My Five Main Organizing Principles

When organizing anything in our home, there are principles that I follow…

1) Respect Prime Storage Locations

  • Location, location, location!  Just like real estate, the same applies to storage around your home.
  • If you use it often, make sure you can easily access it in a prime storage location.
  • You never want to store items in plastic totes on a top closet shelf if you need to get to it each day or each week.
  • Any counter top and main drawers/cabinets should be areas for items that you use daily.  If there are things on your counter that you often pass by or main drawers that you never open, it is time to evaluate what you keep in there.
  • Example : I had a couple of drawers in my nightstand that I never opened, I recently cleaned those out and now it contains hats, gloves and scarves.  Since it is still cold out, I am using them often and can rotate my winter accessories based on what I am wearing on a particular day.  When Spring/Summer finally comes around (seems like a long time from now) I will put the winter accessories in a tote on the top shelf of my closet and instead place my sun hats, light wraps, sunglasses and beach gear in the nightstand drawers.

2) Keep Like Items Together

  • Pick a single space and store like items together.
  • You can view your entire inventory in a single glance.
  • It keeps you from buying too much.
  • If it is spilling over, time to select some to donate or pass along to friends/family.
  • Example: I used to keep handbags in two different closets.  I cleaned out my inventory and gave many of my bags to my mom.  When I was organizing, I actually found a handbag that I had forgotten about!  The ones I kept are stored in my main bedroom closet on designated shelves, super convenient to get to and I can swap them out easily.  I had many picture frames, way more than I could have used.  I picked a single plastic shoe tote and limited the frames to only those that could fit inside.

3) Label it!

  • Label totes with specific terms pertaining to the contents.  If it is too long for a label maker, write it out on a paper and use clear packing tape to attach.
  • I label both clear totes that you can see into as well as solid colored ones.
  • Saves time of pulling out the tote just to see what is inside.
  • Example : One of my totes in the bathroom cabinet has three labels on it, “Dental”, “Face Soap”, and “Shaving”.  It was too large of a tote just to hold extra toothbrushes and floss and I wanted to make sure it spelled out everything.  It would not have been good to just label it “Bath Products and other related items”.  I have a larger tote in my basement closet that contains extra decorations for the living room area that I can swap out with the ones I am currently displaying.  I have a paper that lists out in detail the items like a blue bowl with scalloped edge and green sea turtle figurine.  Especially since these items are all wrapped due to being breakable, it keeps them safer to know what is in the tote.

4) Declutter by Dumping and Dividing

  • When organizing a closet or drawer, dump out the contents!  It forces you to go through each item separately.
  • This allows you to view each item twice to ensure that you are making the correct decision.  The first pass is placing the item in one of multiple piles (Keep, Donate, Toss).  The second glance is when you are putting away your kept items back into the closet or in bags to donate or toss.
  • Example : I have been very glad for this double-check type of organizing.  I ended up donating clothing that I had originally planned on keeping.  They were t-shirts that I purchased during our honeymoon.  I realized that I was keeping it based solely on the emotional memory of when I last wore the piece, rather than if I would actually wear it again later.

5) Maintain It

  • It does take time and hard work to clean the items you no longer need and find a designated space.  Maintaining your plan is the most important part of being organized.
  • If it becomes too cumbersome, then something is off.  Maybe you kept too much?  Maybe it is not in the best location?
  • Designate baskets to move items to different rooms/floors to maintain your organization.
  • Example : We have three floors in our home.  Basement, first floor and second floor.  Items come into the house from shopping or from relatives.  Even though they come in, they should not stay on the first floor.  It would be super easy to pile up the items and make a mess of the first floor.  In order to avoid this, I have a basket near the basement door to place anything that rightly belongs there.  Also a basket near the stairs leading to the second floor as well.  Then when anyone in the house goes to those locations, take the basket with you!  Then promptly put the items with its friends and smile with success.