Most people today are doing their best to watch and manage their money better. That also is true when it comes to organizing our homes. Yes – we could spend money purchasing bins to organize things in, or baskets and organizer solutions, but honestly who has money to do that these days? Here are 7 ways to organize your home on the cheap. By following these tips, you will not only get your home in order, but you can be proud that you accomplished it without having to break the bank.
One of the best ways that you can organize your home inexpensively is by organizing your closets. Remove clothing that you are not going to wear, throw torn and ripped clothing away, and de-junk by getting rid of clutter.
Get Online Advice
There are many free websites out there that offer help in organizing so don’t be afraid to approach them and ask how they would organize your home. Send them photos, and share your thoughts and opinions and mesh that with their suggestions.
Have a Garage Sale
One of the best ways that you can organize your home and do it inexpensively is by having a garage sale and getting rid of your clutter. Not only are you organizing your home, but you are making a profit in the long run!
Give to a Needy Cause
Take advantage of charities that will come to your home and remove any unwanted items you have. Not only are you getting free removal service, but you are giving to a good cause and organizing all at the same time.
Make Your Own Cleaning Supplies
Once you get everything organized and put into place, it will be easier to clean. Instead of purchasing store-bought cleaners, use the items you have at home to make environmentally friendly cleaners.
Make it a Party
Let your friends know you want to organize your home. Invite them over for a cleaning party. Make a nice lunch and not only will your home be organized, but you get to have a fun lunch and great fellowship with friends in the process.
Stay on Top of Organizing
Throw items away and put things back where they belong on a continuous basis to help you maximize surface areas, storage bins and closets for occasions when you genuinely need room to store your materials.
By following these few organizing tips, you will be well on your way to organizing your home again and doing it without spending a dime!
Organizing Basics: We all want more time- if I did a poll of what you would ask for if you could have anything most of us would probably say more hours in a day before we would even ask for money or fame. An organized life is a simplified life and a simplified life means more time for the things that are important. There is no easy fix! Organizing is an ongoing process not an event. People say I am going to “get organized”. That is a great goal to aspire to but I encourage you to reword it a little. Try- I am going to become more organized. First of all, everyone has some aspect of their life that is organized. Your house can be cluttered with mountains of laundry and three years worth of magazines but your spices might be alphabetized or you might need all the towels in your linen closet folded the same way. So, here are some tips for getting started in the process of becoming more organized.
- Just do it: Don’t be afraid and overwhelmed by the organizing process. Taking it one task at a time is the easiest way to dive into an unorganized space. Once you see progress you will be motivated to continue.
- Start small: Picture the one space in your home that you avoid, the place that makes you shake your head and cringe when you pass by. That spot that you really want to change but just don’t know where to start. The space in your home that bothers you the most. Start there. Set the timer for half an hour. Get done what you can, assess what you accomplished and what is left and go back later.
- What works for one might not work for you. Those organization articles in magazines have great ideas but they are very generic. Sometimes we judge ourselves if we fail after trying to implement some of those ideas from HGTV shows and articles. Please remember those shows represent hours and hours of work with seasoned professionals edited down to a half hour time slot. I typically spend 8-12 hours on a home office, 10 hours on a kitchen, etc (which is why I charge by the project and not by the hour). It all depends. One size does not fit all.
- Keep at it. Once you have invested the time and effort to become more organized you have to work at maintaining that progress or you will slip right back into old habits. This is just like losing weight, having a daily quiet time or any other new habit you try to form. Maintenance is key to keeping your life organized. I develop a maintenance plan for my clients. It would be a shame to invest your finances and your time in a project and three weeks later walk into the same mess that was there before. All it takes is being aware of what created the situation in the first place and being committed to changing the pattern. Take fifteen minutes at the end of the day to clear the clutter off the kitchen counter or pick up the mismatched gloves that have accumulated in front of the door. If you put everything in it’s place tonight you will have a better start to your day tomorrow and you will not face an accumulation of clutter.
- Enlist help- if organization is not your strong suit chances are you know someone who has the knack. Swap- babysitting or cook them dinner for a week in exchange for helping you tackle your cluttered family room. Hire a professional organizer- it is not as cost prohibitive as you may think!! Having an organized life means less stress and more time.
