Organize Your Home: 3 Tips to Keep Things Tidy (#1 Is a Little Nuts)

organize your home like this tidy minimalist roomTomorrow is officially Organize Your Home Day.

Why not use the holiday as an incentive to get your living space into a straight stripe?

When things are a mess, figuring out how to get your home organized is like herding cats.

It feels impossible, so you don’t even try. I mean, why bother?

Luckily, you’ll never be in a situation where you have to round up a bunch of felines. 

I Googled it by the way, clowder is actually the collective noun for cats. 

Organizing your home however, is unavoidable. Unless you’re open to enlisting the help of a professional organizer (or happy to live in a tip), it’s up to you to keep your house in order.

When you look around, does it feel like there’s stuff everywhere and no place to put it? Clutter has a way of overwhelming even the most level-headed amongst us.

In reality, there is a place for everything. 

For example, clothes you no longer wear belong at the local Goodwill, not stuffed hapharadly into the guest room closet.

Letters need to be opened and either filed or recycled, rather than left to languish on the kitchen counter or entrance hall table. 

Unless they’re in use, school books belong in school bags, keys and wallets belong in a designated area (preferably near the front door), dirty dishes belong in the dishwasher or next to the sink.

You get the point.

Poor organizing definitely plays a role, but a far bigger problem is having too much stuff. We often don’t realize it because we live with our things day in and day out.

It’s only when you move house that you realise just how much you own. Every time Sporty and I relocate to new digs we’re astonished by how many boxes we have.

The first couple of days in our new home are invariably a stuff explosion. I don’t know about you, but the box by box approach doesn’t work for me.

I need to unpack everything and spread it out all over the place so I can see what I’m working with before I start packing things away.

It drives Sporty crazy, but then I ply her with wine and she ignores the mess.

I might be bad at packing and unpacking, but I’ve got a black belt in home organizing. I have a knack for putting things exactly where they need to be.

And because I’m a little OCD, everything is super neat and tidy. I’ll even arrange things according to height if the opportunity presents itself.

Happy dance.

Before I dive into my home organization tips for organizing your home like a boss, let’s take a look at why it’s important in the first place.

The Unbearable Heaviness of Stuff (Why Clutter Weighs You Down)

woman organizing messy room

Growing up in a messy house, I remember feeling embarrassed when my friends came over. Their homes all seemed so neat and normal, while ours felt like anything but.

In retrospect, it wasn’t as bad as I imagined it to be, but it was messy. As a young adult I went in the opposite direction, scrubbing the kitchen floor with a toothbrush and arranging my cupboards so that everything was evenly spaced and colour-coded.

Now, as a not so young adult, I’ve finally found middleground. Our house is organized, but not obsessively so. I’m even able to let things slide occasionally. 

Not a lot, but I can do it from time to time.

I might not have been able to articulate it growing up, but the mess left me feeling anxious and uneasy. Fast forward to today and I’m able to ask Google what’s up with that. 

Living in clutter impedes your identification with your home, which should be a retreat from the outside world and a place to feel pride. [Psychology Today]

Clutter affects your well-being psychologically and financially, robbing you of valuable time. [Bin There Dump That USA]

The visual distraction of clutter increases cognitive overload and can reduce our working memory. [News GP]

The truth is, you already know clutter is a problem. But sometimes it’s worth being reminded, because maybe today is the day the message will land and you’ll feel motivated to make home organization a priority..

3 Tips to Organize Your Home (and Keep it Organized)

The tips below aren’t necessarily quick fixes. You’re going to have to make the time and put in the effort. It’ll be worth it though, I swear. 

Also, the first tip is admittedly a little out there. Okay, it’s a lot out there. Don’t immediately discount it, though. Try to keep an open mind. 

1. Remove Your Kitchen Cupboard Doors

organised kitchen cupboards

A few years ago, Sporty and I went to visit my cousin in her new house.

“Where are the cupboard doors?” I asked, looking around the kitchen while she made us some tea to go with the vegan treats we’d brought. 

We’re good guests like that.

I thought she was going to launch into a lengthy diatribe about how the useless contractors hadn’t bothered to finish what they started. 

If you’ve ever built a house you’ll know this scenario isn’t that farfetched.

“I didn’t want any,” she replied, “this way I’m forced to keep my kitchen tidy.”

Huh. I didn’t expect that answer but it made a lot of sense. I’ve always found cupboard doors to be an unnecessary nuisance.

Since we always rent rather than own, Sporty and I have no control about whether or not our kitchen has cupboard doors.

Most people are attached to the idea, so all the places we’ve lived have had them. Until now, that is. Our new home is what you’d call stylishly rustic. 

The kitchen counters and storage areas are fashioned from concrete, with plain wooden shelves and no doors. Oh happy days!

I must remember to tell my cousin, I reckon she’ll be as thrilled as I am.

Of course, a lack of doors doesn’t guarantee you’ll keep things tidy. If you’re prone to being a slob you probably won’t care if everyone knows.

Then again, maybe not. Most people don’t like having their flaws on display. Even if I wasn’t a neat freak I’d still keep things orderly in case someone visits unexpectedly.

I get that this tip is a little ‘out there’ and not something most folks will want to try. Maybe you’re concerned that it’ll devalue your home.

Done right, I don’t think it will. But you could always store the doors in the garage and make prospective buyers aware of that should you ever decide to sell up and move abroad.

