“For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.”
Part 2 of a 3-part series. Part 1 covered ground rules, entryway, and kitchen/pantry. Part 2 covers bedroom/closets, bathroom, car, and basement/garage; and Part 3, papers and sentimental items. Enjoy!
With this series of 101 organizing hacks, we’re setting you up for success by showing you how taking small, incremental steps add up to BIG changes.
This week, we tackle some of the more private areas of the house—like bedrooms, closets, and bathrooms; as well as those areas that can become a dumping ground for all the stuff “we’ll get to later”—like cars, garages, and basements.
For many of our clients, these are some of the scariest places to address because they are often dark, sometimes damp and always easy to ignore … until you just can’t any longer.
So, if that sounds familiar AND you’re starting to sweat a bit … let’s take a few deep breaths before we jump in.
And now, let’s check in.
There are always at least 2 ways you can start an organizing project—if you’re feeling strong, go deep and take on something big … and if you’re feeling a bit timid, a quick win will usually give you just the shot in the arm you need to build some confidence and momentum.
Either way, once you get organized, it is super simple to STAY that way—I promise. And we’ll show you how to do that, too.
What’s most important is getting started so here goes:
ORGANIZING BY ROOM
BEDROOM, CLOSETS, INCLUDING CLOTHING + SHOES
First, let’s see what you can let go of, and when:
42. Anything that you don’t or can’t wear, or haven’t worn in a long time you will not miss so let it go! If it’s in good condition, you can probably sell or donate it. Anything ripped, stained, or otherwise damaged gets recycled.
43. If you have multiple items that are only slightly different, choose the one(s) you like and wear most often, and donate the other(s).
44. If you’re saving a garment that you swear you’ll take to the tailor or cobbler, DO it this week or just forgive yourself for procrastinating and let it go now.
45. Any “special” clothes like costumes, wedding dresses, or formal wear that go typically unused can be packed up and stored away, with these caveats:
46. For special occasion outfits, if any item no longer suits you, donate it. You’re unlikely to like it more than you do right now.
47. Trend items: if you’re waiting for something to come back in style, don’t. Fashion tends to reinvent itself so old styles look just that—old … and tired.
48. Sentimental pieces: I know you loved that jacket in college, or plan to pass your wedding dress on to another generation. But if you haven’t worn the jacket in ages, are short on storage space, have only sons, or were deep into a ‘70s Linda Ronstadt phase when you married so the dress has puffy sleeves, lace and buttons up the arms, give it away to a thrift store, a costume department at a theater or school OR your ironic Gen Z granddaughter.
Now that you have a closetful of clothes you actually wear, how to organize them:
49. Build your closet around your clothes. Depending on what you own, a different setup could add tons of space to your closet. If you’re a shoe addict, adding cubbies for them could make a world of difference; if you have a number of blouses and shorter skirts, you might prefer two tiers of hanging space. Hoodies and gym clothes require shelves rather than hangers.
50. Sort your clothes by type, keeping T-shirts together, sweaters together, and so on. Short sleeves at one end, long sleeves at the other, and color-coordinated.
51. Replace bulky hangers with thin ones. Bingo! More space.
52. While you’re at it, return those annoying wire hangers to the dry cleaners for recycling, and replace them with better ones.
53. If your closet is deep or tall enough, add an extension rod to hang an extra layer of clothes.
54. Use a shoe or boot tray near your entryway for the 3 pairs you use the most often. Store all other pairs.
55. Store shoes on shelves, stackable shelves, or hanging shoe racks.
56. You don’t have to live with clumsy, unsupportive rods or shelves in the closet (or pantry, or anywhere, for that matter). If you’re not a DIYer, for not much money, you can get a skilled carpenter to retrofit bins, shelves, and vertical dividers to create cubbies, as well as properly support/replace any sagging shelves or unstable hanging rods.
57. Want the luxury of pressed sheets without ironing? (One of my personal faves). Remove linens from the dryer while still slightly damp and drape over a shower rod to dry.
