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Believe it or not, but learning how to organize your home (so you can finally declutter your life before your friends and family threaten to sign you up for an episode of Hoarders!) is easier than you might think— and you don’t even have to be the next Marie Kondo to do it!
The truth is, if getting organized feels like a constant struggle, it doesn’t mean that you’re incapable of being tidy or that your mess is just too out-of-control to master. Nope! It might just be that you’re trying to conquer the chaos using the wrong organizing method.
… Say what?
Well, while there’s no real “right” or “wrong” way to get organized, depending on the organizing issues you’re facing at home, some decluttering and organizing techniques might be more effective for you and your mess than others.
Think about it this way: Just like you wouldn’t use a mop to scrub your bathtub or a toothbrush to sweep your floors—even though both tools technically might yield some results if you put enough effort into it—you might be working harder than you need to at the whole organizing thing by applying the wrong methodology to your problem.
So no matter how big your mess is, how long your junk has been there or how helpless you feel every time you start trying to tackle it, we promise there’s hope. Here are five effective ways to make any area of your home look more organized, no matter how big or small your clutter problem is.
1. Corral Small Items Together
If you look at photos of organized kitchens and bathrooms, there’s one thing they all have in common: The countertops are, for the most part, completely clutter-free. But how can you pull this off when there’s a whole slew of items you need to be out in the open and readily accessible on a daily basis? The answer is simple: Corral them using a pretty tray. Or, for larger items, stash them in a tasteful, open-top storage bin you can leave sitting out for easy access. Think of it as organized chaos; it’ll give all your loose odds and ends—like your jewelry, your face wash, your straightener and your toothbrush holder—a single place to land, leaving the rest of your surface looking clean and clutter-free.
2. Organize By Color
Perfect for bookcases, kitchen shelving, or just about any place you have a collection of things on display out in the open—such as the magnet collection that’s taking over your fridge or your kid’s 1,001 stuffed animals—give the ROYGBV organizing method a go. Basically, what it means is that you make your clutter appear more organized by sorting it according to the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet, with whites and black and browns having their own sections, too, as needed. Even though you’re not actually getting rid of excess items or even hiding them from your view, they will instantly appear more tidy from a distance because they’re sorted by color. Plus, it makes for a great décor statement, too.
3. Try the “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” Approach
You already know that letting go of things you don’t need or use is one of the first steps to busting clutter and getting more organized. But, if you’ve already done that, yet still feel like your drawers and closets are about to burst at the seams, give this little game a try: Pick one overly cluttered area in your home—maybe it’s your drawer full of kitchen utensils or your over-flowing linen closet—and take every single item out of it. Next, select your top five to ten most-used and/or favorite items from the batch (your number may vary depending on the category of items you’re tackling), and put only those carefully curated pieces back, organizing them as you go. Then, throw the rest into a black garbage bag and stash it in the bottom of your closet for one month. See how many times, if any, you find yourself needing to dig through the bag for an item that didn’t make the cut list.
4. Create an “Inbox”
Even if everything in your home has an organized place where it belongs, it can be hard to stay completely caught up with your organization 100 percent of the time. So, in order to keep small messes from becoming overwhelming, establishing your own “inbox”—essentially, a catch-all place for the things you need to organize or put away, but don’t have time to tackle at the moment—can help. Whether it’s a small bin you keep under your desk or an extra laundry basket stashed in the corner of your mudroom, simply toss anything that’s been left out during the day into your “inbox” and, every few days, sort through it and put each item back where it belongs. That way, your home will consistently feel more organized and tidy, even on your most hectic days.
5. Consider Organization Through a New Lens
What your friends and family see when they enter your home vs. what you see isn’t always the same thing. Even if you’ve applied the organizing methods listed above and tidied up your stuff as best you can, your home might still appear quite disorganized to others. To figure out if that’s the case, a change in perspective can help. Stand in one corner of your room and use your phone to snap a quick photo of your space as a whole. Now, instead of looking at the space IRL, only look at the photos. This makes it 10x easier for you to see your home through fresh eyes, allowing you to identify any lingering areas that need your attention.