Tomorrow is Organize Your Home Day. What better incentive to get your living space in a straight strip once and for all!
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 more than likely 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. There’s stuff everywhere and no place to put it. At least, that’s how it feels.
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, 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.
Before I dive into my 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)
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]
Research has shown that physical clutter affects our brain’s ability to concentrate and process information. [HealthHub]
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 organize your home once and for all.
Using a ruler is optional, of course.
3 Tips to Organize Your Home (and Keep it Organized)
The tips below aren’t some magic five minute fix. 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. Try to keep an open mind.
1. Remove Your Kitchen Cupboard Doors
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.
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
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. Along with removing stagnant energy, this will make organizing the things that remain much easier.
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. 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. If thinking outside the box flummoxes you (I know it does me), not to worry.
The lovely people at Good Housekeeping put together a whopping 100 organzing tips for the tidiest home ever. 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.
Some 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.
Shelf risers are definitely a smart use of space, however I think sticking things to the inside door of your bathroom cabinet is pure genius.
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 e.g. organize 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.