Learn Our Organizing Principles ~ You’ll Never Be Overwhelmed Again
Organizing is a learned skill, so never say never…. Here are our foolproof organizing principles, the steps that you can do each and every day to help yourself get organized around the house, and help yourself to a more peaceful life!
HOT, WARM OR COLD? It’s a simple but powerful premise: items that are used the most should be the easiest to reach. Think of organized spaces as having storage locations that are hot, warm and cold and store tools and supplies according to how often they are used.
Hot zones like the fronts of drawers, shelves at eye level and storage space on a counter are home to the most used items. They are areas that your hand can reach with little or no effort such as the utensil caddy next to the stove. This is where you store your favourite whisks, spoons and ladles for easy access.
Warm zones are a bit harder to reach, like the space at the back of the drawer or the shelf near the top of the cabinet. You’ll need to stretch and bend or open doors wider to reach a warm zone. Send items you need infrequently, such as a once a week or once a month, to the warm zones. Large pots and baking dishes can all happily live here. You’ll know where they are when you need them, but they won’t impede your work the rest of the time.
Cold Zones are those storage spaces that must have been designed by a chiropractor to encourage business. They’re dark, they’re obscure, and they’re hard to reach without a step stool or assuming a posture on your hands and knees. The back recesses of a bottom shelf, the cupboard over the refrigerator that can only be reached with a ladder are cold zones. Here’s where you keep the seasonal baking pans, the serving platters for big parties and your 50-cup coffee urn.
LABEL, LABEL, LABEL. Facing a linen closet, our mental image may be beach towels here, winter blankets there and sheet sets there. However that lasts only until the first late-night rummage for clean sheets jumbles your tidy piles.Solution? Labels, labels, and still more labels. Picture labels for children, computer printed labels, labels created by electronic label-makers…. Labels make any organizing scheme crystal clear. They show everyone, not just the organizer, where things belong. For seasonal storage, labels prevent the need to open and dig for the holiday lights. When moving, labels on boxes help to get the contents to the right place in the new house.
HARDER TO GET OUT THAN TO PUT AWAY. Daycare operators know a simple secret. To keep things neat, make it harder to get something out than to put it away. Its human nature that when we want something we want it and we’ll work hard to get it too. But when it comes to putting it back….Take advantage of human nature and make things harder to get out then put away. For instance, store children’s books upright in a flip-file, a plastic container where the books can stand on end. To retrieve a book, the child will need to flip through the titles to find what she is searching for, but to put it away; she must only slide it back into the container.
GO VERTICAL For books, files or papers, vertical storage beats horizontal storage every time. What’s horizontal storage? It’s a pile, a stack, one thin, rectangular object stored on top of another. To reach one you must move them all and chances are you won’t take the time to move them all back. Vertical storage, like that offered by hanging files or bookcases, make it easy to find the file or letter you need. The child’s book flip-file illustrates this perfectly. Finding the right book is a matter of flipping through the covers, replacing it doesn’t require moving the other books. Similarly, hanging fabric lengths from hangers makes it simple to find the fabric a sewer is looking for, and with no need to disturb other lengths folded in a pile. In geometry there’s no preference, but when it comes to organizing, choose vertical over horizontal any day!
THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME Establish a home for everything in your house. This could mean in a basket, on a shelf, inside a drawer, in a closet or on top of a dresser. It doesn’t have to be fancy: even just a nail in the wall is enough to hang a broom or dustpan.
STORE SMART Don’t go hunting every time you need something ~ keep things where you use them! Put extra paper and ink cartridges near the printer, place a key rack or bowl by the door you most often use to enter/exit the house, and drop all the remote controls in a basket next to the TV/stereo. Add small trash and recycling bins to any room where you will use them to save you from making repeated trips to the kitchen or garage.
CATEGORIZE Keep ‘like’ items together. Here are a few examples:
- Place all first aid supplies together ~ from bandages to rubbing alcohol to pain relievers ~ in a basket inside a bathroom cabinet or drawer.
- Designate a basket or bin to hold all of fresh batteries, and make sure it’s big enough to handle packs of D batteries as well as AA and AAA multi-packs
- Don’t store flat sheets on one shelf and pillowcases on another-keep the entire sheet set together to make changing the bed a more efficient process.
- Store all of your camera’s bits and pieces ~memory cards, lenses, filters, cleaning cloths, manuals ~ in a bag with or alongside your camera.
- Put napkins, placemats and trivets in the drawer below the silverware to make it super quick to set the table. Serving utensils should be stored with the flatware, too.
ONE IN ONE OUT Live by the one in/one out rule. For every item you bring in the front door, send on item out the back door. Apply this rule to everything from clothing to household items to gifts.
The bottom line? Remember this simple rule: If you get it out, always put it back right where it belongs after you use it. It’s usually pretty quick and painless, and will keep clutter from getting out of control. Soon, you won’t have to waste precious minutes trying to find the missing flashlight or dog’s leash or tape measure, and you can spend your time instead doing something you love.Copyright © 2013 Organizing Lives ® All rights are reserved and no part of this article may be reproduced or copied in any form or by any means unless expressly stated otherwise, or except with the written permission of Organizing Lives®. Enquires should be directed to: firstname.lastname@example.org