One of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions is to get organized. But what does that really mean? Does it simply mean putting things back where they belong and straightening up? Does it mean going through everything and getting rid of a bunch of it? Does it mean finding brand new containers to fit all of your stuff? Depending on the person, any of these could be right.
Straightening up is a great first step. It gives you a base point to see what you have, and also shows you where you’re used to putting things. Getting rid of things is awesome! because it gives you more space, and also helps get things that you no longer use out of your house. And brand new containers can be fun and pretty and brighten up a space, but only after you’re sure of what you want to keep and where you want to keep it.
All of these are good steps. But they’re not the one step you need to organize pretty much anything.
The one thing you need to do? Designate a specific container or area for each category. If the items in that category get too big for the space, choose what stays and what goes.
For example, all of the clothing you own needs to fit in your closet or your dresser. If it doesn’t, you have too much, and you need to get rid of the things you no longer wear.
I have one drawer designated for kitchen utensils. If I have so many crammed in there that the drawer won’t shut, it might be time to get rid of second and third noodle spoons since we don’t eat pasta that often anyways. And I have one cabinet for my canning jars and supplies. If canning ever became something we did for the bulk of our food, I would reconsider, but since it is mostly just a hobby for me right now, that’s more than enough space. (Also, my stash of chocolate, coffee, and teas for my husband.)
This goes for kid stuff too. Do you have children who have all sorts of “treasures” that you don’t understand? Rocks, papers, broken pieces of things. The stuff that they love and want to keep. Give them a space to keep their stuff. In our old house, each kid had a shelf (you can see those here). Now, each kid has a bin under their bed. They can keep their current Lego projects, their special art kits from Christmas, their rock collections, and whatever else in there. But if it gets too full, they have to choose some things to get rid of, or put some toys back where they belong.
Or what about books? If you only have one bookshelf, but it’s overflowing and you also have a stack of books on your nightstand (guilty), pass some of the ones you’re not going to read again on to someone else. The kids have one shelf for Lego sets and one bin for other Lego pieces. We have one set of drawers for puzzles and games.
The point is, if you have a limited amount of space for any one thing, you can only fit what the space will allow. If you follow that principle throughout your house, choosing what goes in each space and knowing your limits, you’ll find that staying organized happens organically. If not, it’ll be like trying to fit into a pair of pants about three sizes too small. It just doesn’t work.