If you’re really not keen on the idea, you could try and pack your cupboards as if they didn’t have any doors. While not as effective, this method will get you to consider more closely what you’re keeping in them as well as how they’re packed.

2. Be Super Picky About What You Have in Your Home

This tip is a combination of a quote from William Morris, a Woman’s Day article I came across recently and our recent feng shui explorations on Red Lotus Letter.

Your home is your sanctum. It’s the place you retreat to after a day out in the world. It doesn’t matter if it was a great day, an average day or an absolute disaster.

Your home should be somewhere you feel most relaxed and happy. You should enjoy spending time there. It should feel soothing to your soul.

When your home is cluttered and messy that won’t happen. It can’t happen. Everywhere you look you see chores. Piles of things waiting to be sorted, cleaned, packed, mended, donated, etc.

From a feng shui perspective this is not good. It hampers energy flow and prevents new opportunities from entering. I know it sounds woo-woo, but it’s anything but. 

Chinese Geomancy is serious business. In Hong Kong, for example, feng shui masters are still regularly consulted to help make the city’s buildings harmonious and prosperous. 

Consider carefully everything you have in your home currently. Figuring out what to keep and what to toss is key. A set of engraved knives you received as a gift and actually use everyday will be a keeper for sure. The treadmill you bought two years ago and still haven’t used…that has to go.

Along with removing stagnant energy, this will make organizing the things that remain much easier. Plus, it’ll alleviate the guilt that comes with those impulse buys. (Out of sight, out of mind. But in a good way.)

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. —William Morris

3. Think Creatively, Pack Smartly

If something isn’t working, change it. A lived in living room is cozy, but not if it’s always sliding into a pertual state of disorder. Having a home office is great, but not if it doubles as a dumping ground for miscellaneous items.

The linen closet is another one of those areas that often turns into hold all for things that don’t have a designated storage place of their own. As is the laundry room for that matter. 

Go through your home and take note of the areas that are always messy. Those places that, no matter how often you tidy them, always boomerang back to apocalypse status.

Sometimes, your house is a mess because you have too much stuff. Other times, it’s a mess because you need to change your approach.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. —Albert Einstein

Just because you’ve always done [fill in the blank] like that, doesn’t mean you should continue doing it like that. 

If your underwear always looks like the cat attacked it, think what you can do to fix that. (Assuming, of course, that your cat doesn’t have access to your unmentionables.)

Clearly refolding your bras and panties isn’t the answer, so see if you can come up with a better idea. Often, it’s not so much a lack of storage space, but rather storage solutions that’s the problem.

If thinking outside the box flummoxes you (I know it does me), not to worry. The lovely folks at Happy DIY Home put together 21 fun room organization ideas to get the creative juices flowing.

What I love about these types of articles is you’ll come across ideas you might not have thought of yourself. They have ingenius tips for making the most of big and small spaces with DIY projects and storage ideas.

I mean, hanging your jeans on S hooks (9) is pure genius. Adding organizers to your drawers (4) is also a brilliant way to keep things neat and tidy. I’ll definitely be doing that with our kitchen junk drawer where, as the names implies,  things have the tendency to get messy.

Of all the tips they offer, I’d say my absolute favourite is storing bed sheets under the mattress (18). But why stop at sheets, I reckon you could keep your spare pillow cases and duvet covers there as well.

Provided you don’t have too many, ‘cos it could get uncomfortable.

Good Housekeeping’s list of 100 organzing tips for the tidiest home ever is also worth checking out. They won’t all resonate with you (obviously, there are a hundred of them after all), but take a look and see which ones do.

I like the idea of putting dead space to better use, like using the sides of cabinets for storage (18), adding a towel bar to your shed door (35) and hanging yoga mats under a shelf (29).

Sticking things to the inside door of your bathroom cabinet is smart, but I particularly love the idea of using shelf risers (11) to maximise space. As someone with a lot of spices, this really appeals to the neat freak in me.

If we ever end up living in a tiny house we’ll install a space-saving desk (6) for sure. Talk about the best of both worlds. You get to have a nice office area when you’re working and a living space that’s free from work stuff when you’re relaxing.

Some of the ideas highlighted in the articles above are easy to execute, while others require a little DIY-ing to make them happen. You’ll need to decide whether or not they’re worth the effort.

It’s Time to Put on Your Captain Organized Cape and Get Busy

Thinking creatively and packing smartly can go a long way to keeping your home neat and orderly. So can removing cupboard doors (you know you want to) and being more discerning about what you allow into your living space.

But the key ingredient for organizing your home is you. All the ideas in the world won’t help unless you turn off Netflix and get up off the couch.

I’m saying this to myself as much as you. I can procrastinate like nobody’s business when there’s a task I don’t feel like doing.

But here’s what I’ve discovered recently. I only procrastinate (read: lie on the couch stuffing my pie hole with Oreos and spacing out on cooking shows) when I’m not clear on what needs to be done.

Having a big goal like organizing your home is great, but it’s not going to motivate you into action unless you break it down into small, manageable steps.

Tackle it mug by mug, cupboard by cupboard and room by room. Done consistently, your small steps will add up. Before you know it, your house will be a place you can’t wait to come home to.

Bet you’re ready organize your home now, right?

Photo by tu tu on Unsplash and Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels