household organization in 4 easy steps

Open bookshelves with baskets inside.

It should be no surprise that the secret to household organization is to take an orderly approach:

  • Prune away the excess
  • Stow what's left in logical places
  • Resolve to keep clutter from building up again.

Here's how to master household organization in four easy steps.

1.   Household Organization: Deciding What to Keep

In deciding what to keep, ask yourself:

  • Have I used or enjoyed this recently?
Woman holding wooden donation box filled with toys.
  • Does someone in the family value this?
  • Would I save it if there were a fire?
  • Will I need this later?

If you answered yes to one or more of the above, keep it!

If you answered no to all of the above, congratulations! You've found items you can donate to charity or throw away.

2.   Separate the Keepers

Place articles you've decided to keep in five bags or boxes labeled:

  • Other Rooms
  • Give Away
  • Toss or Recycle
  • Storage
  • Garage sale

3.   Organize the Keepers

Use these organizing principles for stashing the stuff you're keeping, and that belong in other rooms:

  • Create a place for every item.
  • Store things near where you'll use them.
  • Place least-used items on top shelves.
  • Keep like items together.
  • Corral small objects in baskets.
  • Stack stored items in similar-size boxes to maximize space.
  • Label storage containers.

4.  Control Future Clutter

Make these strategies a part of your life to control clutter in the future:

  • Place a catchall basket in your home's busiest rooms to hold keys, receipts, mail, and other items until you can find the time to organize them.
  • Place baskets at the bottom and top of the stairs to hold things that belong on another floor; take one or more items with you when going up or down.
  • When you bring home a new shirt, a kitchen knickknack, or a toy for the kids, resolve to store, recycle, give away, or toss another item that's past its prime.
  • Make putting away playthings a part of your child's nightly bedtime ritual.
  • Set aside 15 minutes each day to return mislaid books, magazines, cups, and so forth to their rightful homes.
  • Spend an extra minute each night to hang up your coat, fold your T-shirt or sweater, put away your pants, and stow your athletic shoes in your closet.
  • Keep your significant other current on important engagements, school information, bills due, and invitations to respond to, by putting the papers in a special folder or "hot-stuff" basket.

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