Simplifize Your Life: Organizing Basics Part 5/Step 4 – Organize

by Vanessa Hayes

in Organize Anything Series,Organizing

Can you believe it?  We’ve made it to the last step in my Organizing Basics series…Step 4: Organize!  We’ve gone through all the tough steps; determine your Needs, Assess your space and Purge your space.  Now we’re on to the final step where we Organize and transform the space…your vision is almost complete!

Like I said in the very first post in this series, my goal is to introduce you to the process of how to organize a space and to share with you some basic concepts and tips.  This particular step is chock full of organizing tips so I’m just going to jump right in!

Empty the space. After purging, your space should be pretty empty now…and that’s just what you want.  Just make sure you remove anything that was left over from the purging process and doesn’t belong.

Before you put anything back into the space, “sort like items with like items” first. Look at the items you decided to keep and start sorting them.  This is a crucial part of organizing.  There are many ways to sort; by color, type, function, season, topic, project, size or length. For example:

  • Clothes can be sorted by color (white, blue, green, brown, black, red),  type (shirts, pants, skirts, suits), length (skirts, shirts, pants), size (baby clothes 0-18 months), or function (work, casual, cold-weather, warm-weather or sport).

Shirts sorted by color and length

  • Likewise with kitchen items.  They can be sorted by type (plates, cups, silverware), function (coffee supplies, cooking, baking, and cleaning), or occasion (everyday use, holidays, or entertaining).
  • You may use one or a combinations of ways to sort but you’ll need to figure out what works best for you.

Remember your zones and start placing your items accordingly.  Remember how we talked about creating zones for your space, much like a preschool or kindergarten classroom?  Well, if you’ve established zones for your space start putting items away in their designated “zone.”

  • Coffee maker, mugs, creamer and sugar bowls into the “coffee zone”
  • Plates, bowls and silverware in the “dinnerware zone”
  • Pots, pans, and utensils in the “cooking zone”
  • Muffin pans, cookie sheets, baking supplies and measuring cups in the “baking zone”

Baking and cooking ingredients zone

Place frequently used items within arms reach for each of your zones.   Take for example a home office space.  You probably want your phone, computer, pens, notepaper and daily use files where you can reach them without getting out of your seat.  How about the bathroom?  It’s probably a lot more convenient to have all of your primping and makeup supplies located on one shelf or in one basket.

Place seldom used items up high, down low or in back of your frequently used items.  Don’t take up precious real estate in the cabinets with things you rarely use like your bread and ice-cream maker in the kitchen or that paper cutter in the office.  Just like at the grocery store where the most frequently bought items are at eye-level and not so frequently bought items are up high or down low, use this same concept when organizing your items.

Think safety for yourself and the kiddies.

  • Heavy items should always go on lower, sturdier surfaces.
  • Delicates should probably go up high and out of reach of little fingers.
  • The same goes for cleaning supplies.  Either keep them up and out of reach of children or safely secure them with a lock or childproof latch.

Go vertical for storage.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed most homes have a lot of wasted space.  Closets often have 6 inches to a full foot of space between the opening of the door and the actual shelves or racks and some pantries and cabinets (especially corner cabinets) have space that extends to the left or right of the door making it difficult to store or reach items.  That’s a lot of wasted space!  To help make up for that wasted space consider some of these vertical storage ideas:

  • Use over the door  wire racks to store items such as spices, foil and plastic wrap rolls.
  • Use over the door shoe organizers to store toys, toiletries, jewelry, belts and scarves, tools, or spice packets.
  • Use magnetic spice jars, knife holders and file sorters on the refrigerator or on door of medicine cabinet

Labeled magnetic spice jars on refrigerator

Magnetic boxes on medicine cabinet

  • Install shelves above windows to store collectibles and decorative items.
  • Install a fold down bed or desk from the wall.

Murphy bed that folds down from wall

  • Install cubbies above the top shelf in your closets and clothing rails.
  • Get a remote control caddy that hangs over the edge of your couch instead of taking up space on the coffee table

Remote control caddy over arm of couch

  • For the do-it-yourselfer, use up the space between the studs in your wall to create cubbies (or hire a professional)

Cubbies inserted in a wall column

Storage cubby/magazine rack inserted into wall of small bathroom

Cubby installed underneath bar

Consider storing items under the bed.  Some organizers frown on using storage under the bed because items are often forgotten about.  I happen to think it’s a great solution for infrequently used or seasonal items.

Use containers and containers within containers.  Two things I love when it comes to organizing: my label maker and containers.  I love using containers in my pantry, bathroom, closets, dressers and well…pretty much everywhere in my home!  It’s so convenient to store similar items in one container.  I recommend using wire or plastic containers that are stored on shelves so you can see the contents of what’s inside. In dressers and drawers you can use any type of box or organizing drawer trays and bins to store and separate your items.

organized office desk supplies

Office supplies drawer organizer

Silverware and utensils drawer organizer

Open containers in pantry

Take advantage of multi-use storage products. Some examples are:

  • Coffee tables that have drawers or hidden storage inside
  • Ottomans with lids that serve as a foot rest storage unit and chair
  • Drawers that are integrated in stairs or step stools

Step stool with integrated drawers

  • Fold down murphy beds that when upright on a wall also have a fold down desk table
  • Dinner trays that double as a laptop tray

Don’t use up all the space…leave yourself room to grow (or not).  Now that you’ve cleared out the clutter and have started to move things back in, don’t feel obligated to fill every shelf, cabinet or nook ‘n cranny.  Leave yourself space to add items or just enjoy having less stuff.

Label everything you can!  Check out my post on using a labelmaker.  It makes finding this so much easier for you and everyone else in the household.

Labeled baking jars

Now…keep organized by establishing rules and routines. This is an essential part of getting and staying organized. They say it takes about 30 days to make a routine habit…I think you can do it in half the time.  Here are a few routines to consider:

  • One in…one out.  Only buy or add something to your space after you’ve thrown or given something else away.
  • Limit your shopping.  Instead of buying something you want right away, wait a week to see if your “want” wears off.
  • Sort your mail everyday.  Make it a habit to check, sort and file it immediately after you pick it up.
  • Establish daily and nightly clean up routines. Straighten up before you leave the house and before going to bed.
  • Have a basket to collect items that either need to go up or downstairs.  When you need to go up or downstairs take the basket and put the items away…this will save you time and help keep areas clean by collecting items in one place.
  • Clean up immediately after meals.  Don’t let dirty dishes, pot and pans sit around.
  • Put things away immediately after you work on or finish project.  Part of every project is cleaning up.  Try not to put it off!
  • Establish a rule for kids that they can only have 2-3 toys out at one time.  They must clean up before getting new ones out.
  • Have kids clean up everyday before naptime and bedtime.
  • Insist that dirty clothes go in hampers only…not on the floor, on the bed or draped over doors and chairs.
  • Clean up the bathroom after showering. Hang up towels, put clothes in a hamper, wipe down sink and put toiletries away.
  • Put away groceries and other shopping purchases away immediately.

So we’re almost at the end of the series. We just have the finale post where I’ll pick a room (probably the kitchen) to organize using all four steps in the Organizing Basics series.  I originally planned to get the post out on Wednesday next week but an opportunity arose to do some organizing work in the Washington D.C. area for a family with a new home and a new baby.  The finale post will be posted on Friday, July 16th.  Thank you so much for sticking with the series!!!

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