5 Tips To Get More Organized

If your home is filled with clutter, your mind is probably the same way. Sorting out your stuff is a way to feel like you’ve got a better handle on things, and there are tricks you can use to streamline your path to a more organized existence.

Savvy Sugar offers 25 tips. Here are five that caught our eye:

* Buy more stuff. Containers and dividers will help you sort your things.

* Start with one tiny space. Pick a drawer or shelf, make it look right and get rid of stuff that doesn’t fit.

* Find the right place for one thing. You’ve got a bowling ball. You’re not getting rid of it. Find out where it should go and work from there.

* Relieve your fridge of the nastiest stuff. It’s daunting to give your refrigerator the overhaul it needs, so just get rid of the oldest leftovers you know you’ll never eat.

* Clean out your bag. Empty your purse, backpack or “laptop case” (read: man purse) of the stuff you don’t need.

25 Easy Organizing Changes You Can Make Today [Savvy Sugar]

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  1. raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

    I found out recently that my desk is famous in the office, second only to the guy across from me, who has a container of brownies on his desk of mysterious and unknown origin. I think I saw them move once. On their own.

    Part of my problem with organization is lack of space. I’d love for all of my stuff to have homes, but there’s just no room.

    • Cat says:

      Our receptionists area is a disaster.

      It looks fine – as long as you stay in front of the desk. Upon closer inspection, I found it was a pantry for snack foods of the worst kind. Our receptionist is almost wider than she is tall and has all kinds of health problems but insists it’s impossible to lose weight…

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      I hear you!

      I share a cubicle with my dear coworker – she and I are like night and day. I have minimal paperwork/stuff (everything is scanned, filed, or otherwise put away in folders), and her desk and floor area are stacked like a hoarder’s house.

      Sometimes the hoard starts to encroach on my half, so I push it back and once said I would put a strip of duct tape down as a line of demarcation!

    • VA_White says:

      Then your real problem is that you have too much stuff. If your cluttered area doesn’t bother you then keep on trucking. But if it does then you can relieve your stress by either getting more space or keeping less stuff. If everyone else can fit their stuff into the same space then chances are you are just hanging on to too much.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      Two possible organizing solutions are vertical space/shelving-not piles and storage units. Other than that it’s give or toss away. Think donations, recycling or start using something you ferreted away years ago for an emergency or rainy day.

    • layton59 says:

      “Part of my problem with organization is lack of space. I’d love for all of my stuff to have homes, but there’s just no room.”

      I have the same problem.

      It is funny when you consider the vastness of outer-space. The things we have here on Earth are so tiny when you look up into the sky at night. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

  2. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    “* Start with one tiny space. Pick a drawer or shelf, make it look right and get rid of stuff that doesn’t fit.”

    I love that one. Because I try to organize in phases, but, really, I just shift around stuff that doesn’t really belong anywhere. So while one room might look temporarily clean and tight, it’s really spilled over into another room. When that room is well organized, really, the original room is back to being a temporary store.

    My main problem is that I hate hunting for things and I’ve got a lot of hobbies. For instance, if my hobby knife, cutting mat, and paper glue aren’t all within a certain radius of each other, I might not get through my backlog of papercraft.

    • KyBash says:

      A few years ago, I bought two of those organizers with deep plastic drawers. Each drawer was supposed to be for all the stuff for one hobby. Since doing those hobbies meant less time and frustration setting-up, it quickly expanded to where I needed a separate organizer for each hobby.

      • IT-Princess: I work in IT, you owe me $1 says:

        The drawers aren’t as good for some things. I have a lot of large tuppermaid bins that I use for crafting. One is dedicated for all my paints, another for misc stuff. I am lucky that I have a basement for all my crafting stuff because my desk and other areas are a mess as it is.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      I always reserved a drawer in darn every room for tools,stationary, dodads,gadgets etc I wanted readily available at all time.

      Also unless a large item Ive found the smaller the clearer the plastic box if for not other reason I can see what’s in it. Be aware plastics especially drawers don’t hold heavier items well or for any length of time without warping.

      • layton59 says:

        My wife had an old kitchen utensil lazy susan that she gave to me. I just started using it in the basement to hold the most common tools (screwdrivers, pliers, scissors and the like) Now I have probably 15 or 20 various toolboxes around the house but the utility of that spinning rack has really won me over. I was surprised at how well it works and how much I like it.

  3. Coffee says:

    Office fire. Boom. Done.

