Can I tell you a secret? I wouldn’t really call myself a super organized person. I’m a little nervous saying that since I’m a professional organizer. I have a good friend who is organized. She has so many containers and labels on all of them and its really beautiful and like a magazine. My secret weapon though, as I help people (and in my own home) is minimizing. I love helping them decide what they can and should let go of and then and only then, organizing.

I have found some tried and true tips that I love and use in my own home and that I’ve used in organizing sessions that will hopefully be useful to you.

1. Declutter before organizing. This may be obvious to most of you, but I cannot say this enough. You can organize forever, but it will not help if you are constantly hiding away things that no longer belong in your home. The less you have:
*the easier it will be to organize
*the less stuff you have to organize
*you will spend less time and money organizing
*the more neat and lovely it will look once its organized.

2. Use what you have. It is so tempting as you begin to do a massive purge and organizing session to want to run out and buy the cutest bins and boxes. But if you’re doing this correctly, you’ve gotten rid of a lot of things and need less space and less to contain. Maybe you emptied baskets or boxes during the decluttering process that you can now use to organize the things you chose to keep.

I use mason jars for many purposes so that I don’t have to buy new containers. I have pencils in one jar in the area my kids do homework, they hold cotton balls in my bathroom, hair & head bands, and of course food in the kitchen–anything from candy to leftovers. I also had some old baskets that weren’t being used, but have found ways to incorporate them, not decoratively, but in utilitarian ways: crocheting project, kids books, holding wash cloths as seen below (that used to be a heaped up mess under my sink)

3. Stacking clothes vertically. I had already greatly minimized my wardrobe when I read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. (Affiliate link). As she talked about clothing and putting things back and how she hangs very few items, I truthfully wasn’t really buying it. As an experiment, I tried it and I can attest to still, months later, keeping clothes folded and stacked as she does. I love that I can see everything. No more ransacking a drawer to see if that one shirt is clean or not, I can see it all as soon as I open the drawer. My kids and husband also like things put away vertically. We’ll see if the kids keep it up as their new chore is putting their own clothes away.


4. Follow the child’s lead on toys. One thing I’ve learned in my near ten years as a mom, is that my children have their own ways of doing things. This is good and it is healthy. My way of organizing is not necessarily what works best for the child. Of course when they’re an infant and toddler we organize and clean for them, but as they get older, give them the freedom to organize their belongings in ways that work for them.

For example, I kept organizing my son’s toys in a way that I thought made sense–super heroes in one box, dragons in another, and toy soldiers in another. One day as I was helping him clean up his room, I became a little stressed out as I was trying to separate the dragons from the soldier from the heroes. So I asked him why he didn’t put things where I shown him and his answer was simple, because I play with them all together. In my mind, toy soldiers and super heroes and dragons didn’t belong together. But it was true, he would always lay out these massive battles using them all. He doesn’t want or need them separated, they can all go in the same bin because he almost always plays with them together. It wasn’t that he wasn’t cleaning up, it’s just that I had organized it too much.

Maybe you’re over organizing your child’s things if you feel like its never organized or they don’t follow your organization. There’s also a good chance that they have too many toys so see what can be passed on.

5. Give items a home that makes sense. Over the next few days notice what irks you about your routines or about where things are placed. If something doesn’t feel right, then it either needs to be minimized or needs a new home. For example, if you keep the scissors upstairs in a craft room or office, but mostly need them downstairs, move them. Rather than getting a second pair for downstairs, put them where you need them most and then in the rare occasions you need them upstairs, you’ll know where to find them. Truth be told, we probably all have those things that we do only because that’s how we think or have been told that its always been done that way. Begin to consider your home and family and the ways that you do things and organize your home accordingly.

As I made this list, a few other came to mind that I wanted to list, but not go in depth about. So, here are the honorable mentions:
-Nothing on the floor and keeping other surfaces clear.
Folding sheets and putting the set in a pillow case
-Making modules for specific chores/activities as described by Francine Jay in her book (affiliate link), The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify

Do you have a useful and simple organizing tip? I’d love for you to share in the comments!

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