14 Tried-and-True Organizing Tips

By , SparkPeople Blogger
By Woman's Day

Ever pop in on a friend unexpectedly and everything’s in its place? She had no time to clean up, yet her house is immaculate. How does she do that? We wanted to know, so we went to the neat and organized— readers whose homes always look great— to find out their best strategies.

1. Stop It Before It Starts
“We live minimally, so things look clean and organized without much effort on my part. When we go away we don’t buy souvenirs, I don’t save my kids’ report cards, and their art projects don’t even make it into the house. I know, I know, you’re thinking I don’t have a sentimental bone in my body. But really, in 10 years, are you ever going to look at your kids’ kindergarten report card?” Sheryl Balfan, 42, Boca Raton, FL

2. Faster Food
“We have a ‘fast food’ basket in our fridge that contains sandwich condiments, meats, cheese, tortillas, flatbread and other things that can be used to make a quick lunch. Everything is in one place and I don’t have to spend hours searching for the mustard.” Amy Bayliss, 34, Baton Rouge, LA

3. Kid Power
“With four kids, it’s tough to keep everything in order, but I use the children to my advantage. We play ‘Beat the Clock,’ which turns cleaning into a competition. I set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes and send the kids off to straighten up. They need to pick up everything from the common rooms and clean their own rooms. Whoever finishes and makes it to the family room couch first wins.” Nina Restieri, 41, Old Greenwich, CT

4. Bag It
“Our pantry used to be a huge mess—lots of forgotten, half-eaten bags of stale chips, pretzels and Goldfish sprinkled throughout the pantry shelves. Now when I get home from the grocery store, I portion snacks into ziptop bags and keep them in a pretty basket. It not only neatens up the pantry, it keeps bugs away, makes packing lunches easier, and gives us built-in portion control.” Alethea Elkins, 38, Newtown, CT

5. Use It or Lose It
“I have four kids and no room for clutter. The rule is, if you didn’t use it, wear it, play with it, eat it or know of it in the past six months, it goes out the door. They can do what they want in their own rooms, but the rest of the house is mine! So if you spill it, drop it or leave it lying around, chances are you won’t ever find it again since I’ll throw it out.” Ronit Rogoszinski, 43, New York City

6. Do a Sweep
“Every morning I walk around the house to open the shades and I take a basket with me. Anything that doesn’t belong in a room goes in the basket and gets returned to where it should be. By the time I get to the kitchen, most of the clutter has been organized.” Leanne Naidoo, 28, Fort Lauderdale, FL

