Mail stacked on the table. Bowls piled in the kitchen sink. Shoes dropped around the door. Does this sound like your home? If so, you’re not alone. Professional organizer Annie Brooks of Blessed with Less in Kent believes we are so busy working, commuting and taking care of our families that we have little time to get and stay organized.
“It’s like a dirty little secret,” Brooks says. “When we don’t know how to turn disorganization around, we tend to do nothing.”
The key to becoming organized is to decide what we really want:
“Look for change on the inside first. By honestly examining what you want from your life — what is making it stressful? By envisioning what your best life might look like, you can better prepare yourself for the de-cluttering, organizing process.”
Fortunately, there’s hope for even the worst pack rats among us. “It’s not about being perfect or having cute little containers. It’s about being functional.”
Here are 25 ways to achieve a clutter-free home:
1. Start in the room that’s driving you the craziest.
2. Begin with a small project.
3. Choose a remote room, like a spare bedroom, so you can work on it when you have time without disrupting your life.
4. Use storage containers with flat bottoms (e.g. Sterilite tubs) to contain everything you can in the kitchen, bathroom, pantry, linen closet, garage, etc. for items you don’t need every day but need nearby and handy.
5. Label everything for easy and ongoing organization.
6. Create a mail-processing center with a shredder, recycling bin and a small container to hold no more than two or three days of mail.
7. Stack files horizontally for easy organizing. With vertical files, everything seems to go on top. Try sturdy magazine files from IKEA.
8. Sort and toss first. Organize last.
9. Use a serving tray on your desk to hold small items like note paper, paper clip dispenser and pens and pencils.
10. Hang a metal board on the wall to hold reminders, notes or ideas for later.
11. Make your bed every morning. It sets the tone for the day.
12. Allow your bed to be the one clutter-free zone in your bedroom.
13. Clean one drawer or shelf at a time.
14. Use under-the-bed storage containers for seasonal clothes.
15. Organize jewelry or hair accessories in office supply trays, muffin tins or small ramekins.
16. Clean your sink.
17. Wipe off the bathroom counter.
18. Keep similar things together in plastic, zip-topped bags (e.g. hair accessories, make-up brushes).
19. Use a shallow, decorative, heat-resistant tray to hold hairstyling tools for easy access.
20. Use glass containers to hold and display frequently used items like cotton balls, swabs and Band-Aids.
21. Store cleaning supplies under each sink in your home, including the kitchen.
22. Use plastic drawer inserts to keep items organized (silverware, kitchen utensils, junk drawers).
23. Arrange items in cabinets according to how often you use them.
24. Group items by type of use (baking, cookware, storage).
25. Use plastic tubs to organize smaller items, like storage lids, cookie cutters, etc.