This One Organization Trick Changed Everything for Me

Katie Sweeney

For as long as I can remember, my father has said, “There’s a place for everything and everything in its place.” Whether he’s referring to toys, clothes, or salad plates, he believes each household item has a specific spot, and if you always return it to that spot, nothing will ever get lost.

As a neat freak and borderline obsessive-compulsive, I’ve applied his philosophy to my adult home at life. But I’ve taken it even a step further by creating organizational maps for all of the stuff in my house. It’s a little crazy, but this helpful trick has made my life a lot easier. Let me explain.

I live in a studio apartment that’s about 400 square feet, and I have a lot of stuff. Shoes, cookbooks, ribbons, table linens, nail polish—those are just a few of my collections. There are only two closets and there's virtually no shelving, so where on Earth am I supposed to keep it all? Naturally, I store things everywhere I can.

Underneath my bed, there are six rectangular plastic containers that each hold different items: the aforementioned ribbon and table linens, holiday decorations, specialty handbags, financial information and instructions to things like my Jambox and vacuum cleaner. Behind my couch, there's an assortment of random boxes that store my iron, wrapping paper, reusable totes, and odds and ends. In the hall closet, behind my hanging collection of jackets, there are shelves that store clothes, a sewing machine, a wine cellar, board games, old books and magazines, a slow cooker, and an assortment of other random things.

Since most of this stuff is hidden, I had to come up with some sort of way for remembering where everything is. Enter the organizational maps. Taped to the back of my hall closet are a series of hand-drawn maps that list all of my storage spaces. One is "underneath the bed," another is "behind the couch," and another is "hall closet." I label where everything is so when I need to find lightbulbs or the microplane, I can do so quickly. While it takes time to draw out these organizational maps, in the long run, I’m saving time: I never have to search for anything. If you’re planning a little fall organization, I recommend you give the maps a try, especially if you store things out of sight.

The maps are ideal for organizing groups of things: cleaning supplies, purses, crafting tools, out-of-season clothes, and anything older that you've been holding on to (magazines, books, photo albums, files, journals, etc.). These items aren’t everyday things, but stuff you use occasionally. Free-form draw the map, or use graph paper if you’re storing a lot of stuff in boxes. Don’t be afraid to make a key and color coordinate things. Keep the maps in an easy-to-find space and refer to them often. Whenever you reorganize things, be sure to update the maps. The last thing you want is an out-of-date map.

Do you have a system of organization that has changed your life? Tell me about them below!

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