I'll admit it. I love organization. I love organized organization. My heart goes pitter-patter in the storage section of Ikea and Target. I stay away from Container Store because I know what's good for me. I organize on a budget so I won't even tease myself by going in there.
But quite honestly, I have to be organized. My house is on the smaller side (1250 sf) which is perfect for the two of us, a cat, and a little one if the time comes. My house doesn't feel small and I think it's due to my lack of "stuff".
Here are some things I've learned throughout the years:
1. You can't organize junk. Get rid of the items you don't use. Show no mercy. If you think, "I might need this" or "I could fix this" just Get. Rid. Of. It. Every once in a while I come across items that I wonder why I put it away, like a broken camera. I planned on getting it repaired... but instead bought 2 additional (and better) cameras since. Or I find items like VHS tapes when I no longer own a VCR. Cassette tapes. Ahem, Spice Girls.
Don't kid yourself that you'll sell it on Craigslist or eBay. Have a garage sale. (Personally, I skip that step.) Whatever doesn't sell, immediately put in your trunk and take to Goodwill. Except those old cell phones! Donate them to your local women's shelter.
2. Don't buy organization containers without analyzing what you need. After de-junking, look at what items you need to organize and buy the containers that fit those needs. Don't do this step until you finished with step 1. Measure your closet shelves (width/depth and height) and buy containers that make the most of the space.
3. You don't need uber-expensive containers to organize. Check the Dollar Store, Target, or WalMart. I found matching canvas totes on clearance at Lowes after Christmas. Ikea has some cardboard containers that don't look very cardboard-ish. I have them hanging out in my living room, organizing everything from dvds to frequently used tools and small electronics.
4. Be creative when it comes to containers. My favorite trick: plastic zip lock bags and a Sharpie. My medicine cabinet doesn't store medicine. That's what happens when you are a make-up junkie and Sephora is your kryptonite. The cute little plastic drawers don't really fit my needs (but they may fit yours) so I stick it in a canvas tote, organized by bags so I can easily find what I'm looking for.
5. One word: Clear containers. (Ok, that's two.) It makes finding things a lot easier. I use clear containers behind closed doors. I don't like the visual clutter of clear storage but that's just me.
6. Label. Label. Label. Even with clear containers. It doesn't have to be anything special or printed. I like my labels uniform because it gives me secret pleasure. I know, I'm weird like that.
7. Hooks are your friend. I don't have a place to store my jewelry so some hooks behind my bedroom door are perfect for this. I also have a couple hooks on the wall for my robe and hoodies that would otherwise end up on the floor or thrown over a door.
8. Use dual purpose furniture. My entertainment center also stores blankets, magazines, and other various items. What about a coffee table that has storage? Use under-the-bed containers for off-season clothing. Create even more space under your bed by using bed risers. Use those same containers under your couch if you can. I store extra blankets under mine.
9. Think vertical. If you've run out of room, think up. One of my fav fav fav products is Ikea's Lack shelf. I have a couple but I've seen pics of walls with 5 of them lined up. The result is modern and clean. (Don't mind my cat and his new napping spot.)
10. Organize in a way that fits your lifestyle. I have trouble with paper clutter. I signed up for as many e-bills that I could. I adapted the tip of going through my mail as the first thing I do when I enter the house. Junk mail goes straight in the recycling bin. But the stuff that needs to be shredded? Not so easy since the shredder is located in the spare bedroom. I since moved it to the mudroom and I take care of those items when I enter the house.
After writing this entry, I just discovered this great blog: The Unclutterer. There are some really helpful hints and organizing ideas. Any tips that you use and are willing to share?