Before you begin organizing, it's imperative to have a game plan for what exactly you're going to organize. To that end, I've created this checklist for every room in your home you should organize from attics to workspaces, and guides to how to organize, store, donate or recycle everything in your home and office.
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The kitchen, including the pantry, cabinets and appliances.
Organizing your kitchen regularly will cut down on lost time, food costs, and nasty leftovers lurking in your freezer and fridge.
When to Organize: Declutter this space twice weekly, and do then do a full re-organization two or three times a year.
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Sort out your attic + basement
An organized attic is a great asset because of the (sometimes huge) amount of storage space it offers. Make sure things are placed on sturdy shelving for easy access, and labeled for easy retrieval.
When to Organize: Organize this space twice a year. I like to tackle the attic when it's time to take down and then re-store holiday decorations.
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Organize basement storage spaces.
Much like an attic, an organized basement is a great asset because of the amounts of storage space it offers. Make sure things are accessible -- this is where your buckets and bins come into play -- and safe from water damage. I like to use this shelf-and-bin combo for storage:
- Heavy Duty shelving from Durashelf +
- Clear Stacking Bins +
- Brother Label Maker
These three products make it incredibly easy to store, and then easily retrieve out-of-season clothing, kitchen items, office supplies and... more, while keeping them out of your main living area.
When to Organize: Organize this space twice a year. I like to tackle the basement seasonally, when it's time to take down and then re-store holiday decorations, clothing, or outdoor gear like patio furniture and beach supplies
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Declutter and streamline the bathrooms.
A clean, well-organized, and clutter-free bathroom can help you get a good start to the day, and is all-around healthier as you'll be purging the space of old medications regularly.
When to Organize: Declutter this space weekly. I like to tackle the bathroom on Sundays to start the week freshContinue to 5 of 23 below.
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Organize the bedroom (including under the bed).
Keep as little as possible in your bedroom*, making sure your clothes and shoes don't overwhelm the rest of the room. This is supposed to be a restful pace.
*The exception is if you live in a studio apartment, and then organize it into zones: sleeping, eating and cooking, entertaining/relaxing and your dressing area.
When to Organize: Declutter this space twice weekly, including a quick closet sweep, a good dusting, and decluttering for un-worn or dirty clothes that haven't made their way... into the hamper yet
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Get the closet organized.
An organized closet will make your bedroom more peaceful, and will help you maintain sanity on early mornings while trying to get yourself and your family out the door to work, school, and errand-running.
When to Organize: Declutter this space twice weekly, and do a major over-haul and re-organization twice a year.)
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Get control of the clutter.
Banishing clutter for your home is process that requires daily upkeep. The resources below will take you step-by-step through your home with a plan to declutter a little bit at a time.
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Organize your donations.
Knowing a good place to donate clothing and household items makes the decluttering and organizing process much easier. I donate all of my belongings to a charitable organization that picks them up at my doorstep (Its the Vietnam Veterans of America), which makes the process even easier for me, because all I have to do is clean and bag things, and then leave them on my front porch on the appointed date.
When to Organize: Take some time to research an organization whose mission you support, read... their donation guidelines and then start donating on a regular basis, either monthly (for a large household) or seasonallyContinue to 9 of 23 below.
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The entryway to your home.
An organized entryway is going to help your efforts on many fronts: it will assist you to get out the door more quickly in the morning, and it will aid in a more organized, neater walk through the door when you return.
When to Organize: Organize this space weekly as part of the Weekly Organizing Routine, and then do a seasonal re-vamp
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Sort and store your financial documents.
Once you've organized your financial and important documents (think birth certificates, social security cards, credit card statements), you're going to feel very accomplished. This task is worth the time in peace of mind alone.
When to Organize: I like to go through these documents once a year, and then I incorporate decluttering these documents into my weekly routine while handling mail and paper
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Streamline your garage.
Not just for cars anymore, the garage, when organized into zones can be a place to work on home improvement projects and even used for entertaining in warmer climates.
When to Organize: This one depends on how you use your garage. If you're a "weekend warrior" doing a lot of home improvement projects that use your garage space, then you want to do a full re-org every season; those who simply use this space to store the car can get away with organizing it once or twice a year
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Organize your holiday "stuff."
