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Basic Housekeeping - Home Space Organization

Here are more ways to organize your space for productivity and other benefits.


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Organizing Your Home Office
  • Minimize visual clutter on your desk, reducing the knickknacks will help you focus and therefore be more productive, saving time.
  • Spend a half an hour each day sorting and throwing out papers in your “to do” box. It saves you from becoming overwhelmed by having so much “stuff” to do. You will save yourself a lot of stress and also be able to delegate things you didn’t even know you had to do.
  • Set guidelines for the paperwork you keep in your filing system. For example, how long do you really need to keep your utility bills? 6 months is a good rule of thumb.
Organizing Your Closets
  • Save time getting ready in the morning by organizing your outfits the night before. It also reduces the stress of deciding what to wear when you're on a deadline to get out the door.
  • Put a shopping bag in your closet for items you don’t like anymore, can't wear anymore because of size changes or items you just want to purge. It’s also a good way to train others you share your closet with to purge their items as well. At the end of every month take the clothing and other items you purged to your local church, Goodwill or Salvation Army and get a receipt for a tax deduction.
Creating a Home Communications/Command Center
  • If your family’s life is chaotic due to everyone having a different schedule, set up a communications center in the most commonly used area of your home, usually in the kitchen, which is the heart of the home. But not on the outside of your fridge, because there’s really not enough space there for a family calendar, mail bin, and bulletin board… not to mention it looks cluttered. A separate communications center in your kitchen will help keep clutter from building up. It will also cut down on being late or forgetting important events.
  • Let your children take ownership of the fun activities they enjoy and let them help you put those on the calendar. This will help teach them organization and hold them accountable for their schedules too!
  • Post the meal planning guide to your communication center so everyone knows what to expect for dinner. This will alleviate uncertainty, minimize complaints and help with time management in regard to preparation.
Organizing Your Family’s Games
  • Sort through all the board games, throwing out the ones with missing pieces
  • Decide on a storage solution that works for everyone in the family.
  • Creating a divided game box or cabinet is one such solution. Just add space dividers to separate game types and parts.
  • Next, clearly label both the games and related pieces for quick identification. Plastic zipper bags work well for keeping game accessories together. A laser label maker is ideal for this step. Place the bags with pieces inside in a designated area.
Organizing Collections/Memorabilia/Photos
  • At some point or another we all build up a stash of items we get from loved ones but don’t know what to do with them. For example, you inherit grandmother’s china, but already have your own set from your own marriage. If you don't use or display the item, save yourself the space and emotion and take a picture of it, then give it to a friend or family member who really could use and appreciate it. And, if it’s a friend or family member, odds are, you’ll still get to enjoy it too!
  • Sort family photos by category. For example, friends, family and by each child in the family. This will help when creating memory books, or DVD presentations for special events such as graduation, retirements or anniversaries. It will reduce frustration when looking for things and also save you countless hours searching for photos.
  • Set up a keepsake bin in your closet for favorite cards, clothing or knickknacks collected from trips, vacations and family members. This will help you sort through and store the items that are important to you, but you are not ready to let go of.
Organizing Your Kitchen/Pantry
  • Store kitchen utensils in drawers, not on the counters in a bucket or basket. Eliminating the clutter from the counters makes the kitchen feel more inviting and “orderly”.
  • Get rid of your cardboard. It doesn’t keep food as fresh as clear, air-tight plastic containers, or zip-lock bags. Cardboard also attracts bugs. So empty those cereal boxes and other boxed food items. Your food will be easier to find, taste a lot better and save you money in the long run! 
  • Maximize your storage space in pantries by going vertical with your organizing tools. Put a bag holder on the wall for reusing shopping bags and under-the-shelf baskets to maximize space. Use trolley bins for storing paper goods. They help you know what you have so you can use it.
Organizing Your Refrigerator
  • Ever look into your refrigerator and see non-descript bags of potatoes, veggies, and fruit? Take out the contents, wash them and put them in clean, see-through air-tight containers or zippered bags. Having everything stored in like containers makes it easier to find what you’re looking for when you’re cooking or making your grocery list. 
  • Most people don’t take the time to organize their fridge, but it will save time, money and space if you do this. Arrange your shelves in the fridge by category, such as dairy drawer, veggie drawer, fruit drawer, children’s snack bin, etc. Also, the refrigerator doors tend to become catch-alls with no method to the madness. Designate the doors for condiments and special items, such as special needs foods for diets, illnesses, weight loss, or medicines, etc. This will help you in making a list, going grocery shopping, saving money and help you have a nice, uncluttered fridge too.
  • Ever find moldy cheese or soft veggies? Purge one drawer every week before you do your weekly grocery shopping or at least once a month when you do your monthly general purge of the refrigerator. It helps cut down on the clutter in your fridge and also helps eliminate odors! - One of the things you should do is keep your fridge at 41-degrees. This temperature slows down the growth of mold on your food. Check the temperature each month when doing your monthly purge of the fridge, just to make sure it hasn’t been accidentally bumped up.
