Find us someone (other than Martha Stewart and Marie Kondo) who has completely tackled clutter at home, and we will personally deliver them a medal. The war on clutter is real, and it's being waged in homes everywhere. All year, we've been busy sparking joy, donating, organizing, and digitizing—and while we've come a very long way since our first KonMari attempt, we can't say that our homes are truly clutter-free yet.
Yes, tackling clutter all at once can be a daunting project, but the good news is that the more small steps you take toward an organized home, the more natural it becomes to stay organized. Little by little, even the smallest acts make our homes a little more clutter-free each day. Since it can be overwhelming to take on large-scale organizational projects—like emptying out half-forgotten storage units or going through piles of unworn clothing in your overly crowded walk-in closet—starting small is your best course of action.
These changes are so small that they'll barely alter your daily routines, but they will have a big impact on your home.
1. Hang some of your kitchen tools from hooks. This will free up space in your drawers.
2. Line the area underneath your kitchen and bathroom sink with a clean shelf liner. It will automatically feel fresh and new.
3. Keep items that you use most often—salt, pepper, olive oil—at the front of your cabinet on the most accessible shelf.
4. Stack and arrange canned goods by type: tomato products on one shelf, beans on another, and seafood on another.
5. Put a magnetic strip on the back of your bathroom cabinet door and keep easy-to-lose items there (bobby pins, curler clips, tweezers, nail scissors, etc.).
6. Store lip glosses, makeup brushes, and makeup items that come in long skinny tubes (mascara, concealer) upright in large drinking glasses.
7. Hang a wire rack from your shower head to store your most regularly used products (e.g., body wash, shampoo, conditioner).
8. Keep a hamper or bag in your closet dedicated to donating—it'll make it that much easier to make quick decisions on clothing that no longer fits.
9. When you take an article of clothing out of your closet, don't leave the hanger in place. Remove the hanger and place it in another area of the closet reserved for hangers. It will make hanging clothes back up a cinch.
10. Store shoes toe to heel, especially tennis shoes, which can nicely be stacked.
11. Store jewelry that you wear often in a tray or catchall on your dresser.
12. Empty out one of your desk drawers and turn it into your dumping drawer for paperwork. It's where you keep papers instead of piling them onto your desk. Make it a point to go through it once a week.
13. Put instruction manuals in a three-ring binder, and store it in your office.
14. Recycle old magazines.
15. Digitize all paperwork that doesn't need your immediate attention. By storing files digitally, you'll save space on filing cabinets.
16. Get three baskets for your laundry: one for colors, one for whites, and one for darks.
17. Tie colorful ribbons around sheet sets to ensure that they stay together in the linen closet.
18. When the laundry is clean, fold it and put it away immediately. Don’t leave it in a heaping pile in the bedroom.
19. Place a hook for your keys by your front door, and always hang your keys there when you get home.
20. If you don’t have a hall closet for storing jackets, get a coat rack or install hooks and pegs on your wall to store coats.
22. Take out the trash and recycling when you leave the house. Don't let it pile up.
22. Invest in a cord organizer to keep all electronic cords tidy.
23. Set up a charging station for all your electronic devices. You'll never have to plug or unplug a charger again.
24. If you have children, go through their toys and get rid of old, soiled stuffed animals, puzzles, and games, as well as books that have been scribbled in.
25. Keep a mail sorter in the entryway. Go through it once a week.
This post was originally published on October 3, 2016, and has since been updated.