New year, same old mess? Curb your family’s clutter quirks with these 10 simple organization tricks.
It’s the season of fresh starts, which means it’s the perfect time to rejuvenate your home organization strategy. Spoiler: It’s not as hard as you think! In fact, these stress-reducing tips will help you solve some of the most common home organization woes — simply and with minimal effort.
1. “I can’t find it!”
Cutting clutter is an obvious starting point for resolving this issue. Having too much stuff can make it hard to locate items you need. Favorite shirts get lost in a crowded closet, the perfect spatula hides in the overstuffed kitchen drawer, and necessary tools float to the bottom of an unsorted toolbox.
But getting organized may be easier than you think. Let’s take those tools as an example. The garage can be one of the messiest places in the house, but this simple and easy starting point will help you get it under control.
- Hang a pegboard, and install some hooks.
- Using a marker, draw an outline around each tool to indicate its location.
You’ll have a tool organization system that not only keeps you organized but also alerts you when the tools are missing. Plus, organizing is contagious — once you start, it spreads rapidly throughout the house.
2. “I left home without it (again).”
Have you ever walked out of the house and forgotten the birthday card for your friend? Left the set of directions to your niece’s wedding on the printer? Or failed to retrieve the receipt for returning the vacuum you purchased last month?
If only we could remind ourselves about these things before walking out the door.
Whether the front door or mudroom is your jumping-off point each morning, you can set it up for total success. Create an organizing system with pockets that hang on the knob or over the door to hold items you’ll need before you leave for work, school or events.
A simple door organizer usually costs under $15 either in stores or online.
3. “Did you wash my soccer uniform?”
The laundry room is often the nemesis of an organized house. Here’s a laundry system that will restore household harmony and save you time: Get each family member their own laundry basket, and label it.
Rather than placing the clean laundry on the stairs or couch and watching everyone walk by without picking up their clothes, ask them to pick up their personalized basket in the laundry room.
There will be no lost items or mix-ups — and no more blaming you.
4. “Do I have to do everything?”
The kitchen is the pulse point of most homes. It’s a high traffic area that everyone uses all through the day. We open our mail here, study for school here, use the computer here, pile our stuff here — plus, it’s where the food is!
Dedicate one part of the counter to be set up for daily routines, like a lunch-making station. Stock it with paper towels, wraps, baggies and a cutting board. You could also make a coffee and tea station, equipped with supplies like filters, strainers and sugar.
If you create an organized space for your family to make their own lunches or coffee drinks, your life is easier. That’s called delegation.
5. “Where’d I put the phone number for the doctor’s office?”
Another tip for the kitchen is one that can save a life: a household manual, in either a physical or digital form. You can create this in just a few minutes, and it costs you nothing.
To get started, grab a binder and three-hole punch, and put all your vital information in the binder. This includes emergency contact info, the name of your family doctors and vet, school rosters, alarm codes, medications and dosages for the kids, caregiver names, the location of your wills — anything you’d need someone to know in an emergency.
When you have a minute, make it digital. But start with step one: Simply gather important information in one place, and keep it contained.
6. “I can’t corral these crazy cords!”
Phones, chargers, remotes and mismatched cords are always scattered throughout the house. The shortcut for pulling everything together? A central charging station.
A charging station hides cords, keeps all electronic items together and can even blend in with your furniture.
7. “There are toys all over the place!”
Many parents’ biggest home organization issue is the kids not picking up their toys.
The solution here might be as simple as teaching your children organization skills early on and making it easy for them to put things in their place.
Here’s one idea that will allow you to shift from frustration to elation:
- Use bins to hold the toys. Each bin should hold toys of the same type.
- Find a picture of the toys being stored in each particular bin. For example, if you have dolls and stuffed animals in one bin, attach a picture of dolls and stuffed animals to the front of it.
8. “Can everybody please clean up after yourself?”
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone could clean up their own mess in at least one communal room? Does your bathroom come to mind? Make this a reality by creating a system that works fairly universally.
Get each person in the house a toiletry caddy. Just like at summer camp or in a college dorm, put names on the caddies, and store them on shelves in the bathroom or, if space is really at a premium, ask folks to carry their caddies back and forth from their bedrooms.
The bathroom stays organized, and there’s an automatic tidying-up system built in after every visit.
9. “I have no place to really relax.”
Clearing clutter can create a peaceful home — away from overstimulation and the demands of our external world.
Take that idea to one room in particular: our bedrooms, which are meant to serve as a sanctuary for rest and romance. The piles of laundry, books and magazines living next to the bed nix any possibility of a calm and relaxing experience.
Let’s get the laundry and closet into a workable system and put a cap on the number of books and magazines in your personal space.
You can start to create a peaceful space by:
- Getting rid of clothing you don’t need anymore. Box it and store it, sell it or give it away.
- Going through all the books on your bedside table (or floor), and selecting just one to read. Store the others in an alternate location. Keep just this month’s magazines on your table, and either relocate, recycle or donate the rest.
10. “I don’t have time to get organized.”
One of the top reasons for not getting organized is lack of time. It seems we devote all the energy we have to work, family, school, volunteering and other commitments.
While many of us dream about alphabetized folders and color-coded sheets and towels, the fact remains that there is often little time in the day to organize or even clean.
The best way to manage this issue is to reduce — and then repeat after me.
- Reduce. Eliminating clutter is the No. 1 thing we can do to create more time for ourselves. When there’s less clutter, we spend less time cleaning it, less time putting it back where it belongs and less space storing it. Take just 10 minutes today, and eliminate 10 items you no longer really need.
- Repeat after me. Here’s a mantra for you: Avoid perfection at all costs. Don’t get too hung up on the details. Your home doesn’t need to be perfectly organized every day. Sometimes “good enough” is all you need.