8 Ways to Get (and Stay) Organized this Year
You’ve probably heard the expression “clean room, clear mind” or some variation on it. So, it’s just that simple? Tidy up a bit and you’ll be focused and worry-free? Well, almost. Neuroscientists have, indeed, found a direct link between being in a disorganized setting and feeling distracted. The greater the disorganization, the greater the distraction. That’s not going to cut it in the new year, people!
If getting organized is a New Year’s resolution like it is for millions of other well-intentioned souls, you can applaud yourself for picking a most rewarding goal. Getting organized can actually have a ripple effect where it enhances many other areas of your life.
When you clear the physical space around you, you clear the mental space needed to be more mindful. And when you practice mindfulness, you’re better positioned to integrate self-care and a healthy work-life balance. See where we’re going with this? Getting organized can lead to some pretty mind-blowing #healthgoals and #lifegoals.
Our list of tips and tricks here is a good place to map out your strategy for achieving a beautifully organized sanctuary at home. Whether it’s a good decluttering, a thoughtful streamlining or harmonizing feng shui you’re after, we wish you good health, great design and a fabulously organized 2022!
1. Clear your clutter
Image credit: Architectural Digest
Take inventory of your living space, room by room, including all of its hidden nooks and crannies. Prioritize to the top of your list the spaces with the greatest amount of clutter. These “problem areas,” although easy to ignore, are the ones that need the most TLC. They will likely take a good amount of time to chip away at, so start in small, 15 to 30-minute increments and continue each day until you see your beautiful expansive floor or tabletop reemerge.
We like to start with kitchen countertops, cabinets and drawers and work our way back through to the common areas and into the bedrooms. By starting in the rooms with the most traffic, you’ll get noticed for your efforts and get the encouragement you need to keep up the good work. Transferring clutter to a set of three bins labeled “Store,” “Donate” and “Recycle” will get items out of your way and into a more “filtered” grouping where you can offload them when the clearing process is complete. A baby-steps approach will keep you on task and build confidence so that future organizational tasks seem like a piece of cake. Try following a schedule with a few de-cluttering action items to check off each day or week so you can see your project to completion.
2. Optimize unused space
Image credit: MyDomaine
Have a small space or overall footprint? This tip has your name on it. If there’s anything studio living has taught us, it’s that space can be found if you look hard enough and puzzle out a few creative solutions. Looking to the obvious, the vast expanse under your bed offers ample storage for foldable items and linens, clothing and shoes stored in shallow bins. Take inventory of your cabinet space in both your kitchen and bathroom, too, and see if there is any wiggle room (especially after you’ve decluttered).
If you’re in the market for new furniture, look for ottomans and coffee tables with interior space for storing blankets, tech and more. Hanging shelving units inside cabinet doors, linen closets and your pantry is a great way to get smaller items that tend to gather and grow on a counter up and out of the way. This space-optimizing strategy takes a little imagination so keep an open mind and have some fun with it.
3. Streamline your systems
Image credit: Michael Imber Architects
We can’t all be analytical, orderly left-brainers, but once you master basic systems within your household like laundry, meal prep and chores, you have just saved yourself minutes-to-hours of precious time not to mention at least three tension headaches per week.
Think about the systems that aren’t really working in your favor. Does getting the kids out the door for school take twice as long as it should? By thinking through the steps required of each “system” and identifying the pain points that cause time failures, you can work to slowly but surely streamline those steps until they get easier and easier. We like looking to the systems we’ve set up that do work well. Is bill-paying your secret superpower? Take what works with that system and apply it to others. Project planning apps are a great way to define your objectives and follow a process flow until those efficiencies become second nature.
4. Tame your tech
Image credit: Lonny
Handhelds and chargers and keyboards, oh my! Tech devices are challenging enough to maintain and keep track of let alone all the accoutrement needed to keep them operating at their best. Have a drawer full of tangled chords and cables that date back at least five years? You’re not alone. In the wise words of all the pro organizers out there, ID your devices, register them in a “find my” app and make sure your important folders and data are backed up to the Cloud or some other external hard drive.
