Maintaining a warehouse filled with staging items can be overwhelming some days. But then other days, it becomes my “happy place” where I get lost in cleaning, straightening, and organizing the inventory for the next week’s jobs. Over the years, we have developed some great ways to keep the space clean and in working order.

Some of these ideas have overflowed into our home, which has been extremely helpful when I had busy kids at home and was running a business. These are also ideas I share with clients, as I help them get ready to prepare their homes for sale. In later discussions with them, I invariably get a big “thanks” on my advice, and they tell me that a little organization goes a long way when getting ready to move. Wherever you are in your stage in home life, I hope you find these, believe me, tried and true organizational tips helpful.  And feel free to share them widely!

1.      Follow the one-in and one-out rule.

Let’s face it, we all probably have enough to survive and even live comfortably. So when you decide that you really need a neat, cool new thing, then pack up an old, kind of cool thing and donate or sell it. When our kids were young, we always made them clean out their toys before a birthday or holiday to make room for any new things coming into the house. It was a nice way to keep “stuff” under control.

2.      Need vs. Want

With online shopping and email coupons filling our inboxes daily, it is so easy to get caught up in buying way more than we need. When you are tempted by that “too good to be true” offer in your email, stop and ask yourself if this is something you really need and will use on a daily basis. Or is it just something that you really want? I always tell my family to sleep on it. If you still need it in the morning, then it is probably worthwhile. But 9 times out of 10, the item is not essential and not purchased.

3.      When is the last time you used ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­___________________

If you haven’t used something in a year, you probably don’t need it. Reframe the idea of “what if I need it someday?” to think about the idea that someone might be able to use it now.

4.      Bins and Baskets

I love bins and baskets because it helps you to consolidate a whole bunch of small things into one space. As an example, think about toiletries underneath a sink. When you need that nail polish remover once a month, you have to wade through a bunch of bottles underneath the bathroom sink to find it. But if you put all your nail products in one cute basket, you just pull out that one cute basket when it is time for a fresh coat of polish.

5.      Color-coordinated

If you have a number of the same/similar things but in different colors, I tell clients to organize by color. Then everything has a home and you know where to find it. (Plus it looks really nice!)

6.      Just 20 minutes

Sometimes cleaning out and organizing can feel like a daunting task. So I tell clients, just give me 20 minutes and one closet and make it fun. Turn on some music, make yourself a cup of tea, and plow right through one space. You will find it so satisfying that you will look forward to that next 20 minute period of time each day to tackle a closet or cabinet.

7.      Like things together

The easiest way to find something is to have “like things together.” All vases go in the same cabinet in one place in the house. So, when a friend brings flowers, rather than having to search for a vase in various rooms in the house, you know exactly where to find the right size.

8.      Clear Storage

I love using clear storage bins because you can see what is inside. This is great for the basement storage shelves that hold those once-a-year items, like holiday decorations or winter boots and clothing. You can quickly assess what you have, what you might need, and what you no longer use/need.

9.      Mementos

Some people love to save every special thing, from their childhood toys to their 6th-grade soccer trophy. Others, like myself, don’t want to save a thing. A photo will suffice. But I want my kids to have the choice to save or purge their special things from childhood. They each have a large clear storage bin, that contains their school photos, special projects, award certificates, and so on. When they have their own home, it will then be their choice to save or throw.

10.  Your own special drawer

Let’s face it, we all have a pile of stuff that we don’t quite know what to do with but we don’t want to throw it. My husband is the king of “piles.” My solution for this is to give him his own drawer – his pile of stuff goes into the drawer. A good looking basket would work as well. Then whenever he can’t find something, I direct him to his “drawer.”  Every few months, I get him to clean out his drawer and we find that most of the pile can be thrown away!