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It wasn’t until my youngest child turned 1 that I even started feeling like I could tackle
life organizing our home. When we moved in our current home in 2015, things just kind of got thrown in drawers and closets, with the intention of eventually going back and sorting it properly.
Several years later, and I guess the time had finally come.
Jeremy and I couldn’t stand the disarray of our hall closet any longer. And riding on the coattails of Marie Kondo, I marched into our local Walmart for supplies. Now, you’ll find all kinds of advice for how to organize on Google and Pinterest. Most of them say to avoid purchasing things to organize until after you see what all you have.
My Organizing Philosophy
I disagree. If I don’t have what I need while I’m working on my project, then all of my “piles” will get messed up before I can go out to purchase what I need. My kids will drag my meticulously organized items all over every inch of the house and I’m left with a bigger mess than what I started with.
My Favorite Supplies
So needless to say, I like to have some basic organizational supplies on hand. My very, very, very favorite organizers ever are those clear shoe boxes. I’ll link somehere, if you’re not familiar. I like them for several reasons, they’re cheap, like $1 a box. They’re clear so you can see what’s in them. I loooove them for small toys for that reason. And, they’re stackable.
It may not be my first choice for a place where it would be visible, like a bookcase, but when using in concealed storage, like a closet or ottoman, they are perfect. I also like that you can get matching bins/ totes in larger sizes for your bigger things and they can still stack and fit together nicely.
One of my other must haves are these cute chalkboard labels that are self adhesive. I love that you can write on them with chalk markers and then wipe off if you change out what is in the bins. (I find I do this a lot for toys.) Labeling is a must for me. I’ve found it helps everyone be on the same page about what goes where, and now that my daughter is learning to read, she gets to help too.
I also like these 3 drawer Sterilite organizers for smaller items. (I linked them to Amazon, but they’re much cheaper at Walmart for whatever reason. ) I’ve actually got two in my closet. One houses different kinds of batteries and lightbulbs and the other is more of a miscellaneous organizer that I can adapt as needed.
My system is by no means the only way to go and I’m sure there are much more efficient ways to do this. I’m just offering up my tips, and things I learned along the way, in hopes it may be of some help to you.
Tip #1) Have a Brainstorming Session
This is by far the most important piece of the puzzle, and also, the most boring. Your instinct is to jump right in and strike while the iron’s hot! Your kids are finally napping, you had an extra cup of coffee, and are feeling extra ambitious. I get it. Believe me, I am usually the first to dive right in without a game plan.
However, with organizing, you have to really sit and plan. Think about the big picture of how your family operates. Go grab you a cup of coffee and a notepad and pen. Enjoy the sunshine out on your porch and think about the clutter problems in your home. Then, try to brainstorm ways to fix them.
For instance, maybe you’re a sports family. Every day your kids are coming in the mudroom or back door by the kitchen and your floors stay littered with sports equipment, balls, cleats, bat bags etc. In that case, you probably need to implement some kind of system for how to corral all that clutter, and make finding said items a lot easier in the morning rush.
Maybe it’s a closet that overflows as soon as you open the door. Or the junk drawers in the kitchen. Or the paper clutter on the counter in the kitchen. Whatever. You get the picture. Just try to visualize how to organize it all so it makes sense. And bonus points if the method you come up with makes your space look more inviting as well.
Tip #2) Empty out that closet or drawer
It’s much easier, in my opinion, to start with a completely blank space. The first thing I always do is clear the entire area out. Once all the belongings are out, give the area a quick spruce up. Maybe just wipe the shelves down with some cleaner and vacuum out the corners.
Tip #3) Now Group Like Objects Together
Now, it’s time to turn your attention to all the “stuff”. Whatever that may be. This is the most frustrating part for me and it’s usually the time where I start getting overwhelmed, wondering why I did this to myself. The most helpful tip I have for this process is to start off by grouping like objects together.
Let’s take my hall closet for example. This is basically one big ol’ junk drawer. When you start grouping like objects, patterns start to emerge that are more easily recognizable. Once I got to this step, I then realized, ok. We’ve got batteries, lightbulbs, throw blankets, extra paper towel rolls, extra toilet paper, picture hanging hardware, etc.
I then turned to my handy clear shoe boxes and began filling them with each “category” I had sorted. I then stacked the boxes on the closet shelves according to how often each item got used. Most used things went on the first shelf, the next most used things on the second, and so on.
It’s important to note that Jeremy and I are not fans of the typical hall closet, also known as a coat closet. They usually consist of a closet rod with a shelf above it. We just don’t use these closets as they are intended. Instead we choose to remove the rod and add shelving all the way to the top. We did it in our old house and it worked so well for us that it was one of the first projects we did in this house.
Tip #4) Find a home for all the leftovers
I’ve found that there are always some kind of miscellaneous things left over that don’t really fit with anything else. So I did what made sense to me. I made a miscellaneous box and listed what all was in it.
You could also add a larger basket for those things but again, what works for us is to have every spare inch of our closet micromanaged so that the clutter can’t sneak back in. This is also where I make a list of what other size bins and totes I need. For instance, my camera and portable DVD player have their own separate larger box and we keep all related cords, chargers, and owner manuals in there as well.
We have made it almost a full year since I organized that closet and I’m happy to report it is still functioning just as well for us.
And this is what it looks like now.
It is sooo much nicer to open that door and be able to find what I need, right when I need it. It’s literally been a game changer for us and motivated me to do more organizing in our home, especially since it looks the exact same as it did a year ago.