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Great Organizing Ideas

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We all want magical, quick, simple ideas to get our stuff in order, but instant order out of chaos just doesn’t happen. We DO have some ideas to get you started, though! Once you get rolling, you’ll find that organizing not only gets EASIER, but you actually start to enjoy the process of gaining a bit of control in this busy world. You’ll also free up time and mind space. (Credits for photos in this post are listed on each photo.)

1. Think Like a Business

Look at how businesses organize their space, whether they are an office, store, or restaurant. Look where traffic flows, and what type of fixtures, storage, and furniture they’re using. You’ll find some interesting ideas that can be adjusted to work in your home, too!
Our first tiny tip: use organizers in every drawer. Even cheap kitchen utensil trays can keep cosmetics, art supplies, or a child’s items easier to find. Ice cube trays make great earring or bead organizers. Rummaging through a messy drawer to find what you need wastes time. There are ways to organize (read “save time”) all over your home!

organized drawer  first aid tubs
Rethink the placement or style of your furniture – a new arrangement or style of furniture can improve traffic flow and save cleaning time. Taller legs on a couch means you can clean easily underneath. Because of my back issues, most of our larger pieces are on casters to make them easier to move for cleaning or my frequent re-arranging. Do what works for YOU, and remember that furnishings don’t have to be expensive to work!
I needed a larger surface for my studio worktable – something light and portable so I could re-configure my studio space as needed –  and I was on a tight budget. We set a cheap hollow-core door on a 2 x 4 framework, stained it, stapled fabric over the open areas, and attached casters. Cheap, easy, and it looks super cool in my studio/tiki bar! BTW, the barrel seat/covers can come off so the barrels can be used for storage, too!

door desk   work space

2. Checklists

The best way to keep your house clean is with a checklist. Period. In our hectic lives, it is easier to handle a few small tasks a day instead of waiting to do it ALL on your day off. Even when tired, I can clean a toilet before I crash and burn for the night. Here is a page with a whole BUNCH of great printable cleaning lists to get you started: http://www.sarahtitus.com/2015/10/10/the-best-free-printable-cleaning-checklists/
When our house was for sale, we created a “go mode” list of cleaning tasks to do immediately when we got a call for a house showing. We would have never remembered half of the items without the list, and this meant the house would be spotless without worrying about forgetting something. Lists mean you don’t have to think about tasks – you just DO them. Brain freedom…and more time to CREATE!

ocean mandala adult coloring book(Want to keep these helpful posts coming? Then check out my latest adult coloring book, “Ocean Rhythms”: full of ocean mandalas in my etsy shop. There are two coloring books to choose from, lots of hand painted decor, and so much more for your home!)

 

3. Make It Easy For Others

Are there always bits and pieces of everyone’s lives strewn about your living areas? Find a space for a shelving unit or a book case, and give each person a basket (or two) in the shelves. When things get too cluttered in the room, toss everyone’s stuff in the baskets (or make them do it). For little ones, set a kitchen timer and make a game out of having them fill their basket! Having a place nearby for each person to stow items in a hurry makes it much more plausible for them to actually DO it. Occasionally, those baskets can be taken to their respective rooms and emptied, because, face it, they WILL overflow.

 storage cubbystorage bins

4. FAT Organizing

When I was an admin, my boss introduced me to “FAT” organizing, which is an acronym for“File, Act, or Toss”. The stack of papers on my desk decreased dramatically when I started using this method. When mail is opened at home, you either FILE important papers, PAY (act) the bill, or RECYCLE (toss) the junk. If you read a magazine, file favorite pics, articles, or recipes in a binder, and then toss the magazine. Getting a handle on all the paper in your home may take some time, but by tackling one pile at a time, it will get done! Keep only the paper that is legally necessary for taxes, insurance, medical, etc. Sort sentimental items and store them together.

piles of paper

5. Collections

Everyone collects SOMETHING, be it shells, rocks, books, fabric scraps, yarn, craft supplies, colored pencils, or bellybutton lint. Time for some semblance of order! Collections are better displayed as a group instead of spread around the house, and they look best in similar containers, so get creative and start fresh! Transparent bins on a shelf are great, because even if NOT labeled, you can see the contents. Dollar stores are great for cheap and colorful storage ideas. Shadow boxes are a great way to store and display sentimental items (or fossils, or feathers, or ticket stubs), and a grouping of them hung together are wonderful conversation starters.

