With just a few swipes through your social media feed, you’re bound to land on a very inspiring photo (or five!) of a perfectly organized space filled with beautifully coordinated bins, baskets, and labels. And before you know it, the urge to shop that photo starts to take hold and you find yourself just wanting to grab every single organizing product you can get your hands on. Here’s the thing, though: buying organizing products doesn’t make you any more organized than buying a celebrity tabloid makes you famous.
The temptation for an easy fix is strong, and so is the desire to replicate what you see in all of those pretty, matchy-matchy decluttered spaces on social media. Lucky for you, you don’t have to fall into the same traps. Here are three specific instances where you can waltz right by organizing products aisle and break the rules a little, and three where attempting to invest in being a little more organized will really pay off.
Skip the Matching Hangers
Slim, velvet hangers are terrific for spaghetti straps and silky blouses. But, they are not so great for a t-shirt with a small neck opening or a sweater. If you look in my (incredibly organized) closet, you’ll find about four different types of hangers in different colors hanging all mixed up together like veggies in a pot of soup. I use hangers that work best for my different types of clothing, and as a professional organizer, I’m giving you permission to save your money and use the hangers you already own. They’ll work just fine.
Avoid Super Specific File Folders
Filing paperwork is a drag, I’ll admit it. And it’s an even bigger nuisance when you have 15 million categories all in different folders. I’ll tell you though, “filing systems” with pre-printed labels are not the answer; Mr. File System Creator doesn’t know your life!
The best way to achieve an organized filing drawer is to use broad, general categories for your file folders instead of getting too specific. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t need a folder for each automobile we have — I need one file labeled “cars.” I don’t need a folder for every bill I pay each month — I need one file labeled “utilities” or “monthly bills.”
If you’re really serious about creating the most organized filing system though, the main trick is actually to keep fewer papers. You may initially feel worried about throwing away something important, but think about how many times you’ve referred to similar papers in the past. You probably haven’t. In fact, it’s likely you will never reference an oil change receipt or an outdated insurance policy. Throw them away! And while you’re at it, recycle the user’s manual for that user’s manual too.
Drop That Set of 15 Food Containers
Unless you’re just starting to build your food storage container collection from scratch, chances are you really don’t need all of the many sizes that typically come in a set. Instead, skip the set and buy only pieces you need. While you’re taking inventory of what you actually need, take a moment to throw away pieces that have lost their other halves (who can keep up with those pesky container tops, anyway?). And just remember, if your food storage container drawer is overwhelming, it’s likely because you have too many containers, not because you need more.
As for how to actually store your containers, the verdict is a bit mixed here. Some professional organizers recommend nesting your containers, while others (including me) recommend storing them with the lids on. Either way, both of these methods are more helpful than purchasing a new set just because your old one is giving you a hard time.
And now, the good stuff! Here are three organizing hacks that will help you that you should give a try.
The Lazy Susan (or Turntable)
This is the workhorse of an organized kitchen. Do you have a lot of condiments lost in the back of your fridge? Get yourself a turntable or two! Do you have a deep corner cabinet akin to a black hole? Get a big ol’ turntable for each shelf.
What about your spices or bottles of oil and vinegar? Check and check! Get as many turntables as your heart desires. If you run out of uses for them in the kitchen, they can also help your organize a medicine cabinet, the bathroom counter or underneath the sink — wherever you store small containers or bottles.
Also a game changer in your cabinets, these plastic or wire shelves can increase your cabinet space and save you from having to lift a stack of bowls to retrieve a plate. (We’ve all done that dance, amiright?) They’ll allow you to store a few more coffee mugs in the kitchen or toiletries in the bathroom.
Hanging Sweater or Shoe Shelves
These are yet another miracle organizing product I recommend fully. They are perfect for storing gloves and hats in your coat closet or any other non-hangable small things you need handy by the door. They also work well in children’s closets. Use the hanging shelves to store toys, socks, shoes, or an outfit for the next day. I use the shelves in my closet for my workout clothes which don’t fold well and I can’t be bothered to hang up. That’s right, I shove my Lycra into these shelves and call it organized!
The truth is, no one product will instantly make you more organized, but finding the right ones can help you better access your stuff, which will make your life a little easier. That’s win enough for me.