By Laurie Miller
Being organized is one of the keys to living a less stressful life, whether it is in your closet, your laundry room, kitchen pantry, garage or home office. Knowing where all your belongings are located can be life-altering.
If you are like me, once the weather turns warm I start to concentrate on the outside of my house and not the inside. The dust bunnies can wait until it gets cold again (unfortunately that will come way too soon in New England!). Organizing any area can be simple and it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. I’m off to the garage this time of year, but no matter where you decide to organize your life, I have two very simple rules to follow. Apply these rules to your garage, office, pantry or closet, it doesn’t matter, the rules work anyplace!
RULE #1: Organize by how you function.
- In a garage, if you do a lot of planting, set up one area for all your garden tools, soil, weed killer, etc. If you have a hobby, anything relating to that hobby needs to be organized close by in labeled containers or drawers. Hang all your bungee cords by size so they don’t reproduce! Hang up extension cords that are neatly wrapped so they don’t cause you stress when you need to use them. Organize what is in there by what you do!
- If you are organizing your closet and you dress by color then organize your clothes by color. If you dress by style then put all your casual skirts and shirts together, dressy clothes together, etc. Point your shoes facing one in and one out to give you more space but allow you to see the shoe easily. Hang scarves that go with particular outfits with those outfits. Arrange your socks by color, belts by style. Think about how you dress and plan your closet accordingly.
- In the pantry separate your food by category. If you have young kids and they get their own snacks when they come home from school, then put them in one spot in the pantry so they can find them. Canned goods should be together and then they can be separated by type: dried pasta together, cereal together, etc. I make a lot of pasta and sauce so I have a shelf that has nothing on it but pasta and sauce fixings. You can also alphabetize your spices so they can easily be found.
- Offices can be a little more difficult to organize, depending on how you use your office and what you have for storage and desk space. If you have a built-in office that has been designed for you then you are ahead of the game. Think about what you frequently use your office for and organize the things you need for that function closest to where you sit. Give yourself as much desk space as possible so you don’t feel like you are drowning in piles of paper. Getting rid of as much paper as you possibly can is key. Pencils and pens in one place, supplies in another. Keep frequently used files close by and the infrequent files off site.
RULE #2: Before you organize any area empty it out first – completely!
- Empty your garage onto your driveway, sweep it out, and then go about the task of organizing items back into the garage by following Rule #1 above. Throw out old bottles of things that you don’t recognize. Tools that don’t function or are rusted should be cleaned up or thrown out.
- All clothes should come out of your closets when you organize them. As you put each piece back in, decide if you are going to wear it again or if you should you send it to charity. Maybe it is so worn it needs to be tossed.
- Empty the pantry onto your kitchen counters, wipe down the shelves and place each item back in. If things are past their “use by” date, toss them now.
- In an office, getting rid of paper is usually the main obstacle. If you can store things electronically, start the process of doing so. Scan things into your computer and recycle or shred the paper you don’t need. Clear off your desk space completely and place things back according to how you function.
Anything that you can do to make your life easier and less stressful
will be a benefit. It’s all in the preparation. When you empty the
area first it allows you to see what you have, what you need to
keep, and what you would like to give away.
By organizing your life in such a fashion you will have everything at your fingertips. You won’t buy things that you already own because you will actually know what you own! If you follow the above rules any clean-out will go smoothly and keep you organized for a long time to come.
About the Author: Laurie Miller, a Senior Designer for Closet Factory, has worked in the closet design industry for 13 years, and has extensive experience designing customized storage solutions for all areas of the home.