I have spoken at conferences about home and life organization. I am a Type A personality, but I am not a perfectionist. I like to utilize organizational methods that anyone can do, so that everyone in my household can get on board with it and follow the system in place.
Below are my Top 12 Tips I have shared with others at in-person conferences.
#1: Get a calendar and use it!
This is the best way to start living organized. I highly recommend a paper calendar, as electronic devices will eventually fail you or the device will be technologically out of date in a few years. I use an agenda book with refillable pages. I have used the same book for over 6 years. I have my address book pages in this book as well. My address pages have been the same for 15 years, I simply update as needed! Franklin makes agenda books with refillable pages for each year. Here is a good Franklin starter set on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1SKhkRU
I like to keep track of appointments, addresses, and to do lists in my agenda book. Mine is approximately 6″ by 9″, so it fits in my large handbag when I am on the go. I don’t miss appointments because I always look the night before at my book to see where I need to be the next day. I have a lot on my mind, so using this book frees up my mind from having to remember dates, appointments, and addresses. It simply makes my life easier and less stressful!
And if you don’t like the franklin style, Coach and Louis Vuitton (for example) make these agenda books too! You can find a style you like and want to carry.
#2: Organize one room at a time: Start to finish at one time
Begin in one room and sort. Do the room from start to finish. If you are working at a steady pace you SHOULD be able to complete it in a few hours from start to finish. The purge process can take the longest, unless you make quick decisions. Make determinations very quickly as to what you want to keep and what you want to toss.
Purge Items not being used. If it has not been used in a year, then 99% of the time the best decision is to get rid of the item. In getting rid of items I always suggest having three large boxes for your sorting process and label them as follows: throw away, give away, and sell. Don’t let these boxes sit around after your room is organized, they need to be dealt with in the same day. When selling items I suggest using Facebook buy, sell, and trade pages for your city, suburb, or region. It is safer than Craigslist, as you can see the profile of the person you are selling to.
As you are doing the purge and sorting into those three boxes you will also want to be setting aside items that belong in other rooms. Here is what I suggest doing:
- Take items that may belong in other rooms and put them into piles.
- Make signs that go for other rooms, so you know where things go when you are done sorting. Put the signs in front of each pile, so you know at a glance which pile is for which room, making the process go more quickly.
- Don’t waste time making multiple trips!
- Once they are sorted and you have ONLY that room’s item left, you are ready to put things away.
- Start a bin method for rooms such as the laundry room, pantry, linen closet, and garage.
#3: Everything needs a home. If it doesn’t have a home it doesn’t belong…
Every item needs a home. If it doesn’t have home, make a determination where this item’s new “home” now belongs. Junk drawers are not a “home”. By the time you are done sorting every items should have a bin, drawer, cabinet, or someplace where it is put away and easy to find. Junk drawers make it difficult to find things easily.
#4: Get some bins and start the bin method
The bin method is an easy way to make a home for new items. I like to utilize shoebox size bins and place them on top shelves in the pantry, coat closet, and bedroom closets. Kitchen cabinets are not a good place for shoe box bins, as they take up too much space within a cabinet, as they often have to be turned side ways to fit and then you can only fit a few.
I wrote about my bin method earlier this year: http://livingjoydaily.com/2016/01/19/organization-in-the-new-year-the-bin-method/ http://livingjoydaily.com/2016/01/21/organization-in-the-new-year-part-2-of-the-bin-method/ http://livingjoydaily.com/2016/01/22/organization-in-the-new-year-bin-labels-for-pantry/
#5: Closets should make it easier to get ready
Having your closet organized should make it easier for you to get ready in the morning.
- Group Like Clothing- Pants with pants, dresses with dresses. Place according to color, darkest to lightest.
- Use thin hangers and hang all the same direction. I like to use thin velvet hangers, as clothing stays in place. I get mine at Coscto in bulk for a good price.
- Hang scarves together or fold and stack them.
- Use 3m hooks on any unused wall space or the back of the door to maximize your space. It will also help increase visibility for items, making them more usable, and easier to grab and go. I like 3m hooks for necklaces, belts, scarves, hats, and more.