If doing laundry has become a dreaded chore in your house, it may be time to get organized. Having the laundry room and supplies more organized may not make wash day more enjoyable, but it will make the work go faster. It may take your family some time to adjust to a new system. But, if everyone in the family helps, you will soon be saving time spent doing laundry, allowing more time for family fun.
Step One: Create Convenient Storage For Supplies
Have all your detergents and fabric softeners readily available near the washer and dryer. A simple shelf installed above or near your washer and dryer should hold all the necessities for wash day. If your laundry room is very small, consider narrow shelves installed to the ceiling, with one sturdy, wider shelf to hold your detergent, installed just above the washer and dryer. Take inventory of your space and be creative. Instead of standard laundry baskets for sorting, you may want to check out canvas bags that mount to the wall or wheel out of the way. Anything that saves space and gives you more room to work is well worth the investment.
Step Two: Control The Clutter
Your laundry room or area will begin to get cluttered very quickly, so include some small bins or baskets to catch all the loose change, found buttons, and miscellaneous things you find in the pockets and at the bottom of the washer. You will want a separate bin to hold items that need special attention, such as mending. If some of your clothes require ironing, use a separate basket just for those items. Your younger children will have clothes that they are quickly outgrowing. Have a box clearly labeled “Donate” and remove those clothing items that are too small immediately after washing and drying them so they don’t end up back in their bedrooms again.
Step Three: Use Multiple Laundry Baskets To Presort
This is where it all comes together, or all falls apart. Making sure your family does their part to presort their own laundry will be the difference between sanity and insanity on wash day. Start by purchasing several laundry baskets or hampers, and show your family what clothing items go in which basket. I’ve purchased a white laundry basket for the light or white clothes, and a dark color laundry basket for the darker colors. Even the youngest child can understand and use that system. Then, when it comes time to do the laundry, all you have to do is grab the basket of presorted laundry and throw the clothes in the washer. Of course, with your trained eye for sorting laundry, you’ll be able to make the final sorting decisions as you load your washer. Go a step farther and show your family where the stain stick is kept, and how to use it, so that they can pre-treat stains in advance of wash day.
Step Four: Hanging And Folding
If you take your clothes directly out of the dryer and hang them up, you’ll save on ironing time. For this task, you’ll need a temporary home for hanging those clothes. There are many rolling racks on the market that are reasonably priced. There are also wall-mounted hanging racks that fold up when not in use. If you have room for a folding area you are lucky indeed. If, however, your space is limited, there are some temporary solutions such as folding surfaces that attach to the wall and fold flat when no longer needed. If you are like the vast majority of us who take our laundry out to the living or dining room to fold, be sure you have a clear surface before you haul your clothes out of the dryer. That will eliminate piling your clothes on the floor while you look for a place to go to fold them. After all, we’re looking at saving time, not postponing the task and spending time completing the task later, which doesn’t really save us any time at all. Lastly, if you fold your laundry in the living room, multi-tasking is a great idea. In other words, folding clothes can usually be done while you are doing another task, such as listening to your child do their vocabulary homework, watching the program you recorded, or while you and your spouse catch up on your day.
Step Five: Special Handling of Delicate Items
One smart mom took digital pictures of all the “dry clean only” clothing items, printed off a color copy, and taped the pictures to her laundry room wall. Now when she starts filling her washer, and she sees a blouse that looks familiar, she glances up at the pictures above her washer and is reminded that this item doesn’t belong in the washer and ended up in a basket by mistake. Delicate clothing items need a bin clearly marked specifically for them.
Whether you save up all your laundry and do it in one day, or wash your clothes each time you have a full load, if you are organized with baskets, bins, and hangers at the ready, your task will be accomplished with the least amount of time spent. Less time spent on the laundry is good for the whole family!
Come back and visit us often to check out even more Home Organization ideas.
photo credit: Travis Hornung
Keeping your car organized can be a challenge. We all know the scene- open the mini-van door and hold your breath to see if anything falls out. Animal cracker crumbs on the floor, toys strewn about, DVD’s not in their cases and random shoes under the seat. Then as your kids get older you will find dirty sport uniforms and socks, candy bar wrappers, and DVD’s not put back in their cases. So, what to do to keep the family car from looking like the family dump?
Well, for starters there are all sorts of innovative organizing products for cars out there now. Some of my favorites can be found at Lillian Vernon but you can also pick them up at local department stores.
I love my cell phone holder that clips onto the vent of my car. It holds not just my cell phone (for hand’s free talking) but has a place for lipstick and gum (or whatever you would choose to keep there) as well.
If you work from your car (I call it my mobile office) then invest in a sturdy plastic file box with a handle that can serve as a portable office. You can use Velcro adhesive patches to keep it secured to the floor, to avoid files going everywhere if you need to slam on your brakes or take a sharp turn.
Use an over the seat organizer to house DVD’s, books and small toys. If your kids won’t keep the DVD’s from getting scratched then put a CD holder on the passenger side visor to hold the Disney movies.
Keep a trash bag (I use a small re-usable one that I bought at Wal-mart) in the front seat and the back seat. My kids aren’t allowed to start playing with the happy meal toy, etc. until the trash has been put in the bag. If your children are old enough, emptying the car trash can be a chore just like cleaning their room and putting away their clean laundry. If not, then make it a habit to bring the trash bag in the house with you to be emptied.
Have a box in the trunk for things that need to be taken in the house. That way if your son is changing into his basketball uniform in the van on the way to a game (yes this happens, at least in my family) then he can toss his other clothes in that box instead of wherever they may land. Assign a day or two a week to bring that box in and empty it. I also have a box in the trunk that houses the articles I would like to get around to reading, the shirt that needs the button sewn back on or the thank you note that I keep meaning to send. Those are perfect waiting room or stuck at soccer practice activities for us busy moms. By keeping them in the trunk, it is one less thing you have to remember to grab before you run out the door and when life gives you a few moments to spare- you can make the most of the time!
Invest in a sturdy tote bag that “car” toys can be kept in, especially for little children still in car seats. The bag can be set on the seat beside them for easy access and every few weeks you can change out the toys in the bag so they don’t become bored with the selection.
As your kids get older, don’t let them out of the car until their area is free of clutter, trash and crumbs. Hey- we moms control the locks.
Measure The Real Estate
Decide on Specific Space Savers
Re-Think and Re-Store Your Valuables
Having a plan of attack when you set out on a home organization mission is critical to your mission’s success. Organizing your closets, although said to be the number one ambition for people who desire an organized home, seems to be the most difficult of all the organizing tasks. We just don’t want to get started because a) the task is overwhelming b) we don’t want to throw anything away or c) we don’t know how to store all our stuff. Struggling with these excuses is like climbing to the top of a pyramid; it’s exhausting. But, the climb down will be easy by comparison! Just follow the steps down the pyramid and you’ll be well on your way to your dream of a house full of organized closets.
Make the decision to organize one closet. I suggest you start with your least stressful closet; the closet in which you put the least amount of emotional attachment. Might I suggest your linen closet? Usually towels, sheets, and bathroom items can be culled successfully without tears. Now, mark your calendar! It won’t do any good to say “tomorrow I’ll clean the linen closet” because, as we all know, tomorrow never comes. Once the calendar is marked, pick a time to begin. Now, you have an appointment with your closet.
You have arrived at your closet on the appointed day and time. Begin by carefully emptying out the contents of your closet into three piles or boxes labeled “Trash”, “Donate”, or “Keep”. I find that if I get all the trash out of the way first, it’s easier to figure out what you want to keep. Sort your items quickly, touch it and decide. You will be able to rethink your decisions before you finish your project.
Measure The Real Estate
Now that your closet’s square footage is visible, take a good measurement of the real estate you have in there. You’ll be building some kind of storage in that empty space, either by totally revamping the entire closet with built-in closet organizers, or adding stackable storage bins on the existing shelves. Either way, you’ll need to know the exact measurements of the space so you can shop for storage solutions without getting frustrated.
Decide on Specific Space Savers
It’s time to go shopping! This is the fun, but usually frustrating, part of the process. There are some great, may I say beautiful, storage solutions out there. Some of which are very expensive. Determining your budget is crucial. Figure out how much money you actually have to spend on this closet. What is the return value? In other words, is it worth a sizable investment or is this a closet that will not warrant a large expense. If plastic storage bins are your solution, do you need see-through containers? Are those plastic drawers something you could use? The closets themselves will probably determine which way to go with your budget and choices. Spending a lot of money on those pretty wooden modular storage pieces in a mud room closet is probably not wise. However, if it’s your master bedroom’s walk-in closet… now there is room for discussion. But, once again, there are plenty of storage pieces to choose from that fit every budget. Shop around, and ask the store’s return policy before you buy.
Re-Think and Re-Store Your Valuables
You have your piles of “Trash”, “Donate”, and “Keep” in front of you. The closet is all set-up with it’s shelves, drawers, and bins. You’ve even installed a light! You are ready. Here comes the hardest part you’ll go through since you first climbed the pyramid. Taking stock of what you really need. Your pile of “Keep” no doubt far exceeds the other two piles. Let’s begin with the “Keep” pile then, shall we? Lay out your items by categories of purpose and how frequently the items are used. If you have a whole lot of infrequently used items, do you still need them? You’ll see your “Keep” pile start to shrink rapidly now. Moving your rarely used items from “Keep” to “Donate” is going to be what makes this mission successful. Once you have moved your items around for the third or fourth time, stop, you’re thinking too hard now. It’s time to store your valuable items in their new home. Storing your items now should be a breeze. You know what you have, you may even have determined that this particular closet should be used for a different purpose, and you have the items you actually use neatly organized in their drawers or on their shelf.
Some people like to tear into their closets all at once. I prefer to take my closets on one-by-one. No matter how you like to organize, if you look at your task in terms of a pyramid, you’ll see that the hardest part is getting to the top to Commit. Once you have gotten there, and with each descending step carefully laid out in front of you, you can’t help but arrive safely back on terra firma.
Enjoy your newly organized closets and, the next time you commit to organize, check back here for even more Home Organization Ideas.
Your desk can be your best friend, or it can be your worst enemy. When you originally picked out and set up your desk, you made sure that it was perfect. It had plenty of drawer space, surface area, and was suited for your personal enterprise. Now you have piles of miscellaneous papers, binders, books, and junk stacked all willy-nilly on top of your desk, and spilling over onto the floor around you. What happened to the desk you loved? Has it let you down, or have you let it down? Let’s give your desk a fresh start and give it the attention it deserves.
Step One: Sort Everything Into Labeled Boxes
You should only need four boxes. Label them “Misc. Stuff”, “Do”, “Keep Handy” and “File”. Now, grab a cup of coffee, and sit down with every loose item on your desk and in your drawers, and sort your stuff into the four boxes. Don’t think too hard about any one item. Touch it once and put it in a box quickly. You have time later as you’re putting things away to rethink anything you have.
Step Two: “Miscellaneous Stuff” Needs A Home
This is the box of odds and ends that end up on your desk instead of put neatly away. These are the paper clips, cd’s, pens, pencils, telephone books, scratch paper, sticky notes, Sharpies, erasers, keys, coasters, etc. that either don’t have a place to go or haven’t seemed to find their way home. You’ll find that, once you start culling out all the miscellaneous stuff and putting it where it belongs, your pile will be manageable. You’ll want to purchase some simple dividers for the desk drawers to help corral those “hardware” items and keep them from getting tangled up with your important papers. Some inexpensive baskets, and small bins and boxes, will help contain those little office necessities while keeping them handy, but not cluttering up your desktop. Using matching desktop accessories, like your stapler, tape dispenser, and pencil cup make a difference in how you view the top of your desk. If it looks organized, it feels more organized, and you actually keep it less cluttered.
Step Three: “Do” Keep Those Important Papers Neat And Visible
Your “Do” box contains valuable documents, projects, time-tables, and all sorts of dated items that need attention. Putting your “Do” items away just won’t do! Having a multi-compartment desktop organizer will do wonders for keeping track of those important “Do” items. I like the kind of multi-compartment organizer that has vertical slots because papers don’t tend to get buried as easily. If you don’t have room for a desktop organizer, some strategically placed see-through hanging wall files or pockets can keep files and papers neatly organized, but still very visible and accessible. Even hanging wall pockets directly on the side of the desk is an option worth considering. A small bulletin board or magnetic board close to your desk will provide a safe home for the little scribbled notes that you rely on every day.
