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Organizing Life, Home and Work
Organizing Tips For The New Year
By Julie Lynn 
Apr 5, 2006, 19:37

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Your very first step to getting organized is to Clear the Clutter! You will do this in three simple steps. First step, if you don't need it, don't keep it. You can throw it away, sell it, or give it away but by all means get rid of it! Next you must weigh the cost of replacing an item against the amount of space it takes up. Small items that don't take up a lot of room, even if inexpensive, may be worth keeping. On the other hand, bulky and inexpensive items that you rarely use or are no longer needed are definite candidates for getting rid of in the trash. Next and last category in this area is fashion. Here is
the hard and fast rule to live by, two years is too long in the world of fashion! If you haven't worm it in two years, chances are that you won't wear it! And absolutely DO NOT hold on the clothes that don't fit, toss em or give them to a women's shelter.

Now it's time to take our 'Keepers' and break them down into more manageable categories for storage purposes. These are as follows: Easy Access, Display, Conceal, and Long Term.

The items you use/wear everyday or on a frequent basis fall into the Easy Access category.

Cherished objects, family photos, antiques, and objects that you really like fall into the Display category.

Excess items, things that guests aren t meant to see, you know what falls into this category, falls into the Conceal category.

Seasonal items, holiday decorations, ski equipment, and the like fall into the Long Term storage category.

Now that we have our categories lined out and our items broken down into the different categories, it is time to talk about Storage Containers and how to use the best ones for the particular categories. Just as with any job, you must have the right Tool or all your hard work will be in vain. There are so many choices now days and some are very expensive, this article is meant to help you protect your investment on your belongings as well as save money in the process. You may even have some storage containers on hand that you never even thought about using for storage. Unused suitcases, hatboxes, decorative tins, and wicker baskets can serve to hide clutter and contribute to a room's décor.

Now I will address each individual room in the house and give easy examples on how to get organized and reduce clutter. The first and quite possibly the worst room in my home is the Entryway! This is often the smallest part of the home and is the most used part of the entire house. With guests entering and leaving from this very significant part of your home, you want to give the best impression possible. Here are a few tips to keep this area as organized as possible.

Don't overlook the walls of your front hall, especially if floor space is next to non-existent. Even if your entryway is very small, you should have enough wall space to hang either hooks, pegs, or a decorative board with hooks for hanging guests' coats, hats, and bags. This will keep you from having to run to another room to put their jackets or coats and will look a lot more organized on your part. If you do have a little more room in your entry way, a nice long, slim table up against the hall wall looks very nice. Just be sure it doesn't turn into a catch all for Junk. You can accessorize with a small lamp and it is best to get a table with a drawer, this way the drawer can be a place to leave your keys and always know where they are! Another added plus to having the table in the hall is that you can add stacking decorative suitcases underneath for added 'hidden' storage for anything you like. We use it for my daughter's toys and no one is to the wiser! When we have company over, the toys are put into the suitcases and stacked neatly under the table in the hall and they look like a decoration instead of toy storage.

Next up, Gathering Places or Living Places/Rooms. An Inventive way to display artwork or photos in your living room, simply drill small holes into your wall and insert small wooden (painted) pegs into the holes and them prop or lean the pictures against the wall.

You can overlap them to create a very interesting display that no one else will have. A wonderful storage innovation that has come out recently is the stackable modular units or stackable display cubes. They come in a variety of materials, including galvanized steel and you can paint them to match any décor. You can get them with or without doors, depending on what you plan to store in them will depend on whether or not you will want to get the doors.

There are multiple choices for storage ideas when it comes to wicker and wicker comes in all shapes and designs. Baskets are a wonderful solution for family rooms to store extra blankets, toys, books, CDs, DVDs, and for firewood near the fireplace.

Trunks are a great storage solution and they do double duty, they can be used as a coffee table too!

Remember that if you are short on floor space, you can always go vertical. Sometimes people forget that wider isn't always better, maybe your space calls for something slim and tall. Taller storage can create visual interest in your decorating, everything doesn't have to be eye level or lower! Be versatile and creative when searching for storage solutions.

Moving on to the Kitchen! Any kitchen will function efficiently if it s well organized. You must keep countertops free of clutter and kitchen gadgets must be in their logical places where anyone could find them quickly and easily. Such as, Utensils for cooking should be located as close to the stove and food prep area as possible. If you have the counter space, put all utensils in a wide-mouthed ceramic jar close to the stove. If you
don't have the counter space, hang the utensils from a metal rod or rack mounted to the backsplash or an adjacent wall to the stove. A great space saving tip in the kitchen, consider using metal or wooden peg rack that hang on a wall to display and store your coffee/tea mugs and keep cabinets free for other things. You can also get under the cabinet racks for hanging your stemware and this will also free up a lot of cabinet space in your kitchen. If cabinet space IS at a premium in your house, they sell these great space extenders for cabinets. Basically all it is, is a wire shelf that creates an extra shelf in your existing cabinet. And wow, what a difference it makes in the amount of dishes you can store in one cabinet. It will literally double your cabinet space.