We also recommend saving all extraneous accessories along with user manuals and warranty info in the original box or a gallon zip bag with the device name and purchase date well marked somewhere on the bag. When you go to donate or trade in your tech, all the add-ons will be right there in one place. Another great tech tip for achieving a streamlined desk and clutter-free counter include hiding your cables and cords through a cord keeper or organizer. These work great for bathroom cord clutter, too.
5. Master the storage bin
Image credit: McGee & Co
If you’re already a fan of baskets and bins, you’re one step ahead on this one. Today, there are so many attractive storage solutions that are designed to work with your décor and be put on display with your other furnishings. We love a chunky woven basket piled with throw blankets or filled with rolled bath towels, chic laundry baskets made of jute or rattan, and brightly colored storage bins for play areas and kids rooms. Function and form are practically synonymous these days.
Not only do bins and baskets inspire your family to stick with the program of cleaning up after themselves, they make it super easy to find things you need to locate on the spot. Don’t overlook the kitchen and home office as opportunities for incorporating stylish storage containers. Lucite lends a clean minimalist look while taming desk clutter and stainless steel looks sleek in a kitchen and laundry area.
6. Curate a “shoppable” closet
Image credit: MyDomaine
If you’re uninspired or spend too much time piecing an outfit together in the morning, this tip could make mornings easier. Even if you’re not much for organizing, creating a closet that feels almost shoppable is kind of exciting. The first step to taming your closet is to spend a few hours doing a thorough purge of all things unworn, unflattering and ill-fitted. Next, take out all of your keepers and pile them on your bed, hangers on, by season (a cool-weather stack and warm-weather stack should suffice) so you can perform a deep clean of your closet.
Once the space is spruced up, hang warm weather garments on one side and cool weather on the other (or store your off-season wardrobe in another closet). Group your seasonal wardrobe by type of layer starting from tanks and base layers and building to long sleeve tees, blouses, then sweaters by style (from crewnecks to cardigans to dusters). Formal pieces can hang toward the back. If you’re short on rack space, stack jeans on a shelf or a hanging shelving unit and shoes in a shoe wardrobe or hanging organizer. The idea is to group by article, then silhouette and then style. We like to put belts and scarves in easy-to-reach baskets and hats on wall hooks where you can grab them and go.
7. Think vertically (using your walls)
Image credit: Emily Henderson
When floor space is running out (or your overall footprint is feeling a little heavy), look to your walls for ways to store smaller items. Floating shelves are a great way to display books, framed photos and smaller décor. If you’re flooded with art objects on your coffee table or credenza, curate just a few pieces for these surfaces and relocate the rest to wall shelving.
We are big fans of the book shelf tower that can house dozens of coffee table and hardcover books with the smallest of footprints. Consider one in powder-coated metal or an unexpected geometric shape for a cool industrial or modern look. If you love plants but have nowhere to put them, wall planters are your new best friend. Look to modern geometric shapes and mixed metals to create a stunning vertical garden that rivals any framed art.
8. Stick to a housekeeping routine
Image credit: Architectural Digest
With such a valiant effort going into organizing your space, it’s easy to overlook the upkeep needed to maintain your new clutter-free environment. If you’re human, there’s a chance you start the year on a disciplined, motivated note only to eventually slip back into old habits. A great way to avoid the slip is to create a ‘refresh & reset’ schedule in addition to your normal cleaning routine. By knocking out one organizational ‘refresh & reset’ task a day, you’ll avoid the emergency “guests are on their way” cleanup and maybe even reclaim your weekends.
A refresh & reset task like going through a pile of mail or removing expired foods from the fridge can be knocked out in 10 minutes. Add on another 10 for whatever clean-up job you’ve earmarked for that day and, in a quick 20 minutes, your work is complete. Don’t forget to reward your hard efforts with your favorite self-care ritual each week. You’ve earned it!