Has winter break wreaked havoc on your home? Don't worry — there's order in sight! With the kids returning to school, now is your chance to cut the clutter, get organized for the year ahead, and claim back your home. Steal the everyday habits of these professional organizers and make 2018 your year of being super organized.
Set Some House Rules
Here are three golden rules from professional organizer Natalie Jane of Be Organized:
My No. 1 rule for a clutter-free home is the "one touch" rule. Every time you touch an item, put it back where it belongs, instead than moving it from one place to another. (If I take off my shoes, I put them away. When I get out of bed, I make it.)
Every item in your home needs a functional place to live that makes sense to you and the people you live with. Once you have established a place for your items, the "one touch" rule becomes much easier to implement.
Tidy up every day. All homes require daily maintenance. You might choose to clean up once a day or several times throughout the day, depending on your lifestyle. Choose a time that will suit you, get the family on board, and make it fun.
Before you buy something, think about whether you really need it, and if you have the space for it in your home. You could even throw something out (or donate or recycle) each time you buy something. That new bowl might seem less appealing when you have to get rid of an old favorite.
When you do buy something, unpack it and put it away immediately so you won't have unpacked bags, receipts, and tags lying around. Say "no" to bags when you can to reduce clutter (and help the environment).
Get in the habit of putting items you don't use in a donation box. When it's full, deliver it to the nearest donation center. Be sure that items are in good condition and that you wrap any breakables.
Here are helpful tips from Kristina Karlsson, founder of Kikki.K:
Ensure everyone in the family is accountable for their own spaces. Organizing and keeping your personal space looking great is a rewarding task. If everyone does their part, your home will be both beautiful and functional.
The key to staying organized is not getting cluttered in the first place. Surround yourself with useful tools to make the task of keeping organized easier. It's easy to let things slip, but once you turn chaos into order and feel the freedom it brings, you'll be motivated to keep it that way.
There is a place for everything. It might seem like an impossible task, but having the right tools and information is the key to being organized.
Living and Dining Rooms
Get in the habit of clearing the table right after meals — ask the kids to help with this.
If the table is also used for games, school work, and computer work, keep baskets handy so you can clear the table easily before meals.
Keep items such as placemats and replacement candles handy in a drawer or cupboard nearby.
Use magazine racks for newspapers, books, brochures, and magazines that pile up. Clear this out regularly — be ruthless!
Smart storage solutions such as built-in shelving provides a place to store and display things in an orderly fashion. (Photo Credit: Homes to Love)
Encourage each person in your household to remove their belongings from the living room at the end of each day. This way, you don't have stray shoes, toys, and dishes hanging around.
Do a regular toy cleanup with your kids. When they are old enough, they can do this on their own.
Try limiting the number of toys that are kept in the living room at any one time. Store extra toys in a cupboard and swap them out when your children need "new" toys to play with.
Use cable ties or cable staples for cords, or invest in a cable holder to avoid an unsightly tangle of cords in the living room. This tip would also be helpful in the office or bedroom.
Natalie Jane of Be Organized shares her clutter-clearing tips:
In a busy area such as the entryway, it is important to have homes for your items so they don't get thrown on the ground. The "one touch" rule is important here to help you get into the habit of putting things away.
Designate a place for incoming mail to go: a tray, letterbox, or mail organizer are good solutions.
Baskets for each family member are a practical idea for busy families. Designated cubbies also work well.
Wall hooks work well for entryways — perfect for hanging hats, bags, and coats. (Photo Credit: Homes to Love)
Wall-mounted coat racks are user-friendly — use child-height coat pegs for kids. Get people to take responsibility for their own jackets.
Store these on coat racks or in designated cubbies. Each member of the family can have their own coat rack with a cubby underneath for their shoes and bags.
Use either wall hooks or a vessel of some sort. Get into the habit of putting your keys in this spot to prevent them from getting lost. Store your master key set and spare keys in a separate "safe" area in your home.
- Designate a place for each glass or item of cookware to live. Have a specific drawer for pans, a shelf for baking supplies, and a place for each food type in the pantry. This can help to create order and make it easy to return things. Try using trays, jars, and containers to separate sauces from snacks and cleaning supplies from pots and pans.
Neatly labeled jars on display can create a stylish vignette in a kitchen. (Photo Credit: Homes to Love)
Keep larger items at the back of the fridge or pantry, and keep smaller items in front, so you can easily turn the washer on without having to sort through it all. Similarly, store plates and pots by size. You might also want to store items you use most at eye-level and items used less often on higher or lower shelves.
Put the dishwasher on before you go to bed, or before you leave for work, to help keep on top of dirty dishes. Unload it when you wake up or return from work.
Write items on a shopping list when they are getting low, rather than waiting until items run out.
Try using separate, labeled baskets for colors, whites, darks, and towels, so you can easily throw clothes wash on without having to sort through it all.
Create designated spots (labeled, if necessary) for items such as detergent, dryer sheets, and stain removers. Return items to their homes after use. Install hooks or shelves, or add a free-standing cupboard or drawers.
Keep a backup supply of laundry detergent. Add it to your shopping list when it gets low.
A clean and organized laundry room will make washing clothes less of a chore — we promise! (Photo Credit: Homes to Love)
Start a box or drawer for lonely, lost socks so they'll eventually match up.
Keep sheet sets together by wrapping them in bundles. Wrap a flat sheet around a fitted sheet and pillowcases.
Make a regular time to do your laundry — every Saturday, every morning after you shower, or every second evening, depending on the size of your household and preference.
This post was written by the writers of Homes to Love. For more, check out our sister site Homes to Love.