Home organization means being able to find your stuff when you need it, not after an hour or more of searching. But home organization doesn’t necessarily mean you’re neat or clean. It doesn’t even mean you’re not a pack rat. Home organization just means everything has a place and you know where that place is in your home.
Of course, when you practice ‘home organization’ and ‘clearing clutter’ together you do inevitably get a neater and more organized home. Why? Because you can find your stuff when you need it AND you’re not tripping over your stuff. So instead of allowing yourself, or your family, to consistently put your shoes in the entryway (where you do know their location), you designate another spot such as a shoe rack in the foyer closet. That’s blending home organization with clutter clearing techniques. Here are 9 strategies for home organization that also may help you clear clutter in your home:
1) CLUSTER LIKE ITEMS – When you organize an office storage closet at home or work, put the different types of paper beside each other on a shelf. And what goes with paper? Envelopes. Put the different types of envelopes adjacent to the paper. Adjacent to that you might put writing instruments used on paper like pencils and pens. And so forth. Organizing holiday ornaments? Keep bins of Christmas supplies together. Keep bins of Easter decorations together. Then put all of these holiday storage bins in one clustered area in your garage or attic. You can also use the cluster mindset for toys and sports equipment.
2) MAKE THINGS CONVENIENT – This simply means put most frequently used items toward the front of shelves or on shelves within arms reach or at eye level of the user (whether that’s you, your spouse or your children). Put infrequently used items in those hard to reach cabinets in corners, cabinets above your refrigerator, in the attic, etc. Put shelving or other organizers in convenient places such as put shoe racks, umbrella stands and hanging baskets for gloves in a closet near the entryway you use most often.
3) LABEL IT – Invest in an inexpensive label maker. You’ll have fun labeling items (e.g. home recorded DVD tapes) or labeling places where items should go so they always get returned to the same spot. For example, label specific garage shelf spaces for hand tools or power tools. That way nobody in your family will ever forget where they got an item they’re using and they’ll know where its exact ‘home’ is.
4) DON’T KEEP AN ITEM IF… – …you can find it elsewhere. So much research, forms and other paperwork is easily accessed these days through the Internet. Just keep a simple list of Websites and useful phone numbers and then you’ll always know where to return to or who to call in order to access that information again.
5) HANDLE IT ONCE – And handle it now. That’s how the organizing professionals suggest you handle paperwork, whether it’s incoming mail or something on your home office or work desk. If you can’t handle it now, then put it in a tickler file labeled with a specific intention (e.g. holiday cards to mail by month, bills to mail by week).
6) MAKE IT YOUR SYSTEM – I once knew a woman who placed labels inside her kitchen food cabinets. So cans of green beans and peas always went on their designated label or row and a can of tuna went on its labeled space. When you could see the label that just meant it was time to buy more tuna or green beans. Was this a bit over the top with detail? Not for her. The system suited her personality. It worked for her. Lesson learned: Own your home organizing system. You can use other people’s home organizing tips but only if they suit you, they suit your thought process and they mesh with your daily routine. You’re the ultimate user of the home organization system.
7) BE FLEXIBLE – If your entire home organizing system, or just part of it, is not working, change it. Try a different method. Put something in a different spot. Observe other peoples homes and work spaces for ideas. Look at photos in home decorating magazines for ideas. Don’t be afraid to admit temporary home organization failure and start again as often as needed. It’s okay!
8) BE PATIENT WITH OTHERS – You know the cliché…you can’t change other people. Unfortunately, that cliché is usually true though so many of us choose to learn it the hard way. Don’t expect everyone in your family to start immediately singing your home organization tune. They may never do so. But you can try for compromise and understanding. And you can make subtle polite requests like ‘honey, will you put your shoes in the closet for me so I can vacuum that area’ or ‘will you put the car keys here when you get home so I can find them in the morning without waking you.’
9) GET HELP WHEN NEEDED – Not everyone is good at clearing clutter, especially quickly; nor is everyone good at thinking in an organized, almost analytical, way. And that’s okay. But if that’s you, consider calling in a paid professional home organizer (search online or in the phone book). Even if you just hire an organizer for a few hours or a day, he or she will at least be able to help you brainstorm about organizing your home in a manner that suits you. Then you can take that next step toward home organization on your own. And keep stepping until you get it done eventually. You will!