Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tips on organization

With many people diving into their Spring Cleaning, I thought I'd share a few tips on how I stay organized.

Everyone knows the 3 basket rules, but just a reminder cause it really does work:

Go to a cluttered area with 3 baskets/buckets/bags. Don't start with an entire room, just start small, like the top of the refrigerator or the bathroom cabinet. Start tossing things in the baskets until the area is totally cleared.
Basket 1- Trash
Basket 2- Donate
Basket 3- Keep

This method is really affective and the best part is that it can be done in 10 minute increments if that is all you have. It's really very easy.

I think the part that comes next is where most people get hang ups or stuck. Here is what I do:

Lets start with the top of my dresser. I use the 3 basket method and put everything in it's correct basket. Trash, Donate, Keep.

Don't skip the decor items! You are probably used to them being there and tend to overlook them, but sometimes we end up with too many, or have things that that we just don't need and no longer make us happy to look at. Hold each one in your hand and ask yourself "Do I need it? Do I like it? Do I really want something else here instead?" and then put it in the correct basket.

How is that trash basket looking? If you have quite a bit of trash items collecting in one area, you should consider putting a small wastebasket in the area.

Now take a look at your donate basket. Where are these things coming from and is there any way to stop it? Sometimes donate items just can't be helped, like outgrown clothing or baby toys that your toddler has lost interest in, but sometimes it's a sign that we need to address. If I were to look in my donate basket after clearing the top of my dresser, I'd find a lot of costume jewelry that I found on sale, wore once or twice, and then decide that it looked cheap. I need to address that, and make a mental note that I need to watch myself in that area. Just because it's on sale, doesn't make it a good deal. lol Do you have multiples of something in your donate basket? A bunch of unread magazines? Save yourself some cash and cancel those subscriptions!

Now for the more difficult basket. The KEEP items. Take a good look. What is collecting there and try and put the clutter into groups or categories of similar items. For me, my dresser top has a few make up items, deodorant, jewelry, and loose change (just to name a few!).

Next figure out a home for all of these things that makes sense. Like my make-up, deodorant, and perfumes belong in the bathroom (I've given them a home there) and it would be great if I kept them there, but the truth is, I don't! What I really need to do is clear a small drawer of my dresser for these items. Then they are put away, but still in the area I use them.

I think a big key is being practical. Don't store something in a place where you are not likely to put it back, just because it's the norm. Do what works best for YOU and your family.

An example of this is when I made a diaper changing drawer, rather than the traditional diaper changing area. You can see that post HERE.

Be "real" about your clutter/mess. Sure, having a laundry hamper next to the washer is a great idea, but if your laundry never gets there and is always on the bathroom floor or beside your bed, put a hamper there.

Do you always have toys at the kitchen table? Add a toy bin in the corner. Don't worry, you can have the kids dump it in the toy box when it gets full and trust me, it's a lot easier getting them to dump one box than it is getting them to pick up 5 toys everyday.

It's all about finding a home for your KEEP items that not only keeps them out of sight, but keeps them in a place where you can easily use them and easily put them away.

Vitamins cluttering the kitchen counter? Put a basket on top of the refrigerator.

Nail polish cluttering an end table cause you like to watch TV and do your nails? Consider an end table with a storage compartment and put your nail supplies in there. (in a locking box if you have kids!)

Another tip is to think of the items you pick up on a daily basis. Repeats! These are the items that are the bane of your existence. The things that eat away at your SOUL!

Are you picking up and re-stacking children's books every.single.day? Put them up in a place where your children can not reach them (like a closet shelf) and leave out one or two. When they get bored, switch them out. Save your sanity!

Are legos aways on the floor? Put them up and make it a toy they need to ask you to play with, which only come down with a promise to pick them up when finished.

Do you constantly trip over everyone's shoes in the middle of the floor, and then frantically try and find them all in the morning before school? It's time to put a box by the door for shoes!

For me, I was forever losing my keys and picking up the contents of my purse (mainly gum wrappers) because Cutecumber was getting into it everyday. Finally I wised up and put a hook up high on the inside of my closet door. Problem solved. One less mess to clean a day.

So, my advice is:
3 basket cleaning
assess your TRASH and DONATE baskets and figure out a way to reduce what is in them.
Find a practical and realistic home for your KEEP items.
Customize your house to your family's needs!


  1. A box for shoes only works if they put their shoes in it. Drives me crazy. They take their shoes off at the door (right by the box) and kick them out of their way. Shoes end up everywhere except where they belong.


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