We tend not to think about this small space, and the many small items that can accumulate there, but consider this: How much time do you spend rummaging for a hairband, or looking for a fresh razor? Then: Is there something else you’d rather do with that time?
58. Stash small tools like nail clippers, tweezers, and cuticle cutters in an open container, or stand your razors in a bin so you can tell how many you have left. Lids just get in the way.
59. Use plastic tubs under the sink to keep items organized.
60. Get rid of any expired meds properly. Don’t flush or toss in your regular trash. For prescriptions, take them to your pharmacy (many have drug take-back days) or a local police department. If you must throw medications away, “ruin” the drugs by mixing them with coffee grounds or kitty litter in a sealed plastic bag.
61. Trust your nose to dispose of any old or expired make-up; if it doesn’t smell good, it’s probably no longer ok to apply to your skin.
62. Use the same hacks for your bathroom as for your pantry: fit your shelves to how you use the space, use clear bins when you can, and don’t feel you have to keep toiletry items in their store packaging.
63. If you’re still having to rummage regularly for something in a drawer or bin, say a bobby pin or nail clipper, then your “like with like” organization may need to get more specific. Use small open containers or a drawer organizer to corral these smaller items.
64. Consider wheeled laundry bins. Depending on how your space is set up, why schlepp when you can glide your laundry to and from your washer and dryer?
Also known as a “storage locker on wheels,” cars can easily become a dumping ground. Your car—and you—deserve better!
65. Your car is not a garbage can. Dispose of trash like food wrappers, receipts, etc. right away, or designate a receptacle or repurposed grocery store bag that you keep in your car and empty it regularly.
66. Remove anything you don’t actually need in your car right now, like an ice scraper in the summer or donations you mean to drop off. Keep these in a suitable place until needed, or you’re ready to run the errand. BONUS points for actually running the errand!
67. DO keep these in the car:
- insurance certificate
- owner's manual
- maps and/or GPS
- extra pair of sunglasses in case of glare
- small folding umbrella
- headset for your cell phone (preferably you don’t talk and drive, but if you do, please be hands-free)
- envelope with supermarket and drive-through restaurant coupons and any gift certificates you've received (it's pointless for them to be in the drawer at home)
68. DO keep these in the trunk:
- tool kit
- working spare tire
And in winter, add these:
- ice scraper
- bag of kitty litter (for traction in snow)
- small blanket
BASEMENT & GARAGE
I know … we couldn’t avoid it any longer! Breathe then begin with the scariest corner OR the easiest “win”—whichever will get you started quicker.
69. First, get rid of anything unsalvageable. If the basement flooded, or mice got in… Life happens. And: these are no longer possessions, they’re garbage. Just say goodbye.
70. Group similar items, to see what there’s too much of and what’s broken: holiday decorations, seasonal clothing, journals you’ve kept for years. Release anything that isn’t useful or important enough to save.
71. Don’t buy storage bins until you understand what you’re putting into them. It doesn’t serve you to bring home 2 40-gallon tubs if what you need are 15 shoe boxes.
72. If you need to buy tubs or totes, use clear plastic storage. Labels are great, but seeing the contents is better.
73. If you have a finished basement that also serves as a play space for your kids or to entertain, get rolling shelves for the bins that can be moved to one side of the room and even covered with drapes or a tablecloth.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Feeling more organized already?
Just realizing that it’s super SIMPLE, that you CAN live a simpler, more peaceful life, in a space that nourishes and restores you, is a welcome relief. AND wins you back loads of space and TIME.
Now, here in Unstuff-land, we are all about taking action.
So stop reading, and go DO the one hack that jumped out at you.
Need a little more motivation or guidance? Receive step-by-step instruction, ask an expert your burning questions, and get some accountability by getting organized in the company of other great people—so it gets done already! Join our next FREE Destress Your Mess Challenge, starting August 16, here.