Things Organized Neatly

What a brilliant idea. As an avid organizer, I never imagined that simply looking at neatly organized items could actually relax me. Things Organized Neatly features photos of objects placed in evenly spaced and pleasingly aligned arrangements. It demonstrates that grouping similar objects together is an easy and quick way to organize. It also proves you shouldn’t assume, even though a space appears cluttered, that it is also unorganized (and vice versa).

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Record Storage

With the purchase of a record player, I now had to find a storage solution for the records. I searched online for a few days, trying to find the right compromise between form and function. Because I wanted to keep the records close to the player in the living room, I thought a furniture-style option would be best. My first choice would have been the IKEA Expedit Bookcase, but it doesn’t come in a two-cubby option. I finally settled on Galvanized Storage Cubes from the Container Store.

The cubes connect together to make various storage combinations and can be fitted with shelves, doors, and castors. I picked up two cubes and two perforated steel doors. Thankfully, they are on sale right now for the annual shelving sale event. Putting the cubes together was actually pretty painful. The pieces are difficult to fit together and have sharp edges. The doors were by far the most annoying and require a decent amount of strength and dexterity. Now that they’re put together, though, I think it was a good choice. The records fit in there perfectly, although I may add some tension rods for some extra support. I also added two of the cube connectors to the top so I could easily display the record in use.

Feel more organized with little effort

Even avid organizers have nights when they just want to fling their shoes off, drop the mail, and leave them where they land. I even have a closet in my home where I kind of just, stash things. I’m always looking for organizational solutions that are easy not only to implement, but also to maintain. Here are a few common home problems and some solutions that require minimal time and effort.

I have clothing clutter around the house.
Having a beautifully set up laundry sorting station in the laundry room seems like a great idea. However, how often are you in the laundry room each day? Put your laundry hamper in the place you are most likely to undress. If you undress in the bedroom, put a hamper in your closet or near your bedside. If you get more comfortable the second you get into the house, put a hamper in the coat closet or disguise one in the living room. The more convenient the location of the hamper, the more likely the clothes will actually make it there.

Modern weave storage hamper – $99.00 from West Elm
Crazy linen hamper – $89.95 from CB2

I have piles of dirty laundry to wash and clean laundry to fold/put away.
This is a harder one to believe and even harder to implement. But you must trust me on this one. Whenever you find yourself with 10 extra minutes of time, start a load of laundry. I’ve found that doing smaller loads of laundry more frequently has eliminated any laundry related stress. Not only are my hampers never overflowing, my clothes are always clean and ready. The smaller the load, the less time it takes to fold, hang, and iron. This chore becomes a quick, easy-to-complete task every few days instead of a daunting one for the weekend. Plus, modern washers have a setting for small loads, so don’t worry about the wasting water.

My closet looks like a mess.
The easiest way to make a closet look more organized is to replace all mismatched hangers with matching ones. Wood hangers will add a lot or try white plastic hangers from Target. They work just as well and provide the same effect. If you are feeling extra motivated, organize your clothing by occasion and color so clothes are easy to find.

images from containerstore.com

I have piles of mail all over my counter, table, desk, etc…
If you don’t want to file your mail each day, purchase a paper organizer. Place it near the trash can or shredder and promise to go through the mail before you do anything else. Immediately throw away or shred unwanted mail and place your keeper mail in two categories: mail you need to attend to (bills, invitations, etc.) and mail that needs to be filed. Then, once you have more time, file away your mail in your filing cabinet (which is nicely labeled and organized, I hope).

Semikolon paper tray – $26.00 from See Jane Work
Lacquer office set – $79.99 from West Elm

My cabinets are full of random stuff, but stuff I need to keep.
Purchase some inexpensive baskets or bins from Target or IKEA to wrangle in all that loose stuff. The simple act of taking things and putting them into a container will make the cabinet feel more organized. Keep things separated by function: cleaning supplies in one basket and pet stuff in another.

