Spending a whole day organizing your home seems easy enough. You set aside the time, you put on an energetic playlist, and you get to work. And when you're finally done, everything looks great... for a few days. The toughest thing about organizing isn't the initial organization work, it's keeping up with it in the long-term instead of letting clutter pile up once again, which, as you probably know, can happen much faster than you would think. If you want to keep your home tidy for as long as possible, you may be in need of some organizing tips from people who've made it their career.
Woman's Day spoke with several professional organizers to find out the top tips they share with their clients to keep their homes tidy 24/7. These are meant to make organizing feel easier and more accessible, and following these tips should keep your home more put together for a long time. It's an ongoing process, and it's one you'll always have to dedicate some time to, but the end result is worth it. Here are a few tips from professional organizers to get you started.
Give everything a home.
"Do you ever lose forks and spoons? No! Because they have a home in the silverware drawer," Kirsten Fisher, certified professional organizer and founder of Imagine Home Organization, tells Woman's Day. "Use this same method and store like categories of things together in a defined place." Every time you use an item, put it back where it was. After a while, it will become a habit you won't even think about.
Organize every small space.
Once each item has a home, make sure that home is organized. "First sort all items into categories, then select what you actually use and love, and then home the category using a right-sized container," Fisher says.
For example, if your towels have a home in the hall closet, organize your towels by category, get rid of ones you don't use, and give each category a home within the closet.
Stay focused while cleaning.
You might start cleaning your desk, bring an item into your bedroom, get distracted, and start cleaning in there. Instead, Stacey Agin Murray, professional organizer of Organized Artistry, tells Woman's Day to stay on a "focused path."
"When de-cluttering the contents of a room, start at the doorway and de-clutter around the room in a clockwise direction," she suggests, noting that having a set path keeps you from zig-zagging.
Need to take a de-cluttering break for an hour or a few days? Murray says to "Place a brightly colored scarf or pillow at the spot where you’ll need to start de-cluttering next. That way, you won’t have to use your brain power to remember where you last left off."
Be smart about buying storage containers.
Once you decide you want to organize, you might get over excited, run to Home Goods, and stock up on storage bins and containers. Pause on that: "Before purchasing storage products, be sure to edit your items and measure your space twice," Michelle Manske, organizer and co-founder of Henry & Higby, tells Woman's Day. "A little prep work and pre-planning will yield a much better result when searching for and purchasing storage containers."
Take it slow.
Organizing a very cluttered home can feel incredibly overwhelming, but you don't need to do this overnight. "Chip away at your pile of clutter like an iceberg; a little at a time in doable time increments," Murray recommends. "Small steps lead to big results. Take breaks and reward yourself for time spent on a task and the results that come from your hard work. Chipping away at the iceberg of clutter prevents clutter from creating problems of ‘titanic' proportions."
Stack your chores.
It may seem tough to make chores fun, but you can make them easier by turning them into a habit. Christine Wilcox, budgeting and home organization blogger of Letting Go Living More, tells Woman's Day that stacking your chores is a better idea.
"Make it a habit that you will put on a load of washing just before you set out the breakfast items. Or make it a habit that as the kids are eating breakfast you will unload the dishwasher," Wilcox recommends. "Making habits of regular chores and stacking them together stops things building up and getting out of control."
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Stick with clear containers.
When it's time to buy containers and bins for your items, try to avoid patterned and cloth options, even if they are prettier. "Only use clear containers for all your storage, whether it’s indoors (organizing bins for a closet) or outdoors (garage storage containers for seasonal decor, for example)," Rosanna Hinde, professional organizer and owner of Go-Fer Girl, tells Woman's Day. Clear containers make it super easy to see exactly what's inside without opening anything up.
Set aside 10 minutes every day to clean.
Instead of just reserving a huge chunk of time on a Saturday for cleaning and organizing, try doing a little bit each day to maintain your work. "Set a timer, just 10 minutes in the morning or evening, and do a quick move through your home, removing any items that have gathered on countertops and tables and returning them to where they belong," Wilcox says. "Get all of the family involved [because] everyone should be helping as it instills the habits to keep things tidy."
Use hanger direction to figure out which clothes to give away.
Holding on to items you don't need or use is one of the biggest ways your home becomes an unorganized mess, and this is especially true with clothes. To keep an eye on what you wear and don't wear, try the hanger trick.
"Simply turn your hangers around in your closet. As you wear items, return them to the closet with the hanger facing the normal way," Amanda Clark, owner of Ever So Organized®️, tells Woman's Day. "This is a visual way to see what items you actually wear. In reality, most people wear 20% of their clothes 80% of the time."
Create binders for loose papers.
Loose papers create a huge mess and are so annoying to deal with. Stay organized and "Create a binder for papers that you need to refer to on a daily/weekly/monthly basis, such as emergency phone numbers, school bus schedules, and the town recycling calendar," Murray says. You can also make binders for papers you don't use as often, important papers, and items you want to hang onto.
Have "prime real estate" spots.
"Maximize space and your time by storing your most frequently used items in easy to reach space or what we like to call prime real estate, Manske says. Identify the items you use most often, then find a spot for them that is accessible and easy to glance at no matter how rushed you are. This keeps you from making a mess of a drawer or closet searching for something you need daily.
Even with clear storage containers, labels can be lifesavers, especially in a space like a pantry. "Labeling helps remind you where everything is, and can help others find what they need and return items to their proper places," Clark says. "Using the same type label can give mismatched bins a cohesive look."
Take before and after photos for motivation.
"Take before pictures so you can not only reference when you’ve finished, but to motivate yourself and reference to see how far you’ve come," Elise Gurock of Chaos Concierge, tells Woman's Day. "The before picture will always generate the negative feeling you once associated with the room and you will literally feel weight lifted off your shoulders. Organizing is therapeutic."
Banish junk mail.
Junk mail creates so much clutter and is so frustrating to look at. Fisher recommends opening your mail next to a recycling bin and tossing what you don't need immediately. "This keeps mounds of unwanted paper from piling up all over your home and allows you to focus on what really needs to be paid, filed or otherwise dealt with," she says.
Hinde also recommends banishing junk mail completelyby getting on the National No Junk Mail List.
Get rid of packaging and opt for containers.
"Packaging takes up so much space. Remove your items from bulky boxes ]when possible] and reorganize items in clear storage bins," Clark says. This trick has extra benefits for food items, as it keeps it fresher longer. If necessary, Clark says you can "cut out cooking directions and expiration dates and tape them to the back of the container."
Clean out your closet at the end of every season.
Stay on top of your organized closet by going through your clothing and clearing out what you don't wear at the end of every season.
"For example, having just come out of the summer season, you'll know which clothes you wore during summer, and which clothes you avoided," Wilcox says. "Get rid of any summer clothing that you went through the whole summer season without wearing."
Stay organized as you go through your clothes as well.
"It's useful to use three boxes when going through your closet; one for clothes to sell or donate, one for clothes to throw away, and one for clothes to store (stuff you love but can't bear to get rid of yet)," Wilcox says. "Putting items in the 'store' box is the first step to getting rid of them, it actually starts the mental shift and you may find by the end of the declutter process you are ready to let some of those items go too."
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