  4. AtlantaCPA says:

    My fridge died over the weekend. The upside is that it makes you dump everything and start from scratch. I didn’t have old leftovers but some of those condiments were pretty old!

    So the Slash and Burn method works pretty well, even when involuntary.

  5. elephant says:

    I have a dedicated spot for donations – and then when it’s full I can call and they’ll come pick everything up – that helps me have less clutter…. something new comes home & something old goes in the donation pile.

  6. Sarek says:

    Yeah but what do you do with stuff that you can’t give to Goodwill? e.g. that bowling ball. You can’t sell it on Ebay because nobody will know if it will fit them. (plus, who wants to pay to ship a bowling ball?)

    Another example: I have some furniture that needs repair, but will be valuable when fixed (too valuable to give away). How do I sell that? Also too big to ship for Ebay.

    Or old photos where there’s no family left to want them?

    Let’s see someone write an article “25 ways to get rid of stuff other than the town dump.”

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      Freecycle? Ebay? Curb Alerts? Craigslist? Classified Ad?

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      You can try selling good quality used furniture by consignment. I don’t know about where you live, but around here you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a clothing or furniture consignment shop.

    • ProfOrganizer says:

      There’s very little that needs to go into the town dump, and there’s certainly no need to ship most things — a local donation can often earn you more in tax deduction than what you’d get by selling it, especially when you consider the cost of your time. And, of course, there’s local consignment or one-to-one sale, as long as you know how and where to look.

      A bowling ball can be donated to a bowling league for physically- or intellectually-challenged individuals, some Parks & Rec departments, even some bowling alleys. Family photos that TRULY nobody wants can be shredded, but you might consider offering them to an art class or avant garde art group at a college or art school.

      As for the furniture that’s broken but “too valuable to give away”, what value is it providing just sitting in someone’s house? When can you reasonably expect that you’d a) fix it and b) sell it (locally or otherwise)? Depending on the condition, you could donate it to your area furniture bank, Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore or any of a wide variety of charities, and take the donation. But weighing the potential value of something you’re not inclined to fix because it will be difficult to sell to someone at a distance from your home fails to take into account the daily “loss” of value by not doing anything.

      I’m not picking on you, Sarek — these are issues I handle on a daily basis, helping my (residential and business) clients make the move from getting the items they’re not using out into the world. Whether it’s donation, consignment, or recycling, there’s a place for almost everything — probably less than 5% of what I encounter professionally ever ends up truly “thrown out”, and most of that tends to be perished edibles.

    • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

      See if there is a country-type auction house in your region. Most likely they’ll take everything from just one or two items to a whole garage full of stuff like they did for us.

      We did a clean-out and had a big pile of stuff we wanted to get rid of (furniture good and bad, junk, used appliances, etc). We called a nearby auction house, they came and got it, sold almost all of it at an auction a month later and we wound up with several hundred dollars. Interestingly enough, the stuff we thought was crap fetched a nice price – while the things we thought were really good items went for almost nada.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      The dump brings up alot of issues including unnecessary waste litterally and figuratively. I think part of the problem comes from the disposable society. Nobody wants to repair things no matter how simple. Everybody thinks they should have or be an expert to fix their issue or problem-not.

      Furniture can be repaired. Stuff can be donated. I’d say try not letting minor problems and repairs sit. I too have several wood chairs that need a dowel, wood glue and tightend screws and they’re usable. And the chair where you only need padding and material on the seat part only require stapler and staples which you could get under 20$-cheaper than dumpster rental.

      Best thing I’ve found is just using stuff I’ve ‘hoarded’ for years(NOT the buried alive kind of hoarding) but stuff I just bought in advance or on sale with an idea in mind. You should checkout or repair what ever you put to the side-I’ve fixed plenty of flashlight, small radios etc I just don’t always do it.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      I put stuff outside. It’s gone in no time. People will pick up ANYTHING from the side of the road.

  7. gabrewer says:

    I’ve achieved a certain amount of peace with this issue by viewing it as an ongoing process rather than a final goal that can ever be achieved. In that regard, I make an effort to shred something everyday, file away something everday, and throw something — other than regular trash — into the garbage container or recycling bin every week. I came to this approach when it became apparent my wife will always undo any large undertaking on my part to clean up and organize. I once spent the better part of a weekend getting our spare bedroom/junk room in good shape. Upon seeing the space I had made newly available, she promptly went out and bought a large piece of exercise equipment that now makes it hard to even walk into the room.

    And they wonder why we men reach a point where we just stop trying. At least she does use the equipment she bought, so it’s not just another piece of junk in the way (at least for now).