Tote with eyelet handles – $9.99 from Target
Branas basket – $7.99 from IKEA

My bedroom always feels messy.
Make your bed each morning. It seems annoying and silly since you are just going to mess it up again, but making your bed will make you feel more organized and more relaxed. It should only take 2-3 minutes to make your bed. If it takes longer, you may have too much bedding. Think about removing some of those decorative pillows or replacing your 3 blankets with a down comforter. If you let your pets sleep with you, run a lint roller over your pillow and sheets to keep linens fresh between washes. Coming home from a long day to a clean, made bed will be worth it.

image from westelm.com

Organization 101

I’m a huge organization junkie and definitely believe that the more organized your things, the less they will intrude on you living your life. I know most people don’t enjoy organizing or don’t think they have enough time. If you took 5 minutes each day to organize a small part of your home/car/office, I guarantee your routine will become more efficient and even more enjoyable.

First, don’t start too big. If you are new to organizing or are short on time, compartmentalize your home and tackle it in small chunks. A good place to start is your medicine cabinet. This important and often cluttered storage cabinet is used twice a day, at least. Here are a few steps to organizing your medicine cabinet.

image from slog.thestranger.com

Take everything out. It is good to have all your products out in front of you and to see the available space inside the cabinet.

Examine all medications. Check expiration dates and dispose of any that are past these dates. (It is also recommended to keep medications in the kitchen, where humidity is low)

Throw away any products you have not used in the past year. An important thing to remember when organizing is to not keep items in your home with the fear that you may need it later. If you are apprehensive about throwing things away, refer to tip #9.

Take any products you still need on hand but do not use daily (band-aids, nail polish remover, etc) and place them in another container beneath the sink.

For under sink storage, I would recommend these from Bed Bath and Beyond: Smooth-Glide Under-The-Sink Drawer

If these products must exist in the medicine cabinet, designate a shelf for them and don’t let them mingle with your daily-use products.

Take any items that require a specific shelf because of size and put them there. Position them so the ones used most frequently are easiest to reach.

Take all remaining items and arrange by use. I assume most people use their products in the same or similar order each day. Arrange your items in the order you use them to speed up your morning/evening routine.

Buy some clear containers for Q-tips, cotton balls, etc. As supply gets low, refill so they are always on hand. Having small items contained and easily visible both keeps the area free of clutter and helps you find these items quickly.

Try something like this: Palace Chrome Bath Ensemble By Springs

Most importantly, put each item back where it belongs after you use it. This small act will keep everything in its place and eliminate the “where is my deodorant?” dance each morning. It may seem like a hassle, but a few seconds each day will eliminate the clutter that slows you down and stresses you out.

EXTRA TIP: If you keep things around in the fear that you may need it one day, first recognize that this is a hoarding state of mind. There is no reason to keep things in your home that you do not use or do not have sentimental value.

An easy way to deal with these kinds of feelings is to set a specific purging goal. Take any items you have not used in the last year. Place a sticky post-it note on the product and put it back in the medicine cabinet. If you do end up using that product, remove the post-it note. After another year passes, throw away any items that still have post-it notes attached. If you haven’t used something in two years, I doubt you will miss it once it’s gone.

This whole process takes 5 minutes at most. I promise tomorrow morning when you get ready for work, you will be very pleased to see all of your necessities neatly organized and ready to use.

Weekend Warrior

I love to organize. I think I like the actual process of organizing better than having my things organized. We’ve been putting together our home office and I finally took on the task of downsizing and re-organizing my CD collection. I still haven’t taken the leap to “digital only”, as I have a pretty intense fear of getting rid of things. I needed a system where I could keep all the original booklets and artwork and where the CDs are easily accessible. I’ve tried the giant binder of CDs, but it just isn’t quite right.

I settled on a CD “filing” system from Memorex and I am quite satisfied with how much space it saves. I also love any opportunity to use my label maker! To the right are all the jewel cases that once held my CDs, and to the left are my new CD files. I’m about two-thirds of the way done with my CDs and I am so happy with it, I may do the same thing with our DVDs.