More ideas for collections/multiples: fabric can be wrapped around small pieces of cardboard and stored on a shelf like books; use a laundry bag for a collection of sport balls; I use spice racks found at thrift stores for my paint bottles; we have a stack of six sticker-covered flea market trunks in the basement for holiday decorations. This is the tip of the iceberg…just think outside the box for collection storage.

shell collection   fabric storage

6. Make Cleaning Easier

Laundry: Pull empty hangers from closets on laundry day and hang them in the laundry room. Keep your laundry supplies within arms reach of the washer, in the order you use them. Hang or fold clothes as soon as they come out of the dryer. Set the clothes in the room they belong in, and have each person put them away at bedtime.
Cleaning: Instead of hauling supplies from bathroom to bathroom, have a set of disinfectant, soft scrub, window cleaner, paper towels, toilet cleaner and brush, etc, in each bathroom. Also, clean “on the run”! It is quick and easy to grab the window cleaner and wipe the mirror as you finish up your morning rituals, and super quick to squirt some cleaner in the toilet and give it a swish every few days than to go find the cleaning supplies and make it a chore on the weekend. Find more ways to clean “on the run” and you won’t have to find time to clean the whole bathroom at once.

cleaning supplies

7. Entry Organization

Use a small bench with storage space in it (even a repainted toy chest with some bins inside will work) to store frequently-used items that are generally dropped at the door: umbrellas, dog leashes, rain boots, gloves, shopping bags. Install hooks on the wall for each person so coats don’t end up on door handles. Also, if you have a closet near the entry, keep a broom and dustpan in the closet so you can sweep up incoming dirt frequently. Living in Virginia with all the red clay, entry sweeping is a frequent activity, as much as it was dealing with Florida sand. You want your entry to be welcoming and clean, not in disarray and chaos.

entryway storage and organization

8. Get It Out Of Your Head!

Being overwhelmed leads to procrastination and forgetfulness. With technology, we can set alarms on our phones for appointments, anniversaries, classes, and birthdays (take a few hours and input at least your family birthdays into your phone calendar). You can also set alarms for monthly chores, too. Less to remember!
I set alarms for important dates a day ahead as well as the day of in case I need to grab a present or make other event-oriented plans.
I’m a “hard copy” person, and benefit greatly from a daily journal that includes future to-dos, projects, lists, goals, and everything I need in one place. It’s called Bullet Journaling (http://bulletjournal.com/), though my version is more lie “BB” journaling, as it is a bare-bones version. You can tweak the system to whatever you need for YOUR life, or make up your own style…get as creative or utilitarian with your journal as you’d like. Everyone I know who has tried the system likes it.) Get all those little post-its and slips of paper off your cupboard door, out of your purse, and into one little book. Getting to-do’s and appointments OUT OF YOUR HEAD and into your phone or in a book means you’ll have more brain space for happy, creative, problem-solving, superhero stuff!

9. Clothes

Seriously, we all have too many clothes. JohnnyV and I occasionally take everything out of the closet, throw it on the bed, and do a “slash and burn”. If it doesn’t fit or can’t be altered, then out it goes (donated or sold). Stained: out. Beyond repair: out. We do keep a few sentimental items, but there is a limit. How many destination t-shirts are in your closet that your rarely, if ever, wear? If you just can’t part with them, have a blanket or quilt made. (I’ve made a few out of t-shirts, and even made a king size quilt out of my Hawaiian shirts!)

hawaiian shirt quilt

10. Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

The adage is true. Items hidden in a closet or drawer are most likely never seen or used, and you are probably hanging on to items you no longer need. I’m NOT talking about your tennis racket or your sleeping bag that you just keep out of sight until next use. I’m talking about old trophies from your bowling team, programs from shows you’re seen, seed catalogs from years past, or old magazines. If you really have a sentimental attachment to those programs, bind them and put them on a shelf for all to enjoy. But if you’re just holding on to the trophies to remind yourself of the good ol’ days, then perhaps take a photo of them to frame in a shadow box along with some other old tidbits, and display it where you will see and enjoy the memories. If you never see it, what’s the point of keeping it?

