I decided to create a list of organizational tips that help me when I am working on a project. These are just MY thoughts on organization, but I think they are great guidelines for anyone. (Picture sources are linked below each picture.)
1. Make it Easy.
If it is too difficult to get to or to put back, chances are you won’t want to. Don’t pile or stack things that you use often. Also, if the system is easy to follow, your entire family can do it. Part of being organized is being able to STAY organized. Don’t make it harder than it already is.
2. Like Things Go With Like Things ONLY.
Trying to combine more than one item usually means things will get out of control fast. It can also make it more difficult to find one item if there are other items in the way. Try to be extremely specific here. Don’t just have a bin for “electronics”, have a bin for “computer cords”, “video equipment”, “camera accessories”, etc. Then you know exactly where to look and where to put it back.
3. Toss It/ Donate It.
I hate to waste things, but think about if its REALLY going to get used. Be honest. If it’s something no one else would want or could use, just toss it. If it can be donated, do that. Notice how I didn’t include “sell”. Unless you are a big Ebay/Craigslist person or have regular yard sales, don’t save stuff to sell. It will only sit and collect more dust while you “get to it” and chances are, you wont.
4. Beauty is on the Inside.
Just because it appears organized on the outside, doesn’t mean it is. If you are cleaning out your closet, don’t just move the bins/clothes around. Pull everything out, open everything, evaluate the contents, and arrange accordingly. I bet there are boxes in your closet that you don’t even know what is in them. AND, by cleaning each thing out, you can usually pare down the amount of storage containers you actually need.
5. Find YOUR System.
Don’t be idealistic. If your entire family removes their shoes at the door, it’s probably not a good idea to have a ton of shoe storage in their closets. If you follow a system tailored to your family’s needs, things will stay organized and neat longer. And, don’t forget that our family/situations change, so make sure you reevaluate your system every once in a while too.
6. Leave Room For More.
If things are already packed in tight and you acquire something else, where will it go? Make sure when you assign something to an area it has enough room there to grow. And sometimes, it’s nice to have an empty box/bin as a placeholder so the space and the storage is there when you need it.
7. Consistently Maintain.
No matter how wonderful your organizational system is, things will always get a little crazy over time. Spend some time each week or each month to readjust and reevaluate to make sure things stay in order.
8. Put Things Back Where You Found Them.
Exactly where you found them. This not only helps you, and everyone else, find them again, but it keeps things neat. One thing out of place may mean something else won’t fit properly. Then, stuff just starts getting piled up. So, put it back right the first time.
9. Label Everything.
Go out and buy a label machine. They aren’t very expensive. It will help you tremendously. And then, label everything. Labels serve as constant reminders that “hey, we are organized here, so keep it that way”. If everyone can see things have a specific place, they are more likely to put them there. If you have kiddos that can’t read, make picture labels for them.
10. Do It Now!
Don’t put off putting things away. Don’t have a “to go upstairs” pile. Just do it. Take it to its spot as soon as you possibly can. If you do leave an item on the stairs or by the door, make sure the next time you head that direction, you pick it up and take it with you to its correct spot. It doesn’t take as long as it feels like it does.
11. A Place For Everything.
Use tape to map it out if you have to, but everything needs its own spot. Imagine if you had 6 friends over and only 3 seats. You can’t sit your friends on your other friends. You need 6 seats. If things naturally stack or combine, that is fine. But, otherwise, give everything its own designated place.
12. Buy Appropriately.
Before starting any new organizational project, make a list of things you have and what needs a place. Then, you can buy the most appropriate items for what you need. Some things need small containers and some need large; sometimes you need a tray and sometimes you need a drawer. Also, try to buy storage solutions that stores always have in stock, so that when you need more, you can get it. Things that stack well are also helpful.
13. You May Be In It Alone.
Sorry, but as much as you have dreams of glorious organization, your family may not. Having systems that suit your family’s needs will help, but remember that this is what YOU want. Help them out with friendly reminders, but don’t get too frustrated if they don’t follow your rules exactly. It may just not be in their personality.