The 5 Golden Rules for How to Organize Your Stuff

An organized office

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Here's a secret. There are five little golden rules of organizing that apply to almost every situation, large or small. Remember these rules when you're tackling your entire home, a whole room, a small area in a room, or you're trying to figure out the best way to categorize a collection. To start, this first rule is a stress-reliever. When you can't be completely organized, be halfway organized. Being semi-organized is better than being completely disorganized. If you don't have time to file a pile of papers, simply straighten it up into a neat stack and put them near your file folders so you'll be one step closer to properly filing them when you have time. 

  • 01 of 04

    Have Less Stuff

    Organized desk
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    Have you ever noticed that minimalist homes always look more organized? It's much easier to stay organized if you have less stuff. You don’t need to pare your wardrobe down to a handful of items (only if you want to), strip your home office of everything that's motivational, or get rid of all your children’s toys. You only need to bring home new items less frequently or give unnecessary items away. You won't miss them. You will miss trying to cram unused products and items into already filled storage spaces. 

  • 02 of 04

    Group Similar Items

    Organized toys
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    Organizing is easiest to maintain when it's done logically. Group like things. Keep the same type of item in one place so you know where to find them. This rule works well with everyday items, from kitchenware to tools and toys. For example, put drinking glasses in one cupboard, cups in another. Keep sets of similar items together as much as possible. Gather up books from around your living room and put them in one stack. Your space will look put together and more orderly than if the books were randomly strewn around the room. 

  • 03 of 04

    Keep a Junk Drawer

    Junk drawer
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    The concept of having a junk drawer frees you up from the pressure of organizing little messes or small pieces of flotsam and jetsam. Limit the size and number of junk areas to a couple of drawers or small boxes around your home. Too many junk drawers will derail your organizing efforts because then everything gets tossed in. Group like items so you'll know where to put those bits and pieces. Put single batteries in a junk drawer, rubber bands from produce you bring home, and those little bread bag ties that come somehow come in handy at the strangest times. 

  • 04 of 04

    Have a Staging Area

    Stack of sweaters
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    Nothing will quickly ruin your organizing efforts than having a pile of temporary items that you don't know where to store. Where do you stash clothing donations, library books that need returning, items to be recycled, or purchases that need to be taken back to the store? Before long, transitional items can overrun your home. The solution is to dedicate a small staging area for these items. If you don't have a mudroom for this purpose, carve out a station with a row of hooks and bags for each purpose.