5 simple tips for organizing


I’m a sucker for a clean slate.


I was one of those weird kids who loved the start of a new school year with its perfect notebooks, freshly sharpened #2-lead pencils, and yet-unmarred wooden rulers.


I’d like to think it’s the sheer possibility brought about by fresh starts that appeals to me.


But, to be honest, it’s partly just the clean of it.


I think better, I work better, I’m a nicer person when things are clean and organized.


Still, before I share my thoughts, let me say this:  as much as I might love this stuff, I don’t want to spend my life organizing, I want to be organized enough to live my life.


So here are a few simple tips, along with my 2013 resolve to try to follow them myself!


1.  Find a place for everything.  Then put it there, every time.

This is so obvious.  And simple.  So why is it so hard to do? I guess it’s because we get busy.  And we have a lot of stuff.  But I’m really trying to save myself the hassle of putting things away twice, or searching for things that would be easily within reach if I just had a place for them and put them there.

Above all, make it a good place.  Last year I finally did this with my pot lids . . .

pot lid rack

which were previously stacked thrown in the cabinet where I couldn’t get to them without starting an avalanche.  They had a place, it just wasn’t a good one.  This one small change made a huge difference (and I even drilled the holes myself!).

Things I need to find a good place for:

  • Folded laundry that’s waiting to head upstairs to be put away (by someone other than me!).
  • Stuff I want to read when I have a free moment.
  • Stuff going out of the house (i.e., things I need to return to a store, or to a person).

2.  Purge.

I told you about my pantry reorganization here last year.  If I hadn’t purged all of the stuff we don’t need, I doubt the organization would’ve lasted.  A good purge doesn’t just make your space organized, it can help to focus your actions too.

Two spots in my house are top on my list to purge in my very near future:  my makeup drawer and laundry room closet.

Here’s why they need it (and never say I only show you the pretty):

messy makeup drawer


I’m looking forward to getting rid of all the stuff I never use — not only because it will clear out that drawer, but because it will simplify my morning routine too.


messy laundry room closet


What.  A.  Mess.  Bring on the dumpster.


For more tips on purging, check this out:

Cooking Light's organize your kitchen drawerfrom Cooking Light, January 2013

This article, Organize Your Kitchen Drawer, has great, quick and easy step-by-step instructions that would work for any reorg project you need to tackle.  (Plus it recommends starting with a cup of coffee, and I’m all for making the process as enjoyable as possible.  Just make mine a skinny vanilla latte.)


3.  Tackle one area each week.

Which I will do.  At least until the end of January.  At which point I will get so sick of purging, sorting and cleaning up, that I will take a good, long break until next January.  But at least I will have tackled a few areas by then.

I’ve already hit my number one spot this week:  the desk in our kitchen.  Inbox, outbox, junk storage, phone charging and sometimes computer desk, this area was like an overgrown houseplant that badly needed a trim.  So I got out the clippers and went to town.

It went from this:

kitchen desk before

to this:

kitchen desk after

. . . in a matter of an hour or so. My oldest son even came up with a solution to the messy phone charger conundrum when he walked in on my little reorg and suggested we simply run the cords through the back of the drawer.

charging phones in a drawer

Now why didn’t I think of that!?


4.  Label if it helps you put things in their places.

Even in the era of super-cute chalkboard labels, I don’t label everything.  But I do label when it serves a purpose, or when making it look pretty motivates me (see tip #5).  Here are a few things that are labelled around my house:

pantry chalk labelsthe aforementioned pantry


mudroom baskets with labelsthese laminated labels really help winter gear get into the right baskets in our mudroom

bathroom closet baskets with labelslabels remind me of what I can’t see in these deep baskets in my bathroom closet


5.  Make it look pretty if it motivates you.

Organized doesn’t have to look like it belongs in a magazine article.  But if making it look great helps an area get organized and stay that way, then I’m all for it.  Here’s what I did last year in my bathroom vanity cabinet:

lazy susans in the bathroom cabinet


Using the lazy susans and woven baskets is not only functional in this oddly-shaped cabinet, it makes it look pretty.  Which makes me happy.  And makes me want to keep it pretty.


Are you doing any organizing this month? I’d love to hear about your organizational challenges and solutions.  Now I’m going to get started on that laundry room closet before my motivation runs out!

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Also linked up to Thrifty Decor Chick’s It’s the Little Things Link Party!


I want to know what you’re crushing on. I love your comments and try to reply to them all, so keep ‘em coming!

  • Kathy January 10, 2013, 2:16 pm

    Now I am fired up to do some organizing of my own! Thanks for the nudge!

  • Cynthia January 10, 2013, 9:57 pm

    You are inspirational!

    • Kerry January 11, 2013, 11:05 am

      And you are so kind!

  • Dave April 19, 2013, 8:31 pm

    You should do an organizational article for men. that is all.

    • Kerry April 22, 2013, 8:59 am

      Love that idea! I’m going to work on it :)