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  1. #1
    KrisM is offline Clean Sweep forum moderator
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    Default Those with organized houses...

    how do you do it?

    I so want to be organized and have everything in its place. But, I don't have places for everything. I have made a lot of progress in the kitchen space and keeping it, and most of the main floor, pretty nice, but I completely run out of time for the rest of the house. I end up power cleaning our bedrooms every couple of weeks.

    I know part of my problem is that I am picking up after all 5 of us. I know I need to get DH and the kids to help. But, I also need good organizing ideas so I can teach them.

    please help.
    Kris

  2. #2
    Melaine is offline Blue Diamond level (20,000+ posts)
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    I wonder if anyone will answer. I certainly cannot respond as one with an organized home.....

  3. #3
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    Can't help you too much but I do think the key is to put back everything when you are done with it. Otherwise too much "stuff" is out and not in its place.
    Mama to 3

  4. #4
    KrisM is offline Clean Sweep forum moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by Octobermommy View Post
    Can't help you too much but I do think the key is to put back everything when you are done with it. Otherwise too much "stuff" is out and not in its place.
    But not everything has a place. How do you actually find a place for everything? I have spaces for a lot of things, but what about transient things? Mail? School stuff? Art projects?
    Kris

  5. #5
    LarsMal is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    I've been told my house is organized, but I don't always feel that way! Everything definitely has it's place, but how often it gets there is another issue!

    I can't stand clutter so everything *has* to have a home!

    I'm trying to think of how I do it, though, and I don't really know how to explain it! The kids' playroom has a bookshelf and one of those Target bin organizers. DS has a train table against the wall. Underneath are plastic bins with other sorted toys in them. We have an empty bedroom on our main level. That closet has another organizer in it with a few open shelves and a few canvas bins. The overflow of books goes in there along with games/toys the kids don't play with as often. I am just waiting for the kids to start HELPING me pick up all the crap!

    The kids' rooms stay pretty organized b/c I don't allow toys in their rooms. DS has his guitar in there so DD doesn't destroy it, and DD has her doll cradle and a few dolls in her room, but that's it. Laundry gets folded and put away as soon as it's done.

    The more I sit here and think about it, the more I realize I have a ridiculous number of plastic bins- all shapes and sizes!!

  6. #6
    LarsMal is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    Quote Originally Posted by KrisM View Post
    But not everything has a place. How do you actually find a place for everything? I have spaces for a lot of things, but what about transient things? Mail? School stuff? Art projects?
    I have one of those wooden bill organizers. I have it sitting on our wooden filing cabinet in DH's office. I sit the mail in front of the bill organizer if I can't get to it right away. At some point during the day, though, I have to go through it. Catalogs I know I don't want go right in recycling, bills get sorted. Magazines/keeper catalogs go into the magazine rack, there are a couple I keep on the coffee table. If it's something for DH I leave it on the filing cabinet for him to look through. Junk gets recycled or trashed.

    If we didn't do it this way our mail would end up in three different rooms and bills would get lost (learned that one the hard way!).

  7. #7
    kijip is offline Pink Diamond level (15,000+ posts)
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    I know it sounds neurotic (I am the first to admit to a little insanity on this issue) but the only thing that works for us is this: if I don't have a place for it, I don't have it at all. If you find yourself power cleaning every few weeks, it could be that you just have too much stuff out and about. The first thing I thought about when we were growing into this system is "Do I need this at all, ever?" and then "Do I need this out all the time?" Need is loosely defined as sure, I don't need my records like I need food but we listen to them all the time, so include your this-is-a-want-a-truly-get-enjoyment-from. Using that over time, you can shed the excess stuff that is causing the clutter. We put things away in the garage we don't need all the time and we get rid of things we don't need at all. Before buying any storage or building any shelves, I think it helps to do a brutal decluttering. Then just organize the stuff you truly care about. And keep getting rid of stuff as it outlives it usefulness to you. If you are a saver, dedicate a couple of closed off spots to keep stuff you don't need but just can't see getting rid of. Check back in a year and see if you have changed your mind, I know I put stuff in the garage I think I want to keep and then later see it in the garage and go, ummm I am getting rid of that right now.

