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10 Great Organization Tips

Updated on July 10, 2012

An Organized Life is a Good Life

Skillful organization can make life easier, boost productivity, improve living and working conditions, impress friends and colleagues, and free up time.

Why, then, are so many people disorganized? The answer is simple: organization requires constant vigilance, regular discipline, and no small amount of hard work. Don't let these barriers prevent you from becoming more organized. By adopting some very simple and straightforward practices and policies, you can make astounding progress.

All you have to do is…

  1. Have a place for everything
  2. Keep an inventory
  3. Be mindful of what is used most frequently
  4. Actively rotate out seasonal items
  5. Make your storage solutions convenient, clear, and attractive
  6. Establish processes everyone agrees upon
  7. Make rules about what you buy
  8. Maximize multitaskers, minimize unitaskers
  9. Keep items minimal and actively purge
  10. Take a picture of sentimental objects

Let's have a look at these organizing tips in greater detail.

Simple Organization Tips

Have a Place for Everything

"A place for everything and everything in its place" is the mantra behind many an organized individual, and the phrase is popular for a reason. When possessions are assigned to specific locations, they are less likely to end up where they should not belong- the floor, for instance, or a junk drawer.

One of the easiest ways to make your life more organized is to decide where it would make most sense to keep certain things- both to make it easy to find them, and to make it easy to properly store them when they are not in use.

Having a place for something does not mean you must go out of your way to put it away. If you tend to throw a coat on a couch every time you return home, for example, consider making a place for coats in that neglected broom closet in your front hallway, install some hooks next to your front door, or invest in a fetching coat hanger that stands right next to your home's entranceway.

Sample Inventory

Old riding boots
New riding boots
Black heels
Dresses (approx)
Kitchenaid mixer
Food processor
Kitchenaid attachments
Cheese dome + cake pans
Tea pot and french press
Cuisinart bread machine
Rice cooker
Butterfly Chair
Table and chairs
Round green chair
Small tables
Additional details you might include in an inventory include the item's location, and possibly what season it might be associated with (which can help you more systematically rotate out seasonal items)

Keep an Inventory

Not every super organized individual keeps an inventory of all his possessions, but I've found this practice to be incredibly useful. Creating and maintaining an inventory has several perks. Just the practice of creating this inventory forces one to consider all of one's possessions- and perhaps to get rid of some unnecessary things (For example, as you write "Overstuffed giant elephant plushie" on your list, you might realize that this bulky artifact is not exactly a pivotal part of your life).

Having an inventory also makes it easy to know what you have and know how to find it. In many cases, people end up purchasing tools and supplies that they already have, simply because they've forgotten that they own them.

If you have an inventory, especially one that is tagged by category and includes a note on where each item is stored, you will be less likely to overlook useful (but seldom used) tools- and it will be exceedingly easy to find them once they are needed.

What's more, inventories can be incredibly useful for tax and insurance purchases. Say you create a home office and would like to write off your home office supplies as business expenses. It will be much easier to do so if, as you have acquired things, you have added them (and their value) to your inventory.

Furthermore, should your house burn down, it will be much easier to both re-build your life and get reimbursed by your insurance provider if you have a listing of all of your possessions and their value.

The accessories I use most frequently are front and center in my closet!
The accessories I use most frequently are front and center in my closet!

Be mindful of what is used most frequently

While it is important to have a place for everything, it is equally important that everything's place be chosen with frequency of use in mind. Top drawers, easy-to-access closet areas, and other high traffic storage spots should be reserved for those possessions which are most frequently used.

Items that are more seldom used, such as seasonal decorations and clothing, seldom-used tools, keepsakes, and costumes, should be stored in more out-of-reach places, both to keep them from crowding high-traffic spots and to make room for things that see regular action.

Actively rotate out seasonal items

While seasonal objects should be kept out of the way during off months, it pays to be systematic about switching things out as seasons shift. I have frequently made the mistake of keeping all seasonal items in one box or drawer, which leads to a great deal of digging through unnecessary items. By actively cleaning and storing seasonal items once a season has ended, one can avoid a great deal of unnecessary rummaging- and free up some valuable space!

Weather too cold for those summer dresses? Store them out of the way to free up space for winter coats!
Weather too cold for those summer dresses? Store them out of the way to free up space for winter coats!

Make your storage solutions convenient, clear, and attractive

We are all far more likely to utilize organization systems if they make us feel good and are easy to work with. By making storage systems- be they drawers, boxes, or bins- convenient, clear, and attractive, you can vastly improve the odds that they will be used as desired- both by yourself and the other people you live with.

Establish processes everyone agrees upon

Being good at organizing isn't going to do you much good if you live in a household full of unorganized slobs. The best way to create a cleaner, more ordered environment is to create and agree upon a system and stick to it.

