tips for home organizing

Boxes filled with items destined for storage.

Before you can organize anything, you'll need to lighten up a bit on your belongings.

The prime cause of disorganization is that you've got too much stuff.

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

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 and follow these tips for home organizing. You'll be amazed at what a difference a day makes.

Lighten Up on Your Belongings

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. 

Don't be a pack rat. And don't teach your kids to be rodent-like, either. If you don't use it, get rid of it. And help your kids do the same. 

Here's what you do: Pick a day. Pick a room. Pile everything from the room in the middle of the floor. (Really. Try it. Trust me.)

Look at each item individually and critically, just as you would in a store. Is this something you would buy? Is this something you would be happy with if someone gave it to you? If either answer is no, well, it needs to go.

You're probably feeling a little overwhelmed right now. (And perhaps a bit trapped by all the stuff in the middle of the room.) When you've got so much stuff, it's hard even to know where to begin! Relax, thse tips for home organizing can help.

Slowly but surely, go through everything in your home, piece by broken or frayed piece. If you decide to keep an item, great! Now put it away in its logical, convenient, accessible, and labeled place.

If you decide you don't need it, you have a few options: throw it away, sell it or give it away, hold on to it, or store it. Gather four boxes or trash bags, one for each option. And start sorting stuff into them.

Throw It Away

Yuck. You hate it. It's no good to anyone. How did it get here? 

These tips for home organizing are good rules to live by: If you haven't used it, played with it, or worn it in six months, if it's missing many of the essential pieces; or if it's broken, it goes.

Once you have a pile of throw-aways, grab the kids and go through the to-be-trashed stash, separating plastic, paper, glass, 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.)

Sell It or Give It Away

Woman holding donation box with toys inside.

Yuck. You hate it. But somebody might like it. Decide whether you're the garage-sale type.

If so, carefully pack up all the items you'd like to include in a future sale in plastic bins (transparent ones are better for remembering what's there), boxes, or bags that you will, of course, label "Garage Sale".

If you prefer to donate the items, neatly fold or place them in bags or boxes, label them, and call the recipient to arrange pickup or drop-off.

Stash them in your garage or basement in the meantime.

Hold on to It

Hmmm. Forgot you had it. Everyone else did, too. You want it, but you haven't used it in 10 years. Oh well, put it away for another year and think about it again. This tips for home organizing will help keep it from getting lost again.

Find a more convenient place for it this time to increase the chances that you might actually use it. 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.

In the bedroom, for example, you might try assigning one drawer to stationery items, or one part of the closet shelf to games.

Then you might move the games to under the bed, where the kids can reach them more easily. It's trial and error.

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), these tips for home organizing can help.

What goes in what closet? Tips for Home Organizing

If you're blessed with a home with lots of closets, they're ideal storage sites for things that you use a lot but need neatly tucked away. Here's how I allocate my closets:

Parents': seasonal clothing or shoes, sweaters, sweatsuits, gift-wrapping supplies, photos, and scrapbooks

Child's: board games, dress-up clothes, school projects, and papers

Guest room: Sewing supplies, craft supplies, assorted baskets, off-season clothes, formal clothes, and those extra gifts you buy throughout the year

Study: Old tax receipts, canceled checks, and files

Utility: Vacuum cleaner, tools, light bulbs, and batteries

Storage Tips For Home Organizing

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, these tips for home organizing can help. 

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.

For example, next winter, your husband will be able to find the Christmas lights and your son will be able to grab his snowboard at the first sign of the first flake of the first snow of the season. 

The problem with storage is that once you store something, it's much harder to keep track of.

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.

You'll need to realize, as I have, that garages and basements are not designed to be the repositories of a lifetime's accumulations.

You need to keep stuff there that you actually intend to use at some time. Sell, give away, or toss the rest. 

Trust me, even though you think that you'll use that fold-up table or those unmatched glasses in your second home some day, you won't.

By then you'll be able to afford new, stylish stuff. 

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