memorial shadow box

11. Bonus: the best way to clean any room.

It’s a HUGE undertaking, but we actually enjoyed doing this task in our old storage shed in Florida before we moved. As you take every item from the room (or garage, or basement), you put it in one of three piles: “Keep,” “Throw Away,” or “Donate/Sell.” THEN, put things back in order, with items you will use the most near at hand and items which are used less neatly stowed away. With only three categories and a ruthless attitude, you can pare down the square footage of the items you’ve accumulated over time quite quickly (plus make a few bucks when you sell items). If you’re moving, it’s actually helpful to do this again after you are settled in your new place. You’ll find that some of the items you just HAD to keep at your last home now no longer serve you. Buh bye!

how to simplify

REMEMBER: getting organized is not a one-time event. You don’t fly through the house and, with the waving of the Organization Fairy’s wand, suddenly live a care-free, sparkling hearth and home life. Staying organized is a way of life, and if you take baby steps now to get started, you’ll be surprised by how much mind space you can free up, and you’ll also enjoy more free time. Yes, more FREE TIME! And free time is something we can ALL use to do more of the things we love!

EDIT: CONTEST HAS ENDED. This month’s GIVEAWAY is for a hand-painted “Secrets” box. A pretty place to store tiny treasures, this stash box looks like a book!

january 2017 giveaway

Be sure to subscribe and leave a comment letting everyone know how YOU stay organized and you’ll be entered to win the Secrets box!
Eclectic Dawn

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13 Comments

  1. Wow!! Great articles. Getting it out of your head is a must for me. I am old school hard copy too,but my daughter has shamed me into using my new iPhone for more than phone calls and camera.
    The scraps of paper have disappeared since all my list of things to do or items I’m out of at home are in my phone. So many times I’d be out and not have the “list”. I wasted a lot of time running in circles. I’m also one of those people that thinks about all the stuff I forgot to do or get that day and it bugs me to where I have hard time falling asleep.
    Thanks for all the tips and I like reading all the other comments.

    • Thanks for your input, and yay for using technology, Bonnie! For stuff that keeps you awake: Mom always told me to put each thing in a “box” in my mind before sleeping and deal with one at a time the next day.
      (You’ve got an entry in our January Giveaway!)

  2. Great article. Had some good tips and ideas.

  3. Having previously asked for your help and ideas I am now much better at keeping things done. As always, Thanks for your help. You actually keep me on the straight and narrow. After a computer crash I also do a hard copy calendar book and address book.

    • Happy New Year, dear Fran! Smart idea with the hard copy calendar and address book – we do that, too! Also, once a year, usually January 1 or 2, I take everything out of our wallets and scan both sides of cc’s, dl, insurance, and other pertinent cards. I print out my address book from my contacts list, too, and tuck it with important papers. (You’ve got an entry in our January, 2017 giveaway!)

  4. Jennifer N Kay-Williams

    Awesome tips, Dawn. I love the checklist idea. I think it is important to have somewhere to start, just to get the momentum going, and having a checklist could keep you from feeling overwhelmed.

  5. Great tips, Dawn! Many are obvious but we don’t think of them when overwhelmed by the task of tidying.

  6. Love all your organizing ideas especially think like a business and get it out of your head. Baby steps really are the key. I’ve been using flylady.net for a while now and it really works for me. I like this quote from flylady: Pick up after yourself. If you get it out, put it away.

    • I just checked out the site you mentioned – great ideas, and she’s so right! I agree that if you take something out, you need to put it away…and that’s BEFORE you take anything else out. I TRY to do that in the studio, but during busy times, I get a stack of “this” here and a pile of “that” there. 😀 BTW, if you want to enter the January 2017 Giveaway, be sure to subscribe to the Newsblog and confirm your subscription (you’ll get an email). Subscribe at http://www.eepurl.com/bS3Ad9 (That link will open in a new tab.)

    • Hi, Karen! I just wanted to let you know that you’ve got an entry in our January 2017 contest! 🙂

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