A four-step guide for organizing any room, plus 13 strategies to prevent procrastination.
Are you overwhelmed thinking about how to get your entire house in order? First, put away the notion that it will happen overnight, or even in a week. And keep in mind the goal isn't to end up with a sparkling space where everything is always in its place. The key to a more organized home isn't just about tossing most of your stuff and stashing the rest in cute containers (although they do help when the time is right) - it's more about recognizing and replacing bad practices with better habits that'll help you dig out from the mess on a daily basis.
The best part about the organizing process is that no matter what room you're wanting to straighten up, the rules are essentially the same - here's a four-step guide to get started, which also includes 13 strategies to prevent you from procrastinating along the way.
1. Define Your Space
For each room you want to organize, organizing expert Charlotte Steill says to take a notebook and sit down in each space, making notes on the following questions:
2. Sort Your Stuff
Once you have a plan, tackle only one room at a time and if you're still overwhelmed, narrow it down to one corner at a time. Then, says organizing expert Liz Witts, begin the organizing process by sorting the items into the following categories:
Keep: Items used on a regular basis.
Donate/Sell: Items that are no longer used or are duplicates - things that you can do without and would rather give it to someone else for them to benefit from.
Store: These are sentimental things that you want to hold on to but don't need to have cluttering up your daily living space.
Trash/Recyle: Things that are no longer usable. Worried about how to decide what gets tossed? Follow Liz's suggestion, "If you need to spend more than 15 seconds thinking about what something is, or when you last used it, or why you even have it, then you probably don't need it."
One caveat before you rid yourself of excess: Consider a secondary use for things you're thinking of pitching. Plastic ware can be turned into storage in drawers and cabinets and even old towels can be used for cushioning in a dog bed.
Now that you're left with only the items you intend to keep, it's essential to set up "homes" or "zones" to maintain organization. "If you are forever misplacing your car keys, create a home for them," says organizing expert Pam Socolow. "Hang hooks near the door, or put an attractive box in a convenient place - whatever works for you. Try to establish a routine of always placing the keys in the designated spot."
Use well-labeled containers to create a storage system, and let your family know where things are located. If space is at a premium, add shelves inside closets to make use of the vertical wall space, says Liz Witts. If you have small children, attach hooks at lower heights so they can hang up their jackets and bags. Adjustable shelving, such as a closet system, is ideal because it can be moved to accommodate various storage needs. Use plastic shoeboxes - or again, even extra plastic ware normally used for food storage - to create kits for things such as sewing items, shoe repair and extension cords.
4. Stay Focused
Procrastination can have a snowball effect - the little things you put off each day can pile up to the point where you're at a loss as to how you'll ever whittle down your perpetually growing to-do list. To help you avoid the inevitable moment when your organizing efforts begin to slide, take note of these 13 strategies from organizing expert Monica Ricci: