21 Organizing Rules to Live By

Organized desk

Organizing your home can seem daunting if you’re not naturally the decluttering type. But super-organized people don’t have any magic powers or complex skills, they just stick to proven habits and tricks that soon become second nature. You can too, beginning with these 21 home organizing rules to live by.

  1. Designate a Place for Everything
    This is the difference between people who always lose their keys, glasses and wallets, and those who rarely lose anything. When everything you own has a “home,” there’s never a question about where you put it. And if a thing is forever “homeless,” you may not really need that thing in your life.
  1. You Can Be Organized and Messy at the Same Time
    You can be organized even if you’re naturally messy, as long as you group your possessions by category in receptacles that make the messiness look intentional. For example: throw all your shoes in a large woven basket, stash winter gloves and hats in a cute bin by the door, or put all your remote controls out on the coffee table in an attractive tray.
  2. Follow the Shopping Bag Rule
    Always keep one shopping bag in your house for items you realize you no longer want or need. After the bag has filled up, donate everything in it. If you really miss something, you’ll go to the bag to retrieve it soon after you place it there.
  3. You Can Never Have Too Many Hooks
    Place them on the backs of doors, on walls, or anywhere you need a little extra storage space. Don’t forget that doorknobs can be hooks, too.
  4. One in, One out
    Bringing a new item into your home, whether it's new clothes or new toys or new books, means you should take a hard look at the items you already own. Is there a shirt in your closet you haven't worn in over a year that your new shirt could replace? If so, donate it.
  1. Get Creative with Your Storage Containers 
    To avoid an unsightly pile of umbrellas by the front door, store them upright in a large, pretty vase or champagne bucket. Just because something wasn’t intended for storage doesn’t mean it can't make a great storage solution for the right items.
  2. Become a Minimalist
    While definitions of minimalism vary, the fact is that the fewer things you own, the easier it is to keep them organized.
  1. Limit Your Junk Drawers
    Keep a junk drawer, but limit its size and restrict it to necessary yet difficult to categorize objects.
  2. Store Smaller Items Inside Larger Items
    This seems obvious, but think about all those plastic bags you've shoved under your kitchen sink or the cardboard boxes you've carelessly tossed in your garage. Simply stuff or stack everything together so it takes up less space and it's easy to access when you need it.
  3. Ignore Labels on Storage Products
    You can use any product anywhere if it works for you. Place earrings in a box meant for fishing lures, craft supplies in an over-the-door bag meant for shoes, or handbags on a shelf meant to hold books.
  4. Cycle Kids' and Pets' Toys
    If you have kids or pets, cycle their toys so that they’re not all scattered around the house at once. Keep 50% to 75% of your toddler’s stuffed animals and your cat’s squeaky toys packed away, rotating them every so often so your little ones always have “new” playthings.
  5. Use Over-the-Door Shoe Bags for Everything
    Over-the-door shoe bags can help you fit a lot into a shallow, shelf-deficient or oddly shaped closet. Use them for cleaning supplies, craft supplies, toys, hair tools and more.
  6. Make the Most of Natural Storage Spaces (Like Under Your Bed)
    If you live in a region with distinct seasons, store your out of season clothes under the bed, in the basement or in a suitcase at the back of your closet. This leaves you more space to hang the clothes you’re actually wearing.
  1. Make the Most of Vertical Storage
    Short on storage? Don’t neglect the tops of high places, like your refrigerator or kitchen cabinets. Yes, you’ll have to stand on a step-stool to reach things, but stashing lesser-used items up high keeps them away from kitchen counters and other clutter-prone areas.
  2. ABD = Always Be Decluttering
    Have a few spare minutes? Get rid of some items you don’t need. Organized people don’t wait until their life requires a massive organizing overhaul, they almost unconsciously look for any opportunity to get a tiny bit more organized.
  3. Store Things Where You'll Remember to Look for Them
    It might not be the most logical thing to keep your needle and thread in your makeup bag, but if that’s where you turn when you lose a button, it’s the perfect place.
  4. Store Like Items with Like Items
    Reserve one shelf for coffee mugs rather than distributing them in different locations around the kitchen.
  1. Buy Built-In Storage
    Buying furniture? Look for ottomans, beds and benches with extra built-in storage space.
  2. Don't Let Sentimental Clutter Hold You Back
    It's easy to fall into the trap of assigning sentimental value to everything we own, making it impossible to get rid of unnecessary clutter. Learn to let go. An object is just an object, after all.
  3. Fresher Food Goes in the Back
    When you buy perishable food, place it towards the back of your fridge or cabinet. Keeping older food front and center ensures you’ll use it up before it goes bad.
  4. Keep a Running Shopping List
    Keep a shopping list on your phone and add to it whenever you think of something, so when you find yourself in a supermarket, drugstore or shopping center, you won’t have to wonder what you need.