I used to think that a bigger house, older kids and more time would be the answer to my organization woes. I haven’t ever been an extremely organized person, but I’m not a slob either. I’m somewhere in between, with dreams that I will get organized “one day”.
If you struggle with getting (and staying) organized also, you’re definitely not alone! With consumerism at an all time high, it’s hard to keep unwanted and unneeded things out of your home, let alone organize what you do have.
I love the idea of minimalism, but I don’t quite fit into that lifestyle category. I am a minimalist by nature, but I do purchase things that I absolutely love and my kids have their (very) fair share of toys and books.
So, how do you get organized and stay that way? Here are some simple tips that have helped me up my organization game and stick with it.
Tips to help you get organized (and stay that way):
| 1 | Limit what comes into your home.
Something I learned early on is that if you don’t filter what comes into your home, you will no longer have a HOME, you will have a STORAGE UNIT. As much as I love to get new things and see my kids smile when they get new things, I have to consider that our space is finite.
We are very particular about what items we shop for and what we ultimately purchase. By now, I have figured out what my kids will actually play with and what will just end up sitting around, taking up space. The latter items, we stay away from.
When it comes to gifts, we accept them with thanks. It’s not up to me to control what other people give my kids. If the kids’ rooms are overflowing with things they don’t use, we go through them and store them. If they aren’t missed, I make a plan to donate them or sell them.
Before I purchase anything, I make sure that it is a need and not just a want. If I really, really love something and feel like I can’t live without it, then I get rid of something that is taking up space and not getting used. If a new thing is coming in, an old thing has to go out.
| 2 | Purge items you don’t use or need.
Getting rid of things you don’t use or need can be very difficult.
What if I need this?
What if I have to rebuy this after I get rid of it? Money is tight!
This was a gift, what if I hurt the feelings of the person who gave it to me?
All of these are pretty valid concerns when you are getting rid of stuff. If something is no longer used, needed, or enjoyed, it is definitely something that can be purged.
Here is how I purge our things:
| 1 |
Go room by room and take out what I no longer need, want or enjoy. This goes for anything– decorations, clothing, gifts, furniture, and anything else taking up space.
| 2 |
For each item, think about when you last used it. If it’s been over 6 months (seasonal items– 1 year), I purge it. I no longer keep things that I “might” use. I don’t keep the size 4 jeans that I will NEVER fit in, nor do I hang on to the empty toilet paper rolls that I planned on crafting with 2 years ago. That’s what gets me into trouble when it comes to organizing. Just.get.rid.of.it.
| 3 |
For each item– is it sentimental? Sometimes there are things that I don’t necessarily want to have on display, but I do want to keep them (hello, unicorn wall hanging from when I was a baby). I store those sentimental items in a Rubbermaid tote and keep them in my closet. I have a few of these totes that I keep my school papers, childhood and sentimental items in.
| 4 |
I make three piles of things: DONATE PILE, TRASH PILE, SELL PILE. If things are broken or torn, I trash them. If I have things that are usable, but not sellable, I donate them. If I have items that are worth money and I know I can sell them quickly, I put them on Varagesale in my community and set them aside in a tote. I give them about a month to sell, and then I donate them. Having a time limit keeps me from having yet another pile of unused and unwanted things sitting around for a year.
Purging doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. You can commit to purging a room every month and you will make progress.
For some people, not wanting to get rid of things can be a problem that becomes hoarding. If you find yourself hoarding, you can seek help from a professional therapist who will walk you through the steps of recovering from hoarding.
| 3 | Put organizational systems and practices into place.
The most important part of staying organized is getting some systems in place. To me, this is the most complicated part and the part I dislike the most. Having said that, it’s a must.
Organizational systems are important, because they allow you to function efficiently and effectively. That is what will keep you organized.
If you have to shuffle through a cupboard with 10 pots and pans to be able to put away the dishes you just washed, chances are, you are going to procrastinate putting away those dishes because it’s a huge pain in the neck!
On the other hand, if you can quickly put away your dishes and there AREN’T a bunch of other dishes falling out of the cupboards, you will probably stick with keeping your kitchen neat and organized.
I do feel like I need to mention that there are some organizational systems that you just won’t get your return on. For example, I used to organize our batteries by their type. It took me FOREVER to keep them organized and neat. A light bulb finally went off in my head— I wasn’t saving time by having them organized that way. It was actually taking me more time to divy them out, than to just keep them all together and pick out the ones I needed as I needed them.
Another example is folding washcloths and underwear. While I love having things as neat as possible, washcloths and underwear go like hot cakes in our house. I am constantly washing, drying and folding those two things! Instead of spending my time folding them, I have containers that neatly hold them, so I can just toss them where they need to go. Easy and done!
Staying organized does not mean you need to have your house Pinterest-perfect, it means that you have systems that work for you and your family.
You will have to decide which organizational systems are actually going to save you time, and which ones you can skip out on. Staying organized should save you time and energy, not suck the life out of you.
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| 4 | Designate ONE spot for your belongings.
As convenient as it sounds to have different places for things (I’m looking at you, shoes!), that actually causes more chaos in your home. Choose one place for your belongings and stick to it. This makes it easier to find things, and it will help keep your home more organized.
My favorite (least favorite?) example is our shoe stash. Shoes seem to be everywhere in our house and are often hard to find. The problem? Too many places to keep shoes! There is a basket by the back door, a rug by the front door and a shoe shelf by the garage door. Not to mention closets that house some of our shoes. That’s a problem!
Instead of having all of these different places, I have consolidated our shoe stash to one specific place– the shelf by the garage. This is where our shoes live when they are downstairs. This helps when we are searching for what we need and it helps keep our house a little more organized.
Having one place for your items makes your home less cluttered and makes it easier to find what you’re looking for. Decide on where you want to keep your things, and stick with that one place.
| 5 | Use bins and containers to organize your items (especially what you don’t want seen!).
If you’re low on cupboard and closet space, and are wondering how to organize what stays out (kids’ toys, books, shoes), bins and containers are going to be your best friend. I love our cube shelves that I can put these cute bins in to store anything I want out of eye sight. I have found that keeping things stored out of sight gives me more peace of mind and the ability to focus better.
Even inside of drawers and cupboards, it’s helpful to have organizational bins. My favorite organizers are these clear, stackable bins that keep gadgets and other individual items from floating around inside your drawers and cupboards.
Final thoughts on how to get organized.
When you’re trying to get organized, it can be overwhelming. Remember, it doesn’t all have to happen in one day, or in one week. It takes YEARS to accumulate all of our possessions in our homes, and it doesn’t all disappear or get organized overnight! Take a deep breath, follow these easy steps and be proud of the progress you make!