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.
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.
- 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.
Before you get started …
is a professional organizing firm based in Chicago. This blog entry from the company’s Web site tells you how to recognize your organizational style, which will ultimately affect how you straighten up your home.
Ask the Decorator
features a video with Cynthia Ivie of the organization firm White Space. It provides some short, practical organization advice that includes how to choose a room to start organizing and where to begin working on sorting out your possessions.
For general organization tips …
devotes part of its Web site to the Mission: Organization
TV show. Click on episode titles to see real-life organizing makeovers, or use the links on the left side for articles and videos full of additional tips about reducing clutter and advice about effectively making use of your space.
The Clean Team
supplies this list of clutter control rules, each of which comes with an explanation of how to apply the rule to your home. The rules include “Use it or lose it” and “Items displayed in the house have to pass a test.”
For sites that focus on organizing a specific room …
has organization tips for kitchens, bedrooms, laundry rooms, and living rooms. Search here for advice about installing shelving and other space savers, as well as information about incorporating universal design elements into these rooms. One distinctive article on this site teaches how to organize a home according to the principles of universal design
, which aims to accommodate people of all ages and physical abilities.
teaches how to implement an effective closet storage system in this article, starting first by providing instructions on how to determine what kind of storage you’ll need.
dedicates an entire section of its site to steps you can follow to organize your home office (just don’t let the ads distract you). Learn how to organize computer and paper files, optimize your desk space to improve productivity, and handle the unorganized elements in your office that could ultimately reduce the amount of work you accomplish in a day.
offers a garage safety checklist that tells you how and where to store many of the items you may keep in your garage. The tips aim to improve the organization of a garage and lessen the chance that a preventable injury might occur there.
Life Tools for Women
explains how to organize your home’s pantry to maximize use of space and make this part of your home more efficient to use.
For help organizing your collectibles, keepsakes, photos, and papers …
Style at Home.com
is the site of the Canadian-based magazine with the same name. This article offers some helpful advice for managing your keepsakes “before they take over your home.” Note that this article and some of the other related articles you’ll find here have some pop-up ads.
The Organizing Network
helps you learn how to sort through your papers to determine what needs to be kept in your records and what can be thrown away or recycled. There are also tips for organizing your photos.
Mrs. Clean Northwest
offers some helpful advice about organizing your collectibles and offers suggestions on ways to display them so you’ll appreciate your collectibles for years to come.
For blogs …
is a blog that adheres to the credo “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” Read the entries for recommendations about various products that could help reduce clutter in your home, or other helpful hints and skills that can help you be more organized at home. Search the categories on the right side of the page to find entries on topics such as “Inherited Clutter,” “Minimalism,” “Cable Clutter,” and “Decluttering.”
Neat & Simple Living
comes from organizing coach Ariane Benefit. Check here for organizing tips and information about organizing workshops. This blog has a ton of information, so you might do better by heading straight to the “Categories
” section to narrow your reading options with the help of some useful headings (scroll past the “Archives” to find the “Categories,” below).
I’m an Organizing Junkie
almost manages to makes home organization fun. The “Getting Organized” section of the blog takes you straight to some insightful posts about organizing your home and the process of getting organized. Check the category headings on the left of the page for posts on specific organization topics.
is another good blog by a professional organizer with tips to help you straighten your home. The entries are written in a friendly tone, and the handy tips are easy to understand.
For information about hoarding …
has a short article about managing the clutter on your refrigerator door, whether it’s multiple artwork displays or a magnetic set of alphabet letters.
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.
- 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.
For home organization products that might reduce clutter …
Organized for Living
has several categories of organizing products, including items for box storage, jewelry, laundry rooms, and media equipment. Scan the categories on the left to find the tools you need.
maintains a sizeable catalog of items to help you get organized, divided into broad categories listed on tabs at the top of the page. The real gem here is the “Kids” section, which can be navigated by age group (Baby, Kids, Teens) and by category (Toys, School, and more).
The Container Store
sells organization containers for many rooms in your home. Shop by category (for example, office, kitchen, bathroom), use the store locator to find a store near you, or try online help features in the “Get Organized
” section for tools and advice on how to organize a particular space and which tools will help.
Stacks and Stacks
offers several supplies to keep your home functional and organized. If you’ve seen a particular organizational product in a magazine, newspaper, or favorite TV show, visit the “As Seen In
” section of the site for help finding the item.
could be just the solution if the space under your kitchen sink is full to overflowing with plastic bags you’ve brought home from the store. Find reusable shopping and gift bags available for purchase, as well as reusable bottles and lunch bags.
