Just Do It: Organize Already

Every year it’s on your list to get done: organize. Maybe you want to organize the garage or the kids’ playroom or finally tackle the linen closet. Whatever it is, there’s a place in your home that needs some attention but you keep putting it off because you’re overwhelmed at the thought of actually starting the task. Don’t be! It’s a new year and a new chance for a start fresh. Here are a few simple tips to get you going.

One thing at a time. To avoid being overwhelmed, start small with one thing. Whether it’s the garage or the refrigerator or a closet, start with one shelf. Sort through anything that’s expired or broken and toss it. If you haven’t used it in more than a year, donate it. Once you’ve gotten rid of what you don’t need, you can start to put back what you do use. By breaking down the task into one part at a time, you’re more likely to get it done without things feeling impossible.


Keep, donate, toss. No matter where you’re starting, create piles for things you want to keep, things you can donate, and items to trash.

Give everything a place. You can spend a lot of time organizing, but if you don’t have a place for things, no space will stay clutter-free for long. That’s why everything needs a place and when you’re done using something, it goes back to where it belongs. Bins and baskets are great for sorting and storing. Hooks work well for coats, jackets and book bags.

Don’t wait – do it now. If you’ve got a lot of paper coming into your house, don’t wait to recycle or trash what you know you won’t keep. Recycle junk mail immediately and file anything that you need to tend to later. This helps you find what you need when you need it and prevents clutter from piling up.

Get everyone on board. Make sure your spouse and kids are on board with the organization system from the get-go. Set up things that make sense for your lifestyle and your space.

Plan ahead. One way to make things easier for everyone is to plan ahead. Give an hour of your time on Sunday to plan meals for the week, prep food, pick out outfits, and go over the calendar for what’s ahead. This gets everyone on the same page and can help you anticipate what days might be hectic to allow you to prepare as best you can.

Designate a time every day for everyone to put things away. Maybe it’s before dinner or before everyone heads to bed, but designate five minutes to cleaning up and putting things away. Even little ones can help put toys back in the toy box or pick up shoes. School-aged kids should put backpacks, homework and anything needed for the next day (library books, school projects, sports equipment) in a spot so they can easily find what they need in the morning. Before going to bed, set up the coffee maker, pack lunches and pack your work bag. This will just insure you have what you need and will help the morning go smoothly, especially if anyone oversleeps.

Be kind to yourself. Finally, celebrate the small victories. If you set up one system that works all year, but that’s all you get to, that’s still progress! Sometimes we can start January off with a rush and burn out because we can’t live up to our own expectations. Instead of keeping at it, we say we’ve failed and we give up. This year, be kind to yourself and make small, steady changes that you can actually maintain. Slowly but surely you’ll get things organized!

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