    Honestly what sparked this for us was about 7 years ago moving from a 4 bedroom craftsman house we shared in college with my younger brother to a single room studio with no extra space. We had WAY too much stuff. Since that studio, each living space has been bigger but we use the same decluttering/does this need to go in my house at all litmus test to keep it (mostly) under control.

    One example for us: we had a $300 gift card to a co-op artist pottery place. We found a vase that is nicer than the one that was on the mantle that we both loved. We brought it home, does not work to have both there and the spot where our extra vases are in the dining room was full. We really don't need one more vase, but the newest one is nicer so we got rid of an old one that day. Sure an extra vase lying around is not going to kill anyone but a vase+ an extra of a lot of other things is going to be hard to keep organized and clean. Added bonus: I really like the ones we do have. I have no vases that I am so-so about. I got rid of one I really liked, but I like this new one a lot more. I think it is easier to keep things clean when you really like your house and the things in it are valued and to varying degrees brighten your day/life in some way. Obviously I could live without any vases if push came to shove.

    I get a lot of comments that our house is "so clean" (trust me, it's not that clean!) that we must work really hard. No, we just have a system in place that lets us keep it looking clean and uncluttered while being mostly lazy about housework.

    Transient solutions:

    Mail- open over recycling and shredder. Make a point to toss stuff you do need for a bit (a favorite catalog or whatever) right after you read it. Bills go in a binder in the office. We splurged on a nice wall organizer thing with write on calendars recently to help. I needed to visualize the week shaping up with appointments for me, F, mom, J's work and school, my school, T's school etc.

    Art projects- for flat stuff, we have a few strategies. There is a letter tray on T's craft table where things go he is done with. Periodically, we go through it and toss the stuff we don't want. The stuff that we do want gets put in a binder that is on his bookshelf in his bedroom. He also has room for 2 or so things he can magnet to the fridge. When a new one comes along, one of the old goes away (either to the recycle or the binder). For easel stuff, it gets cut off when something great is finished and the great thing goes on the wall for a bit with tape and the rest of the used portion with nothing to save gets recycled. When something has been up for a bit, it gets recycled unless it is something J wants to save and then he dates it and puts it in his old black student portfolio bag we re-purposed for T's stuff. This lives out of sight, behind the couch actually. Non flat stuff gets put on the mantle or in his room on a shelf and then tossed when stuff comes up behind it. We have snapped a picture of a few of these when we tossed them for memories sake but not kept them. Exception has been a few holiday themed ones that get stored in the garage with the decorations and brought out annually. J is the guiding force behind keeping any of this stuff, so we have struck a lot of compromises along the way. He softens me a bit and I prevent him from keeping 47 nearly identical drawings done in the same week, LOL.

    School stuff- this lives in his backpack or at his craft table. The stuff for us comes out out the folder and signed and put back in the folder in his backpack OR if it is information only and we need to keep it, it goes in the office. Later when I am filing I can decide if it needs to be kept long term. Exception would be calendars and reading logs but they have their spots on the fridge.
    Last edited by kijip; 02-24-2009 at 02:19 PM.
    Katie, mama to a pair of boys.

  8. #8
    niccig is offline Clean Sweep forum moderator
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    My house was in better shape 2 years ago, then I fell off the organized bandwagon and I'm trying to climb back on.

    I learned to attack one problem area at a time, work out a new system and you have to keep it for at least a month before it becomes habit. Then attack a new problem.

    If your problem is mail, check it every day, junk immediately to trash can, then I have a desk top file with hanging folders. One is for to pay, to file, to do, receipts. I put the mail in the appropriate folder and I pay the bills once a week. I normally put the paid bills in the to file section, and about once every 2 months, I file those into the filing cabinet (I need to get better on this part). The trick I found with mail was to only have one place where it could be - either in the mail box or in my desk top file, otherwise I could never find a bill that I know we got. The system works until DH opens the mail though!