Step Four: “Keep Handy” Those Frequently Needed Items
In your box labeled “Keep Handy” you should find all your reference material that you need handy, like documents you need to refer to on occasion, how-to manuals, lists of phone numbers or addresses, your checkbook and register, deposit blanks, catalogs, and anything your particular enterprise or family needs to refer to routinely. These items are generally important enough that you don’t want to be looking for them when you need the information, but they are not items that need daily reminders and certainly do not belong on top of your desk. This is what your desk drawers were created for. Most desks have built-in rails for hanging file folders. If your desk does not, do yourself a favor and visit an office supply store. There are many hanging folder frames that will fit inside your desk drawer for hanging your files. Be creative when you’re shopping, and check the stores return policy. If the frame doesn’t fit like you imagined, be sure you can take it back. You may even find a desktop organizer that fits your drawer and will work great for you. If your desk does not have adequate drawer space, or your enterprise requires a number of manuals, books, and binders, it would be wise to purchase at least one two drawer file cabinet and a small bookcase. Even if you move into a larger filing system, you can’t lose with these two items. Right from the start, you’ll feel more relaxed and be more productive when paperwork is neatly organized and off the top of your desk. Manuals, binders, magazines, and books should also find a home on a bookshelf, and not on top of your desk. You’ll also be able to place additional storage like attractive boxes and baskets on top of your bookshelf and filing cabinet for storing odds and ends that would otherwise clutter up your desk. I like to shop those big clearance stores and thrift shops, and often find decorative boxes and baskets at reasonable prices.
Step Five: “File” Those Papers Instead Of Shuffling Them Around Your Desk Top
How many pieces of papers do you shuffle around your desk in a day’s time? If a piece of paper is not time-sensitive, if it no longer requires your attention, file it. If you’re not ready to invest in file cabinets, the contents of your “File” box should be neatly stored in sturdy boxes, carefully labeled with its general contents, dated, and set aside neatly in a closet or corner. Consider purchasing sturdy legal-size storage boxes especially designed for office use. They are built to last, stack well, are much less expensive than file cabinets and, if you don’t need access to these papers regularly, are perfectly suitable for long-term storage. However, if you are ready to invest in a permanent filing system, and like the idea of having your files accessible in drawers instead of boxes, do some preparation work before you shop. It’s crucial to take an accurate inventory of your needs before shopping for filing cabinets and storage. Assess your needs, take careful measurements of your space, and shop around. Filing cabinets come in a wide range of sizes and features. The price of a good quality filing cabinet will set you back on your heels a bit if you haven’t shopped for office equipment before. This can be an expensive investment, so you’ll want to make wise choices that will leave you without regrets. And now that you have filed away those papers, your desk is starting to look like it did when you fell in love with it. Time to get out the furniture polish or glass cleaner. You can see the top of your desk again.
Step Six: Scoop Up That Mess Of Cords
You can see your desk again, and it’s beautiful! But you now notice that the cables and cords under your desk are a tangled mess. If you have pets or small children at home that frequent your office space, this is also dangerous. If you’re afraid to get too involved moving the cords around, the simplest solution is to gently gather them together, kind of like scooping up a pile of freshly raked leaves, and place them in a cardboard box that has the four-flaps type cover. Then carefully close the four flaps that form the box cover, allowing the cords and cables that hang from your computer, down the back of your desk, to stick out through the loosely folded flaps. There are other ways to straighten the mess of cables out, but this is the easiest, and fastest. If you’re confident in computer hardware, go ahead and organize your cables. One inexpensive method is to cut lengthwise along empty paper towel tubes or gift wrapping tubes and gently push the cords into the tubes. There are also cord coverings you can purchase at office supply stores.
Your desk is a reflection of you. It’s widely believed that people think more clearly, get more accomplished, and are under less work-related stress when their desk is neat, orderly, efficient, and the implements they require are within easy reach. You want a clutter-free desktop, but filing everything away in drawers may not be feasible, or advisable, when you’re trying to do research, read, or be creative. You need “functioning workspace”, which means you need to have your paperwork and tools of your trade convenient, accessible, and at your fingertips. Having an organized desk, while having your critical documents and tools within easy reach may seem like a difficult task. But with a bit of planning and a lot of research, it’s not impossible. Whether your desk is your household command center or your desk is the hub of your home-based business, you need to develop a system you can live with to keep your desk clutter-free. It’s not easy to maintain your desk in perfect condition every day, but when you begin by cleaning away the clutter, your natural talents will take over. You even have a spot on top of your desk for that picture you love of your family enjoying the beach. Now, wasn’t organizing your desk worth the effort?
