Anyone who knows me knows I'm no beacon of organization. I struggle — just as a lot of us do — to manage the seemingly infinite number of items that fill up our houses.
However, I have learned a few things after taking care of my home for several years. These ideas take only minutes and require items you probably already have on hand.
How many of these tips can you work on today?
Paperwork of any kind can take its toll on the sanity of even the most organized person. And, school paperwork — with all of its forms, disclosures, reminders, and worksheets — can be particularly insidious. Place a letter-sized box right next to where your children put their coats and shoes for all of their school papers (ours is titled the "Mommy Mailbox"). You can sift through and file later on, but just having a go-to point of contact right as they walk through the door can curb your kids’ impulses to leave things scattered on random surfaces.
Go through your handy "Mommy Mailbox" on a regular basis and use magnetic chip clips on the refrigerator for any papers that need to be displayed temporarily, such as birthday party invites and weekly spelling lists.
Keeping juice boxes, water bottles, kid-sized portions of fruits and vegetables, and other snacks stocked and ready can be a challenge. Place small, plastic baskets in the refrigerator and pantry labeled specifically for these items so that morning school lunch prep is simple. This also lets your child know which items are strictly for school lunch use.
Hot gluing clothes pins on a 2" x 4" wooden plank nailed into a closet wall makes a handy, out-of-sight place to clip and hang any number of hard-to-keep-organized items, such as necklaces, socks and papers.
Plastic spray bottles filled with cleaning solutions can easily multiply in and clutter up your cupboards. Simply hang them on a closet rod, and they become easy to find and out of young children's reach.
If you have cleaning buckets cluttering your floor, hang a plastic pants hanger, the ones with a clamp on either end, on a tension or closet rod and clip the bucket handle on the hanger.
Examine any surface with several random items on top of it and chances are, it looks cluttered. Take those same objects and place them in small, decorative trays or dishes and you will be surprised at how neat and orderly your dresser, side table or countertop suddenly looks.
Attaching girls' hair clips to a long, wide ribbon that's been tied to the towel rack in the bathroom keeps my daughter's many hair accessories clean and easy to find.
There is nothing more annoying than not being able to find clothes to wear in the morning. Fabric shelving units that attach to closet rods with Velcro are a life saver. Buy one with seven shelves and you'll have a space for each day of the week. Take a few minutes on Sunday evening to organize your outfits — even socks, underwear and accessories — and actually enjoy getting ready all week long.
That black hole that is the power cords box becomes a lot more manageable when you take a few minutes to label each cord with a piece of masking tape and a marker.
Instead of throwing out broken or cracked tall plastic laundry baskets, use them to organize your gift wrapping supplies. They are the perfect height to store rolls of wrapping paper, and you can also tie on a long, wide ribbon with scissors and tape threaded through it to always have on hand.
A lot of time can be wasted when trying to find the proper lid for plastic food containers. Using a CD rack to slide the lids into when you are unloading the dishwasher makes it easy to find the correctly sized lid in a hurry.
Don't be afraid to throw away or donate anything that is underused in your home. Lowering the actual number of items that need to be organized regularly is probably the smartest way to keep your home looking neat. This might also help you not buy so many things in the first place!
One item that is always in my coat closet is a large plastic bag looped on a hanger. It's where I put all of the things that I want to donate to goodwill. Knowing it's there helps me be more decisive about what I need to keep and what I should pass along to someone else.
This one isn't an organizational tip so much as a call to arms. If you ever don't feel motivated to clean or to keep things in their place, simply making the bed sets the tone for the rest of the day. Once that bed is made, every time you go into your bedroom, you'll be less likely to leave things in a heap because your bed already looks tidy. Clean begets clean.