Getting Organized and Becoming Clutter-Free

Organization is the key to sanity. Well that might be a little dramatic. At the very least its a great first step. When your home is organized, everything else seems to flow a little better. Items in their proper places tend to be easier to find which results in a lot less stress during those fruitless, last minute searches for school papers, keys or the bill that was due last week. And we certainly cannot forget the lost mittens, shoes and the library book you borrowed sometime last year. Getting your house organized will definitely ease a lot of things. So what is the easiest and cheapest way to get it done?

Well if you are severely disorganized, it probably won’t be quick. But the process below will certainly make it simpler.

There are a few items that you will need.
5 medium to large cardboard boxes (You can get free at your local store; just ask)
Garbage bags
Marker
Soap & water

Some handy tips to organizing:
If you have not used it for more than a year you probably don’t need it.
Sentimental value does not constitute usefulness.
Keep the saver away from this process. If its you, get the thrower involved and let them be in charge.
Do one room at a time. It is probably best to start in storage areas to free up space. (garage, closets)
Kitchen should be the next room.

Storage Areas
Label your boxes: Keep & Store, Keep & Use, Sell/Donate, Throw/Garbage and ?Not Sure Yet.
Start filling boxes. It is best to start with counter and open spaces. Make sure you put everything within size into a box. Do not forget about those little drawers and containers that are filled with ‘something!’
As soon as you have everything sorted, wash down all areas. Remove the boxes labeled Sell/Donate and Throw/Garbage to another room. Start putting back the Keep & Store box. Make sure to place larger items first. This will give you another chance to evaluate the need for them. They can go in the ?Not Sure box. Move on to the Keep & Use box. If it can be stored away out of view, utilize that. Make sure to keep it near the front so that is easily accessible. Finish with the ?Not Sure box. Remember the rules above when sorting. Congratulations! You’ve finished one area. Before you move on to the next area, take a nice, relaxing break. Try to do it while looking at the space you just completed because it will give you a sense of accomplishment and pride at your work.

Kitchen
Repeat the labels except for the ?Not Sure box will now become the Food Donate box. Start with the counters and then move on to the pantry. Cupboards and drawers are next. Repeat the process above by removing the Sell/Donate, Throw/Garbage and Food/Donate boxes to another room. Wipe down and put everything back in their proper place as instructed in Storage. Don’t forget about the refrigerator doors. Clutter on the appliances always makes a room look disorganized. Pick out one or two things to keep here. Try to keep the counters and open spaces as clutter-free as possible. If you do not use an appliance every day, find a place to store it that has easy access.

You are now ready to tackle those other areas.
Complete each space the same as above. If you are going to tackle multiple rooms in one session, you may need to have more sorting boxes and garbage bags.

Here are some other helpful tips to help you stay organized.
When you get a new item, get rid of an old one.
Train your family-There is a place for everything. (This is actually harder than the organizing)
Keep a bin or box in a central area and label it Donate. When the box or bin is full you can take it to your local charity.
Get small boxes and label them Schoolwork. Have the kids decorate them. When they bring home all those amazing things from school you can keep them in these containers.
Designate a drawer or container for incoming mail. Sort once a week. (A shredder is a great investment)
A fireproof lock-box is crucial for important papers. (Wills, birth certificates, insurance policies)
Have a container to keep bills and important papers that need accessibility.

Congratulations. You are now stress-free. Well maybe not completely, but you certainly have a pretty organized house. Its always easier to keep up the maintenance on your organizing than it is to begin. Give yourself an hour or two a month to re-check and re-sort. If things start to get out of hand, go back to the beginning. Staying organized is a habit. It might take a few weeks to establish the habit for everyone in the family. Good luck and remember to celebrate and reward everyone.

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