For product reviews and recommendations …
Neat & Simple Living
has a page of recommended products that may help you with your organizing projects. You’ll also find insight on what to look for in containers, file holders, and more.
Org Junkie’s Product Reviews
features reviews with comments about various organizational products. Links to Web sites of the recommended products are provided.
Organized A to Z
, operated by a professional organizer, is really a store that sells organization products. Each category of organization tools is sortable by “Most Popular,” so you can see what other people are finding most useful.
is a museum for all things news related. If you’ve got piles of newspapers cluttering up your coffee or kitchen tables, get rid of them, because this site can show you unedited front pages of nearly 600 newspapers around the world. Use the “Sort Papers by Region” option to find your local paper more quickly.
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.
- 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.
For professional organization help …
The National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization (NSGCD)
recognizes that for some people, disorganization is more like a state of being than a temporary problem. If you or someone you know needs help with chronic disorganization, the NSGCD has a referral form and may be able to offer you assistance. The site also features free fact sheets
that can help you determine the type of disorganization you experience (situational or chronic), help identify the causes of disorganization, and offer tips to overcome the problem.
For support groups …
explains how to form a “clutter buddy” support group, which could give you and other fellow packrats an in-person way to find help managing your messes. There are also tips for running a successful clutter-buddy meeting
To learn about the mental and psychological effects of clutter …
suggests that those anxious feelings about an out-of-control mess in your house could be bad for your health. There’s also a helpful article titled “Let Go of Your Junk
Mind Over Clutter
follows the idea that people who live in cluttered homes feel cluttered internally as well. This very un
cluttered site has a great section of articles that focus on the personal feelings that may be preventing you from addressing the disorder in your home. Review the “Motivating Quotes
” section if you need a little inspiration to organize your home.
Psychology of Clutter
is a blog by a psychologist who specializes in helping people eliminate the material clutter in their lives. The entries in the blog are meant to help people understand why they may be holding on to too many items and learn what to do to start fixing the problem. They aren’t loaded with too much psychological jargon, either, making them easy to understand.
is a trusted medical resource that explains when to seek professional treatment for problems with hoarding, whom to seek treatment from, and how to help yourself break free of compulsive hoarding.
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.
- 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.
For an overview of your options …
contains advice from a professional organizer. This particular article provides an overview of the many options available for disposing of your unwanted items, including various ways to sell them, donate them, and throw them away.
To donate unwanted items …
The Charity Guide
offers information about making tax-deductible clothing donations in the United States. Links are also provided to several national organizations that accept donations. Be sure to check the complete list of popular and less well-known charities
around the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia.
has an enlightening article about old items in your home that you might not think of donating, including used eyeglasses, old computers, and old pet supplies. The article includes Web sites for several organizations that accept a variety of donations.
is part of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance. This site contains an extensive listing of charitable organizations that solicit donations nationally. (The list will take some browsing as some organizations need financial donations rather than material goods.) Worthiness of an organization is not discussed here, but you may be able to find information about its finances and links to respective Web sites.
To recycle unwanted items …
has a lengthy set of articles about the various types of recycling and how to properly dispose of or recycle more toxic items such as paint and batteries.
For tips about garage and yard sales …
Get Rich Slowly
is a blog about earning money. This particular entry offers tips on planning and holding a successful garage sale.
Yard Sale Queen
also has some suggestions for holding a profitable yard sale. The site design is primitive and text heavy, but you’re sure to find some no-nonsense advice to help make your yard sale a success.
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.
- 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.
For help keeping your home organized …
published this guide about how to keep your home organized once you’ve gone through the initial effort of bringing some order to your space. See the “Related Articles” section on the right for some recommendations of helpful household items that can keep you uncluttered and some great “Organization Inspiration” photos for even more ideas.
The Organized Life
is the Web site of Ann Bingley Gallops, a professional organizer and feng shui consultant in New York City. Along with some helpful tips for getting and staying organized, Gallops offers a free newsletter that offers you monthly advice about how to maintain an orderly home. The remainder of the site is primarily devoted to promoting Gallops and her services.
is a great site for people who need friendly reminders to get things done. Forgetting to file your paperwork or straighten up your home every once in a while? Tell HassleMe what you need to be hassled about, and the site will send you intermittent e-mails reminding you to get on it. The site works well for other tasks, too, like making sure you remember to call your mom.
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