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35+ Organization Tips That Will Completely Change Your Life

organization tips

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For some, the prospect of spending a day fastidiously organizing the home feels like a treat — a welcomed chance to focus on the oh-so-satisfying art of living in an orderly, uncluttered, and highly functional dwelling. For others, the very notion of getting organized feels daunting — like fighting an uphill battle, with no obvious place to start, and tons of feelings involved.

No matter which category you fit into, you’ll find brilliant organizing tips in this expert-backed guide to tackling your entire home. Starting with the emotional hang ups and stressors that lead to clutter, this primer walks you through everything you need to get — and stay — mess-free at home.

As a first step? Think like Marie Kondo and do away with clutter that doesn’t spark joy. “Decluttering [is] the act of picking what you like, picking out what you [don’t] like, [and] choosing what you wanna keep,” Michele Vig, Marie Kondo-certified master organizer, founder of Neat Little Nest, and author of The Holistic Guide to Decluttering, tells Woman’s Day. “Declutter first, organize second.”

From there, you’ll have less stuff around to hinder the process of creating lasting solutions for a chaos-free home. Organize using tools you already have at home, and supplement with affordable organizing products that will take your strategy to the next level.

Whether you’re daunted by the idea or raring to get going, start now and get to enjoying your streamlined life stat with these easy home organization hacks from the pros that will save you time, money, and stress.

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Place like things with like things.

One of the things that can make a huge difference in how you organize your space is putting similar things together. “Make sure you pull everything of the category you are working on together from anywhere it lives in your house,” Kate Pawlowski, founding partner of Done & Done Home, tells Woman’s Day. “This doesn’t mean taking your coats from the mudroom to your bedroom because it’s more ‘clothing,’ just that you should do all coats at the same time.” Seeing everything you sorted by categories — jeans in one corner, coffee mugs in another — it gives you a chance to see how much of something you have, making it easier to get rid of extras.

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Take inventory.

Professional organizers have an industry-standard word for taking inventory: editing.

“Editing is a step in the decluttering process that helps you determine which items to keep, toss, or donate,” Jaime Hord, founder of Horderly Professional Organizing, tells Woman’s Day. “After editing, you’re left with only the items you need and love in your home!”

The Aesthetic Organizer Wendy Silberstein says there are a few key ways to “edit” your possessions. “Do not keep any garments that you have not worn 12 months or older, any kitchen or bathroom products that have expired, or any inventory that has not served you well in the last 12 months,” she tells Woman’s Day.

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Assess your space when you finish organizing.

When you feel like you’ve done all the organizing that you can for whatever space in the house you were working on, “assess if you are in need of organizing solutions that will maintain the system you created,” Silberstein says. Whether your solution is to add a command center where you have everything you’d need to find organized on a list, or a shelf riser to help you see things easier, make sure to take the space’s measurements. “Measure once, measure twice, and choose an aesthetic that matches your inventory and home.”

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Label everything.

Once you’ve sorted through that day’s organization project, and you’re ready to put the finishing touch on your masterpiece, start labeling. “Labels are like the cherry on top,” Marissa Hagmeyer. co-founder of Neat Method, tells Woman’s Day. “They complete the look of a space and make your system sustainable by reminding your household exactly where everything goes.”

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Tackle one space at a time.

There’s no denying that organization can be a stressful activity for a lot of people. Experts suggest starting small and tackling one space of your house at a time to make it less of a daunting task. “Walk around your home and assess the space that is the most unproductive,” Silberstein says. “Make a commitment to organize, and schedule it.”

Ashley Murphy, co-founder of Neat Method, finds it’s best to choose a place that you use a lot in your house. “This will make a huge impact on your day-to-day life and give you the confidence needed to move on to other areas on your list,” she tells Woman’s Day. Once you’ve decided on a space, pull everything out of it and start sifting through it to see what you keep and what you get rid of.

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Block out the time you need for each project.

It may be tempting to try to get some organizing done in between calls, which is helpful, but when it comes to a big project, you’ll probably need more time than that. “Don’t try to quickly get a project done that you know takes time,” Pawlowski says. “If you dismantle your closet to do a big declutter and run out of time because you have to pick up your kids, you just have to come back to it the next day.”

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Apply the one in, one out rule.

Shopping can be a really fun and relaxing activity for a lot of people, but if you want to avoid overfilling your closet with the new clothes you buy each week, you may want to consider this rule. “If you get a really amazing new dress from the store, make sure you donate one item in your closet to make room for your new purchase,” Hord says. “This ensures that no space in your home will overflow because of new items.”

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Use it, love it, or lose it.

It’s easy to fall into the habit of hoarding things you think you may need or use one day, even if you don’t necessarily care for these items, like your high school prom dress that’s taking up space in your closet. “It may have once served you well, but it apparently has no place in your life right now, so let it go,” Sharon Lowenheim, MBA, MSE, certified professional organizer, and founder of the Organizing Goddess, Inc., tells Woman’s Day. “If you never use something, and you don’t love it, why is it still hanging around?”

