I don't know about you, but during the Quarantine I have been really inspired to push the restart button on everything in my life. Now more than ever, I find comfort in being 100% at peace at home. Like most of you, I balance wearing multiple hats every single day. Teacher, maid, chef, accountant, doctor- I need my house to be as efficient as I am. Keeping my home in order and organized helps to bring a bit of normalcy to these crazy times.
On Instagram, a bunch of you shared that organizing your space caused you overwhelming anxiety. I get it, finding out where to put things, how to properly store them and how to keep your organized spaces up can feel like a job all within itself. Space limitations can feel intimidating, leaving you questioning if you really need half the crap you actually own. Before you know it, you have abandoned your organization mission in exchange for binge watching Real Housewives while eating saltine crackers. Can I say, guilty!
What I have learned is that organizing your space doesn't have to feel overwhelming or provoke a stress headache. When organizing my home, I try not to spend more than 45 min decluttering any one space at a time and I highly recommend you don't either. Obviously, you can't (and shouldn't) try to organize your entire home all at once. Unless you are a superhuman, you should try to make a list of all of the spaces in your home that are not working for you and start your organization projects space by space.
1. Timing is Everything
Depending on the room you are taking on, giving yourself enough time and space to taking on an organization project is super important. Trying to rush yourself into organizing a space will only leave you feeling overwhelmed, rushed and annoyed. Typically, I take on organizational projects either during nap time or after the kids go to sleep. When the house is quiet and calm, I am more likely to power through and get the job done quickly.
2. Clean it Out to Clean it Up
When decluttering and organizing your space, taking everything out and doing a deep clean will really help to give you a fresh start. I like to make sure to thoroughly dust shelves and vacuum closets before putting anything back in. Typically, these areas tend to be ignored during normal cleaning (because who is really thinking about dusting inside a closet)- so if you can get to them now, you should.
3. Functional Over Pretty
This one is MAJOR and something I think keeps most people from organizing their homes. While I too love obsessing over Pinterest worthy kitchen's and perfectly organized linen closets, I know that your space doesn't have to be IG pretty to work for your lifestyle. Pinning organizational inspo is great, but it is crucial to make sure that you are picking organizational tools that will actually work for your everyday life. Before I purchase organizational tools for any space I ask myself these questions:
- What exactly do I need to organize?
- How often do I need to use these things?
- Who else besides me (family) will need to use these items?
- What space do I have for it (shelves, floor space, garage)?
I then shop my house first to see if I can repurpose anything I already own before buying new stuff. Yes, matching baskets and a million clear containers look pretty, but they can get expensive quickly. You would be surprised at what tools you might already have laying around your house that can be repurposed for organizing. Spaces like linen closets, utility closets, pantry's and bathroom storage can get complicated quickly. The best way to tackle these spaces is to give the major items a category and organize the smaller items into the larger categories. In my utility closet, I used the following categories to put things away:
- Kids craft supplies
- Kids learning tools (this includes crayons, glue, tape and educational books)
- My personal craft supplies
- Everyday cleaning machines (vacuum, duster, shampooer)
- Household management binders (on shelf 2)
Once the categories were in place, sorting things out became relatively easy.
4. Invest in Tools Wisely
If you do have to buy organizational items, DO NOT spend a lot of money. Look, I am not in the business of telling people what to do what your coin, but I do not recommend spending a lot of money on a bunch of organizational tools when you are just starting out. Not only are there a bunch of affordable places where you can find organization stuff, but you need to actually make sure something works before you invest a bunch of money in it.
Some of my favorite places to shop for organizational tools are:
- TJ Maxx
- Home Goods (check the clearance section)
- Ross (Always has a pretty good selection)
- Burlington Coat Factory
- Amazon (You can see some of my favorites here)
- DD's Discounts (if you are on a major budget, this place is pretty good)
- Dollar Tree
5. Baskets, Baskets, Baskets
It is no secret that I love to incorporate baskets in my home decor and organizing is no different. Baskets are great because they not only come in a variety of sizes and shapes, but they look pretty too. If you are someone who struggles with maintaining the stuff you organize, utilizing a basket to store items is an easy way to add functionality and ease to maintaining your space. Storing items that are used all the time in baskets will make it easy for anyone in your house to just grab what they need and go without having to fuss with folding things back up perfectly. As long as the contents of the basket are all the same (or closely related), the way it looks inside won't really matter.
