4 tips for getting organized at home

Out of sight, out of mind, or so the adage goes. But you can go on dumping the excess of daily life into drawers, piling it in the basement, or tossing it in a box for only so long.

Sooner or later, the drawers will get stuck, the basement walkway will disappear, the box will overflow. And the already space-crunched surfaces in your home will be teeming with stuff.

What's the solution? Easy! Get rid of what you can, and organize what's left.

  1. Getting Organized Starts by Lightening Up on Your Belongings

Before you can start getting organized, you'll need to lighten up on your belongings.

You know what's coming: You need to go through your stuff and toss what you don't use, don't need, and don't want.

Many of us have stuff we never use and don't need. We even have stuff we don't like. And so do our kids. So don't be a hoarder. And teach your kids not to be, either.

This is not a Saturday morning project. Don't plan on purging the house of a year's or a decade's worth of clutter in a morning. Allot at least a half day per room.

  2.  How to Decide What to Keep and What to Toss

Yuck. You hate it. It's no good to anyone. How did it get here? Here are some good rules to live by as you begin getting rid of clutter. Get rid of it if:

  • You haven't used it, played with it, or worn it in six months;
  • It's missing many of the essential pieces;
  • It's broken.

Once you have a pile of throw-aways, grab the kids and go through the to-be-trashed stash, separating plastic, paper, glass, and cardboard - whatever is recycled in your community.

Then take each pile to its final resting place (at least as far as your family is concerned.)

  3.  How to Organize the Keepers

Take the time to figure out where each item should go - and put it there. You may move things a couple of times until you find a space that's the right size for these items.

But take your time. The better you organize things, the easier it will be to stay organized. It took you a long time to get this messy, so don't expect to clean up your family's act in one weekend.

For these items (and for those you want to place in long-term storage), the next step is a touch more complicated and a bit more work. It's easier for everyone in the house if you do it right the first time.

Otherwise, you end up stuffing stuff in places you can't remember and in ways you shouldn't, such as putting heavy items on top of a box of extra glasses in the kitchen.

  4.  Store Items That You Want to Keep, But Not Display Right Now

You don't use it now, and neither do the kids. But maybe some day you could use it. And it would be too expensive to replace, or it has sentimental value.

For things you really don't use but can't part with, either, the solution is to find a safe place to store it long term. 

Few of us are blessed with an overabundance of storage, so we've got to develop a system that maximizes what we do have. And if that system is going to work, the whole family has to be in on it. This will help everyone down the road.

You need a written plan to keep from forgetting what you stored where. And you need to tell the rest of the family where you put that written plan.

That is the key to getting - and staying - organized, family-style.

› Getting Organized at Home


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