    • MMD says:

      Why “we men” stop trying?
      Is it possible that your personal experiences do not equate to a larger gender war?
      Neatness/sloppiness are equal opportunity traits.

      • gabrewer says:

        Point taken. I guess I have a tendency to project my own marital situation. In fact I have to often remember that in this particular area of concern — organization and managing clutter — that our gender dynamic is generally (emphasis on the “generally”) the oppositie of most marriages. That said, I think a lot of husbands do probably share my confoundment as to why we can’t open a closet when we’re looking for something without the risk of an avalanche of our wives’ stuff — clothes, shoes, purses, etc. — spilling out onto the floor.

        • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

          I see a problem in that it seems your wife did not consult you first about the exercise equipment and what the room should be used for. It’s not just her house. Something like that should be discussed.

  8. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    1. Watch “Hoarding: Buried Alive”
    2. Start tossing!

    • Quixiotic... Yea it's a typo (‚ïج∞‚ñ°¬∞Ôºâ‚ïØÂΩ°‚îÅ‚îª says:

      It’s amazing how I develop acute OCD that lasts a day or two after watching an episode or two of Hoarders.

      • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

        Last week’s episode with “Sherry” was especially horrifying, with all the insulin needles, roaches, and black widow spiders. I thought that wasn’t so much hoarding but just being a pig.

        Every time I watch these shows, it makes me want to throw things away, donate them to charity, or even just organize stuff and put it away.

        • Don't Bother says:

          I thought I was the only one who watched these shows and then cleaned like I’ve never wanted to clean before.

        • HogwartsProfessor says:

          Damn, I missed it! I’ll have to watch it online. I hate that; A&E’s video player sucks.

          I love that show but it makes me paranoid about my pack rat tendencies. At least I’m still capable of throwing stuff away.

    • Sad Sam says:

      Indeed, I leave this on during my weekend clean. Highly motivating.

      Also, living in Florida in historic home, read small closets, no basement, limited attic space, keeps me from accumulating too much.

  9. Yomiko says:

    I’m going to have to move to a new desk in two weeks… that will be fun. There’s also the added layer that I’m changing jobs, so I will have to decide what to keep, what to toss, and what to pawn off on another member of the old department because they need it on file.

    • tooluser says:

      After every move at work, I spend at least an hour cleaning the new work area with disinfectant cleaning spray and cloth towels brought from home. People look at me like I’m crazy, but after it’s all cleaned up, I have a nice new work area with no one’s funk to make it icky.

      And I dust it weekly thereafter.

  10. IT-Princess: I work in IT, you owe me $1 says:

    My issue is that 75% of my house is taken up by my son. My dining room, living room, and spare bedroom are all his “playroom”.
    His collection of Star Wars takes up two rooms and both of my nice china cabinets.

    I get a secondary living room where my desk is crammed into as well and then my own bedroom.

    I am resigned to the fact that my house is his until he’s a teenager and grows to hate me.

    Atleast I have the basement.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      Only if you allow it to be that way. When my daughter’s room and collections started causing issues, I made her go through it all and get rid of some things. Then, I made a shelf in our garage for her to box up and store a few things to rotate in and out of her room to give her more space. Other than that, she is SOL. Her stuff stays in her room and is not allowed to spill into family spaces.

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        My parents did the same thing. We were not allowed to take over the common areas. If we got something out to play with it there, we had to pick it up. It kept us from making too big of a mess.

        There was some leeway with the big family room after we converted the garage. But a large spread of crap could not remain for more than a week.

    • Cacao says:

      Your son’s not even a teen yet and you allow his stuff to take over your house?

      Here’s an idea, why not relegate his stuff to the basement?

  11. u1itn0w2day says:

    One of things that I have noticed about myself and others when they clean and organize is that I have trouble making future space or leaving a container unused. But I think when you organize always leave room for more wether it’s a drawer, container or organizer. Certain areas yeh you can stuff to the gills but if you need or have regular access to container or drawer leave space so when you need to do something with a new item you have a legitimate space to put it.

    Also use shelfing or vertical space. If you piling stuff up you minus well build the shelfs. You can buy 600 pound capacity snap together shelving unit just about anywhere now. You stick a pipe into the tops and bottoms of shelves and you’re done.

    This also means more frequent smaller cleaning, organizing and/or purge/trash sessions.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      This is such a good point. As I mentioned below, I am very organized and I always leave space. I have several containers in my garage that are empty in case I need them, and I have extra shelf space as well. It is key to staying organized.

