Being organized isn’t about putting everything into a beautiful, new organization system— it’s about how well you’re able to maintain it.
And it’s your psyche that determines that. Find creative ways to organize your home by choosing a strategy that fits you. Which of the five personalities are you?
The Pile Maker
If you like everything out and visible, you’re likely a creative, right-brained sort, says Beth Randall, a professional organizer and speaker.
The piles on your desk make sense only to you (well, until they don’t), and you get energized and inspired by the visual stimulus of stuff.
Strategy: Keep your stuff in view and organized with open-face organizers that have a place for everything in plain sight.
- Store your jewelry on a corkboard covered with fabric, using push pins to create a work of art, Randall suggests.
- Stash items in clear bins or cubbies that don’t cut off your view of the contents, like an over-the-door shoe organizer with clear sleeves.
- Take a moment every couple of weeks to look at your desk and countertops and purge or put away clutter.
- Rather than plopping your paperwork in one big pile on your desk, use paper organizers or shelf dividers that only allow about six or seven inches of clearance per shelf, recommends professional organizer Thalia Poulos. Then, use labels as your new visual trigger. This can work in entryways for mail, in kitchens for recipes, or anywhere papers start to pile up.
- Pegboards: Put ‘em everywhere. Pegboards give you customizable, highly visual storage in the garage, office, closets, bedrooms, kitchens — pretty much anywhere. To accommodate your creative brain, space out your hooks enough so you’re not limited to one configuration where everything fits.
You like everything to have its place — and that place is out of sight. You find nothing more restorative than a tidy, minimalist space. But life happens, and you’ve been known to “stash and dash” and forget where you put things. And sometimes you pitch something you end up needing later on.
Strategy: You need behind-the-scenes systems that are convenient and efficient.
- Go virtual: You can ditch all that paper. Use an app for your to-do and grocery lists, and use scanning software (or a simple snap of your phone!) to turn any paperwork into a digital file.
- Make it easy to quickly put stuff away with personalized classification systems, recommends Cena Block, a productivity expert and former professional organizer. From clothes to craft supplies, and from bins to drawers, group things the way your gut tells you to: by size, function, alphabet — whatever. The less thinking you have to do, the fewer “stash and dash” mishaps you’ll make.
- Organize your organization: Think drawer sorters, hanging file cabinets, closet systems, or even ice-cube trays for jewelry drawers.
- Have storage options where you need them that match the function of each space — like cubbies under the front stairs for shoes or rolling bins under your bed for sheets.
Sure, you want your stuff to be organized, but if it doesn’t please the senses, you’re not gonna use it. That sometimes leads to more Pinterest-browsing and project-dreaming than actual organizing.
Strategy: You need organization options that look good — but are super-functional, too.
- Use woven baskets or wood boxes, rather than plastic bins, to organize items around the house.
- In the office, rely on color-coded file folders, Poulos says.
- Keep a beautiful notebook for jotting down your to-dos. An app simply won’t give you that tactile satisfaction you crave.
- Use color-coordinated hangers to group ensembles together in your closet, Poulos suggests.
- Include artwork among items you’re storing on shelves, or even on pegboards, to make even the most utilitarian spaces a delight to use.
You see a lot of value in things. Sometimes too much value. You have a hard time deciding when to let go, which makes clutter control an endless challenge.
Strategy: Maximize your storage space, and keep things away enough to avoid clutter but close enough to appreciate the value your things add to your life. Also, regularly chip away at your collection where possible.
- You love your stuff. So before a quarterly purge, pick a charity or friend who could use some of your non-essentials. Loving your stuff’s next home can help get it out of yours.
- Display your favorite things a few at a time, rotating them in and out of storage. It will make you feel like you have more stuff and will cut down on the clutter.
- Set limits on how many of any one item you can have, whether it’s shoes or spatulas, Randall says. For magazines or catalogs, for example, give yourself one basket or bin. When it’s full, it’s time to pitch.
- Use every cubic foot in your home with nice-looking, built-in, floor-to-ceiling storage systems. It’ll give you more storage space and keeps the things you love nearby and accessible, even when they’re put away.
The Speeding Train
You’re constantly moving from one location, appointment, or task to the next. Who’s got time for reading every email or finding a hanger for your coat? But man, you can leave a mess in your wake!
Strategy: Keep home organization solutions simple, flexible, and (most importantly) right in your path.
- Use simplified systems. Store any documents (physical or digital) you may eventually need in a single 12-folder system - one for every month of the year. Then conduct just one yearly purge, Randall suggests.
- Systems that will work for you are those that don’t require much of a pause — like hooks for jackets, bins for shoes, and open cubes for, well, anything, Poulos says.
- Because you’re always on the move, daily items like your keys often get lost in your dust. So create rituals around stashing these essentials in an in/out station, right where it’s most convenient to drop them.
- Always keep a donation box by the door. When you don’t have to stop and find a trash bag or bin, you’ll be that much more likely to get rid of something.