Organizing Home Filing Systems
  • Save time and stress by following the 3-step system with your bills. This works whether you pay your bills by snail mail, or automatically online. The steps are: sort, pay and file. First set up your system using either a file box, file tray or bins that say, "bills to pay", "high priority to do", and "to be filed". Then follow the steps. Sort your bills as they come in, arrange them by the dates they’re due and put them in the “to be paid” bin.
  • Next, pay them before they’re due to avoid late fees, and then either file them away, or put them in the “to be filed bin” to tackle when you do your weekly filing. Regarding that filing system, pick major categories that work for you. Examples include Auto, Banking, Education, Insurance. Use letter files and label them with a label maker.  
  • If, however, a bill needs correspondence, such as change of address, consumer complaint, etc, then it needs to go in the “high priority to do bin”, before being filed away permanently. And don’t procrastinate. Never let your "high priority to do" pile get larger than you can handle within a few minutes.
 Paper Management at Home
  • If you tend to save things “just in case” don’t question yourself, just purge and move on.
  • Do you keep too much stuff you think you might reference? Magazines are one good example. Keep in mind you can use the Internet to research documents and use scan services to save paper and the planet.
  • Do your children like to save their paintings and drawings? Set up a portfolio for each child in the home and cut down on the paper clutter that comes into the communications center.
  • How many magazine subscriptions do you have? If you have more than 2, odds are you don’t have enough time to read all of them. Save time and money by cutting out the unnecessary cost of magazine subscriptions you “might read”, and instead, bookmark their Web sites in your computer to visit when you do have a little extra time.
Creating a Home Inventory
  • Most of us can't list from memory everything we have and where it is. What if something happens to you or a family member? Will you know where to find detailed information? A detailed inventory of your valuable items will help you recover faster in the event of a fire, flood or robbery. One you've created both a list and a visual record of each item, you should keep it in multiple places. A hard copy in your files, another in your safety deposit box at the bank and an electronic copy on a flash drive.
  • When compiling the home inventory, you should also call your homeowners insurance and see if you are over or underinsured. When determining the value of your items, replacement cost is the best way to go unless you have a formal appraisal on art or jewelry, then send a copy of that in to your insurance company with the list and visual documentation. When you're making you home inventory list is a good time to also upgrade your insurance coverage if necessary.
  • Protect the history of items that have been kept in your family for generations. If the history of each item is included in the home inventory, it also helps your children or grandchildren know the story behind each piece as well as its age and possible value.
  • And last but not least, a home inventory is invaluable when you move and the movers lose or break something.
Organizing Toys
  • Toys and games should be zoned differently when you’re organizing them. They can be stored together, but in different areas of your game closet, shelves or cupboard. Toy trolley bins are a much better option than big toy boxes. That’s because they provide easier access for children and also allow them to sort different types of toys. Children need structure and order. 
  • Always remember to bolt your shelving or bookcases to the wall. If you avoid this simple task, before you know it your children will be swinging like monkeys. At the least this ensures everything stays in its place, and at most prevents injuries from happening by keeping the shelving or bookcases from coming crashing down on them.
  • Clearly label baskets or bins with easy to read labels. Find creative tags with pictures or fun alphabet letters for easy recognition by little ones.
  • Don’t get sucked into the organizational vortex while shopping for organizing solutions. The latest cool or trendy gadget may not fit your needs and you will ultimately find yourself spending more money on organizing products. Assess your needs before going shopping, do some research online regarding your options, then stick to your game plan and don't be lured in by those nifty products.
Organizing Children's Rooms
  • Organize your kid’s clothes by size in their closet, and at their eye-level. Take out the frustration of “mommy, what do I wear”, by showing them how to access their outfits and save time getting ready in the morning.
  • Size dividers are easy to find and fun to decorate.
  • If you choose to have kid’s toys in their room, zone a place just for them to play. Make sure it’s accessible for the child and organized in a fun way to avoid frustration with cleanup.
  • Attitude is everything, if you are not excited about being organized and creating a new system for your child, then he/she is going to have a bad attitude. Make this a fun and creative event for everyone!
Basic Housekeeping - Home Space Organization:  Created on April 19th, 2009.  Last Modified on January 21st, 2014


About Tonia Tomlin

Tonia Tomlin is one of the country’s leading organization experts, and founder and president of Texas-based Sorted Out ™ organizing service, which offers a wide range of consulting and organizing services geared towards helping clients conquer disorganization. A sought-after media guest, Tomlin has been featured in numerous local, regional, and national media print and broadcast media outlets, including HGTV’s “Mission Organization” program.  Tomlin is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers and is also active in the Plano Chamber of Commerce and the Dallas-Ft. Worth chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers.