January 14th is National Organize Your Home Day. January is a great time to make a fresh start for the new year. It’s too cold outside to garden or do many of the other things associated with spring cleaning. If you’re like us, getting the entire home organized in one day is impossible, but one room is manageable. We suggest selecting the room that you use the most. The secret trick to getting organized is in having the right storage device sitting in the place you use the item to be stored the most.
Organizing a kitchen can be a daunting task, but for many people it’s the most used room in the house. Apart from meal preparation, open kitchen plans spill out into dining rooms and living rooms. For gatherings, both family and more social, the kitchen is a place where people just stand around and chat. A lot of the time, kids do their homework at the kitchen table, bar, or island, and the kitchen is often the place where the mail gets dropped when someone comes home from work. That’s a lot of functions for one space and a little organization can go a long way.
Tip #1 Where to put your utensils
A lot of people believe that the most often used utensils should be stored near the dishwasher so they’re easier to put away, and similar utensils should be stored together. Instead, try storing things near where they’re going to be used: your cookware near your stove or oven, your glasses near the refrigerator, the coffee mugs near the coffee maker, etc. Don’t be afraid to split things up, and don’t be afraid to store packages of food with them. For example, if your coffee maker is in a corner, store the mugs as well as the coffee and filters together nearby.
Tip #2 The pantry
Easily the most disorganized place in the kitchen, the pantry is a challenge to organize. Arrange the interior so that the things you tend to use the most are at eye level. After that, store like items together as much as possible. Make time one a month to check expiration dates and throw out anything that’s no longer good. Attach a pad and a pen to the inside of the pantry door and note down anything you run out of.
Tip #3 Homework and other paperwork
Homework means that counter or table space must be available. Clear a nearby drawer to store all the things your student needs: pencils, crayons, glue, pens, etc. Add a filing basket or a vertical file with folders to store homework-related paperwork, or finished homework before it gets transferred to the backpack. Ad a decorative basket or container to hold the mail until it can be opened.
For many people, the home office, especially the desk, is a prime clutter-collector. Take this opportunity to file old documents and transfer any tax-related information form the pervious year to a special folder or basket. Sort paperwork into “pending,” “completed,” and “reference,” then file the latter two. Go through your reference files and old magazines, and catalogs. Recycle anything older than the last two months. If there are a few articles that you would like to keep for future reference, clip them out and keep them in a file folder or three-ring binder.
Organizing the entryway to your home may provide the most satisfying results for your effort since it’s a place often forgotten about and used daily. Coat hooks are extremely useful even if you have enough closet space. Wet outerwear can hang to dry. A low-hanging rack of pegs can encourage the kids to hang up both coats and backpacks—or even mom’s purse. Storing shoes in the front closet is useful as well and will help keep your home clean when you don’t track the outdoors all over your house. Keep a storage bin handy for gloves and mittens, and have an easy place to keep keys, mail, or anything else that you regularly happen to have in your hands when you walk in the door.
The bedroom is another place where coat racks or pegs come in handy. Robes always need a place to reside, as do clothes that aren’t quite dirty enough to make it to the laundry. While January is a little late to change out your seasonal wardrobe, organizing a bedroom is always a good time to go through your clothes and donate anything that no longer fits. Get rid of out-dated reading material and catch up on the laundry.
Help your kids organize their rooms. Post holidays are a good time to donate outgrown clothes and toys. Storage bins and baskets are a great way to organize. Take a moment to go through old art projects. Keep the best piece from the previous year, then digitally photograph the rest and discard them. If your child is a budding writer, consolidate their work into binders. Label and date all their work as you put it away.
Living Room or Family Room
Like the kitchen, the living room or family room tends to serve multiple purposes—toy room, home office, tv room, entertaining guests room. Proper storage can make all the difference in a family room. Throw out old magazines and newspapers. Photograph and either file or discard old kids projects. Set aside a place where the items for each function are stored and draw boundaries. Mom’s desk is not to be used for a class project, etc.
At the very least, use the excuse to take down any holiday decorations still hanging around.
Have a happy Organize Your Home Day!