A Professional Organizer’s Secrets to an Organized Home

Re-painting your home provides the perfect opportunity to reorganize your home and create a peaceful home that you love being in. There's no right way to organize your home but the strategy you choose has to work with your lifestyle, habits and tastes. These are my tried-and-true strategies that will make it easier to maintain an organized home that is peaceful and productive.

31 March 2019

1. Make it easier to put things away than to take them out. 

Organizing should make your life easier not more difficult.  For example, don't hide your laundry basket in the back of the closet. Instead, use an open bin that you can throw your clothes into from across the room.  Avoid lids at almost all costs - use open containers for things you use often like toiletries and cooking supplies. This makes it easier to put them away. Remember the fewer steps, the better the organizing system.

2. Don't buy storage containers until you've purged. 
I have found that when people want to get organized, the first thing they usually do is buy storage supplies, but that is the last thing I usually do. The first step is to evaluate why you have so much stuff to begin with — not find new ways to store it. You need to purge first so you know exactly what you really need in terms of containers or shelving. While deciding what to keep and what to toss, always remember the "80/20 rule." It's the theory that most of us only use 20 percent of what we have. That's a good starting point to realizing you are surrounded by a lot of things you probably don't need.

3. The red flag that lets you know your system isn't working.
If a room still looks messy after you've tidied, it's time to improve your organizing system which should allow you to tidy up in 15 minutes or less. Once you've pulled out what you don't need — to either throw away or donate — the next step is to group things together based on use or occasion and store them in open, square containers (round ones take up too much space). Now that everything has a place you should label. If you don't like labeling, find some other way to communicate your organizational system to yourself and your family, such as using transparent bins.

4. Use containers as visual signals that it's time to purge. 
Not only do containers keep items grouped and easier to find, but they also make it obvious when you're at capacity. This is particularly useful for kids artwork. I recommend keeping a storage container for each child’s artwork and when it is full, work with your kids to decide which pieces of artwork they really love and want to keep. Having this natural limit makes this process so easy.

5. Don't treat drawers like catchalls. 
Every drawer in your house should have container organizers in them. This allows you to separate the drawers into defined areas for specific things verses throwing everything into one big space.

6. Eliminate clutter hot spots. 
Flat surfaces like your dining room table, entryway table and kitchen counters tend to accumulate piles faster than any other spot in the house. I recommend clearing these areas daily to stay on top of them. Otherwise you can physically block any surface that has become a clutter haven. For instance, if you put a flower arrangement in the middle of the dining room table and set it with placemats, you're sending the message that the space is no longer a dumping zone.

7. Keep a donate bag in every closet. 
Every time you try on a piece of clothing and then take if off again because it's unflattering, doesn't fit, is pulled, stained or out of style, put it in the bag. If you've taken the piece of clothing off for any reason other than that it's dirty or doesn't match, that means it's not right and will probably never be. When the bag is full, take them to a donation center.

8. The items you use most frequently should be easiest to get to. 
Keep the items you use every day in plain sight — or at least at eye level. The things you use daily should be the easiest to get to and the things you use once in a while should require a step stool. Not only will this storage system make it easier for you to find the things you use often, but the items you don't use regularly will stay organized until you need them.