While it can be easy to ignore a mess in the moment, continually living in chaos adds a significant amount of stress to your life. If it feels like you have no time to organize your home, think about all of the minutes you’ve spent looking for your keys, your child’s field trip permission slip, or a bill that needed to be paid. You’ll quickly discover that being disorganized is wasting a lot more time than you realized.
With that said, it’s also true that marathon organization sessions tend to backfire. After spending a week attacking your home with fervor and good intentions, you are probably too exhausted to keep up the new look. You deserve a few days off, right? After all, you’ve worked so hard! And thus the chaos begins again.
Instead, commit to spending 15 to 30 minutes a day organizing your home. Tackle one small area or surface at a time. Once you’ve cleared a surface or space, under no circumstances should you allow clutter to accumulate there again. (Consider taking before and after pictures to encourage yourself!) Check your freshly organized areas every day, and spend five minutes winning each area back if clutter is starting to reappear. By sticking to this simple routine, you can transform your home, building healthy tidying habits along the way.
When you are initially tackling an area that’s overrun with clutter, employ the “four-box” system: use four bins or boxes to categorize each object you touch. Label the boxes: Put Away, Storage, Donate, and Trash. Everything should fall into one of those categories. Once the area is clear and your items are boxed, deal with the boxes one at a time.
Here are some more quick and easy tricks you can use to battle the clutter:
ORGANIZE YOUR OFFICE SPACE
Whenever you can, opt to go paperless. This prevents paper clutter from piling up.
Organize Your Drawers
Make use of ice cube trays, IKEA drawer organizers, or even individual yogurt containers to organize your desk drawers. Paper clips, rubber bands, pens, and sticky notes should each have a home of their own.
Corral Your Cables
Use velcro loops, zip ties or a specialty cable management system to clean up cable clutter. You’ll be amazed at the difference when you see your desk without a dozen cords and cables running wild behind and underneath it.
TRANSFORM YOUR BATHROOM INTO A TIDY OASIS
Box Up Your Makeup
Do you know how runway models organize their makeup? In a tackle box! Pick up a standard, USA-made tackle box and organize your makeup in its many drawers and compartments. You will be amazed at how well makeup fits into a tackle box. Stash the box in a cabinet or under the bathroom sink when not in use. (Tip: Makeup expires! Learn the shelf life for various cosmetics, keep track of when you purchase new items, and toss expired products promptly to aid in preventing makeup clutter.)
If there isn’t enough built-in storage in your bathroom to meet your needs, consider adding shelving. It’s quick, affordable, and immediately helps transform the space. You can position shelves over the toilet, bathtub, sink, vanity, and even some doorways. If you have high ceilings, an over-the-door shelf is a perfect spot to store rarely-used items. Don’t forget to box things up in attractive containers so that you don’t have a mess overhead.
Clear the Countertops
If you’re one of the millions of people who keep your toiletries on your bathroom sink/counter top, try to break the habit. If you don’t have drawers to keep things in, you can purchase small toiletry caddies that have drawers. They sit on the bathroom counter, so your items are still at your fingertips, but they’re much more attractive than a pile of clutter.
OPTIMIZE SPACE IN YOUR LAUNDRY ROOM
Typically, adding storage to a laundry room can be an expensive endeavor, but if you have a front-loading washer and dryer, you can raise them up and add drawers or place laundry bins underneath. Voila! More storage, and as a bonus, your washer and dryer will probably sit at a better height for your back.
Organize Your Linens
If your sheets are a daunting stack – or let’s be honest, a precarious pile – it’s time to take charge. Limit each bed to 3 sets of linens: one on the bed, one in the wash, and one in the closet ready to use. Store the complete sets inside one of the pillowcases ready to grab and go.
Rearrange Detergents and Laundry Supplies
You probably have a go-to detergent that you use daily. That one bottle can sit on the washer or dryer if you choose, but everything else needs to have a home that’s out of the way. Organize by how often you use things, with rarely-used items at the back.
BANISH YOUR CLOSET CLUTTER
Sort and Stash
Sort your clothing by season first. Rotate fall/winter items with spring/summer items by moving off-season items to the back of your closet (in vacuum-sealed wardrobe bags), or to a separate standing wardrobe that seals tight against moths and other critters. Alternatively, keep your off-season wardrobe in a closet in a different room of the house, like a spare bedroom or office.
Hang Like With Like
Jeans go next to jeans, blouses hang in a group together, and t-shirts don’t mingle with jackets. If you master this and you’re ready for more, turn your hangers around. After you’ve worn an item, turn the hanger back around the right way. After a year, donate anything you haven’t worn.
If you’ve got a lot of scarves, display them and organize them with a special scarf holder. The same goes for jewelry, shoes, ties, and sunglasses. Anything you have a lot of justifiably needs its own organizational system.