It’s not always easy to get or stay organized. You might mean well and try to keep your stuff in order, but sometimes all that stuff starts to take over. We’re sharing some expert organizing tips that could save your sanity — or at least make your house much easier to live in.
“Being organized isn’t just a physical process, it’s also a psychological process, and it brings psychological benefits,” says Katrina Teeple, CEO of Operation Organization. “When your home is clutter free, your brain will feel clutter free.” We asked her to help us avoid some common organizational mistakes.
General mistakes and misconceptions
Before we tackle specific rooms, there are a few general mistakes and misconceptions to avoid when it comes to organizing.
- If you’re not naturally organized, there’s no hope: Not all of us are born organizers, but that’s OK, says Teeple. “Nearly all of us have the ability to become better organized. You can be taught. And even better, you can teach yourself to keep up easy habits that will turn you into an organized person,” she explains.
- Telling yourself you’ll do it later: Looking at a cluttered room and then turning around and walking away is common, but it won’t help you in the long run. “Don’t procrastinate,” warns Teeple. “Schedule a time for each organizing project you want to accomplish, breaking each goal down into realistic expectations within a set time,” she advises.
- Taking on way too much: So you think you can tackle every room (and maybe even the garage) in 48 hours? That could backfire. “If you try to accomplish an organizing revolution in your entire home during one weekend, you’ll find that you have to abandon it midway through due to burnout,” says Teeple. Keep on top of organizing so you don’t have to resort to squeezing it all into one weekend.
In the bedroom
- Leaving the bed unmade: Though it might seem simple, if you’re not making your bed, you’re more likely to end up with a disorganized bedroom. “Make your bed, even if you live alone or you’ve been married for 20 years. It’s a visual and physical cue that will help you keep the rest of the room tidy,” affirms Teeple.
- Trying on multiple outfits — and leaving them out: Discarded outfits can pile up fast. Teeple suggests designating a place, such as a set of two wall hooks, where you’ll put clean-but-tried-on clothing before you rush out the door. “Later on you can avoid the extra step of sorting before you put things away.”
- Not using matching hangers: Mismatched hangers can actually make your closet look messier than it is, plus if they match, items will be easier to find. “Don’t underestimate the power of matching clothes hangers in your closet. Uniform hangers make it easier to see your clothes, are aesthetically pleasing and save space.”
In the bathroom
- Not utilizing storage space effectively: Teeple says that although it’s called the “medicine cabinet,” that space is actually a better spot for frequently used items such as cotton swabs, toothbrushes, facial cleansers and deodorant. Store items you don’t use often in colorful containers under the sink.
- Having everything everywhere: Is your bathroom counter a sea of products? It’s time to contain the clutter. “If you’re the type of gal whose vanity looks like the makeup counter at Bloomingdale’s, use a decorative tray to display your favorite beauty products,” advises Teeple.
In the kitchen
- Not keeping countertops clear: Think about which appliances you actually use every day and only leave those on the counter. Teeple points out that anything you rarely use (that juicer you bought three years ago) is only taking up prime kitchen real estate.
- Not using drawer dividers: Invest in drawer dividers or make your own with box lids to separate kitchen items, rather than have a jumble of things you can never find. “Your kitchen utensils should be categorized within each drawer, making everything easier to find,” says Teeple.
- Mixing the office with the kitchen: Keep paper off the kitchen table and counters. “A little paper station can be made on the inside of a cabinet or by emptying out a junk drawer,” advises Teeple. “Your paper does not belong on the kitchen counter or dining table.”
In the living room
- Displaying too much: Keep media items such as video games, headphones and DVDs out of the way. This will reduce the look of clutter and make loose items easier to find. Teeple suggests using decorative bins or baskets if you have open shelving.
- Not using multitasking furniture: Choose furniture that does double duty to keep the living room more organized. “Coffee tables that have a storage component and sideboards that conceal entertaining dishes and board games are so much more valuable than single-purpose options,” Teeple notes.
- Toys everywhere: Avoid kid clutter taking over your common areas by designating one bin or basket that has a few toys which the kids can play with in the living room. “Otherwise, toys belong in the kids’ bedroom or playroom,” says Teeple. “If you feel like you have too much, then you probably do and it is time to purge.”