An Idea A Week
To Get Organized

"Organize" is a familiar word on many of today's popular decorating shows. Every family has its struggles with clutter -- whether it's stacks of papers or a cluttered and cramped bathroom. Here are 52 ideas you can use right now or space out over the course of a year. Even if you follow just one of these tips a week, in a year from now, you'll finally be organized!

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26. Organize your cabinets into several categories such as plates, glasses, plastic containers, kid's plates and sippy cups. Place the plates on one shelf, the glasses on another , and so on. This way, when you empty the dishwasher, you or other family members will always know where everything goes.

pantry organization27. Group your foods together in the pantry -- keeping like items together -- for easy access and inventory assessment.

28. Put all those mix packets (gravy, Jell-O, sauces) in a basket on a shelf.

29. Buy a pretty spice rack that works best for your kitchen cabinets. Place frequently used spices on the front of the rack and all others toward the back -- and alphabetize each set.

30. Dedicate one cabinet or drawer to all of those plastic and Tupperware containers. Purchase stackable containers to maximize your space.

31. Save your countertop space for items you use daily. Display only the cookbooks that you really use, and, if possible, store your mixer/food processor, utensil holder, canister set, knife block, etc. in your pantry instead of on the counter.

32. If you have a collection of clipped recipes that are filling drawers and taking up countertop space, purchase a three-ring binder in a color that matches your decor, plastic sheet protectors (to protect your recipes), paper and a set of dividers with tabs. Glue each recipe onto a piece of paper (use the front and back of each piece of paper) and then place into a sheet protector. Categorize recipes (breakfast, dessert etc.), label the tabs, and place the recipes in the binder. An additional tip: If you buy a binder that has pockets, store clipped recipes that you want to try in the pockets before adding them to your collection.

33. Reuse those mounds of plastic grocery bags at the market. You might save a nickel or so each at some stores, plus you'll cut down on waste. Better yet, try out some hip and handy reusable bags like these from Envirosax.

34. Get in the habit of cleaning out your refrigerator every time you bring home groceries. Dispose of old or inedible food and anything your family's just not going to eat.

Kid's room:organized playroom

35. Is laundry a hassle? Put a basketball hoop over your child's laundry basket to encourage slam-dunking of dirty clothes.

36. Place a two-compartment hamper in your kids' room so she can sort light clothes from dark when undressing.

37. String a clothesline across your child's room to clothespin up her favorite artwork.

38. Hang a mesh hammock or fish net from the ceiling to store stuffed animals, dolls or action figures.

39. Add a bookshelf and help your child organize all those books.

40. Buy the kids their own alarm clocks (ideally with battery backup) and teach them how to get up on time.


41. Make sure everything in your house has a place. Teach all family members to mind their own messes. For example, if you take it out, put it back; if you open it, close it; if you throw it down, pick it up; if you make a mess, clean it up; and so on.

42. Put wastebaskets in every room and place several unused trash bags in the bottom of each one. This will eliminate countless trips to retrieve new trash bags and give all family members a place to throw away their trash.

43. Place a decorative basket on the coffee table in which to keep remote controls.

44. Use a plastic caddy (instead of shelf space) to store cleaning supplies, and simply tote it from room to room.

45. Keep baskets or tubs in every room for fast toy pickup. For kids' outdoor toys, purchase a weatherproof, bench-style storage box. Gather all outdoor balls and store in the garage in a large, mesh drawstring bag.

46. Each night before bedtime, have all family members pick up clutter for 10 to 15 minutes. Make a game out of it and see who can pick up the most things in the shortest amount of time.

47. Create a family message center on the refrigerator or other prominent place and use it for shopping lists, reminders, calendars and phone messages.

48. Make a master grocery list on your computer from a spreadsheet or Word document. Categorize the groceries into sections such as frozen, dairy and so on. In each category, list the items you buy most frequently. Organize the grocery list according to the way your favorite grocery store's aisles are set up.

Print copies and keep one handy for the current week. When you see you are low on a product or when you're preparing your grocery list for the week, simply highlight the items you need. Keep the document current by adding new items and/or deleting items you no longer buy. Create a space on the page for miscellaneous items where your family members can write down what they need that are not on your regular list.

