At this point you should have no extraneous possessions in your home. You should have created extra space by eliminating all the dead weight around the house. All remaining objects should be things of importance to you. With the clutter gone, you can actually see what you have left to organize. This is the time to make a solid plan about storing these things.
Fine-Tune Your Plan to Organize
Think carefully about what will work best for you. On day one you made a tentative plan about how and where to organize your things. Today you will fine-tune your plan with an emphasis on the actual design. Your system should be one that will be easy for you to use consistently. If you don’t follow through with using the system you set up, you’ll end up with another cluttered, disorganized mess. This is why planning is so important.
Planning will be a three-step process:
- Sort and group your stuff.
- Figure out what kind of storage space you need for each group.
- Plan specifically how to organize each group.
So, you will sort your stuff, grouping items into your goal categories (for example, the hypothetical craft supplies, paperwork, toys, and shoes from day one). Once you’ve got things sorted out, you’ll have a good idea about the actual space you will need for storing each group. Then you can make a plan to actually organize the objects in each group.
Organizing generally involves arranging things in cupboards or containers of some type, on shelves, storing in boxes, setting up a filing system, or otherwise settling stuff for easy retrieval.
How to Store Your Things
There’s a staggering array of storage supplies available. If you’re not sure exactly what you need as you make your plan, here are some ideas:
- Lots of very small, loose objects are best stored in compartmentalized trays or boxes or in jars.
- Things that stack easily can go into cabinets or on shelves.
- Baskets organized on shelves are great for storing all types of loose objects of varying sizes.
- Papers get stored in labeled folders in file drawers for a reason: it’s the best way to easily store and retrieve them.
- Bottles and jars can be grouped and stored in shallow drawers, bins, or tubs, or in shallow cabinets or cubbies.
- Medium size to large objects can go into storage tubs or chests.
- Toys can be stored on shelves, in bins, in bins on shelves, or in whatever way makes it easy to get at what you want without having to move a lot of other things to get to it. The traditional toy box isn’t the most practical means of storing toys because things end up strewn all over in the quest for that one object at the bottom of the box.
- Hooks are handy for things that can be hung on walls or doors or on the sides of furniture.
- Hooks are great for hanging clothing, hats, jewelry.
- Hooks can expand your storage space.
- Hooks fit into pegboard for extra storage space.
- Racks, hangers, and shoe organizers are handy for storing all kinds of things.
- Don’t overlook the potential storage capacity of dressers and chests.
And here are some storage tips:
- Labels are an excellent visual tool to help you remember what’s in a box or tote or other container.
- Tape a list of the contents on the outside of boxes.
- Using clear totes or containers allows you to see what’s inside.
- Stackable totes are handy, but don’t stack more than two or three high. Having to constantly shift totes to access what you need leads to frustration. You want to love everything about your organizational system.
- Color coding is an excellent organizing tool.
- For example, when setting up a filing system for papers, place all personal papers into blue folders, all work-related papers into green folders, all child-school related papers into red folders, all bills into purple folders, and all household/warranty type papers into brown folders.
- Another example: place red-colored dots on all boxes that hold card-making craft supplies, blue dots on all boxes that contain scrapbooking craft supplies, and green dots on all boxes containing knitting craft supplies.
- If you’ve got multiple boxes containing closely related items, a master list can save time searching for individual items.
- Label your boxes A, B, C, D, etc.
- Section your list into subsections for boxes A, B, C, D, etc. with the list of contents following each letter.
- Alternatively, list all the contents of the boxes and place the corresponding box letter next to each item on the list.
- Use shelf risers to add storage space and easily access items in back.
- Use small bins in drawers to help organize small objects.
- Use wire racks, tension rods, pegboard, and magnetic strips creatively.
You may have stuff around the house you can use for storing and organizing. Think about how you might use trays or bins or anything you have on hand that could be useful.
Back to Your Hypothetical Goals
To get a clearer picture of your objectives, let’s go back to the hypothetical goals from day one and look at how grouping and planning plays out. As a reminder, your hypothetical goals were:
- Organize craft supplies.
- Keep better track of paperwork.
- Re-arrange kids’ toys.
- Create a better system for storing boots and shoes near the door.
So the first thing you’d do today would be to gather your craft supplies into one area to see exactly what you’ve got. On day one, you (hypothetically) mentally selected a storage area for your craft supplies. This might be a corner in the family room, a nook in your bedroom, or a cubby in the kitchen. Now you would move all your crafting stuff into or near this area. Will the supplies actually fit into the area you’ve chosen now that you’re looking at them in the space? If not, rethink your plan.
Once you’re sure you’ve got enough space to store all your craft supplies in the same area, it’s time to plot out storage strategies for them. Is there anything around the house that you can use? Do you have containers, baskets, tubs, bins, shelves or other storage containers that are appropriately sized for your needs, and, if so, can you move them to your selected craft supply area? If you don’t have anything on hand, figure out what you’ll need. On day six you’ll go shopping for whatever supplies you can’t rustle up around the house.
Continuing with the hypothetical goals example, to keep better track of paperwork you decided to turn a spare bedroom into an office. On days two, three, and four you cleared clutter from the spare bedroom, so it is now free of excess stuff. Today, gather up all your papers and other office supplies and take them to the space that will be your office. Next, figure out what you’ll need to turn the room into a space you can use for your intended purpose. Repeat the steps above: do you have things around the house you can put to use? If not, what do you need to buy? Writing out a list will be helpful later on.
Moving on, you also (hypothetically) wanted to rearrange the kids’ toys. Again, gather the remaining toys (hopefully you got rid of some while de-cluttering) together in the area you decided would be the best place to keep them. Is there ready-made storage space in the area? If not, do you have something you can use? If not, what do you need to buy? If you’re planning to do a lot of rearranging in order to use things you already have around the house, writing out a list of what’s going to be moved where will be helpful on day six when you move things and set up your storage space.
Finally, the last goal on our hypothetical list was to create a better system for storing boots and shoes. This one’s tricky. Most households have lots of shoes, and some live near the door while other live in bedroom closets. Maybe you need to set up shoe racks in individual closets. Maybe you need cubbies or shelves or a small dresser in your entryway. Again, gather up whatever shoes you find that are contributing to your clutter issue and take stock of what you have in order to figure out how best to proceed. Then follow the same process as in the previous examples.
By now you should be getting the hang of the planning process. Just take stock of what you have, figure out a place to put it, then plot how to organize it so you can easily store and retrieve it.
On the next two days you’ll rearrange, get whatever supplies you need to complete your project, set up a storage system, and then you’ll organize your stuff. Almost home!
Next Up, Day 6: Prepare Your Spaces
Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.