While it might be tempting (at least as an organized person) to say "These are the rules; follow them." it is better to make the establishment of organization standards a democratic affair. If everyone feels as though they have had their say, they are more likely to stick to the system.

If you find yourself dealing with a particularly resistant housemate who has absolutely no desire to do away with clutter or messes, try to find some compelling reasons why this person would benefit from the shift. For example, you could explain how much more likely a single male roommate is to… impress female lady friends… if he doesn't have a horrendously messy room.

If things become desperate, of course, you might always resort to bribery. Sometimes agreeing to wash all the dishes if so-and-so just keeps her clothes off the floor is worth the slightly unequal tradeoff.

What about you?

Are you careful about what I buy?

See results

Make rules about what you buy

In addition to establishing mutually agreed upon organization standards about that which is already within a household, it is helpful to set some rules around what comes in to the household. After all, one can have a splendidly organized home and still mess things up if one keeps acquiring goods.

Think of it this way- as you first enter a hotel room, everything is neat and pristine. As your stay progresses, of course, you bring in new things- clothes from your suitcase, snacks, souvenirs- and things start to get messy.

Only if you control the influx of goods can you hope to maintain the quality of an organized home.

Items to Avoid

Nostalgia KPM508 Vintage 2.5-Ounce Kettle Popcorn Maker
Nostalgia KPM508 Vintage 2.5-Ounce Kettle Popcorn Maker

NEWSFLASH: You don't need a popcorn maker to make popcorn.


Maximize multitaskers, minimize unitaskers

One of the biggest clutter culprits is the unitasker- a gadget that is only good for one purpose. Good examples of unitaskers are:

  • Ice cream makers
  • Feather dusters
  • That sequined pair of pants that only goes with one shirt you own
  • Apple corers
  • Stormtrooper uniforms (OK, I'm guilty of this one)
  • Christmas cookie cutters

It is better to only acquire multitaskers- tools and objects that can be used for multiple purposes. For example, while Christmas cookie cutters can only be used for holidays, a wine glass can be used as:

  • A wine glass
  • A biscuit cutter
  • A cookie cutter
  • A temporary goldfish bowl
  • A bell
  • An instrument
  • A votive holder
  • An improvised weapon

A dramatic water-throwing implement

So if you are trying to reduce excess clutter in the kitchen, get rid of your collection of Christmas cookie cutter sets and hold on to your wine glasses. Don't worry; you'll still be able to make lovely Christmas cookies. All you have to do is dust your cookies with holiday-colored sugars or pipe holiday insignias onto them using royal icing.

Get rid of things you don't need!

Instead of giving / throwing everything away, you can also find ways to repurpose old items. Case in point: I've turned a broken bicycle basket into a recycling bin.
Instead of giving / throwing everything away, you can also find ways to repurpose old items. Case in point: I've turned a broken bicycle basket into a recycling bin.

Keep items minimal and actively purge

Being organized involves getting rid of everything you can- not just unitaskers. No matter how organized you might be, no matter how careful you are about purchasing things, you will find yourself accumulating objects that you do not need. To maintain a nicely organized household, you will have to actively get rid of things- not just twice a year, not just twice a month, but every single day.

Make a habit of scrutinizing everything you need and asking yourself: "Do I need this? Do I regularly use this?" If you don't, it goes.

Take a picture of sentimental objects

Sometimes getting rid of things is hard- especially if a particular object has sentimental value. To maintain an organized life while also holding on to precious memories, take photographs of meaningful objects- and then get rid of them.

I don't need this charming little artifact anymore, but I don't want to forget the place I came from. By taking a photo of it, I'll remember both!
I don't need this charming little artifact anymore, but I don't want to forget the place I came from. By taking a photo of it, I'll remember both!

Be honest...

How organized are you?

See results

Happy Organizing!

Even if you adopt one of these practices, you should see a positive impact in your life. By simply rotating out seasonal items, for example, you can make it a lot easier to access and maintain holiday decorations and winter/summer clothes, which will save you money, time, and hassle. By establishing some basic organization ground rules with your housemates, you can improve your living conditions and reduce unnecessary interpersonal stress and resentment. Even by just actively getting rid of things, you will find it is profoundly easier to clean your home- not to mention move.

Together, however, these ten organizing tips can change your life. I encourage you to take on each and every practice to the best of your ability. The positive changes you'll see are well worth the effort and self-discipline it takes to make them.

Once you've given these methods a try (or if you're already an organizing expert), let me know which one has made the biggest difference for you- and share your additional organizing tips in the comments below.


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    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      Got my eye on an item in the "what not to buy." Did you have to put that in there? Oh lawdy. Useful information.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 

      5 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Up, Useful, and Interesting. Thanks for the good tips.

      The biggest stumbling block for me to getting organized is procrastination. I have been "going to" do certain unpacking, sorting, and filing or putting away for years. My latest "going to one of these days" project is photocopying sentimental paperwork, like my high school prose sketches and poems.