Pro- Tip: In my linen closet, I use different sizes of baskets to store pillowcases, sheets and towels we use regularly.
6. No Space? Use Vertical Wall Space
If you have space limitations in your home, organizing your space may take creativity. When you do not have enough shelving or floor space, I always recommend utilizing your upper wall space to store items that you use all the time. I love to use hanging baskets and metal hooks (or command hooks) to hang items high (or low) on the wall. Do not be afraid to store things up high. Not only will the kids not be able to get into them, but you can always get a cheap folding stool to use when you need to grab something up high.
7. Get the Fam Involved
If you have kids (or messy husbands), its super important to get family buy-in on keeping your space organized. Nothing feels worse than spending an hour decluttering and cleaning only to come back and see that your kids have completely destroyed what you did. At any age, kids can get involved in decluttering and purging. In our home, before Nova or J can get new toys, they have to get rid (or donate) a toy. Not only does this help to keep the extra toys at a minimum, but it helps to teach the kids about the importance of responsibility and giving.
When you see your space starting to drift back into chaos and clutter- immediately stop what you are doing and get that area back on track.
8. Throw it in the Bag
If you are familiar with organizing guru Marie Kondo, you know she advises to hold items to see if they give you a feeling of joy before getting rid of them. While this concept is cuttttteeee, ain't nobody got time for all that. Throw that junk in the trash bag sis and keep it moving. Chances are, if you are stuffing it in that closet or drawer, you haven't used it in quite awhile.
When I am decluttering I get rid of A LOT of stuff simply by asking myself "Do I NEED this?" If I have to ask myself "what in the world is this?" while holding an item, I toss it. If something looks broken, old or simply something that I have grown out of- I toss it. Honestly, my first response is to toss something before keeping it. Yes, I do donate things from time to time (or sell- especially gently used furniture), but the worst thing ever is hoarding piles of "to donate" items that you know you will never get around to taking to Goodwill. Remember, holding on to things you do not need is not only filling up your physical space, but it is clouding your mental space as well. Downsizing on your stuff is a foundational part of bringing peace and structure into your space.
Be ruthless in purging your stuff. You will not miss the things you are getting rid of, I promise.
9. Multi-Use Furniture
In my house, I like to incorporate pieces that serve multiple purposes. The wicker bench in my living room actually holds Nova's "everyday" toys. Downstairs in my built-in's, one of the cabinets holds diaper supplies for the baby (because who likes going up and down the stairs?). Upstairs in the loft, the cube organizer in the hallway stores kids electronics, books and games. By taking a survey of your house, seeing what things you need the most and where you actually need them, it is easier to find solutions to organize and store them without everything looking messy and chaotic. If possible, when buying furniture try looking for pieces that serve more than one purpose. Ottomans, credenza's, bookshelves and even things like shoe organizers can serve multiple uses in your house. Keeping things tucked away but coordinated helps to make your space feel and look clean.
10. It Has to Start with You
Last but not least, maintaining an organized lifestyle will require you to change your everyday habits.
Yes, all of the tips and tools are great, but if you do not commit to actually changing your daily routine to include the upkeep of your space, no amount of organizing in the world will help solve that. Simple, everyday steps like opening mail as soon as you get in the house (and tossing the stuff you don't need), filing away important documents and properly putting away your laundry as soon as it comes out of the dryer (always guilty of not doing this) will all add up to a more organized lifestyle.
If you are seeing that you do not have enough space for the things you have, take some time to check in with yourself about why. Chances are, you are holding on to items you do not need while continuing to purchase other things that you want. Take a minute to really ask yourself, "What am I afraid of letting go of ? " As cliche as it sounds, many of our everyday habits are directly reflective of the anxiety we may be secretly dealing with mentally and organization and clutter is no different.
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While we are all social distancing, take an hour a day to start organizing your home. Start with exactly what you have and go from there. Good luck!
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