Whether you’re a devotee of organization guru Marie Kondo and her Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, or Jennifer McCartney and her Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over the Place is more your speed, we all need to do a little tidying up now and again.
But the problem with many “one size fits all” organization systems is that, well, sometimes one size doesn’t fit all. So instead of offering yet another top-down plan for organizing your life, in this postwe’ve compiled ten organization tips from across the blogosphere that are general enough to be applied in almost any situation yet specific enough to be super useful.
Implementing even one of these strategies would be powerful enough to transform any messy environment, but see if you can gradually adopt all ten for maximum organization efficiency!
1. Just Get Started
This tip comes from Laura Wittmann at I’m an Organizing Junkie. Don’t know where to begin in your journey to a more organized you? In the words of a certain shoe brand and a certain socially-challenged actor: just do it.
Laura suggests taking the most frustrating organization challenge on your mind and spending the next 15 minutes tackling it. You might find that the first step is the most difficult, and that once you start, motivation and persistence will come naturally.
2. Start Small
We’ve all heard the phrase “don’t sweat the small stuff”. It applies in many situations, sure. But when it comes to organization, the small stuff like receipts, documents, tools, and toiletries are exactly the types of things that tend to pile up over time until you just can’t take it anymore.
There a ton of great strategies for organizing specific categories of little things. You can find a solid overview by Steph at Modern Parents Messy Kids and start from there.
Organizing your smallest clothing pieces is a great way to start.
3. Divide and Conquer
…your clutter, that is. Lee Wallender of Fix has a brilliant guide for breaking large-scale organizationdown into a three-step process. Although the guide is written specifically for garages, the same steps could be applied just as well to any room or environment in need of some tender loving organization.
A full explanation of the process can be found at the link above, but briefly, the steps are:
Step 1: Categorize
Step 2: Sell Items and create storage systems
Step 3: Place items in storage systems
Having defined, measurable goals can make organization into something concrete and achievable as opposed to nebulous and overwhelming.
4. One Thing at a Time
“Okay, all my creatives out there will relate to me on this one. You’re doing a project, you put the finishing touches on it and then all of the sudden you feel the urgent need to move on to the next task ASAP, leaving all of your project materials strewn about to be dealt with later.”
—Abby, Just a Girl and Her Blog
Yes! Preach it girl!
A crucial tip to ensuring that you actually notice the progress of your organization efforts as you make it is to fully complete one goal, from start to finish, before moving on to the next one. That way, you can hopefully prevent things from getting worse before they get better.
5. Put Things Away, Right Away
Sounds obvious, right? Yet one look around the messy and cluttered rooms most people have in their homes suggests that this bit of apparent common sense is often easier said than done. As David Caolo of Unclutterer succinctly puts it: we tend to favor the path of least resistance, and we all have a daily limit of self-control willpower.
Resolving to immediately put things in their proper place can help cut off clutter at the knees before it reaches anxiety-inducing levels. But when those inevitable moments of laziness do come, David also offers a great idea to cope: keep a box in every room for miscellaneous items waiting to be put away. That way, at least those free radicals will all be in the same place.
Which is easier to organize, 500 greeting cards or 500 playing cards? If you have 500 of either you might have a hoarding problem, but hopefully you said playing cards. With a generally uniform shape, size, and material, you can stack and pack those things until the laws of physics decide to rain on your parade.
The same principle is true of just about anything. You can standardize containers for food (such as cereal) or toiletries like shampoo and bodywash. Just get some uniform containers you find attractive and continuously refill them, rather than use the default product containers (which can immediately be recycled or repurposed).
For an example of a more in-depth guide to “organization by standardization”, see the article about pantry organization by Flavia Andrews of Neat House. Sweet Home.
7. Make it Personal
Everyone knows that taking things personally can cause someone to take a small issue and blow it way out of proportion. Instead of working against us, why can’t the same psychological phenomenon work for us instead?
Bryan Phelps, writing for Regina Leeds, proposes the idea that adding a personal touch to your closet, for example, will make you much more motivated to keep it organized. You can try this with any sort of trinket or knick-knack; simply place it in an area that needs to stay organized and see if it gives you an extra bit of motivation to keep that area clean.
8. Organize Your Vehicle
Many of us are on the organization bandwagon when it comes to the usual areas—our home, our desk, our closet—but all too often we neglect our vehicles. Why put in the effort of organizing everything else if your car remains a roving disaster area of mess and clutter?
On her blog, Andrea Dekker offers a great example of a vehicle organization plan. Putting a simple routine in place and sticking to it will help keep your car neat and clean before the mess gets out of control. Treat your vehicle like another room of your house, rather than a 19th century wagon headed west.
9. Follow an Organization Calendar
A lot of the organization tips found in this article are useful on a day-to-day basis, but what about in the long run? It’s a good idea to establish a basic “organization calendar” to keep yourself on track.
Lauren Conrad provides a possible organization calendar for your closet on her blog. A simple summary is as follows:
Monthly—Basic organization of whole closet.
Bi-yearly—Thorough examination for ill-fitting or damaged items.
Yearly—Go through and get rid of clothing that you no longer want/need.
10. Challenge Yourself
Who doesn’t love a good challenge? There’s a reason tests and competitions are often used to “bring out the best” in us. If you find yourself slacking a bit in the organization department, why not issue a little challenge to yourself?
Toni at A Bowl Full of Lemons has perfected the art of the structured organization challenge. Reading somewhat like the culmination of tips 1-4 above, it’s a concise, yet thorough, process to get your home clean and orderly no matter what state it may be in now. To make it a worthy challenge, be sure to set up some method of accountability for yourself, and perhaps even a reward plan for when you complete it.
Your Clutter is Waiting
Hopefully you can find something among these organization tips that will help you along in your own quest to make your life more tidy. Put them into practice today and let us know how they work! We also welcome any additional suggestions in the comments below.
As always, Make It Unique.