26 Secrets Personal Organizers Would Never Tell You for Free
Industry experts reveal the dirty details to help keep your home organized and clean.
Create five piles
When you’re organizing, you should sort everything into five piles: move to another room, donate, give to a specific person, throw away, and, finally, the “marinating” pile. Pack up the marinating items, and label the box with a date that’s six months to a year later. If you never open the box before that date, you can safely discard those items. Try this other five-second trick that banishes clutter.
To make an organizing project go faster:
Create rules about what you’re keeping and what you’re discarding. In your closet, for example, you can decide to give away any clothing that’s not between size x and size y, that’s stained, or that needs to be repaired. With periodicals, you can decide not to keep anything that’s more than a year old. To speed things up even more, see the 26 things in your house professional organizers would throw out.
It will always take you at least five times longer
Sorting through a box of personal papers will always take you far longer than you think it will. Be sure you know the 8 everyday documents you should shred and set them aside from the recycle pile to be disposed of properly.
Avoid lids on laundry baskets, bins, and other containers. They just make it harder to put things away. For other items, I’m a huge fan of clear sweater boxes, like these. Not only do they hold sweaters in your closet, but they’re perfect for holding beans, rice, and pasta in your pantry, kids’ toys, and more. They fit on almost any shelf in any home and can hold most of the stuff in your house. I order them by the case.
Your goal should be to remove the clutter, not create more storage space
People who think they’re disorganized always run out and start buying baskets, containers, and hooks. You come home and try to use them, and they’re not the right type or size, because you didn’t sort through your stuff first. That’s just backward. All those new containers just end up adding to your clutter. In a pinch, though, use these 18 tips to squeeze the most into your storage space.
The number one problem for all my clients: too much paper
The whole idea of a paperless society is a complete myth. People are seriously scared to get rid of it. Remember, 80 percent of the paper you get you don’t need to keep. So it’s imperative to keep weeding out every single day, whether that’s magazines, catalogs, mail, receipts, or anything else.
Are you holding on to a big piece of the past?
If you’re keeping something that doesn’t fit in your home for sentimental reasons—say, Aunt Jenny’s blue recliner or Grandma’s chandelier—recognize it’s the memory you cherish, not the item. Then take a picture of it and give it away to someone who actually has space for it who will love it. That said, if you really love that paperweight collection, grandma’s old photographs, or that heirloom quilt, why are you letting them get ruined, moldy, or eaten by moths in cardboard boxes in the attic? Honor your favorite keepsakes by getting them out and displaying them. Don’t miss these other 43 useless things you’ll never miss after getting rid of them.
Watch out for flat surfaces…
…which can quickly become drop zones for clutter. When my clients have a dining table that is always getting covered with junk, I’ll have them clear it off, put a flower arrangement in the middle, and set it with place settings. That usually prevents them from parking stuff there. Try these genius tricks for decluttering flat surfaces.
Anything that needs to go somewhere should be in your car…
…not in your house. Keep your coupons there in a clear folder so you have them if you need them. Get an errand basket to hold items that need to be returned. Use crates to store kids’ toys and emergency supplies. Also, a car trash bag is a simple thing—get one! For what shouldn’t go in your car, here are the 15 things that should never be in your vehicle.