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Most advice on organizing your spaces starts with purging, am I right?
And I 100% agree with this advice! Really…you’ve gotta get rid of junk to really organize your space and and lighten your load.
Of course, the next thing you do is neatly put all your remaining stuff away. In the case of say, your pantry, all the cereal boxes may go together, the condiments together, the snacks together, etc. Perfect! It’s just so beautiful (*wipes away happy tear*).
Then you go grocery shopping. And suddenly that beautifully pantry (or other) organization system just doesn’t seem to cut it anymore.
Well, that stinks.
But it makes sense. We are normally working with a minimum amount of stuff when we go through purging and getting organized. Obviously we don’t want to build clutter again, but it’s just natural that the items we have change over time. So planning for possible issues or changes needs to part of our organizing routine in order to stay organized for good. Here are 5 challenges to your organization system and tips for staying organized :
1-) You have no room to grow
Let’s say you clean out your linen closet and you have just enough space to fit everything neatly. It’s beautiful! It’s magnificent! Your closet could be featured in a fancy hotel!
Then you get a high-end Italian sheet set from your wealthy friend for Christmas, and you have no idea where to put it without stuffing it in the linen closet and effectively destroying your beautiful system. Of course, you wouldn’t just donate some Frette sheets away (although….if you DO decide to give away a fancy set of sheets, your AMAZING friend at The Modern Nest would gladly take them off your hands 😉 )!
Tip for staying organized:
Do multiple rounds of purging! Most of us (myself included), don’t manage to get rid of everything that we could in one round of purging. I’ll often think that I got rid of everything I could and then after a month or so realize that I’m not using as many towels, blankets, etc that I thought I would need. Once you get that feeling (this may happen after an hour or after a month), do another round of purging! Keep doing this until the space you leased to your linens (or other items) has room to breathe. If you come to a point where you absolutely can not get rid of more and there’s still no room for growth then you’ll have to reconsider what you use that space for and find a bigger space for your linens.
2-) Frequently used items are difficult to access
Y’all, I’m that person who put an entire shelf worth of wine glasses on the shelf I could reach just in case and put our big stock pot that I use regularly on a shelf I couldn’t reach.
That was not my smartest decision ever. We rotate about 4-8 wine glasses total on a regular basis. The rest? They are sitting in our cabinet collecting dust. My stock pot, on the other hand, I use regularly… and I have to whip out the step stool to get it every. single. time.
So, I recommend making your lives easier and not making that same mistake.
Tip for staying organized:Organizing tip: Place infrequently used items in harder to reach areas when deciding where items should go...Click To Tweet
Consider how often and how many you use of something. Although counterintuitive, it sometimes makes sense to split up your wine glasses, plates, cookware, or even clothes if you use some of them all the time and some of them infrequently. Put the items you use infrequently in areas that are more difficult to reach and you’ll make your day-to-day life much easier.
3-) Your storage system is ugly/doesn’t go with the rest of the space
Let’s be honest… cheap plastic bins (especially the clear ones), wire racks, hang-over-the-side-of-the-bed canvas remote control holders, etc look kinda terrible in pretty much any space. What happens is-even though your space is organized-it’s not inviting and you feel the need to do more.
Tip for staying organized:
Raise an eyebrow to anything that is marketed as a “storage solution”…some things you want to buy may be useful but will hurt your space aesthetically. In these cases, consider how you could make it look better in your space or if you could make a prettier DIY alternative.
While I love a good trip to places like Bed Bath and Beyond, they are among the worst stores for these products. Go there with inspiration in mind, but plan to get creative if you’re looking at storage solutions for living spaces (i.e. where you care about aesthetics). Obviously, if you’re looking for non-living space storage solutions (i.e. for the attic, garage, or unfinished basement), then you only have to worry about maximizing space efficiency.
4-) You forgot where you put something
Hehe. I think we’ve all done this. We pat ourselves on the back now that we’ve organized and cleaned and our home looks bangin’! We rejoice and treat ourselves to a nice glass of wine and some cheese!
Then the next day we forget where we put the backup shampoo. Poop.
Personally, I just think this is a growing pain that comes along with rearranging and organizing. However, it doesn’t make it any less annoying.
Tips for staying organized:
While it’s impossible to promise that you won’t forget where you put something, you can minimize the frustration two ways. First, ask yourself where you would look for every item that you’re reorganizing before you put it away. You probably won’t look for your shampoo in the kitchen, so don’t put your shampoo in the kitchen! Now, this is an extreme example, but I have definitely found things in unusual places and wondered “what was I thinking when I put that there?” Had I asked myself if I would look for it there beforehand then I probably would have chosen a different place for it to start.
Second, write down where you put everything that you move as you move it. Keep a list, and refer to it whenever you need (Just don’t lose the list!). It’s a small time investment for a huge time return in the long run!
5-) You still have visual clutter
A mom on one of my favorite Facebook mom’s boards posted a picture of her kids’ playroom. She complained that she had already purged as much as she could but that the room still felt cluttered.
I looked at the picture and then the comments. Many of the moms gave great tips that would allow for growth in the room (see point number 1 above), but none addressed the fact that the room wasn’t actually cluttered. Every toy had a space in the room’s cubby system; there was plenty of space for kids to run around and have fun; you could even walk a straight line from one part of the room to another without stepping on a lego (those buggers hurt!). Yet it still looked cluttered.
I like to call that “visual clutter.”
What was wrong then? Well, a-) she didn’t have bins in all the cubbies (so every single toy in every single color was visible, and it looked busy), the giant toddler artwork was scattered all over the walls (it would have been better arranged as a gallery wall so that the artwork looked purposely arranged), and the kids’ furniture was lined all along the edges of the room (instead of balancing the room by arranging the furniture throughout).
In other words, her problem wasn’t that she needed to declutter more! She needed to make everything purposely arranged so that the room became more balanced and less stimulating.
Many of us have these problems. Think about those pesky wires, disorganized shoes in your entry way, or the sizable pile of unwashed dishes in the sink. None of these are actual clutter, but they make our homes look more disorganized and less peaceful.
Tip for staying organized:
Your first order of business: identify the sources of visual clutter in every room. Stand at the back each room in your home and note everything that is an eye sore. Then come up with a solution.
Some solutions are easier to come up with than others. Consider snaking wires behind the walls so they’re not visible. Put a shoe bin at the entry way so shoes stay contained. And… well…wash the dishes.
6-) BONUS! You have life changes
Alright… no one can predict what will happen in the future, so planning for life changes is often just a thought exercise. But it’s really important! Might your parents move in with you when they get older? What if you start that dream work-from-home job… will you need an office space? What if you have another baby? Or adopt a puppy? Where will all the stuff go?
Tip for staying organized:
While you shouldn’t get ahead of yourself, it’s important to think about these types of life changes and discuss them with your partner. This is not important just for organizing… having a rough plan when something comes up can make stressful situations much more manageable. In addition, the thought exercises for re-organizing in these situations is good practice!
After all, practice makes perfect!
If you’re looking for more than just tips for staying organized, why not check out my fun and easy DIY farmhouse measuring spoon or mug holder?