Organizing 101

It’s summer time, the kids are still out of school, out of camp, they’re underfoot and bored. Great! You’ve got a captive audience! Let’s get them organized before school starts…and you, too.

The goal of organizing isn’t to make your home pristine, but to make your life calm and functional with less clutter, a neater home, improved productivity and more quality time for yourself and your family.

As a professional organizer, I have used these 10 helpful tips and they all work!

Tackle Categories, Not Rooms—Instead of tackling clutter room by room, tidy by category. Begin with clothing, since it’s the least emotionally loaded. Do books next, photographs later. Deal with every single one of your books at once, or they’ll creep from room to room, and you’ll never get rid of them.

Respect Your Belongings: Everything in your closets have succumbed to a mixed-up messiness. Ask yourself or your child: Are they happy being squashed in a corner shelf or crowded onto hangers? Are your hardworking socks really thrilled to be balled up? Suddenly your clothes look totally miserable.

Purging Feels So Good—Clothing. The question of joy gives you permission to let go of faded shirts bought on sale, dresses past their prime, skirts that always clung uncomfortably and once trendy but now passé pants and jeans. Many things that seemed great once may not be your style now. Fill bags with non-joy-giving clothes. The best stuff goes to a consignment shop, the decent stuff off to a charity thrift store or Goodwill. Good karma!

Fold, Don’t Hang—Once you’ve sorted out the things to discard, only then can you decide where the remaining things should go. Rather than folded in a cubby or hanging in a closet, some clothing is better off (happier) folded in a dresser. Pulling from the top of the pile, start folding  those t-shirts, pants and scarves now destined for the dresser, then place them in boxes standing at attention for easy pickings(use shoeboxes as drawer dividers). A small box is perfect for square scarves; a deep box can go in a bottom drawer for sweaters. Once you’ve cleared away the clutter and put things away, your dresses, skirts and fun stuff hangs clear with breathing room between them. Why, you may get a hit of joy just opening your closet.

CDs and Books—I always organize books by category. Self-help, travel, cookbooks, fiction, non-fiction, biography’s etc. Music CDs can always be copied into your computer. I go through the ones that I listen to again and again. Music for dancing, dinner party background, themed music, classical, jazz, etc.  This is your chance to throw out the “one-hit wonders” and those duet CDs and keep them on file in your computer. Give the rest to Goodwill. Keep the books and music that make you happy and hold wonderful memories!

Photos—The hardest to organize because so many memories don’t deserve tossing. Get out those scrapbooks and become the best scrapbooking pro you can be! Put lots of time aside for this project. It is a project but you can do it!  

Toy Toss—Time to toss out those plastic gems that your kids forgot they even had, toys relatives gave them and doubles. Books that have been scribbled on, broken chalk and crayons, dried-out paint. Again, anything that looks unhappy and stressed or has a missing link, get rid of: into the trash or on to the Good Will, depending. Tip: Hang a mesh hammock (Pet Net) ( fishnet from the ceiling for stuffed animals, dolls or action figures.  String a clothesline across your child’s room to clothespin up her favorite artwork.

Bathroom basics—To organize countertop clutter, purchase a plastic tub with a handle on top for all of your accessories (such as hair spray and lotion) place it under the counter. Take it out to use it and put it back when you are done. No space for towels? Roll them up and display them in a decorative basket next to the shower or bathtub. Install hooks on a wall or the back of your bathroom door for towels and robes. Use drawer organizers for makeup, jewelry, ponytail holders and other loose items. (Find inexpensive plastic silverware trays in the kitchen aisle.)

Kitchen Klutter—Organize your cabinets into several categories: plates, glasses, plastic containers, kid plates and sippy cups. Place the plates on one shelf, glasses on another, so when you empty the dishwasher, everyone knows where everything goes. All those mix packets (gravy, Jell-O, sauces) can go in a basket on a shelf or buy a spice rack that works best for your kitchen cabinets. Place frequently used spices on the front of the rack and all others toward the back. Alphabetize each set. Dedicate one cabinet or drawer to the plastic and Tupperware containers. Stackable containers maximize your space. Save your countertop space for items you use daily. Display only the cookbooks that you really use and, if possible, store your mixer/food processor, utensil holder, canister set, knife block, etc., in your pantry instead of on the counter.

Miscellaneous Mess—Use only one power strip (many can be mounted on a wall) as a home base for all of your rechargeable goodies: cellphones, cameras, music players, handheld video games, etc. Label electronic items that are visually indistinct items such as chargers.


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