    For other bits of paper, I have a few 3 ring folders. One for DS's stuff, one for house related, one for the big projects I"ve got under way, and one for my things. I was desperately searching for an inspection report and couldn't find it, because I actually put it away in the Project folder where it belonged. So expect for a little while to have more problems as some things will be in the new system and others won't be there yet.

    I'm going over my filing cabinet with the permanent files, as I putting together a fire safe/safety deposit box etc. So it's my project for this month.

    My main problem that I'm still grappling with is DS's toys. With Christmas and Birthday on the same day, we got too much stuff. I did a purge before the holidays, but it didn't help. I need to purge more, and I need to make DS put things away before pulling out a new toy. You need to purge before you can organise.

    Oh,, and what a PP said about always putting things away - that is so true. When we don't let the counter tops or the table become a dumping ground, and put things away, it definitely helps. As I'm trying to get organized again, the house is a little messier, but I'll get it back together. And when it was better, DH did put things away - eg. toys got put in correct bin as I had signs on them, rather than just dumped anywhere as it currently is.

    ETA. Art stuff from school. I have 2 curtain wires hanging in the hallway to put things up for display, so some goes there straight away. The remainder goes in a plastic bin. Sometimes I send some things to family. Every now and then I sort through the plastic bin and toss art that we're not keeping when DS can't see me do it. At the end of the year, I look through what was on display and I put 4-6 pieces into an art portfolio - I got a big one so that the big pieces of paper fit.
    Last edited by niccig; 02-24-2009 at 02:14 PM.

  9. #9
    m448 is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    My house is not minimalist, nor showroom clean but it is decently organized for having 5 people in it. What helped was reading this book:

    http://www.amazon.com/Organizing-Ins.../dp/0805056491

    She did something I hadn't seen done in any of the other get organized books I'd read. She teaches you how to organize things in the way YOU use them. She's not big on telling you what to get rid of or where to put it. Instead she follows the kindergarten classroom arrangement theory of organizing small stations of stuff WHERE you use it. So if you're like me, and you tend to get the inkling to pluck your eyebrows while sitting in the living room watching the evening news then she would encourage you to put a small case/basket/etc. near your couch with your tweezers, mirror and a light if you need it. It does you no good to have them in the bathroom tossed in some junk drawer if you don't use them there. That way it's always where you need it, and right there to be put away as well.

    My kitchen is where the method is truly put to good use. I have a small kitchen (comfortable enough for one adult to work but two gets kind of cramped). I have a corner area of the counter set up with the mixer and food processor. The cabinet right below I had DH install a pull out stainless drawer that holds all my flours, and most of my baking ingredients. On the top shelves of that cabinet are my baking pans. The cabinet above the counter hold my mixing bowls, liquid measuring cups and hung on command hooks along the wall are my measuring cups and spoons. So when I bake bread, sweets, etc I can get in that area, pull fresh stuff from the fridge and go to town without having to retrieve stuff from opposite ends of the house. My spices are in tins that magnetically adhere to the front of the fridge. I have two large utensil crocks - one by the stove with all the utensils we use to cook and another by the bakings station with my spatulas and mixing spoons. By the stove I keep an extra set of measuring cups and spoons so I can bake and cook without having to run out of measuring tools.

    I took pics of the setup about 3 years ago when I totally redid the current kitchen after some small appliance purchases if you'd like to see them. With everything having a home people who empty the dishwasher tend to ask if they're not sure where something goes. I don't keep extra stuff in the kitchen that doesn't get used. I have a very Alton Brown approach to my setup.
    Herding my flock of 4 kids, all 12 and under.

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    I'm cutting down on the amount of stuff. If I don't have a spot for it--out it goes. I'm finding having less stuff means I have less to maintain which means less time cleaning. I have a ways to go, but I'm plugging away.
    ~~AngelaS~~
    Mommy to 3 girls: A, G and M. (15, 11 and 8.5)

    The education of all children, from the moment that they can get along without a mother's care, shall be in state institutions at state expense.
    Karl Marx, "The Communist Manifesto"

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