Get yourself organized

In case you haven’t noticed, I am a person that likes things just so.

One of the things that both makes me laugh and has become so important to me over the last year is this idea of “keeping house.” And by that I mean that when your life is crazy like mine is, you have to come home to a house that works. You have to stay organized or a million little things will start to drive you absolutely crazy. (piles of dishes, piles of paper, piles of dog poop, you get the picture). You have to make time for it. Meal planning is one of those things I really need to work on, but for now my focus was on the house itself.

So when I got back from Chicago I realized I had four days with absolutely no work to do. Four days to evaluate everything in my house so that when I went back to the madness, I wouldn’t have to stress about things being messy and a mile-long to-do list I wouldn’t have time for.

Most people would think woo hoo! Four days to drink martinis and watch basketball and work on my tan! Well, I did a lot of that, too, but I am a freak so I also got organized.

Anyway, I realized that the best way to get organized is to ask yourself some questions:

1. What do I have?
Go through everything. The back of your cabinets, the depths of your closets, the boxes in the basement. Everything. I guarantee you’ll find stuff you never knew you had. Then trash the trash, start a pile to take to Goodwill so someone else can benefit from it, and if there are things you found that you can use, rotate them back into your home. (Ahem, this is also a great way to save you money on things you might have bought new without realizing you already had.) Put things where you can see them. Frame your favorite photos, hang up clothes, make a display for your jewelry, etc.

I found that this over-the-door hanger was a godsend because now I can see all the accessories I have and make sure I wear/use them.

2. Does the way things are arranged make sense?
This one was huge for me. Over the last few months I’ve started noticing where things pile up (which drives me crazy) and buying organizers to tidy up those spaces. I got two of these shoe trays, one for each door, so that dirty shoes aren’t strewn everywhere. And any time someone needs to go outside to drop something in the recycling or whatever, there’s always a pair of shoes handy.

I go nuts over little organizing bins. But they really do give those inevitable piles of stuff a place to go.

And I really went bananas over the kitchen when I realized just how out of whack our arrangement of things was compared to how we use them. I had all kinds of things I never use at eye level while the bowls and measuring cups I use almost daily were in a cabinet almost at floor level. So, easy enough, I moved them.

In fact, I moved almost everything. After having lived in our house for two years I know how we use the kitchen so it was easy to figure out where things should go. I can’t tell you how much better I felt after that.

3. What simple, inexpensive items could I buy that would make everything function better?
Make those items a priority. Is it a shelf in the bathroom? A chest for soccer balls and water bottles that could also be used as extra seating (yes! yes!)? Storage bins? Cup hooks? Rubbermaid tubs? If a $10 or $20 or $30 item will save your sanity over and over because it makes your house work for you, just buy it. I am the queen of penny pinching lately, but I can tell you that when you have a busy life, these things are worth it. When you have 20 minutes to walk a dog and the leash is hanging right there, you are a happy person. Simple as that.

Dogs in their usual spot? Check.

Maybe I’m just stating the obvious here, but answering these questions has really helped me figure things out the last few days. I feel SO MUCH BETTER going back into the work week. And for once I feel like the house is working like it’s supposed to.

As for spring cleaning? Well, let’s just say I don’t get as excited about dust bunnies.