Start Organizing Your Home

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Organize Your Home

You’ve probably heard the old phrase “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” But when was the last time you could describe your home that way? Occasionally, things get out of hand, or you’re simply tired of an untidy room or cluttered closet and need a little help sorting out the mess. Whether your question is how to start organizing your home, how to know if you should keep an item or get rid of it, or how to maintain the organized home you’ve achieved, we’ve found helpful Web sites that can give you some answers.

Start Organizing Your Home

Finding the motivation to organize your home and deciding where to begin are among the biggest hurdles people face with organization efforts. The Web sites in this section offer some advice to help you start organizing your home, give you some basic strategies for different types of projects, and teach you how to evaluate your possessions so you’ll know what to throw out, keep, and donate to charity.

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  • Your home likely didn’t become cluttered overnight, and you’re not going to get it organized overnight, either. Set some reasonable goals as you work to restore order, and don’t expect it to all get done in a day.
  • Cleaning and organizing often go hand in hand. For helpful online resources for housekeeping techniques and products, see our findingDulcinea Housekeeping Web Guide.
  • Ironically, some Web sites from professional organizers may seem a little … disorganized. Many organizing sites have sections dedicated to the common rooms in a home, so look for headings like “kitchen,” “bedroom,” or “closet” to increase your chances of finding the tips and information you want.
  • Whether as part of or aside from your New Year’s resolutions, January may be a great time to commit to organizing your home. The National Association of Professional Organizers sponsors “Get Organized Month” every January.

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Before you get started …
For general organization tips …
For sites that focus on organizing a specific room …
For help organizing your collectibles, keepsakes, photos, and papers …
For blogs …
For information about hoarding …
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Home Organization Products

If you find your home lacking in storage space or you just aren’t sure what to do with some of those oddly shaped containers or items, it’s possible to find home organization products, such as specialized storage as well as other organizational items on the Web.

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  • Remember to consider shipping and handling costs when you purchase larger items like filing cabinets. You might save yourself a few dollars by purchasing bigger organization tools locally.
  • If you’re not comfortable buying things online, do some window shopping at these online stores anyway; some of them have real-world counterparts, so you might find an item on the Web that you are also able to locate in a local store. 
  • Some of the sites recommended in the “Start organizing your home” section of this guide also suggest products that may be useful to your home organization projects. We’ve repeated a couple of the blogs from that section here for their helpful product reviews.
  • Many Web sites offer storage and display solutions designed for the dedicated collector of a specific type of item. The Web sites of your favorite price guide or of the companies that manufacture your collectibles are great places to start looking. For example, trading card and memorabilia price guide publisher Beckett Media has an online marketplace with a “Collecting Supplies” section, and the maker of Pez dispensers links to third-party display shelves in the “Other Pez Products” section of its site.

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For home organization products that might reduce clutter …
For product reviews and recommendations …
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Professional Home Organizers

If you feel like a room in your home, or even your entire home, is in too much of a disorganized state to start restoring order by yourself, there are professional home organizers and other people who can help. We’ve found some Web sites that teach you where to look for assistance with your space.

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  • If you use a professional organizer, make sure you understand all of the costs involved—not just the fees for the organizer’s services, but also the cost of any storage products that need to be purchased. Some organizers will keep costs at a minimum by using storage supplies you already have. Others will suggest items for you to purchase. Others still may purchase organizational tools for you and possibly bill you for the time they spend shopping. Know what you want to spend in your efforts to make your home more orderly, and make this clear to the professional organizer before you get started.
  • Most professional organizers have Web sites that include before-and-after photos of their work. View these before hiring anyone to see if you really like their particular approach to home organization.
  • Sometimes the hurdle of home organization is emotional, rather than needing help deciding where to put your stuff. If you just can’t bring yourself to part with any of your possessions, professional help is available to aid you in the process.
  • According to the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation, hoarding is a compulsion most commonly affecting people with obsessive compulsive disorder. For this reason, we’ve included online resources for OCD support groups and treatment in this section. For help finding a therapist who may help with the problem, see our findingDulcinea Counseling and Therapy Web Guide.

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For professional organization help …
For support groups …
To learn about the mental and psychological effects of clutter …
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Disposing of the Clutter

If “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” it’s true that some of the clutter you’ve eliminated during your home organization efforts may be useful to someone else or may even be recyclable. If you think some of your discarded items might still have a little life left in them, but you’re not sure where to go with your cast-offs, the following Web sites might offer you a little inspiration.

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  • Hoping to donate something but unsure about the validity of local organizations? Several well-respected national organizations, such as Goodwill and The Salvation Army, have centers in several places around the country. Check their Web sites to find a drop-off location near you.
  • Some donation centers have rules about when items may be dropped off for donation—and in some cases, not following those rules is illegal. Make sure you know what times you can drop off your donations to a local charity.
  • Along similar lines, there may be specific rules that apply if you plan to recycle any of the items you’ve discarded. Call ahead to your area’s recycling center or check its Web site (if it has one) for specific instructions you may need to follow.
  • When donating items to charity, don’t forget to get receipts whenever possible and to properly deduct the value of your donations on your tax returns. This article from Bankrate.com explains how to properly document the value of your items in order to report them on your taxes and also links to several IRS publications, including one that lists organizations eligible to receive your tax-deductible contributions. If you aren’t sure what your items are worth, check The Salvation Army's list of values of many commonly donated items.
  • Organizing your clutter might literally pay off in the long run. Consider having a garage or yard sale once you’ve determined the items you no longer want to keep, or selling them online through classified or auction sites. Our findingDulcinea Selling Web Guide can show you how to get the best prices for your stuff.

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For an overview of your options …
To donate unwanted items …
To recycle unwanted items …
For tips about garage and yard sales …
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Maintaining an Organized Home

Don’t waste all that hard work you put into getting your home organized by letting it slip. The following Web sites offer some tips that may help you maintain your organized home and keep it clean in just a few minutes a day.

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  • If you find the sorting and organizing you’ve accomplished getting undone over time, take a minute to go back and read through the sites we’ve recommended earlier in this guide to help you get back on track again.
  • Some Web sites from professional organizers offer ways to stay organized on their Web sites. Others may have free newsletters that provide periodic tips for maintaining an organized home.

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For help keeping your home organized …
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