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Don’t put it down, put it away.

One thing that could make your house feel unorganized without you realizing it is that you take something out of its home, put it down somewhere, and then forget about it. “This creates clutter and also causes a problem when we go looking for it,” Lowenheim says. “Be mindful of where you are putting something, and if you are done using it, take a moment to put it where it goes instead of on the nearest surface.”

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Store things where you use them.

“If something gets used in the living room but gets stored in the bedroom, you’re never going to put it away,” Lowenheim says. “You’re going to keep it hanging around in the living room on a surface or on the floor, creating a cluttered look.”

So, while you may not think you have the space to store said item where you use it, finding a more convenient home can help reduce the clutter in your house because “you increase the likelihood that it gets put away,” she adds.

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Make a prioritized to-do list.

If you have a free day you want to spend organizing, but you don’t know where to start, consider making a to-do list with the top five things you need to do that day. “Prioritize them so that you know which one you are going to do first,” Lowenheim says. “As you get interrupted during the day by other activities, keep returning to the list and go in order of priority.”

At the end of the day, add whatever you didn’t get done to tomorrow’s list.

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Pay attention to your habits.

This life-changing organizational tip is more about getting to the root of the clutter than the decluttering itself. “When you come home at the end of the day, are you the kind of person who hangs up their coat immediately?” Sara Losonci, founder of Shelfie NYC, asks Woman’s Day. “Or do you toss it on a chair?”

If you prefer to do the former, then consider getting rid of some stuff in your closet that you no longer use to make space for the things that you use regularly. If you just like tossing your coat on the chair, Losonci suggests hanging a sturdy, large, and long hook on the wall instead of using the chair. “It’s 1% more difficult to do than tossing your coat on a bench or chair and not as stressful as going into your closet to hang it up,” she says.

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Drawers and open bins are always better than stacking bins.

“You’re more likely to put your things back where they belong if you’re storing them in a drawer or open bin,” Losonci says. If you have to stack and unstack bins every time you want to put something away, it takes more time and energy, which you may not always have when you’re organizing. “When you don’t feel like putting something back where it belongs, you set it down on a surface and the clutter collecting begins,” she explains. Whereas, simply placing something into an open bin or tossing it into a drawer with organizers is far less tedious and takes little effort.

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Color-code your bookshelf.

This organizing hack is more of a fun, aesthetically pleasing project and less of a necessary thing to do to keep your space neat. If you have a little extra time on your hands, and you’re looking for something to do, “color-code your books,” Losonci says. “Nothing is easier on the eyes. There’s a reason this tip is life-changing and talked about all the time.”

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Stop buying dressers with massive and deep drawers.

Deep drawers are not your friends — not now, not ever — unless you’re storying hoodies and sweaters, but even then, they’re unnecessary, Losonci explains. The smaller, the easier they are to organize and categorize, so you may want to seriously consider shallower drawers the next time you go furniture shopping. “Give up the searching through depths of doom life,” she jokes.

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Tidy up a little every day.

Though it may seem near impossible on your really busy days, tidying up a little each day can do wonders. “If you do a little here and there, things will stay nicely organized and the upkeep will feel effortless,” Hagmeyer says. Keeping things around the house in containers and bins on shelves can also help maintain tidiness around the house and make it easier to locate things when you need them.

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Get yourself a hanging shoe rack.

Instead of opening your closet door and seeing your pairs of shoes messily scattered everywhere, consider getting a hanging shoe rack for a clothing rod or behind the door. “Too many shoes all over the closet floors getting dinged and dusty and separated from each other,” Cynthia Kienzle, founder of The Clutter Whisperer of NYC, tells Woman’s Day. “That is not an inviting scene. Now, imagine opening your closet and having all of your shoes stored in cubbies in hanging shoe bags.”

You can organize them by type, color, season, whatever your little heart desires.

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Archive least-used items.

The truth is, if you don’t use something on a regular basis, you should either get rid of it, or, at the very least, store it out of reach when you don’t need it. “Archiving is great for seasonal or specialty clothing, shoes, sports equipment, luggage, entertaining platters, dishes, or glassware, back-up food and supplies, and kitchen appliances,” Kienzle says.

For example, store your ski or camping gear behind or above other items you’ll use throughout the year, instead of the one week you go skiing or camping.

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Buy a rotating tray.

Not only are rotating trays, colloquially known as “lazy Susans,” incredibly practical, but also they make organizing your kitchen, cabinet, or even dinner table, so much easier. You can use them in your refrigerator to access hard-to-reach items, as a place to store your herbs and spices, baking supplies, dry foods, everyday items, whatever you want. “I can’t live without them,” Kienzle says.

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Have a donation or recycling bin around at all times.

