Let’s be real. Maintaining a clean house most days is a challenge in itself. Now add two young children and school and we are looking at nearly impossible. But we manage somehow. Believe it or not, the hardest part is not having to pick up after our little ones but rather picking up in a timely manner. In order to do that, one needs to be…dun..dun..dun.. yep, you guessed it. ORGANIZED! Since both my husband and I are in school this semester, we figured it was high time we got our house sustainably organized once and for all. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to get a little bit of help.
In her book Organizing for your Lifestyle, Jane Stoller offers inspiration and practical advice for tackling any organization project from the smallest closet to the biggest room. The first chapter is a general overview of organization philosophy covering the very basics including the health and cost benefits of organizing as well as organization approaches such as minimalism. After that expect to dive straight in. My favorite part of the book is the way in which it is organized; each chapter serves as a guide to a different space. As someone who suffers from indecisivism (is that a thing?) I can tell you that knowing where to start is the most stressful part so following a list definitely helped eliminate that stress. Here’s how the book is split up:
- Storage Room
Suddenly, a good pre-New Year’s purging doesn’t sound too bad now does it?! Today I’m sharing five of my favorite practical tips from the book and how I’m applying them as we tackle our organizational woes.
1. Have a date with your closet every year. Jane recommends evaluating and reorganizing your closet twice annually as “this will help you to stay fully in control of what you have, and knowledgeable about what you need, while ensuring that no excess clothing outstays its welcome.” We recently tackled the kid’s closet and ended up donating a TON of stuff they had outgrown that was taking up valuable space. After seeing how much space this opened up, I added reminders to my calendar to do this on a quarterly basis.
2. Think in terms of frequency of use. Mentally sorting out your belongings into daily use/weekly use/sparse use really puts things into perspective and allows you to tailor your organization system to your practical needs so that you have what you need when you need it. This has been really helpful in our bathroom as I have tried to make sure that we have easy access to the things we use every day like toothpaste and shampoo whereas medications that are used infrequently are tucked away out of sight.
3. “Organize so your mother (or father) can cook in your kitchen.” This one really stood out to me because the kitchen is the heart of our home. If you don’t have easy access to basic tools and ingredients while cooking then you’re wasting valuable time during meal prep. Imagining someone else using your kitchen is a great exercise for thinking about the efficiency of your space. I used the opportunity to remove some unwanted gadgets, dinnerware, and Tupperware out of circulation to make room for things that I actually use and need.
4. Find a balance between function and aesthetics. What works for one person or family doesn’t work for everyone and that’s okay. It’s up to you to find a solution that is both functional and visually appealing for your needs (sometimes function will trump aesthetics and that’s also okay). This issue came up for me while I sifted through my scarf collection. Although I can see how the variety of colors and patterns hanging together on a wall can be visually unappealing, this strategy has proven to be the most practical for my lifestyle because it offers easy open access to all my scarves.
5. Make organizing a lifestyle. This is by far the most important advice because it requires you to think in the long term. With this philosophy, organizing is no longer about buying storage containers or fancy systems but rather about asking yourself, “how can I stay organized?” The answer, I think, will lie in a happy medium between a designated system, daily practices, monthly maintenance, and a quarterly assessment of successes and failures. To help us along through this process, I’ve created a diagram to envision what this would look like.
We are by no means completely organized because we haven’t had the time to tackle all of these spaces in one sitting but we have been thinking through these tips as we slowly organize our home corner by corner. These strategies have certainly helped me be more intentional about finding sustainable organization solutions and I look forward to sharing more as we work on making our home better organized. If you want more organizing inspiration as well as tips and tricks on the specifics of storage, folding, and labeling, you can find Jane’s book here.
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