Our next rooms to conquer are Beds and Baths!
Closets are the main concern in the bedroom today. Many people feel that if they could just get their closet organized, they have won half the battle! So here are a few tips on closet organization. To make the most of any closet space you can combine single and double hanging rods within your closet. Most short garments like blouses, skirts, pants and jackets need 36" to 42" of hanging space. Long items such as dresses, long skirts, and winter coats need 66" to 69" of hanging space. Before you buy anything, you need to do an inventory of your clothing and determine the total width you need for short garments, the total width you need for long garments. Then you will need to measure your closet and see how much space you have and how many rods will fit comfortably in your closet. If your budget allows, this would be a great time to buy wire shelves for above your hanging rods. These are perfect for your extra purses, boxes of sweaters (off season), seasonal storage, hat boxes, and for storage of anything else your heart desires. I don't suggest storing shoes on high shelves, it is a pain to have to get them down in a morning rush! There are other great ideas for shoe storage.

Bathrooms are usually small, thus are often the most in need of organization and storage ideas. A good tip for uncluttered bathroom floors is to install multiple towel hangers. I'm not talking about the big bars that go across the wall, I'm talking about the actual towel hooks. You can use these for towels, robes, clothes, anything else that you don't want to end up on the bathroom floor. Wall space is your best friend in bathroom so use it! Another great idea for towel holders in the bathroom, a wind rack mounted to the wall. Now the one I am referring to is a vertical wind rack that holds four bottles, it is made
of iron and the holders are just curved pieces of iron and will hold a rolled up towel beautifully. By mounting it to the wall, it takes up virtually no space at all!

For extra storage in the bathroom, if space allows, place a shelf or two above the door to hold extra soap, shampoo, wash cloths, bath oils, or decorative elements. Toilet paper storage can be tricky, you don't want guests to run out and have to ask for more. Simple and inexpensive solution, place a nice wicker basket near or beside the facilities - full of extra rolls. Added bonus, you will easily know when you are running low without having to search for where you put the extras. One last piece of advice for bathroom organization, if you are lucky enough to have a cabinet under your sink, invest in some organizational/storage containers to keep it neat. This is one area that can quickly become a mess and with the right 'Tools' it is so easy to keep it neat and tidy with minimal effort.

There are other areas in your house to address such as the home office, laundry room, mudroom, garage, attic, and basement.

Home Office:
It is important to devise a system and stick to it. This is the easiest way to stay organized in your home office. Use a file system that you are familiar with, that way
you are sure to stick with it. Use office supplies for your desk such as pen/pencil holder daily reminder journal, paper clips, file folders with names, file cabinet, and label your boxes prevalently. If you can't see it, you won't use it!

Laundry Room:
Best advice around is to build or buy a shelf for directly over your washer/dryer. (space permitting) And this is where you keep your laundry detergent, fabric softener,
stain remover, and what ever else you use while doing laundry. This is NOT to be used for anything else! It would become cluttered and disorganized right before your very eyes. Laundry Room is for Laundry!

If you are fortunate enough to have a mudroom, hooray for you! Most important storage/organizing tool for this room is two-fold. First a bench for sitting on the pull off those dirty shoes and outer clothes. Next you need a wire shoe rack for those dirty boots/shoes that come off, so they don t get your floor dirty! Remember, nothing fancy here, this is a mudroom for a reason. You don't want to put really nice items in here because you know they WILL be getting dirty.

The biggest space saver in a garage is hanging storage. This can be as simple as a hanging bike rack to as elaborate as a hang down extension from the ceiling to create an added level of storage. It can be done, I've seen it with my own two eyes and it adds tremendous space to any garage. However, the most cost efficient storage for any garage would have to be the wired or plastic shelves/racks that you put together yourself. Very easy to do and remember, they take up Vertical space and not floor space so you can wrap your garage wall with these items and you can fit quite a lot on one shelf.

Use your own judgment on this. Remember, you don't want to become a pack-rat and if you are resorting to storing things in your attic, you may need to step back and take a good look at what it is that you are storing. There should be plenty of room in your house to store everything that you really need, go back over the first part of this article and see if you really need this stuff before storing anything in your attic.

Basements are sometimes temperature sensitive so be careful when storing precious valuable items in your basement. Always take reasonable precautions and check on how things are made and what effects could take place when deciding on your storage system of choice.

There are so many organizing ideas and tips and methods these days. No one way is right or wrong, you just have to explore the many choices that are out there and pick which is right for you and your family. And remember, clutter can never be eliminated, only controlled. You have to work at it to resist the urge to save useless items.

I really hope that this article has given you some useful and insightful information on how to get started on Organizing in the New Year.

If you are interested in reading more about this topic, I sell a book from Southern Living At Home called Organizing Made Easy-simple solutions for spacious living
With over 300 great new ideas inside, it really is a wonderful and useful guide for any organization project.

The price of this wonderful book is only $22.95! That price includes shipping and taxes too! What a deal! If you would like to order this book, I accept visa/mastercard, money orders, Personal checks (from WILDWE members only) and paypal. You can send me your order with payment through the mail at:
Julie Lynn
2229 Curtiswood Dr
Lexington, Ky 40505
Or you can email your order if you want to use paypal or your credit card!

To your organizing success,
Julie Lynn
Lexington WildWE City Leader
Are YOU wild enough to join?
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