Spring cleaning in and of itself is a daunting, seemingly impossible task, so when it’s done, all you want to do is sit on your freshly-cleaned couch and watch some TV for a few days. You tell yourself, “I’ll clean every week to keep it looking like this!” And then a week passes without you cleaning…and another…and three more. Suddenly, your closets are overflowing again and your home is chock-full of stuff. Your nightmarish home has returned, and there’s only one thing that can stop it: organization.
Now, we’re not talking about color-coding or annotating notes like you did in high school (though those ideas can help!). We’re talking about making organization an everyday part of your life. We asked home organizers and interior designers for their top organization tips, and they’re happy to share that, while color-coded binders are great, there are some better (and easier) ways to organize your home:
Start with a Home Purge (Or Your Spring Cleaning)
If you haven’t already, it’s time to do your spring cleaning (or fall cleaning…or winter cleaning…let’s just call it “delayed spring cleaning,” no matter when it is). Go through your stuff, and with your new organization-geared mindset, keep the mantra “ditch or donate” in mind.
One of the most important ways you can make this easy? Stay focused. Business owner and organizer Mary Frances McGraw of Practical Life LLC coaches, “Block out time on your schedule to organize. Don’t let yourself get distracted. If you really want to post photos of what you’re doing on social media, take the photos and wait until you’re finished organizing to post them. Plus, adding before and after photos completes the post!”
Organize Your Home Using Storage in Unexpected Places
If you’re imagining organization as a bunch of big, plastic storage bins, think again. “It’s a good idea to invest in multi-functional furniture which provides storage,” says Nicola Croughan, Head Interior Designer at Blinds Direct. From storage ottomans to shoe rack benches, it’s easy to find furniture that fits multiple purposes – and can help you organize your stuff in functional spaces.
But you can go beyond furniture, too. J.B. Sassanno, President of Mr. Handyman, offers this advice for organizing your stuff: “Utilize the underside of your surfaces. Install hooks or glue the lids of glass jars to the underside of the surface so the jar can be screwed on and off.” And there’s more than just Pinterest projects to keep your stuff in (beautiful) order: “Display purses or shoes on the back of your closet door, using hooks and specialized holders. This also helps you see your options when you’re getting ready.”
Buy Yourself Organization Tools You’ll Use
While the thought of a label maker may sound a bit over the top, it’s something organizer Josh Matteson of home service provider Lula Life swears by: “Labels can create habits. The key to organizing is having a home for everything. When things are labeled, it is easy to remember to put them away and where to put them.”
And while you’re at the office supply store, buy yourself some file folders and a storage cabinet – you’ll thank yourself later, Matteson promises: “Despite the move towards a paperless world (shoutout to Michael Scott!), our lives are still consumed with paper. One of the biggest sources of clutter is paper without a place. Determining where everything goes is the first step towards paper organization.”
Turn Black Holes into Organized Drawers
Black holes don’t just exist in space – they exist in the cabinet under your sink, the giant drawers of your dresser, and the junk drawer in your kitchen. While science is yet to determine if black holes can be destroyed, interior designer and designer on HGTV’s Brother versus Brother Francis Toumbakaris believes they can (and should) be made smaller. “I’m a huge fan of interior drawer dividers. IKEA carries very inexpensive canvas/nylon ones. Interior drawer dividers are great because they let you divide things like dressy socks, athletic socks and underwear. You can select the divider box you need and put it back without making a mess.”
Make “Spring Cleaning” Seasonal Home Organizing
As you’re taking on the process of organizing your home, you’ve probably noticed that it’s so much work. While the first time is always the hardest, it doesn’t have to be like that forever. “Ensure decluttering and organizing is part of your seasonal or yearly routine,” says professional organizer Bridget James of the Organizing Professionals. “Set a date on the calendar for your next project, and get into the habit of keeping this routine.” If you’re doing a “ditch or donate” purge every three months, and you’re reorganizing each time, you’ll find that the work becomes easier and easier.
Want to take it up a notch? Make organizing a part of your daily routine. Set up a schedule of things to take care of daily (like reconciling and organizing receipts), weekly (tidying up and cleaning your home), and monthly (disposing of dated paperwork and decluttering your home).
When Organizing Your Home, Item Matters More Than Room
Think for a moment: how many pens do you have in your home? There are probably a few in your desk, and a couple in some of your kitchen drawers. One or two in your bedside table, a few in the living room, one hanging out on the counter, three or four lost in your briefcase… In other words, you have way more pens than you really need.
That’s probably the case for quite a few things in your home. Richard Mumby, Expert Organizer and CMO of MakeSpace, knows this problem all too well. But he has a quick solution: “Organize items by category, not location. Doing so allows you to get rid of duplicates – you’ll see exactly how many of the same items you have (i.e. spoons, towels, shoes, books), then you can make more a educated decision about what to keep.” And if you need some motivation, just remember: less clutter means less organizing to do, and less organizing to do means more time to binge-watch Game of Thrones.
Ask for Organizing Help
When organizing your home, you’re likely going to feel overwhelmed and stressed. So you might need to ask for help – just don’t ask the wrong person. “Ask for help, but only if the other(s) are actually going to help,” coaches McGraw. “Now is not the time to argue or reminisce.” Consider inviting over a good friend or family member and paying them with a home cooked meal and a few glasses of wine – nothing makes a hard task easier than the promise of wine, friendship, and some homemade lasagna at the end.
Need help bringing your ditch and donate boxes to the donation center or the dump? Dolly is here to help! Our background-checked Helpers will come take care of your unwanted furniture, memorabilia, and more. Let Dolly take care of the heavy lifting while you focus on the organizing.
Miranda is the Marketing Coordinator at Dolly. She’s moved nine times in the past six years, and while she’s grateful for the moving expertise, she’s hoping she doesn’t need to move a tenth time anytime soon.