The 5 Golden Rules for Organizing Your Stuff

An organized office

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Even when it comes to large projects, learning how to organize your items at home doesn't have to be complicated. Whether you're tidying up your storage closets or creating new organizational systems for the most frequently-used areas in your home, keeping a clean, orderly space comes down to the same basic guidelines. A few simple steps can be utilized to streamline your favorite belongings in every room—so the next time you're cleaning your entire home or even tidying a small area, you can be prepared to make it as functional as possible.

Here, learn the five golden rules of organization to straighten up your space.

  • 01 of 05

    Keep Less Stuff

    Organized desk

    Have you ever noticed that minimalist homes always look organized? It's much easier to stay organized if you have less stuff. However, you don’t need to pare down your wardrobe to a handful of items (unless you want to), strip your home office of everything but the essentials, or get rid of your children’s toys. Instead, try bringing home new items less frequently and getting rid of unused items on a regular basis. Start by going through the things in your home that you use the least. You won't miss them—and you won't miss trying to cram items into already full storage spaces. 

  • 02 of 05

    Group Similar Items

    Organized toys

    Catherine Macbride / Stocksy United

    An organizational system is easiest to maintain when it's logical. Group similar items into the same areas—whether large closets or small storage containers—to find what you need easily and make cleanup a simple process. This rule applies to organizing everyday items including kitchenware, tools, toys, linens, and more.

    For example, place your drinking glasses in one cupboard and your dinnerware in another. It's also helpful to gather up all the books in your home and store them inside one streamlined shelving unit. Rather than using the same closet to keep linens, cleaning supplies, and stray tools, choose specific areas for each group. When everything has a place, you'll be more likely to put things away promptly after you're done using them. 

  • 03 of 05

    Keep a Junk Drawer

    Junk drawer

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    Having a junk drawer can free you from the pressure of organizing small miscellaneous items. However, it's easy to let your junk drawer get out of hand (and when it becomes too cluttered, you may avoid opening it entirely).

    Limit the size of these areas to one or two drawers or small storage boxes. Too many junk spaces can derail your organizing efforts when they become the go-to for every stray item at home. Opt for drawer dividers to keep rubber bands, batteries, twist ties, and other small things organized together. It's also helpful to remove unnecessary items from these storage areas on a regular basis. Toss anything that you don't need as you come across it to prevent any buildups of clutter that overtake the drawer.

  • 04 of 05

    Have a Staging Area

    Stack of sweaters
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    If you tend to have temporary items at home that don't have a dedicated storage space, the cluttered result can distract from an otherwise tidy house. This can include things like clothing donation bags, library books that need to be returned, recycling, or even purchases that you're planning to take back to the store.

    Thankfully, there's a simple solution to prevent these items from taking over. Create a dedicated space for temporary mudroom storage to keep them outside of the main rooms in your home. If you don't have a mudroom, consider making a temporary staging area with a row of hooks or shelving near the door to serve as a storage station.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Don't Try to Be Perfect

    colorful shirts in a white drawer
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    Remember that no one stays perfectly organized at all times. It's okay to have a few areas that could use some attention, especially when life gets busy and chores become excessive. Don't give up if you're not perfect in your organizational efforts: Being semi-tidy is better than lacking an organizational system altogether.

    For example, if you don't have time to file a pile of papers, simply straighten it into a neat stack and place it near your file folders. This way, you'll be one step closer to properly filing them when you have time. Apply this method to clutter in any area of your home to stay on track without becoming overwhelmed. With a few small steps on a daily basis, you can make strides each day to straighten up every room.