The holidays are so stressful for most people that having a plan of attack is a no-brainer. Start by making lists early and using the slower month of November to do your cards and organize decorations and meal plans. I have lots of resources to help you!
When to Organize: Take advantage of the (relatively) slower weeks at the beginning of November and start your holiday organizing earlyContinue to 13 of 23 below.
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Get your laundry room in good working order.
An organized laundry room will make this dreaded task a little bit easier, especially since laundry rooms tend to be clutter magnets ("Oh, I'm not sure what to do with this new widget someone gave me. I'll just put it in the laundry room.")
If your laundry room is also meant to be a storage space, make sure you organize it into zones to keep the tools you need to clean your clothes separate from the storage items.
When to Organize: Every time you do a load of laundry, clear the... clutter, empty the lint trap, and empty the garbage. Then do a re-org twice a year.
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Organize and tidy the living room.
Because the living room is meant to be a relaxing environment, it’s important to arrange it in a way that keeps things simple and uncluttered. This will mean working on it regularly to declutter and purge the space of things like extra magazines, locate and organize remote controls and toys, and un-coil wires and cables.
When to Organize: Tackle the living room as part of your weekly routine by decluttering and cleaning
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Sort out the mail and paper work.
Paper, when not kept in check, can really cause a lot stress in your home. Piles of mail and stacks of magazines become signs of clutter and you may be tempted to a) just toss everything or b) ignore it for far too long. Get in the habit of regularly sorting, recycling and shredding your mail and papers.
When to Organize: Resist the urge to shove this in a box for "later," and begin sorting, responding to, and recycling or shredding mails on a daily or (at least) weekly basis
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Organize your meal plans and grocery shopping.
Meal planning is such a time saver I wish I had incorporated this habit into my weekly routine years ago. Planning your meals out a few days in advance will assist you in keeping your kitchen, grocery shopping, and coupons organized, and your daily and weekly routines going strong.
When to Organize: Incorporate meal planning into your weekly routine, and then review your plan daily, editing your grocery list and your couponsContinue to 17 of 23 below.
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Organizing your routines will take decision making out of the equation, freeing up time to start doing and accomplishing. Example: if you know every single Monday you work on your kitchen, then you will spend less time worrying about when you're going to clean and declutter your kitchen.
When to Organize: Review your routines at least once a month. This allows you to adjust what is, and what is not working.
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Store your shoes properly.
I'm combine shoe organization and storage because the two go hand-in-hand. Shoe have always been a huge pain for me, especially since I live in a climate with four distinct seasons: snow and ice, mud, humidity and then leaf-peeing aka Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall.
When to Organize: I organize shoes seasonally since I live in a four-season climate. Those who live in warmer areas can get away with twice a year.
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Maximize space in your small closet.
Small closets need more TLC than their larger counterparts. The great thing about small closets is that they discourage hoarding; there is literally no room to hide the clothes you haven't worn in years.
When to Organize: Declutter this space twice weekly, and do then do a re-organization once a month. You can do this every-other-month if you are stringent about decluttering once a week.
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Storage spaces can be so powerful because they keep things you need sometimes-but-not-every-day organized and easy-to-find. Cases in point: holiday decorations which you need for a few months a year, but not every day, or your flip flops which you need in the summer, but not in the winter.
Storing items means they are not crowing out the stuff you really need immediately.
When to Organize: Go through storage spaces seasonally.Continue to 21 of 23 below.
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Keeping tools organized is important because a) some are dangerous, and it's good idea to know where they are at all times, and exactly how they are stored, and b) if you don't use them that often, it's nice to know exactly where to find each hammer and wrench.
When to Organize: Every time you work on a project, declutter, and clean the area.
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Get organized for trips and travel.
Being an organized traveler is important to me; I don't' like the feeling of rushing through the airport or train station wondering if I'm going to make my flight or train. I like to know where my tickets are, exactly what time my flight is, and what I've packed. Being organized can cut down on a lot of stress and make any trip more enjoyable.
When to Organize: Before a trip or when planning your vacation.
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Declutter and clear your workspaces and office.
An organized workspace may mean different things to different people, depending on your work style and they type of office you work in, but a few things remain constant: you need the right tools, a comfortable seat, and a way to catalog your projects that makes sense.
When to Organize: This is a daily task, then do a re-assessment of your organization every month.