- I like to use cubbies for women who have lots of shoes. I use this method myself and it takes up less space than any other system I have tried. I group like items together in the cubbies (i.e. Flip flops together, dress shoes together, red shoes together, boots together). I also blogged on this topic previously: http://livingjoydaily.com/2016/01/31/shoe-organization-for-the-shoe-hoarder/
#6: Accordion File for Manuals
You spend a great deal of your hard earned money on appliances such as washer, dryer, refrigerator, and more. It is a shame when these appliances fail us. It is important to keep manuals, receipts, and warranty information to ensure the item can get fixed and hopefully paid for by the manufacturer! Keeping these documents ensures your best chance at this. I recommend using a large accordion style file folder for the purpose of storing the manuals, receipts, and warranty in one spot. File them alphabetically. For example, washing machine goes under W, and toaster goes under T, etc.
#7: Make good use of vertical space!
The top shelf in every closet of the home is often the most under utilized space in the house. Make use of this space and don’t let it go to waste!
- Use upper shelves for bins (the bin method) and seasonal items.
- Keep a step stool handy.
- Don’t be afraid to stack all the way up!
- label the outside of every bin so you know what is in them at a glance.
#8: Be prepared for holiday and birthdays using 2 simple tools
I like to send cards and sometimes gifts to my family members on their birthday and holidays. They are always saying “you are so good at remembering our birthdays!”. I am not. I have a terrible memory on some things, including dates. I “remember” because I get an email reminder sent to me two weeks and then again one week before every family members’ birthday.
- www.Birthdayalarm.com: This is the site I use. It is a free website. Enter the birthdates and how soon before the date you want notification (I recommended 2 weeks and 1 week).
- Use a Birthday card bin & the Dollar Tree for cards! I don’t have to run out to the store every time a birthday comes along as I have a filing box filled with cards. I buy my cards two for $1 at the Dollar Tree. They also have higher grade cards that are $1 each. They have cards for birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers, weddings, graduations, and more! They are decent cards and you can find cards specific for grandparents, grandkids, spouse, neices, nephews, and more. Here is the card box I use. I purchased it on amazon: http://amzn.to/1RPWdBc
#9: Keep documents filed alphabetically in a file box.
When we purchased our house it had a beautiful office with built in cabinets and shelves. It did not have any filing drawers though. I did not want to ruin the look of the room with a tacky, bulky, metal filing cabinet, so I opted to use file boxes that are stored on the top shelf of a hall closet. I keep things in alphabetical order and since I have several file boxes I labeled on the outside of each their purpose.
#10: Use a safe for valuables and important documents
For important documents like birth certificates, passports, etc… I keep them in plastic document folder in a fireproof safe. I alway have other valuables locked in there too. There is not much worse than losing diamonds or pearls. Keep track of your jewelry and ensure it has a better chance of NOT being lost or stolen by keeping it locked up. I also HIGHLY recommend guns be stored in a locked safe. Even if you don’t have young children being raised in your home, you can always get young visitors. Guns should be kept locked away.
#11: Get rid of CD and DVD cases and use Flip Books cases
A huge waste of space in the home is CD and DVD cases. With most families owning hundreds of each these cases can take up quite a bit of space. I decided years ago to throw out and give away all of the cases we owned, keeping just the DVDs and CDs. We have three large CD/DVD cases. One for kid DVDs, one for adult DVDs, and one for CDs. I even write on the outside of each case which is which. They are also stored together in one small cabinet, taking up very little space. I don’t have my CDs or DVDs actually alphabetized or even categorized in the books. These books/cases are easy enough to quickly flip through I don’t need them perfectly organized within each case. Here is a link to Amazon for a good holder: http://amzn.to/1RPYOLm
#12: Keep a notepad by the bedside to jot down things to do for the next day
Most people have their mind reeling at night thinking about their next day and what they have in store for tomorrow. When your mind is thinking up all that you need to do, it is a great time to jot these ideas and thoughts down on a notepad. I like to keep a notepad (which then fits into my agenda book) on my nightstand. Before bed I make my “to do” list for the next day. I tend to sleep better after I have made my list because I know I don’t have to remember anything for the morning, as I have it all written down and handy for the next day.