49. Shopping the Web beats hitting the brick-and-mortar stores, even for groceries. You'll avoid lines, traffic and lugging stuff home, and you can shop anytime you like.

50. Create an inbox on your desk for papers (bills, permission slips etc.) that need your attention. Clear it out daily.

51. Use one power strip (many can be mounted on a wall) as home base for all of your rechargeable goodies: Cell phone, Blackberry/iPhone, camera, iPod, handheld video games, etc. You'll never have to hunt for an outlet or ask someone to call your phone to see where you left it.

52. Have a lot of visually indistinct items, such as chargers for electronic items? Label them! You won't waste time looking for the right cord to charge the video camera, and when the scissors are left out on the table, you'll know who they belong to.

The goal of organizing isn't to make your home pristine, but rather to make your life more calm and functional. Work with the above ideas and you will end up with less clutter, a neater home, improved productivity and -- most important of all -- more quality time for yourself and your family.

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Comments on "52 Ideas to organize your home: An organizing tip a week"

Susie September 22, 2013 | 8:45 PM

I love your idea about storing bathroom items, like hairspray and other toiletries under the cabinet! I'm definitely going to start TODAY! Thanks for sharing many great tips.

Sonia September 19, 2013 | 5:06 AM

Thank you so much for the great ideas! I too would love a printable version. As far as meds, each community has different days (usually quarterly) that you can take you old mess to a specific place where they will collect them and dispose of them correctly. Also, our local Meijer has bags you can purchase (I think the ones I bought were ($1.25) and mail them in to a location where they are disposed of properly. Sonia

Mailbox August 28, 2013 | 7:14 AM

Great tips! Am going out to start organizing my house today!!! Actually pretty excited now that I have some ideas where to start! Thank you so much!

Jeez August 13, 2013 | 8:49 PM

Medication should NEVER be flushed down the toilet. Municipal water systems aren't equipped at the level required to remove these types of toxins. Check with your local fire department or community hospital. They usually set up days when hazardous waste can be brought in and disposed of properly [read: incineration]. Folks in the medical field try to teach this little-known factoid, but their audience isn't terribly receptive. In fact, there are some very aggressive nay-sayers, as evidenced right here...

Hugo August 04, 2013 | 10:17 AM

Angie, did you get up on the wrong side of the bed Mar29? I agree that you should not flush meds. But your comments about not giving advice without researching it seems unwarranted. If we never posted advice without completely researching it we might never post. :-) That said, it would be great if someone would post ideas on disposing meds which are effective and not harmful. Anyone?

celestia June 07, 2013 | 4:42 AM

I would love for you to have a print friendly version.

Angie March 29, 2013 | 2:25 AM

@ Carrie...DO NOT EVER flush your meds! Recent studies have shown that local water supplies are polluted with anti-biotics, anti depressants, and a wide variety of other medications that have been flushed. It is a serious public health hazard. Water treatment facilities are not designed nor capable of removing these potentially life threatening pollutants. Please, do not give advice on a topic you have not researched.

carrie January 26, 2013 | 12:34 PM

Flush your medication... it dissolves. In regards to your letter mans jacket make a shadow box for it and display it in a " man cave" or den. Wedding dress is hard to let go of but honestly every girl likes to pick out there own dress its tradition! Donate your dress or put it up for consignment

knickson September 09, 2012 | 2:09 PM

Please DON'T bring your old medicines back to your local pharmacies. Pharmacies are not equipped to handle the disposal of medications. Check with your community to find out when and where to dispose of expired medication.

sylvia December 30, 2011 | 4:55 PM

I store my out of season clothes in luggage....

Barbara Taylor June 26, 2011 | 10:13 AM

I am now in the possestion of my folks, motherin law and our Stuff. What do I keep and what do I give away. I have donated allot but jewelry, wedding dresses, old letter jackets more personal stuff I find hard to get rid of. Kids don't want any of it. Need some helpful advice that I can live with.

Kristie January 10, 2011 | 9:00 AM

Is there a printable version of your--52 ideas to organize your home????

Jo Hollopeter December 30, 2010 | 8:42 AM

All I wanter was some ideas on how to make my office space and desk neater. I could find no ideas on easy ways to clean up my desk. I am DISAPPOINTED

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