Organizing comes naturally to me. I hate clutter and crave space and order. I don’t become attached to stuff and I have weaned myself off the habit of recreational online shopping, so I don’t need to deal with finding places for the items I own. The result: I live in a fairly clutter free home.
I’m far from being perfect, of course. One could argue that my intense need for order, combined with a difficult-to-shake tendency towards perfectionism, prevent me from ever truly relaxing, and shift too much of my energy towards maintaining the order. But if you’re looking for organizing tips (as opposed to relaxation tips), you have certainly come to the right place.
The following organizing tips have worked for me ever since I can remember myself. I hope they work for you too.
1. Don’t accumulate stuff in the first place
This is the best advice I can give you. The less stuff you have, the less clutter, and the less time you’ll need to spend organizing your possessions. Your goal is to create a state of mind where *things* do not make you happy, where you see an item in a store and instead of admiring its beauty you think of it as more clutter to deal with.
2. Don’t allow mess to build up: clean as you go and put things away right after you use them
This is another important organizing tip. Get in the habit of cleaning up after yourself right away. For example, when you’re preparing a meal, clean as you go. Put things back where they belong after you’re done using them, and wash the dishes (or put them in the dishwasher) immediately after you’re done eating. This way, you’re not allowing the sink to fill up with dirty dishes, and your counters are not becoming cluttered. Same goes for your mail: go through it right away, throw junk mail into the recycle bin, and take care of what needs to be taken care of – including paying bills and filing – right away.
The idea is that it’s much easier to handle small amounts of mess than it is to handle a huge mess, such as a sink full of dirty dishes or a huge pile of unopened mail.
3. Minimize paper clutter by using a scanner
It’s important to have a good filing system on your computer, of course. I simply create folders and sub-folders and save relevant documents where they belong. By the way, in many cases you don’t even need to scan – more and more financial institutions, for example, offer paperless statements these days. Do remember to buy an external hard drive for your computer and backup everything once a month.
4. Minimize kids’ clutter
Kids add a lot of happiness to your life. They also add a lot of clutter. The best organizing tip I can give you as far as kids are concerned: relax your standards :). But after relaxing your standards, you should create a kid-specific organizing system which consists of two main things:
(1) Storing their stuff in labeled bins, baskets and cubbies.
(2) Getting them used to periodically going through their stuff and getting rid of the things they don’t use anymore, donating what they can and throwing out the rest.
Speaking of kids, birthdays are often a source of an endless parade of cheap, unnecessary gifts. Instead, do a book exchange. Ask each child to bring a wrapped book. The kids exchange the books, so that every child leaves the party with a gift. This will NOT scar your child for life, I promise
5. Find easy solutions for storing annoying items
For example, store charging cables and small accessories for cell phones, iPod, digital camera etc. in labeled Ziploc bags inside a designated drawer. This prevents cables from tangling, and makes it very easy to find what you’re looking for.
6. Find a designated place for everything
Each item you own needs to have its own place. This is one of the best ways to avoid clutter. When things don’t have a place, or when their designated place is inconvenient (such as requiring you to climb a flight of stairs to get to your home’s second floor), the result is often clutter. Look around: what are the items that create clutter? Do they have a designated place? Is the place convenient?
7. Perform a MONTHLY session of spring cleaning
Even if you adhere to the rule of cleaning as you go and picking up after yourself, some clutter is inevitable. To avoid this clutter from building up and becoming overwhelming, I find that it’s helpful to perform a general cleaning and de-cluttering session once a month instead of once a year. The benefit: instead of taking me several days, these mini-cleanings take just a couple of hours.
Do you have any additional organizing tips that you would like to share?
Image credit: The Container Store
Loved this comment: “I always think decluttering’s like drinking water. You can’t drink one glass, praise yourself and then leave it at that. It has to become a healthy, every day habit that you feel the benefits of with every ’sip’.” Janice of Sharing the Journey.