Put a large container tucked in the corner of your closet, in the garage, or anywhere out of the way, and ask your family to review their belongings regularly and identify items they no longer want. “Put them in the container,” Kienzle says. Whenever the container gets full, drop the contents off at your favorite thrift store. This way, unused items don’t pile up and take up valuable storage space.

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Create a home for everything you own.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” This tip perfectly embodies that sentiment. At its simplest level, to organize is to “keep creating a home for everything you own,” Vig, Marie Kondo-certified master organizer, tells Woman’s Day.

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Consider where your clutter is coming from.

Clutter doesn’t only happen in the physical sense, Vig explains. “Think about clutter in a more holistic way,” she says. “Your clutter might be showing up in your home, but it might be there because maybe you have clutter in your calendar.” Maybe you’ve got too much going on with work or school, and you’re not giving yourself enough mental space to process it all.

“There might be clutter in your head, and you’re not really focusing on the tasks that you have at hand,” VIg adds. If that’s the case, you may want to give yourself a little break — mental, physical, spiritual, etc.

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Don’t put off storing your possessions.

After you’re done using your extra blanket, your dinner tray, or whatever it is you just spent the last three hours using, don’t just leave it where you used it. “That is one of the most significant places where clutter accumulates,” Vig says. “It’s just maybe being with your thoughts and thinking, ‘I’ll do that later.'” Then, before you realize it, you have a million things you have to do “later,” and it can feel overwhelming.

Consider spending an extra minute or two when you’re getting ready to move to another room in the house, to put things back where they belong. “Then, it’s gonna save you a lot more time later and a little bit more stress,” she adds.

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Use the Focus 15 method.

Whether you’re struggling to find time to clear your space (or just your head), Vig highly recommends the Focus 15 method. Basically, you set a timer for 15 minutes, and you focus on doing one task in that timeframe. “You’re gonna feel this sense of freedom,” she says. “When I’m stuck, when I just feel like either I’m too tired, or I’m just tired of it — whatever the ‘it’ is — the focus 15 can really help. It kind of gets your adrenaline going and gets you across the finish line.”

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Modernize your kitchen with a towel rack.

Hanging up a towel rack in your kitchen is another fun little project that’ll not only make you feel much more organized, but also give your kitchen an aesthetically pleasing touch. It helps you reduce the clutter in your kitchen drawers or cabinets, and because it looks nice, you won’t mind looking at it every day. Not to mention, it makes high-use items much more accessible.

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Repurpose a wine rack.

If you’re not a big drinker, or you’d rather have the adult drinks in spots that your kids can’t access, consider using your wine rack to store some of your favorite or most-used items.

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Make it easier to put things away.

“It always surprises me how difficult people make organizing for themselves,” Kate Brown, certified professional organizer and owner of Impact Organizing LLC, tells Woman’s Day. Her suggestion? “Make everything a one-handed operation.”

For example, don’t hide your laundry basket in the back of the closet. “And avoid lids at almost all costs,” she urges. Using open containers for things you use often like toiletries and cooking supplies makes it easier to put them away. This advice even applies to garbage cans. Brown recommends investing in one with a lever you can step on to pop the lid open. “The fewer steps, the better the organizing system,” she says.

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Don’t buy storage containers until you’ve purged.

“When people want to get organized, the first thing they usually do is run out and buy storage supplies,” Julie Isaacs, a professional organizer and founder of Uncluttered Home, tells Woman’s Day. “But that’s actually backwards.”

The point, she explains, is to evaluate why you have so much stuff to begin with — not find new ways to house your junk. “You won’t have any idea of what you really need in terms of containers or shelving until you’ve purged.” While deciding what to keep and what to toss, always remember the “80/20 rule.”

“It’s the theory that most of us only use 20% of what we have. That’s a good starting point to realizing you are surrounded by a lot of things you probably don’t need,” Isaacs says. Plus, not only will slimming down your stuff save you money on storage supplies, but it’ll save you the headache of going through excess items in an emergency or last-minute situation.

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Look for signs your system isn’t working.

If a room still somehow looks messy after you’ve cleaned, it’s time to improve your organizational system, which, according to Brown, should allow you to tidy up in 15 minutes or less. Once you’ve pulled out what you don’t need — to either throw away or donate — the next step is to group things together based on use or occasion and store them in open containers.

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Don’t treat drawers like catchalls.

“There isn’t a drawer in your house that should not have container organizers in them,” interior decorator Christopher Lowell, author of Seven Layers of Organization, tells Woman’s Day. They can be any material you want — wood, wire mesh, or clear plastic — and are available at most home goods stores. “This allows you to separate the drawers into defined areas for specific things verses throwing everything into one big space,” Lowell explains.

For the bedroom, store everyday items — like underwear and socks — in top drawers, workout clothes in the second or third drawers, and pants in the bottom drawers. In the bathroom, keep cotton swabs and other daily use items on the counter within arm’s reach and tools you use occasionally under the cabinet. “With the things you only use now and then separated out and away from the things you need every day, those daily essentials will be better organized and easier to get to,” Lowell says.

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