And now that your desk is organized, it’s time to move on to the next project… check back here for more Home Organization Ideas.
photo credit: WilsonB
When you decide that your mission this year is to get your home organized, you’ll find the kitchen has a distinct challenge as compared to the rest of the house. Unlike other rooms that may only need straightening up once a week or so, the kitchen requires constant cleaning and organizing throughout the day simply to maintain its function. But, you can save time, and your sanity, with some basic organizational strategies and ideas for clutter reduction.
Step One: Inventory
Take inventory of the kitchen. Pull out all of your pots and pans, utensils, storage containers, food wraps, plates, cups, cleaning supplies, and take note of what you have. Now is the time to get rid of anything you don’t need. If you haven’t used it in a year or more, donate it to someone who will. Don’t forget your “holiday only” items and special serving pieces. Everything is going to need a spot, so be ruthless with your decisions regarding what to keep, especially if your space is limited.
Step Two: Function
Store your kitchen items based on each item’s function. This may seem elementary, but you are not going to save yourself any steps by storing plastic food containers in the back of the pantry with the muffin pans when you need them almost daily during clean up after a meal. For instance, keep the baking sheets in one cupboard near the oven, the cutting boards and knives near your vegetable chopping area, etc. Keep often needed preparation equipment near your general work area, not stuck in a cupboard or way up on a shelf on the other side of the kitchen.
Step Three: Consider Specialized Storage
Take into consideration storage units designed to use with specific items. A great space saver is a pot rack that can be hung from the ceiling. You must make sure you can identify the location of the ceiling studs and you must use the right kind of anchor bolts that will support the weight of the rack and pans. If you are not a competent do-it-yourselfer, or lack the proper tools, get the help of a certified carpenter before you attempt to hang a pot rack. Also check out the vast array of portable workspaces like rolling carts. They quite often have storage space built in and can be put in a corner, closet or pantry when not in use. Items as simple as spinning racks for spices, larger spinning trays for inside bottom cabinets, stacking shelves, wire pull-out baskets, and countless ready-made units, will amaze you with the “found space” you’ll be able to use at a relatively inexpensive price tag. If you don’t have a window above your sink, measure the space and go shopping! You’ll be amazed at what sort of inexpensive dish storage pieces you can find.
Step Four: Creative Storage
You might have an old bookshelf in your hallway or back porch that could be put to use storing extra canned goods, paper products and seldom used kitchen gadgets that are taking up room in your kitchen cupboards. Perhaps you could store your towels in your bathroom and your sheets in your bedrooms which would free up a linen closet for kitchen gadget storage. If you aren’t using your dishwasher, you might want to remove the racks and get creative with an alternate use for that space. (I use my dishwasher to hold my recycling until it’s pick up day.) Don’t forget to look up, as well. There may be some forgotten space between the ceiling and the cabinets that, with a few shelves, could be used for storage or display. You know all those baskets you’ve been collecting over the years? Hang one above the sink to store your dish towels. Use an assortment of small baskets to store your tableware and napkins. Any way you can free up some cabinets and drawers by using otherwise unused space will help relieve the congestion and frustration you are now experiencing in your currently crammed kitchen.
Step Five: Food Storage
Your refrigerator, freezer, and food pantry is a different sort of challenge. Because you are restocking food items at a much faster pace than you are buying utensils, you will need to take stock of what you have on a routine basis and develop a master shopping list. This will help prevent wasteful spending by not duplicating food items, and by not having to throw out food that you’ve forgotten you have in the freezer.
The steps listed here should get you on the right track to smoothing out the kitchen traffic and congestion you experience every time you try to simply cook a meal. Of course, with any first attempts at organizing a room in your house, you’ll need to “tweak” it a bit along the way. If something just isn’t working the way you expected, give it a second go around. You won’t know until you’ve lived in your “new” kitchen what works and what just keeps making you shake your head. This is the one room in the house that you are going to have to put in some real time until you get it just right. Have fun and don’t give up if you get frustrated or overwhelmed. Take a break… then get back in there!
Check back for even more kitchen organization ideas in coming weeks. I hope this gets you started!