By MaryJo Monroe, reSPACEd professional organizers for home and business
This article originally appeared on the reSPACEd Blog. ReSPACEd is a nationally recognized home & business Portland organizer, known for its innovative solutions and compassionate approach. Special thanks to MaryJo for sharing these ideas to help start off 2021 a little more orderly!
It’s the new year and we all want to be a bit more organized. Sometimes we don’t have the time or energy to organize an entire room, but we are desperate for some improvements in our home! So here are some quick and easy (or at least easy-ish) things you can do to bring more order to your home.
Get an inexpensive sink organizer to corral your sponge, soap and scrub brush. You’ll be impressed at how tidier your sink area looks!
Place a couple of stair-step risers in your cupboards for your canned food and spices. These make it so much easier to see the items in the back of the cupboard.
Mount a 3M Command Hook to the inside of your pantry to hold your reusable shopping bags. Pare down your bags to only those that will fit inside one bag, and hang that one bag from the hook. Don’t forget to put a few in your car for grocery shopping!
No time to do a sort and purge of the kitchen? Try putting a big box in the kitchen and every day, spend 5 minutes pulling unused and unwanted stuff out of your cupboards/drawers and placing them into the box. Do this every day, and in two-three weeks you will have gone through all of your cabinets and drawers.
Get a tray for the coffee table to contain all of the remotes, tissue boxes, decorative candles and other small things. This will keep your coffee table tidier and easy to wipe clean.
Hit the sales in January and swap out the kid toys stored in brightly colored bins for baskets with lids in natural colors. Storing things in “grown-up” containers will instantly eliminate that “our living room is a daycare” feeling.
Get a decorative box with a lid to corral the things on your nightstand. This will keep you from losing small things (e.g. earplugs, earrings) and will keep your nightstand from getting so dusty. Limit books to the 3-5 you are reading, and re-shelve the rest.
Place a hamper for dirty clothes in the corner of your bedroom or right outside the door.
Want things to be extra tidy? Institute a no-food rule inside your bedroom, so you don’t have to deal with crumbs, dirty plates, bad smells and — ew! — bugs.
So much of bathroom organization comes down to how much storage space you have. If you are tight on space, see if you can pare down the variety of shampoos, soaps, lotions and other grooming products you use. Try to use up all those nearly-empty bottles of product so you can throw them out.
Bathroom counters get grimy super fast, so try to store everything inside of a drawer or behind a cabinet door. If you have deep bathroom drawers, it can be helpful to store smallish things upright in wide-mouth glass jars or plastic cups. Things like bobby pins, hair accessories, toothbrushes, paste and dental floss, make-up brushes and make-up work especially well contained in cups.
Dealing with a huge volume of paper? Sometimes it’s easiest to just do a quick sort into two pile: Papers you need to act on versus papers you don’t need to act on but need to save for financial, legal or sentimental reasons. Be sure to label these two piles with a Post-It note! If you are short on time, just focus on dealing with the papers that need action first.
Do you have recycling, trash and shred receptacles in here? Almost everyone needs these three separate (and labeled!) bins to deal with the paper clutter.
Keep the surface of your desk clear by keeping out only the things you use each day (maybe a couple of pens in a jar with a stack of Post-Its) and stashing the rest in your desk drawers or office closet. Things like staplers and tape dispensers take up a lot of space on a desk top and don’t often get used on a daily basis.
Never store papers with paperclips attached to them! Paper clips can easily stick to other papers in a pile or in a file, leading to lost papers. Use a stapler instead.
Have dozens of gift cards you can never remember to use? Put them all in an envelope and label it “Gift Cards.” Make plans this weekend to use up a couple of the restaurant ones and a maybe one or two of the shopping ones. Some parents plan family outings around gift cards, and some couples plan date nights around them!
Sometimes the easiest way to get started on a huge project like a garage is to grab a black contractor’s garbage bag and walk around your garage looking for things you can throw away. You can then do this walk again, this time with a bag for donations. Sometimes grabbing those two categories of items can be enough to peel off the top layer of clutter.
Do you have a jar (or multiple jars) of screws, nails and other types of hardware? It can be tempting to tell yourself you will sort them all out some day. But chances are, if you need a precise type of hardware, you will go buy it new. So if you haven’t dug anything out of your jar of miscellany in over a year, maybe it’s time to embrace buying what you need only when you need it, instead of saving and sorting hundreds of tiny things. It might be time to pitch the jar.
The best thing you can do to keep your house tidier on a regular basis is to do a 15-minute clean-up time each night right after dinner. Have each adult and older kid pick a different room of the house each night, and set a timer to tidy up and put things away for 15 minutes.
Do you have a to-do list? Take a minute to separate out tasks to do inside the house versus errands to run outside of the house. These are two separate lists! Then schedule a date in your calendar to run one or two errands a week.
Sometimes it’s easy to procrastinate on a chore because we think it will take a looong time. But a lot of household chores go faster than we think. Try this experiment: Estimate how long it will take you to do a chore you hate (e.g. folding a basket of laundry, doing the dishes). Then time yourself doing the chore and see if your estimate is accurate. You might be pleasantly surprised that the drudgery doesn’t take as long as you think it will.
Not getting anything done? Set your phone on airplane mode for just an hour to see if it helps you to focus on the task at hand.
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