01 of 05
The 5 Golden Rules of Organizing
Though there are many different ways to get organized, these five golden rules of organizing apply to almost every situation, whether you’re undertaking a big project or trying to stay organized every day. You can apply these rules to rooms (kitchens, living rooms, bathrooms), zones in rooms (under the sink, recycling station, under the bed), or even collections (shoes, papers, clothing).
1. When you can’t be completely organized, be halfway organized.
Let’s say you file all your important documents in a box. Ideally, you would file away every piece of paper in its proper folder immediately. But sometimes you don’t have time for that, so you let the papers pile up messily on your desk.
Instead, make a neat little stack of papers and stash them on top of your file folders. This way you know where they are, they’re not cluttering up a clean surface, and they’re one step closer to being properly filed when you have the time.
Semi-organizing also comes with a built-in limit. When you can no longer close the filing box lid, then you really have to do something, but papers left unchecked on your kitchen table could eventually reach the ceiling.Continue to 2 of 5 below.
02 of 05
The less stuff you have, the easier it is to organize
2. The less you have, the easier it is to organize.
If you look at the homes of dedicated minimalists, you’ll notice they almost always look very organized. But minimalism isn’t necessarily about organization. It’s usually more focused on traveling light, avoiding consumer culture, or saving money.
While it’s true that you can be organized with a house packed full of stuff, the fact is that it’s much easier to stay organized if you’re dealing with less stuff.
But you don’t need to pare your wardrobe down to 30 items or get rid of all your children’s toys. You only need to think, before you bring a new object home, about whether you have room for it. Also consider items you already own that seem to get in the way a lot. There’s a good chance that if you give such things away, you won’t miss them.Continue to 3 of 5 below.
03 of 05
Always group like items with like items when organizing
3. Group like with like.
It’s almost always easier to organize anything when you gather items together in a logical way. For example, if you keep all your glasses in one cupboard or on one shelf then you’ll always know where to find one when you need it and you’ll never wonder what to do with a freshly cleaned glass.
A bonus of keeping sets or similar items as close together as possible is that it just plain looks better. Even a stack of books on the floor – an organizing method that takes no time and no furniture – makes a room look a million times more put-together than random books on every surface.Continue to 4 of 5 below.
04 of 05
Maintain a few spaces you don’t ever need to organize.
4. Maintain a few (small) spaces you don’t ever need to organize.
There’s a reason why the concept of a junk drawer exists. Keeping some areas reserved for life’s random messy bits actually helps you to be organized elsewhere. The only rule is to limit the size of these areas. A junk drawer or box is good, a junk room or floor can quickly get to be a problem.
TIP: The key is a junk drawer is to group like items with like items and then use your junks drawer as much as possible. This will cut down on the I-don't-know-where-batteries-are moments.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
05 of 05
Have an organizing system for transitional items
5. Have a system or systems for transitional items.
By transitional items, I mean anything in that category of stuff that doesn’t have a permanent spot in your home but is in constant use or is in the process of coming in or leaving. This can be your recycling, gym bag, clothes to be donated to the resale shop, winter boots…you get the idea. Having a method for dealing with all of them (e.g. bags go on the hook behind the front door, recycling is stacked in a certain corner of the kitchen, unwanted clothes accumulate in a box in the closet until it’s full) will keep these things from overrunning your space and becoming clutter.