    • Simone Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      5 years ago from San Francisco

      Whoah- your home EXPLODED? That's really intense! Now I'm even more glad that I take inventory. Thanks for sharing that example! I'm glad you and your family came out OK.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Simone, you mentioned that taking inventory is great incase of a fire or other catastrophe. It happened to me when our home exploded and burnt to the ground. We lost everything. On one hand it wasn't a large house as we have now, but still it took months to try to remember everything. It would have been great to have the list in a fire proof file box--which we had our precious documents, but no household list. Had we done what you mentioned, we might have suffered less heartbreak and gotten to rebuild our lives quicker. Lesson learned. Best Regards--Deb

    • skeltop profile image

      Pamela Skelton 

      5 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      I, too, liked the idea of photographing sentimental items and then sending them down the road. I also though that the use of e-bay capsules was clever. However, I truly think that only an already organized person (or at least a somewhat organized one) would use your advice. I think that the truly disorganized, messy, and yes, at time dirty, people have cognitive problems

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      5 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      My mantra this winter is insulation (for our heating bills in the cold Midwestern Wisconsin) and organization. I must really proceed gungho with the organization. I am planning on labelling the bins and inventorying the items - next big project.

      I think I need a photo of the interior of the bins! Oh, my!

    • Doc Sonic profile image

      Glen Nunes 

      6 years ago from Cape Cod, Massachusetts

      I really like the tip about taking a photo of sentimental items. I have so many items that I can't get rid of for sentimental reasons. Making a scrapbook of photos of these items would both clear up a lot of space and give me another fun and creative outlet. Thanks for the tips, they're all great.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      To show you how clueless I am, I had no idea that you wrote hubs or had followers. Duh! Great organizational tips! It was interesting to see how a pro put together a hub! Thanks!

    • rfmoran profile image

      Russ Moran - The Write Stuff 

      6 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Voted up and awesome. I've decided to donate my stormtrooper uniform to my church! We live in a very big old house, and therefore there's a place for everything, no matter how useless. I'm sharing this Hub with my wife. It's great. I've written on this subject, but only with regard to messy desks, storage spaces and paper files. This is a very motivating Hub and a resource for everyone, That said, I have to ask you: Do you rotate your tires every 90 days? :)

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      6 years ago from England

      Great tips, and some I should definitely try! I am the most unorganised person I know, left handed, thats my explanation! I did take notice of someones idea when they said, only touch paper once! its stuck with me ever since, so if I get a letter that means nothing, like a bill! lol! I pick it up and throw it straight in the bin! not the bill of course, well, sometimes!

    • shalini sharan profile image

      shalini sharan 

      6 years ago from Delhi

      i really liked your work, really great tips dear

    • Julie DeNeen profile image

      Blurter of Indiscretions 

      6 years ago from Clinton CT

      The idea about photographing sentimental objects is perfect! Great hub! Voting up and sharing!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      You certainly have a very organized hub and I am sure home. I liked your tip and I am fairly organized also, but I don't have an inventory. Great video and enjoyable hub.

    • TFScientist profile image

      Rhys Baker 

      6 years ago from Peterborough, UK

      Great organisational tips - will definitely be looking back at these ideas in the near future. Thanks for sharing!

    • cloudy_cool profile image


      6 years ago from London, UK

      I just ha ha ha'd at 00:39 of your video!!!! LOL

      Very nicely put hub and I've now got a great new hope of 'preserving' my memories by 'clicking' it for my albums...very nice tip...thanks a tonn!!!

      Awww and I LOVE that pink snailllllllll....ummm I must get my camera and now get rid of the old little wooden turtle so that I can buy more stuff like that!! ha ha ha

      Voted up and more! Cheers!

    • bwhite062007 profile image

      Brianna W 

      6 years ago from East Coast

      I am an awful, messy person, but I try to keep things organized as much as I can. I love your ideas and I am going to try and incorporate them on keeping things more organzied. Out with the old, in with the new!

    • Outbound Dan profile image

      Dan Human 

      6 years ago from Niagara Falls, NY

      But my sequined pants match my Stormtrooper uniform too! The key to organization is to simplify, simplify, simplify. After I moved the last time, every time I acquire something, I think to myself - I will have to move this several times over the course of ownership. Great Hub!

    • anusujith profile image

      Anoop Aravind A 

      6 years ago from Nilambur, Kerala, India

      Beautiful hub with good and elaborated content... pretty useful... Voted up...

    • Haunty profile image


      6 years ago from Hungary

      Poor cute little artifact! The cruel, cold-hearted Simone doesn't like him any more and now she's throwing him out. (/_;)

    • poojasd7 profile image


      6 years ago from India

      very organized and useful hub. Nice tips. Voting up and sharing it.


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