8 Tips To Organize Your Home That Really Work
January 14 is “National Organize Your Home” day, which might be just the boost you need to get started on your New Year’s resolution. While home organization can appear daunting, once you get started, you’ll be surprised at the energy you feel – and the end result will be well worth it. Here are our best tips for organizing your home.
1. Decide how you will tackle home organization.
There are almost endless options, and the only “right” way is the way that works for you. Here are several approaches you can take:
- Organize by room. Start with a room (we advise you go with the easiest one, like a bathroom) and keep at it until you’re finished. Once you’ve completed one room, move on to the next one, for as much time as you have available each day.
- Organize by “category.” In this method (which is advocated by noted organizer Marie Kondo) you’ll group all like items together, no matter where they are stored. For example, if you start with the “clothing” category, you’ll do bedroom closets, drawers, entry closets, etc., until you’ve organized and decluttered all your clothing. Then you can move on to toys, shoes, sporting goods, cleaning supplies, gadgets, etc. The goal is to get rid of the excess so it’s easier to stay organized.
- Start with a short time period. With this method, you’ll set a timer for a short period of time, such as an hour, and see how far you get before the timer goes off. This is ideal for people who have trouble beginning a large project. The short time frame makes it easier to start, and once you’ve started, you might decide to just keep going. If not, you’ll still make noticeable progress.
2. Use the “four box method” to make decluttering easier.
The main impediment to organizing is often deciding what to do with each item you pick up. As you go through drawers and cupboards, make decisions on the spot so you aren’t bogged down with more piles. That’s where your four bags or boxes come in — they allow you to sort items as you go to get the boost that comes from making progress. Here’s how to sort:
- Trash: Anything worn out, stained, broken, etc. which no one would want to use.
- Donate: Anything you don’t need but someone else probably does.
- Sell: Anything you might be able to make money from on a marketplace, like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. For higher-value items, look into specialty sites like Poshmark or The RealReal.
- Wait: If you really can’t decide, put it in a box to look at later. If you haven’t wondered where the item is for six months, you probably don’t need it and can donate it later.
3. Make a pile of items that belong in another room.
This strategy helps you keep your focus on the project of the moment. Otherwise, when you get up to return that book to the office or the extra tablecloth to the linen closet, you may find your attention diverted to yet another need. Avoid this distraction by setting aside everything that belongs in another place until you’re done with your current project.
4. Wait to stock up on organizers.
Buying coordinated bins and baskets makes it feel like you’re getting organized, but it tends to distract you from the real job, which is getting rid of clutter. And if you don’t know exactly what you need, you’re likely to end up wasting money. Instead, decide first what items you plan to keep, then figure out what types of organizers will make you more efficient in the future, such as shelves in your pantry or dividers in your drawers. As you go through your house, you may even find containers you can repurpose, such as storing mittens in a brightly colored gift bag or baking supplies in a basket, rather than buying expensive organizing systems.
5. Set aside big projects that have their own inherent challenges.
Whether it’s 10 years of financial statements or a pile of old photos, projects that involve many details or any sentimentality could steal your focus from the bigger picture. These individual activities can be tackled another time.
6. Remember the adage “a place for everything – and everything in its place.”
Sometimes, you might haphazardly put items in drawers or cupboards without considering whether it makes sense. Instead, really think about the best place for each item and where you would normally look for it or need to use it. For example:
- Keys on a hook near the entry table
- Kitchen gadgets in the drawer under the stove
- Extra toiletries in the linen closet
- Wrapping paper in the hall closet
Finding a home for all your items will make it far easier to return them to their right place, which will keep your house organized in the long run. That leads us to the most important tip…
7. Once you’re organized, stay organized.
Organizing your house can’t be a one-time project. It’s something that only makes a difference if you keep up with it. Here are four bonus tips for staying organized once you’ve done your initial cleaning.
- Follow a routine every time you get home. The key to putting everything in its place is to make it a habit. Walk in, hang your purse up, put your phone on the charging pad, empty your change into a nearby cup, and then hang your keys on their hook. This means that you’ll always know where everything is and you won’t have clutter all over the house.
- Get rid of clutter as soon as you can. Little daily actions will help preserve order for the long term. For example, look through the mail and file or recycle it immediately (better yet, sign up for online statements for anything you can). Put library books in the car to return as soon as you are done with them. Rinse your breakfast bowl immediately rather than setting it in the sink.
- Always take something when you leave a room. If everyone who lives with you makes this a habit, your house will always be much more organized. So when you leave the living room, take the water glass to the dishwasher and your magazine to the recycle bin. When you go upstairs, bring the sweater that you took off when you got home and hang it up.
- Live minimally. This will save you both money and time because the less you have, the less you have to organize. Weed out five of your six pairs of black pants so you’re not constantly reaching for the wrong ones and only keep dishes and kitchen gadgets you actually use. Also be sure to think twice before you buy something. Many people use a rule of one thing out for every new thing that comes into the home.
8. Capture visuals of your organized home and its contents.
Once you’ve been through your house and gotten it organized once and for all, it’s the perfect time to do an inventory of household items, which will come in handy if you ever need to make an insurance claim in the event of a burglary, fire, or natural disaster.
In fact, to cap off your organization spree, make sure you have the most comprehensive and cost-effective insurance policy to protect your house and its contents. Matic compares top-rated carriers to get you a personalized quote so you can begin saving today.