Quick Tips for Everyday Organization

Only have 15-30 minutes to spare each day? Try one of our 14 simple fixes to get a more organized home, fast!

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1. Set Goals for Rooms

Make a room-by-room list of what you want to accomplish in the next eight weeks. A list for your family room, for example, could include alphabetizing video tapes, corralling magazines and designating a space for the remote. By jotting down goals for each room, you'll alleviate some of the pressure of accomplishing the tasks all at once. Plus, you'll have the satisfaction of checking off tasks as you complete them, a great motivator to keep going.

2. Define "Organization"

Organization means different things to different people. It might be a home where everything is accessible at your fingertips, but out of sight. Or, it might be a desk loaded with piles and stacks (organized, of course). Julie Morgenstern, author of Organizing from the Inside Out, www.juliemorgenstern.com, recommends asking yourself the following questions and putting the answers in writing:


  • What works in the room?

  • What doesn't work in the room?

  • What items are essential?

  • Why do I want to get organized?

  • What's the cause of my clutter?

Also, take a minute to sit down with other members of your household to find out what organization means to them. Discussing with your spouse and/or children will mean everybody gets to voice how they want the home to be collectively organized.

3. Find What Works for You

One of the biggest organizing mistakes is committing to a system that isn’t second nature to you. "You want to store things where you use them," says Julie. Designing a system around your natural habits makes it easier to maintain, she says. That's not to say you should continue with your messy, throwing clothes on the floor ways; rather, find ways to make your tendencies less messy. Stick with simple solutions you know you can commit to: throwing clothes in a readily available hamper, for example. Think through what you want to accomplish, then keep it simple and doable according to your habits.

4. Start Small

"The most important thing is to start small and start in the room you spend your most time, which is the opposite of the way most people approach it," says Julie. A professional organizer for 18 years, she says it takes a day to a day and a half to thoroughly organize a room. But if you "analyze and strategize before you attack," she says, you'll be less overwhelmed. Morgenstern recommends starting with the bathroom so you can practice on a smaller space.

5. Seek Professional Help

If the thought of organizing gives you an ulcer, a professional organizer might be in order. A professional can identify problems and solutions you might be unaware of, gently guiding you toward more organized systems and spaces for your home. The National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) is a non-profit association with members across the country, many specializing in residential organization. Check its website, www.napo.net, and find a professional organizer near you.

6. Determine Where to Donate

Identify where you should donate all those clothes and unwanted items you'll be purging. Besides widely known charities, check local churches or consignment stores. Women's organizations usually seek office attire for women entering the workforce, while prom dress drives are great for your daughter's taking-up-space gown. Make some calls to find out where your items are most needed. Knowing they're off to a better place will help you to purge with a free conscious.

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