When was the last time you read about someone having incredible success, got really excited to try what worked for them, then didn’t get the same results?
Personally, I can think of diets, exercise programs, personal improvement tactics, business strategies, homeschooling methods, and more that I’ve had this experience with over the years.
Getting organized is no different. When you or I try to use a method that is out of sync with our natural strengths, it will not only be hard to do, but we’ll most likely be unsuccessful.
So how to organize your home and avoid this frustration? Below are four common organizing approaches that you can use to help identify your style. For each one, I’ve listed a handful of complimentary strategies and tips that you can try. Most of us have traits of more than one style, so feel free to mix and match the strategies that you feel will work for you.
The 'Seeing is Believing' Organizer
Do you like to see what you have at a glance?
If you’re a visual person, this organization style may come naturally. Having your things out in the open, easily seen, is the fastest and most comfortable way for you to process your surroundings and function. Instead of tucking everything away out of sight, you enjoy the visual interest of having a comfortable amount of items present in your environment.
Your goal is to have lots of items where they can be readily seen and used, while keeping them in a tidy, well-planned arrangement. For items that must be concealed, you’ll want easy systems in place that are simple to use.
Strategies That Work
Wall organization accessories (shelving, hooks, pegboards) keep your items in the open and allow you to take advantage of space that otherwise may not be used.
Baskets, bins and other open-topped containers are great for assigned items or as a catch-all.
Color coding (binders, files, labels) can work really well for a person who organizes visually. Keep it simple and bold.
Even inside storage spaces like closets, drawers and desks, arrange items so you can see them in one glance, or at least with minimal effort. Marie Kondo’s method of organizing drawers is a good example.
The 'Hide and Seek' Organizer
Are your work surfaces uncluttered but your storage areas are out of control?
Clear, uncluttered surroundings can be very calming, reduce ‘mental noise’, and allow you to be more productive. Many people would see this as organizational success in and of itself. But if there is a gnarly mess waiting when you open a closet, cabinet or drawer, that calm will be constantly interrupted when you actually try to use your space.
Your goal is to turn those concealed storage spaces into lean, mean organized systems. You’ll want to make the most of every inch, even having systems within systems. When a room is clutter-free on the outside and organized on the inside, you’ll be calm and efficient.
Strategies That Work
- File holders can turn piles of paper, magazines, etc. into a neat, easy to access system
- Drawer dividers keep those small but important items in check
- Multipurpose bins come in all shapes and sizes and can be combined for a custom fit
- 2-tier sliding organizers make use of vertical space
- Containers designed for specific items like hobbies, photos and media make storage so much easier
- Closet organizers recover much otherwise lost space, and make you want to just open and look at your storage!
Schedule time to maintain your storage spaces.
Since these spaces are out-of-sight, it’s even easier for them to get cluttered and unorganized because you don’t have to look at them all the time. Make it a regular task to go through your storage and purge, refill, etc.
The 'Neat and Tidy' Organizer
Are you tidy yet still disorganized?
Yes, this is completely possible! You don’t mind having some neatly arranged items on your surfaces, and it certainly feels better to have neat stacks than a messy desk. But if there’s no system, then those neatly arranged stacks are still a source of stress, confusion and delay. You’ve already got the tidy part down, so putting some easy systems in place is the next step.
Those piles, the ones that never really go away, need to go away. No longer will you need to remember what’s in which pile and why, because everything will have its place. Add some simple systems to your talent for tidyness and you’ll have a winning combination.
Strategies That Work
Instead of piles, go vertical with file folders.
The key is to start categorizing your paperwork, not simply put it into folders as is. Use interior and/or hanging folders, and begin with broad categories such as Household, Bills Due, Medical, Car, School, etc. Then refine as you see what works. Keep current, active items separate from ones that can be permanently filed.
If you’re prone to making piles, then reduce the amount of physical papers that you keep. Opt to digitize documents, shred more, and use electronic apps/planners/record keeping where possible.
The 'You Never Know' Organizer
Is it hard for you to get rid of things in case you might need them in the future?
Many of us have more possessions than we will ever need. But if you have trouble actually letting things go when they’re no longer used or wanted, it becomes a bit more of a problem. Neatly arranging an overabundance of items may help short-term. But having too many things will sabotage your efforts at getting organized and having a comfortable, usable space.
Decluttering and reducing are your priority and should be done before you put effort into organizing. This will include understanding how you accumulated so much to begin with and planning how you will keep it from happening again.
Strategies That Work
Less in than out.
Priority one is to stop bringing more items into your home than you are removing. Really, keep count and turn the tide toward reducing your clutter.
Scale down collections.
You don’t have to let go of everything at once. To start, think 80/20 where you keep 80% of a collection and find a home for the other 20%.
Handle items only once.
Make that decision while the item is in your hand. Don’t set it down to decide later. This can take some getting used to, but it will become easier and faster as you go.
Find a ‘go-to’ local charity or consignment shop.
A big part of decluttering is deciding how you’ll dispose of the items. Will you sell them, throw them away, donate them? Don’t fret too much over this, but have a couple options that you’re happy with so you can quickly move your things along.
Have a staging area, such as in a garage, where you move things as soon as you decide they’re leaving. Sort them there for their destinations. Don’t let them in place where you found them.