Trying to Get Better Organized!!!

Updated on June 22, 2011
J.S. asks from Cortland, IL
8 answers

So, I need some advice and tips!! I have a pretty large home, about 3,000sq feet, 3 kids, and a dog. On top of that, I run a home daycare, in which I have anywhere from 1-5 kids here at a given time!! I'm not lazy, nor do I like a dirty house. My house isn't dirty by any means, but it is definitely unorganized & cluttered, therefore making me feel like it is never clean!!! If I could afford one, I'd hire a professional organizer to come in here and get me organized!! I'd really love to hear some of your tips on keeping up with it all!! Like I said, my house isn't dirty, but I feel like I'm constantly picking up, relocating things, etc. and I'm so tired of it!! Please share any thoughts, tips, suggestions, or whatever with me!!!!

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answers from Pocatello on

I love clear totes of various sizes with snap on lids. You can see what's stored, stack them, etc. I also love the bit flat totes that can slide under beds.
Have you read Sink Reflections? Or heard of the Fly Lady? She is an author / motivator that gives practical ideas in tiny increments to get rid of clutter. Great book. The website is something like

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answers from Glens Falls on

Organization can be pretty personal depending upon what your household is like but the two best pieces of generic advice I can give you are "do it now" and if you really can't do it now, "keep a list". "Do it now" means when the mail comes throw out the junk mail, when the meal is over, clean it up, when playtime is over, clean it up, when you come home from shopping, put it away and hang up coats, etc. If at all possible, Do it Now. Takes 5 minutes to do it now and it takes 5 hours to do it later.

Okay, if you absolutely can't do it now, and you have to remember to do it later, keeping a list helps me not lose track of appts, events, what I need at the store, things that need to be name it, anything I can't do now, it's on the list.

You don't need to spend any money to implement these 2 things and it really helps. Good luck

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answers from New York on

1. create a place for everything.
2. put everything in its place.
3. don't shoulder all the work. delegate to your kids, spouse, day care kids. they can pick up after themselves and put things in their place.
4. if compliance isn't forthcoming, enforce harsh penalties. (Anything not in your cubby, anything left on the kitchen counter, any paperwork in the living room, anything on the dining table at dinner will be a. put in the garage for 1 month and unavailable. or b. immediately discarded/ given to charity, whatever works for you). you can't cut yourself slack on this one. everyone has to be subject to the iron fist.
5. use the handle it once rule. i.e. don't bring laundry from the basement to the foot of the stairs, only to have to take it up to the linen closet. finish the job in one fell swoop.
6. de-clutter your home. if you have more than 1 of any thing, consider if you really need the 2nd one. if you haven't used it in 3 months, get rid of it. etc.
7. be vigillant about what you allow into your home. don't undermine your de-cluttering by getting more stuff.
8. consider a friend, if you can't spring for a professional orgainzer. They can help make some detatched decisions.
9. get that professional organizer, they will give you a running start. you will find yourself in the same situation though if you don't re-vamp your style.

good luck in pursuing this smart and admirable change.

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answers from New York on

- Pick one room or one "task" at a time and declutter/organize that space in its entirety before moving on to another.
- As you go from room-to-room, have two garbage bags with you... "Donate" and "Trash". For each item, decide right then which bag it goes into and move on to the next item.
- When you get to the magazines, if you can't remember why you kept it, recycle it. If you kept it b/c of a recipe, article or other "single item", clip that item and recycle it. Same thing with cards and other papers.
- Reminders/Flyers/Save-the-dates, etc. Put the date on the calendar and then throw out the card or paper. Sign the permission forms, put the dates on the calendar and toss it!
- I sort the mail as soon as I get home. Junk mail gets tossed immediately. Coupons get filed (and expired get tossed when I see them) and actual mail goes into a basket (bills and statements are separate from "personal")
- I hate to file things. So... I have a drawer in the den where I literally shove all "to be filed" items. One Sunday a month I take an hour and just do it.

As for "stuff" around the house...
- We keep all of my son's toys in Itso bins. They are interlocking cubes with baskets. Each basket has a purpose and each toy is sorted into the right basket. It makes clean-up much easier b/c at 3 he knows which- toys- go- where (so does my husband) and you don't have to "think".
- Each of us have our own laundry basket and they aren't "hidden" anywhere. Dirty clothes go in there or they don't get washed. We put them in the laundry room when we have company. Folded clothing goes back in the correct laundry basket which makes it easier to put them away.

**Closed containers!**
Use baskets, bins and "sorters" that are closed (or at least not "see through". Mesh or wire contains the clutter, but they still look messy.

**Take a picture!**
When the room/closet/container looks "right", snap a picture of it as a reference. My mother used to do this with us and when we would claim that our rooms were clean, she would say "Your clean or mine?" and if needed, we had a visual reminder of what "Mom clean" looked like! This has been really helpful with our housekeeper as well.

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answers from Chicago on

Some good organizing sites:,, and I highly recommend "Organizing From the Inside Out" by Julie Morgenstern:

If you want to be the one picking up less, you have to try to make things super easy for kids to take out and put away again! Creating a dedicated home for each item. If they know that the blocks always live in that box on that shelf, it will make life easier for you.

My 6 & 9 year olds have a 4 x 4 ft. piece of fabric that is used for playing with Legos. They lay fabric down, dump legos out, play and then pour them back into their bin and place the fabric (folded or crumpled!) on top. This makes for easy cleanup for them and for me. Maybe this technique could work for other smallish toys, games or puzzles that you have? Even though daycare kids are younger than mine, using fabric or a cotton rug, stored with the toy or in a specific place in the playroom might help them to have a visual guideline of where to lay out what they're playing with— "we must keep the game on the mat, Charlie!"

Good luck!

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answers from New York on

I used to assume that I couldn't afford many things but when I actually looked into them they each were remarkably affordable.

I find that for me organizing begins with purging. I get rid of things and then make a proper home for the things I have.

I have some rather lovely leatherlooking ottomans in the livingroom and the kids room. I use them for quick clean ups. I just throw things in there and then once a month I go through them and empty them out.

You need to figure out what will work for you. Baskets, bins, shelves, all have their special uses in getting organized but you need to determine what will really work best for you. Try the website for the container store. They have some really great specialty items. Target and targetlike stores have some wonderful storage containers too.

Figure out what will work for you but I generally begin with purging and getting down to the bare necessities. I like to keep things simple.

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answers from Dallas on

I find that the best & easiest way to organize is to utilize every bit of space that you have. Adding shelves to closets, adding organizer bins to shelves, is cheap and can go a really long way.

I also put drawer organizers in drawers I'm not using so that we have places to put things like batteries, pens, pencils, coupons, store ads, and little odds and ends that seem to constantly clutter the counters. They are a few bucks at Target and some of them are customizeable.

I buy those decorative baskets at Hobby Lobby with the cloth liners to put things in like the dog's toys, or the kid's toys that find their way into the living room. I just drop their things in the basket and then I will tell them at the end of the day, "Get your things out of the basket", and they retrieve their items and put them away in their rooms.

I'm in the process of organizing as well- we are remodeling, so I always have a disjointed feel in my house. But every little effort helps!

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answers from San Antonio on

I love colored bins for organizing my sons toys/shoes/books that make there way all over the house. He is able to pick up things himself if/when I have them pre-organized and teach him where to put things himself.

Over the door shoe organizers can be handy too, getting things off the floor. If you get the clear plastic ones, you can see what you have in each shoe caddy (craft supplies, etc).

The dollar store has plastic bins, yet they're not the best quality.

I like shelves. Gotta have shelves with books, plus the bins to stay nice and organized.

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