  12. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    I am a really organized and simplified living person and have done a lot of tinkering with my system. One of the suggestions needs to be taken with a grain of salt–“buy more stuff.” Yes, containerizing is helpful, but you don’t have to go out and buy expensive organizing products, and you don’t have to buy a lot of stuff. I find it’s best to organize and area, then buy needed containers. I will place things in a shopping bag or other temporary container until I can get what I need. I generally stick to buying containers at Target, and on occasion, The Container Store, and somehow, I manage to get a ton of hand me down stuff from people for free. I also use gallon freezer bags for a lot of my needs.

    Whatever you do, don’t just go out and buy a bunch or pretty containers in the hopes that they will inspire you to organize. That approach usually sticks you with a bunch of crap that doesn’t end up fitting your needs.

    • Cacao says:

      +1
      * Buy more stuff. Containers and dividers will help you sort your things.

      One organizer says not to buy the container until you know the size of the pile you need to organize. Makes sense.

    • sock says:

      I’ve been decluttering/destashing for the last several years. At the end of 2011 I felt a particular satisfaction because some of the big pile I was taking to charity was empty plastic organizing boxes.

      So, I’m living proof that you shouldn’t buy containers until you’re done decluttering.

  13. ProfOrganizer says:

    As a professional organizer, I’m happy to see this topic wherever it pops up, but not thrilled with the advice to buy containers. That should almost always be the LAST step in the process; it’s like buying a dress and then trying to diet your way into it. It’s better to pare possessions down, sort into categories (for which “that chair” or “this lap” will nicely suffice for the moment) and buy containers only as the last step, and only if truly necessary. Very often, the first time I visit clients, a major source of clutter is “container” clutter — bins and baskets and boxes they don’t need and which don’t suit their purposes with respect to depth, balance, access or wise use.

    Happy National Get Organized Month, by the way!

    • Not Given says:

      Sort
      Purge
      Assign a home
      Containerize
      Equalize (spend a few minutes every day putting things back)
      (Morgenstern)

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      Exactly. It’s easy to get sucked into buying them too. There was a lady on Hoarders who was hoarding containers!

  14. AllanG54 says:

    We have a ton of stuff that I have no room for in our apartment. So, we rent a storage unit for $94/month. Out of sight out of mind.

  15. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    1. Collect clutter in big pile and wait until midnight.
    2. Over the fence into neighbor’s yard.
    3. Problem solved.

  16. yurei avalon says:

    My boyfriend and I occasionally clash on the “what to do with stuff” topic. He likes to save a lot of things “just in case”. I like my free, uncluttered space.

    For instance, my mother bought me a lot of kitchen stuff over they ears for when I moved out. She bought me a glass set I absolutely hate. I moved in with the boyfriend, he already had one that was nicer. He wanted to keep my set “just in case”. Just in case what? They break? We have 20 people over for dinner? We have enough drinking vessels between coffee mugs, liquor glasses, glasses and plastic cups, we don’t need more in storage. If they all break, I’ll spend $20 on new set that I might actually like. Seriously what is wrong with people and keeping stuff forever.

    He was talking about getting a storage unit. I was like OMG, no way. If you need a storage unit, you have too much stuff. You have an entire house to put your stuff in. We’re not talking seasonal decorations or sports equipment or yard equipment here, we’re talking his computer and video game collection etc.

    If I open up a dresser drawer and pull out a bunch of clothes I haven’t worn in the last year, I donate them. If I haven’t missed them in the past year, I shouldn’t miss them in the coming one. The same with anything taking up space I want to use for something else really. My personal rule is if I want to buy more stuff, I should get rid of some other stuff I’m not using.

  17. Not Given says:

    alt.recovery.clutter could use some new life breathed into it

  18. Darkneuro says:

    I love the fact that the first 2 tips are ‘buy’, but when you get down the list, it’s all about cutting down accumulation.

  19. jenesaisrien says:

    Move frequently. It helps a little bit.

  20. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I’m doing this now! I have a tendency to throw mail into a box instead of dealing with it, unless it says “FINAL NOTICE” or something. So I have about seven million pieces of Explanation of Benefits documents from when I had surgery, etc. I’m going through every single piece so I don’t throw away something important.

    So far I’ve pitched four huge boxes of old files and old magazines, a broken dollhouse I would never have fixed, a bunch of old torn clothing that doesn’t fit (I sorted the good stuff for donation) and am still going. No more hoardy! :)