. My husband says I “get a bug up my butt” and just power through. But that isn’t sustainable or doable for
people who aren’t giant freaks everyone. If the idea of a large project makes you feel overwhelmed, break your project into smaller bites. Chances are, once you tackle one project, you’ll be motivated and fired up to move onto the next. These things have a way of snowballing. Snowballing into pure awesomeness.
Tip Three: The Accessories
Invest in new “fun” gear as necessary – storage containers, shelving, label maker, etc. Buy/barter/thrift items that will help you on your organizing journey. Using the pantry example above, most thrift stores sell mason jars for $.20-75 per jar. Half-gallon mason jars are wonderful for larger pantry items, quarts work great for ingredients nuts and seeds, pints hold lesser-used products, and 8 oz and 4 oz jars are the perfect size for spices.
Used mason jars, canisters, and other glass containers can be found for steals. And if you need to purchase new items, this time of year every store has storage items deeply discounted.
Tip Four: Three Bins
When you’re ready to begin, set up three bins/bags/boxes. One for holding items for keeping, one for tossing, and one for donating.
Tip Five: Let it Go, Let it Go
Look at the things in that “keep” bin. Do you use what is in it? Do you really use it? Have you used that stuff in the last year? Can you think of a single time in the last 12 months when you said “oh gee, I really wish I had that stainless steel omelet pan”? If it hasn’t been needed, brought you joy, or serves another purpose…toss it or donate it. Don’t let stuff weigh down your life.
If you need to talk yourself into tossing something, think “how can getting rid of this bless someone else”? Thinking of your stuff bringing sheer joy to another person can help you take that final step towards donating it. I still think fondly of the person who decided they no longer needed the (never used) baguette pan taking up space in their cupboard. The gasp that came out of my mouth and the glee in my voice when I found that pan at Goodwill could have been the ultimate reward for the donator.
Tip Six: Clean the Space
Once you have cleared everything out, give the space a good wipe down. Really scrub it. You’ll be more likely to keep it neat and tidy going forward when you’re starting from a sparkly clean slate. Use this time to inspect the area and see if any repairs need to be made.
Tip Seven: A Place For Everything, Everything In Its Place
Now is the time to use all your new cool goodies from Step Three. Bins, bottles, jars, (or whatever) are about to be your new best friend. For most closets, pantries, and nooks, it is best to store like items with like. Store baking accessories in one bin in your pantry, and dried beans and other grains in jars housed on the same shelf. In your linen closet, keep towels together, sheet sets in upright bins (see this post on linen closet organization for more inspiration), etc.
Tip Seven: Label
Use whatever method works best for you; label maker, printer labels, tape and a Sharpie. Something to in keep in mind is that labeling makes things easier on your in the long run. It saves you time and energy and prevents confusion. Imagine a world where you can open a cupboard and quickly find the jars of pinto and kidney beans for the delicious batch of Hidden Veggies Chili you’re making for dinner. That is a world I live in, and I want you to join me there.
Tip Eight: Maintain
You know that feeling you get when something is fresh and new and all organized? You deserve that feeling every day. Once your space is so fresh and so clean (so fresh and so clean, clean) it is easier to keep it that way with a bit of weekly or monthly maintenance. In the pantry organizing example, simply take an extra two minutes to put things away correctly when you get back from the grocery store. I am all too guilty of buying bulk spices and shoving them in my pantry for later. Had I simply taken the 60 seconds to transfer them to a mason jar, I wouldn’t end up in a situation where I had six different baggies full of dried parsley. Oy.
These eight tips for organizing are simple and straightforward because life is complicated enough. You don’t need to invest in expensive closet systems or fancy methods to keep your house tidy. All you need is a desire to lead a less-chaotic life and a few garbage bags. Well, I mean, a label maker would be nice too, but it’s not required. 🙂