By Marilyn Pribus –
A great rainy-day activity is to look around your house and consider areas where better organization could mean better living. Here are some simple principles to help you on the way. Remember, you don’t have to do it all in one day or even one weekend, but why not resolve to spend a little time each week toward the goal of good organization.
The first principle is to plan your attack and establish a timetable. Decide what you can reasonably expect to accomplish, then break it up into tasks taking less than an hour. As you accomplish each task, you’ll be more motivated to continue the project.
Second, get started. One organizational expert advises you to empty an entire room and only put back what needs to be in there. Well, maybe. It’s probably more realistic to empty one closet, shelf, or toy box at a time. (That complete emptying step is important.)
As you sort through things have a box for items to be cleaned, washed or dusted and returned to their place, a box for donating to a good cause, and a trash bag for discards.
An important component of getting started is to banish clutter. This means constantly weeding. One woman vowed years ago to sell or donate a piece of clothing for every new garment she acquired. She requires her youngsters to do the same with toys—no child needs 17 stuffed animals—donating well-cleaned toys to a local shelter for women with children.
Third—and this principle probably echoes your grandmother’s motto of “A place for everything and everything in its place”—everything should have a home so you know where to find it again.
Keep things close to where they are used. While you might choose to keep that over-sized Thanksgiving turkey platter in the garage most of the year, it’s important to have your regularly used cooking equipment right in the kitchen. Keep the back-up bottles of shampoo and conditioner near the shower and the laundry detergent by the washing machine.
Fourth, smart storage is truly the secret to good home organization. Adequate storage options make organizing much easier, whether out-in-the-open or hidden. Plain-sight storage is fine for books or displays of collectibles and other attractive items and a combination of closed and open shelving is ideal.
This type of storage can be either built-in or a combination of free-standing shelves and cupboards that can be rearranged as your needs change. Open shelves can display items or be stocked with baskets in bright or neutral shades to enhance your home décor. Shelving installed a foot below the ceiling all around the room can also provide perches for books, souvenirs, collections, or other seldom-used items.
Hidden storage can be more basic and economical. For example, an excellent way to increase closet space is with a system that can include short hanging space for blouses, shirts and pants, a long space for dresses, shelves for shoes, purses, or folded garments, and drawers. Choose a system that is easy to rearrange as your preferences evolve over time.
The internet can provide good inspiration. While some folks opt for custom-built storage, others find that products like ClosetMaid and Rubbermaid have versatile systems that can be arranged in various configurations. They can be easily updated since the components are available at many different stores.
For cellars, attics, garages, and outdoor sheds, it’s important to employ air-tight containers that keep out humidity and varmints. See-through containers are ideal. They come in a great variety of sizes and shapes. If you will be using them on shelves, be sure to check the dimensions. Otherwise containers specifically designed to be stackable are a good choice.
An “off-season” plan is also helpful to maximize storage space. For example, unclutter your closets by replacing winter clothes for stored summer wear once April arrives. Swap winter sports equipment for lawn and garden tools.
Fifth and finally, lists are the key to everything! While you can keep lists on a smart phone, plain old written lists and careful up-to-date labeling of storage bins, boxes, and baskets are better because they are instantly accessible to everyone in the family.
A well-kept list in an easily accessible spot will enable you to find the seeds you dried so carefully to plant this spring and the electric blanket when it turns chilly again.
Establishing a family message center is another excellent strategy to keep things running smoothly. This is the place to post times for sports practices, your grocery list, the neighborhood potluck on Saturday, Grandpa’s upcoming birthday and such.
An old-fashioned bulletin board with plenty of thumb tacks and paper works fine, but there are alternatives. For example, part of a wall in the kitchen or family room can be painted with “chalkboard” paint so messages can be left in chalk. A whiteboard with erasable pens works well, too. One family created an over-sized—really over-sized!—calendar they post by the door that everyone uses.
Following these five principles will save you both time and frustration as they guide you on the road to helpful home organization.
Marilyn Pribus and her husband live in Albemarle. Last Saturday she organized three drawers discovering four “lost” items, discarding some things, and filling a donation bag for the Twice is Nice resale shop that benefits JABA.