I collected some tried and true tips for organizing your life from bloggers that are sure to help you out in the organization department—and the sanity department too! 😉
Right now, my dining room table is littered with cardboard boxes. Normally, this would be a sure sign that I don’t have my shit together. But this time it’s because I’m getting my shit together.
You see, the whole new year clean slate thing has me on a total and complete organizational rampage. I have been ruthlessly organizing, categorizing, and junking the mounds of crap we have somehow accumulated. It feels really, really good. Breath of fresh air good. Almost too good. So I had to share some tips to draw you into this feeling of fresh goodness.
I turned to some talented ladies in the blogosphere and decided to combine forces to present you with a big fat list of organizing tips that will rock your world.
10 tips for organizing your life
Take care of things as they come up
This is a really tough one for me. Actually, I’m sure it’s difficult for anyone with kids. Immediately putting something in its place—or at least a neat holding place that lets you know it’s waiting to be dealt with—is something that makes life so much more organized. At the same time, it’s so difficult to do when you’re trying to do approximately 83 different things at the same time.
I’ve been trying really hard with this one over the last few weeks. I have a new tray on my desk to organize papers. Instead of piling them up and forgetting them, I have different tiers designated for different things (ie things that need to be dealt with ASAP, things I’m waiting on, things that need to be filed when I have a minute, etc.). I’ve also been trying to be better about taking care of things (like the mail) in the moment instead of leaving them for later. It leaves me feeling unburdened because I have less to remember to take care of when I get a chance.
This one is a definite work in progress, but it’s helped significantly by the next tip.
Utilize baskets and bins
“I’ve started creating buckets and baskets for the mess,” writes Eva from The Multitasking Woman in her post 8 Tidying Up Tips for Overwhelmed Mums That’ll Bring Back That Feeling Of Zen. “I know it’s not ‘organized’ but being able to throw a mess in a basket to sort out later declutters in an instant and makes me feel loads better.”
I am so with Eva on this one. I’ve written about it in an organization hacks for families post, but it’s totally worth repeating. BASKETS ARE YOUR FRIENDS! I have baskets everywhere throughout our house. There’s one at the bottom of the stairs to catch the mess that needs to find it’s way upstairs. There are baskets in the girls’ room, filled with things that they need to put away. There are baskets in cubbies, with similar toys grouped inside them.
I love that they’re easy for the kids to access and that they camouflage the mess inside.
Holly from Southern Mom Loves had another great idea: “Add bins to your desk drawers. If you find that you have to dig through your drawers to find anything, invest in a few cheap, dollar store mini bins. These small, plastic, open-top baskets are great for organizing desk drawers, and they come in a variety of sizes and colors. You can use different sizes so that you fill the drawer perfectly and don’t lose any space. If you find that the boxes slide around a bit, use poster putty to keep them in place.” She has more gems like this in her post Easy and Affordable Home Office Organizing Ideas.
I’m not sure why I never thought of this! I use shoeboxes in our dressers to corral like items (socks in one, underwear in another), but I never thought to take little bins and baskets to my desk! I’m absolutely going to try this.
Roll your t-shirts and tanks
One thing I would love to do is figure out a system to tame my daughters’ dressers (especially the little one’s). Jazzmine from Dash of Jazz has a tip for that in her post 6 Easy Closet Organization Hacks: roll your t-shirts and tank tops.
“This is a space-saving practice I picked up in college. I believe the origin is military but I started using it as a freshman sharing a suite with three other girls. This helps you fit more in a space while still being able to see what each item is. Rolling clothes is also helpful when packing a suitcase for travel.”
I’m definitely going to use this trick for packing suitcases. I’ll attempt for Ellie’s dresser… but I’m wondering if she’ll go with it or just yank things out and stuff them back in per usual. At the very least, I can try this out on my own stuff to make more space!
Fold laundry straight out of the dryer
Laundry is not something that I mind too much. In fact, I kind of like folding (especially folding while listening to my favorite podcasts)… when I get around to it. My husband, however, does not love when I leave laundry baskets laying around waiting to be folded (he is not permitted to touch the laundry—that and loading the dishwasher. He totally sucks at both 😉 ). Ann-Marie of Chaos is Bliss shared an interesting tip in her post, The One “Well, duh!” Laundry Hack That Changed My Life:
“I started to fold the laundry as it comes out of the dryer, straight into the clothes basket,” she explained. “Does everyone who owns a washer and dryer already do this, and I’m the last one to consider what an absolute laundry game changer this is?! No more laundry basket sitting with unfolded clothes. No more procrastinating because folding laundry is such a chore. No. More. Wrinkles. Even better? Sometimes it works out that I’m sorting by family member as I fold and place into the basket(s). That’s double the time saved. Score, and score.”
I absolutely never thought to do this—probably because my washer and dryer are down in our unfinished basement, which is not the prettiest space to spend time in. Unless, of course, I need a little escape. Hmmmm… Definitely something to consider!
Make cleaning a family effort
Ever feel like you’re drowning under the weight of all the things you have to do? Um, yeah. Me too.
Why? Because I’m a control freak who has to take the responsibility for everything on herself. But if I could let just a few things go and delegate certain tasks to certain (capable) family members, I might just be a much happier human. And our house might actually be clean.
Katelyn from What’s Up Fagans lays it all out in her post 11 Habits That Help Keep Your House Clean Even with Kids: “Work together as a family to take out trash, fold and put away laundry, load and unload the dishwasher, clean up after dinner, pick up the house, and clean the bathrooms. Make it a group effort. Put on music, set timers, reward yourself with a little treat afterward, whatever you want to do, but clean as a family.”
My kids are definitely better at cleaning when we tackle it together. And, while there are some things that would just be a bigger, longer mess to deal with if they’re involved, there are definitely things that they can and should do themselves on a more regular basis.