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I love to keep myself organized & cleaned. My nephews are always making a mess and tearing up my doors. But keeping things organized is a challenge in itself if you don't have space. I like using dresser doors & cabinets, impact doors for my neices & nephews. Report
Some of these tips are pretty useful. But the searching hours for mustard comment made me laugh! Report
Love these tips! Report
Another Tip... IF You are opposed to Throwing out school work and report cards... (besides those mentioned below)... We make a "Save for Later Folder".. then that folder goes to Grandmas... Grandma 1 or 2 gets to see the work when they come to visit.. or via mail (and they take it with them, and often dispose of it...as they aren't as attached to it) but more than just immediate family gets to see it.. Report
if you click the link to read the other ones I finally realized I couldn't find clothes because everything was on a different sized hangers and some clothes disappeared on the rod because of a small hanger and was accumlating way too much clothing I didn't wear. So I bought all matching hangers. Purple cheap regular ones at walmart. I counted clothes and bought one package extra. After finally going through the clothes are rehanging and retrying them on i realized I didn't need the extra set of hangers because i reduced the amount of clothing. Just if you buy hangers to do the all on the "same size" hanger trick don't make a little mistake like me, make sure you get the kind with the indentions for tank tops and camosiles. Regular hangers with just the little peg on the inner part of the triangle don't work. So I had to buy a set of fuschia ones to hang tank tops. At least all my "sleeveless" items are color coded now. LOL Report
Put all your hangers facing you and when you wear something turn it around. After a year anything still facing you gets donated to charity and you get to write it off in Its Deductible in Turbo Tax. Report
Didn't save the kids' report cards...how sad. I still have mine in a box with sentimental and important papers, so I see them every time I need to pull out a college transcript (for just about every job application) or need important travel docs. Report
FlyLady bought out "The Slob Sister's" Pam Young and Peggy Jones when they retired. Read their great books and learn how to get organized using 3x5 cards and a rotating file. I used their system beginning in the 1970's. Report
Give unneeded clothes, bedding, and toys to a charity that gives them away to people. And give anything else to a thrift store that either helps provide jobs to people who would otherwise have a difficult time finding one (like Value Village), or gives a lot of clothes away (like Deseret Industries, globally). And try not to buy things you don't really need. Report
My favorite suggestion in the blog is the "do a sweep" idea. I tend to do that too, but I never thought to take a basket with me! So much easier to get things back where they belong that way...I don't forget where I am going and what I am doing... Report
Oooh, I like 6 and 13. I need more good ideas like those!
I also try to keep in mind a tip I read awhile ago: Each time you leave a room, grab one thing that doesn't belong there and return it to its place. It doesn't make a big impact, but sometimes it gives me a push to start a more thorough cleaning job. Report
Having a place for everything (similar things in area where they would be used helps when you say put _____ back, or put _____ back into the kitchen, otherwise _____ could end up anywhere in the kitchen creating a frustrating search for _____ when its needed. Also not everyone, (especially kids) remember where they put _____ when asked...even five minutes later. Report
Good habits to start with kids when they're young. I do keep my treasures they have composed or made in a scrapbook which I still look at and cherish. Report
I will be doing more of this--as the youngest flies the coop! Each of my daughters has a bin with report cards, papers, things they wanted to keep. I took nice photos of special art projects so we still "have it" but got rid of the large "things". Report
Great pointers! I love having my timer next to me and if I don't pick it up as much as I can by the time the bell rings...no more cleaning until the next day. Helps me not go crazy. Report
I liked the "fast food basket" idea for the refrigerator and also bagging foods in individual servings as soon as you come home from shopping before storing them in the cabinet.
I love reading my old report cards or looking at art my daughter made for me as a child, so those stay.
I've tried FlyLady, but I think I need to declutter more before I can put the cleaning ideas into effect. I always get overwhelmed when I try her routine. Report
I use the Flylady approach as well! Even my childhood home was never as organized as my apartment is now. Report
Use the flylady approach. My home is organized into 'zones' and I work on one of these per week during the month. As well as tasks which happen specific days of the week every week so I don't face - CHAOS, Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome. Works for me! I absolutely also recommend Flylady.net you'll have the tools to make your home a happy place to be and to welcome your friends anytime ! Report
I still have the report cards from when I was in elementary school. I'm glad my mom didn't get rid of them! I chuckle looking back at the comments my teachers wrote about me. Report
I love new/fresh ideas for anything. Thanks for bringing this to our attention! I especially liked the walking around with a basket first thing in the morning and gathering thing that weren't where they "belonged". I moved to my tiny townhouse almost six years ago to make organization and keeping things neat/clean easier and have recently made enormous strides to simplify even further. Report
While most of the ideas seem great...I can only say that I have written many an assessment on teens...for various agencies...& when I can get them, I read every report card ever written about an individual. Often there is information there that can help find the sources of difficulties or explain some things or point in directions for further exploration. Many initial comments by teachers may look basic...but looked at over time, report cards are invaluable. Report
Nice article. If stress causes anxiety and weight gain and organizing makes stress go away, then being organized must be good for weight loss or maintenance, right? Report
I have been a FlyBaby for many years. She teaches you how to establish good habits that then become your norm. Report
If you're worried about sentimental mementos "cluttering" your house, then you have bigger issues. I keep my children's art projects, each has their own album. My mother kept my art projects and report cards and class picture bound together in a book for me. I'm doing the same for my children. Report
I am also a FlyBaby! (don't know what that is? Search Flylady in google search, good stuff) I like the tip about doing a sweep of the house in the morning. Report
Flylady changed my life in this area. I highly recommend her methods to getting & keeping your house in the condition you are comfortable with. A huge amount of her advice comes down to getting rid of the clutter and then having established routines. Babysteps:-) Report
I'm really messy so these tips will be very useful to me! Report
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