I’ve learned over the years that there are a few guidelines for organizing that are essential to being able to stay organized. When I go to a client’s home, I can usually see that they’ve tried to get organized before. In fact, I often hear from clients that they have tried 5 or 6 times to get organized on their own and it just doesn’t work for them long term — they struggle to maintain it. The guidelines for organizing that I’ve used over the years are basic principles that help me get the job done. They also make it easy for my clients to maintain an organized space over time. So if you’re wondering what the trick is to stay organized, my 7 easy guidelines will give you some insight!
Find the right product for the job
There are so many different organizing products on the market today. It might feel overwhelming but the good thing is that there is absolutely something out there that works for your space! Make your belongings easy to access by picking the right tool for the job. You could use bins or baskets. Hooks allow you to use wall space and keep things visible. Lazy susans work great for deep spaces. Stacking drawers help you maximize space on shelves or in a cabinet. There are so many options to consider for storing items!
Taking time to consider how you use an item is definitely a key principle of organizing. How frequently do you use it? Does it need to be easy to access? A pull-out bin is good to use for things that need to be easily accessed. Do you prefer to see what items you have stored? Use clear bins so you can see the contents easily.
Keep your measurements in mind
A basic guideline for organizing is to utilize all the space that you have available. This means you need to take measurements. If you have a 14” deep shelf, don’t use a 12” deep basket. You certainly don’t want to waste any space, so look for a 14” basket. Don’t use a 10″ lazy susan on a 14″ shelf. You get the idea, right?
As I organize, I make sure that small things aren’t wasted on a large shelf. Find a space that best fits your items. Or if you have many small things, group them together in a large bin to best maximize your space. Lazy susans work great for small items on a big shelf — they are one of my favorites!
This is one of the easier-to-follow guidelines for organizing: use the same color and size product in one area. I see clients all the time that have mismatched baskets or bins. While you might be tempted to buy a one-off bin while you’re shopping, you end up having nothing to match it at home. When you have several bins of different depths, some with lids and some without, and some that are clear and some that are opaque, creating functional storage is difficult.
For example, when I’m helping a client organize their garage, I use bins that are the same size. If different sizes are needed, stay with the same brand so that baskets or bins have the same footprint. I use 32-quart bins and 64-quart bins for the garage that easily stack together.
When you get some momentum in an organizing project, it might feel easy to skip over things as you go. Another principle of organizing is to touch every single thing. Take everything off the shelf or out of cabinets or drawers. This gives you the opportunity to make a decision on each item (and also clean the space before putting items back!). Don’t just eyeball things and assume that everything works and is needed. Chances are that there are items that you need to repair or throw away, so make sure you address each item.
A key part of organizing is making sure that you have what you need in a place that makes sense and works for your life. Having zones is a great way to do this. Group like things together so you aren’t searching for a missing item later. The garage is a good place to create zones. You want a place for your gardening tools, auto supplies, and sports equipment. Creating a zone where these things live makes it easier to stay organized.
Things that are rarely used can still be accessible but not take up valuable space for everyday items. For instance, if you have a turkey roaster that you only use on Thanksgiving, put it on the top shelf of your pantry. Same with seasonal items like holiday decorations — those bins can store out of your way in the garage or storage room.
Keep things visible
When your space is organized well, you should be able to see everything in that space easily. Items should be clearly labeled. If you have a bin that will be taken out often, label both sides of it so the label always shows no matter which direction you put it back on the shelf. Clear bins are great for many purposes as they allow you to see the contents, just don’t forget to label those, too! Items that you have stored should be visible without having to move other things around to see them. Whenever I’m done organizing a space, I usually step back and scan the room to make sure I can see every labeled storage container or item easily.
Maximize vertical space
This organizing guideline is often overlooked. Vertical space can create so much storage! If you’re picking out a storage solution, maximize the height of your walls. For example, if your garage has 9-foot ceilings, don’t limit yourself to a 4-foot shelving unit. Doors are another great place to create storage space. You can use adhesive organizer bins inside a cabinet door or shoe pockets on a closet door. This Elfa door rack is customizable and will hold anything from shoes to gift wrap to canned goods. Look around and find a place where you can add hooks to store items. Behind bedroom or bathroom doors is always a great place for hooks! If you’re looking for more tips on increasing storage space in your home, check out How To Create More Storage Space In Your Home for tips and some of my favorite products.
Take it from me — these principles will always help you when transforming a space from cluttered to organized. Do you have any guidelines for organizing that work for you in your home? I’d love to hear! You can reach me at (267) 970-0769 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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