Don’t be afraid to purge
This tip is my current favorite. As someone who has been called a hoarder once or twice, it feels really, really good to just let go of things every once in a while. I’m currently in one of those phases.
Kicked into action after packing up our Christmas decorations, I have been purging our house ever since. So far it’s looked like this:
- 20 big black garbage bags donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters (knowing that the stuff that was sitting unused in my house could actually be helping someone made it so much easier for me to let go and stop saying just in case)
- 5 big black garbage bags in the trash
- selling 143 DVDs (with more waiting to be scanned and shipped out) to Decluttr
- the start of a couple of boxes of housewares that I plan to donate to a local charity that helps people who need temporary assistance because of unforeseen events
I have to tell you, it feels so good to let this stuff go. It doesn’t feel like waste when I know it will help someone in need and emptying my home of all of this unnecessary stuff almost makes me feel like I can breathe easier. It’s freeing.
Cristy from Happy Family Blog sounds like she experienced something similar—and she has a great tip on getting your kids involved with it in her post about organizing toys.
“I have been so guilty of saving all our daughter’s toys in the hope that one day she will have a brother or sister. But the truth is, at this point, they would be over 5 years apart and the toys change so much I don’t think that we need to save EVERYTHING. If your child is YouTube obsessed like ours, I recommend looking up videos about giving away toys. This really helped us prepare our daughter to be a part of the process.”
Use a bullet journal
I am one of those people who needs to write things down if there’s any hope of me remembering them. The result is tons of tiny, important pieces of paper fluttering all over the place. I never have them when I need them and the bottom of my purse is like a forgotten note burial ground. It’s not working.
Enter the bullet journal. Friends have told me I should consider it in the past, but it wasn’t until a couple of months ago when my local blogger friend Ashley basically forced me to sit down and start one that I actually did.
It has been a total game changer. My thoughts and notes and endless to-do lists are finally organized and all in one easy-to-find place. It’s amazing.
Kristen from Joyfully Thriving had a similar experience, which she talks about in her post How to Start a Bullet Journal That Will Change Your Life. “Thanks to my bullet journal, I no longer have lists on random pieces of paper floating around my house, post-it notes stuck on the fridge and half a dozen notebooks with different collections in them. Everything is now in my bullet journal. I still use my Google calendar online for appointments so it can be synced with my husband’s calendar and viewed on the go. Other than that? Everything else is in my bullet journal.”
You and me both, girl!
Do an inventory
Katie from My Sweet Home Life outlines a pretty fantastic organization tactic in her post 10 Ways to Keep Your Home Tidy: Take an inventory of every room before cleaning.
“During this inventory, look to see where the crap-magnets are. A crap-magnet is one of those surfaces that seem to pull everything towards it. In our bedroom, it’s to the side of my bed and is mainly comprised of the clothes I take off at night, some of which are destined for the laundry and some to be put away. In the kitchen, it’s the left-hand side of the kitchen bench which is right in front of you when you walk in, where we dump the mail, and school bags. As well, at the base of the bench I seem to always drop my shoes.
Once you have the inventory worked out, think about what is left in each area and what you could do to combat this dumping. This could be a routine or a storage option. For example, for the clothes, I could put a nice basket, in the walk-in wardrobe so clothes could be dumped in there, and then be easily carried to the laundry, and I could also force myself to not take off my shoes until I go into the bedroom to get changed. Paperwork could get sorted straight away. This is the most time-consuming step but the one that can have the most impact.”
I don’t know about you, but my house definitely has crap magnets: the dining room table, the table at the bottom of our stairs, my desk. I love the idea of trying to come up with a solution to contain each of those spots.
Repurpose things before throwing them away
OK, this is something about me that drives my husband a little crazy. I hate waste. Because of that, I hold onto things just in case I might be able to use them at some point in the future. The result? Well, I have about 15 empty shoeboxes stacked up in my closet. They’re just chilling there, waiting for me to decide I can use them.
Susan from Organized 31 seems to feel the same way—she’s just much better at it than I am. In a post about her free washi tape organizer, she explains. “I always stop and examine any item I’m about to throw into the recycle bin. I relish the challenge of repurposing items for organizing and crafting. Recently I was about to throw a store bought cookie tray into the recycling bin when I had a lightbulb moment. Bing. See how those little troughs designed to hold the cookies look like they might hold a roll of washi tape? I almost ran to my craft room to see if the tray would work for washi tape organizing.”
Spoiler alert: it totally worked.
Repurposing things is a really smart way to reduce waste and save money. It becomes less smart when you hold onto things just in case you can repurpose them (don’t tell my husband I said that).
Utilize space wisely
While we’re on the subject of thinking about things in new and creative ways, I love Emma from Little House Lovely Home’s post How to Live in a Small Space With Kids (and Stay Sane). Her tip for getting smart with storage really jumped out at me: “I could write a whole post on storage, but my tops tips are these. The space under beds is the best place to store clothes and toys. If you have enough clearance, I recommend getting drawers that sit under the bed. Ours are on casters and roll right under the bunks, sitting flush against the side of the base when stored. They are huge and fit everything we need in the room. If you don’t have space, under bed storage bags are the next best thing.”
We do something similar over here, storing a drawer full of extra blankets under the bed in the girls’ room and assorted things with no good home under our bed. I love that this trick tackles clutter without using up precious space.
Do you have any go-to tips for organizing your life? Share them with us in the comments!
Looking for more organizing tips? Check these posts out:
- 6 Tools That Make Me More Efficient
- 3 Simple Steps That Will Help You Feel Less Overwhelmed
- A Simple Way to Organize Family Memories
- Mission: Organization
- 5 Steps to Organizing Your Life