Julie’s Principles of Organizing

organizing principles

Someone asked me the other day what were some common things I tell my clients.  I thought about it some and these are some things I try to teach all my clients.  If we have worked together before you’ll probably be nodding your head along the way.   I hope these help spark some ideas for you and help you get started on your journey to having a Neat & Pretty space to enjoy!

1. Use Vertical Space

We all know how to use flat surfaces to store our stuff (aka piles) but we often neglect the vertical surfaces.  If you can find a way to use all the space you have you will inevitably have more space.  This is especially true in small spaces.  Shelves, hooks, and bins on the walls are excellent uses of vertical space. Entryways, offices and bedrooms are all places that I especially like to use my vertical surfaces.

vertical 11

2. Store Things Where You Use Them: 

If you have the space this is ideal.  Store your cleaning supplies under the sink in each bathroom.  Store your gloves and mittens near the door you use to exit your house.  Store your grocery shopping bags in your car so you have them when you’re ready to shop.  Store your extra set of sheets in the bedroom of the bed they go on.  If you store things where you use them it will take you less time to find them and you’ll be more inclined to put them away when you’re done using them.

athens professional organizer

3. Develop Rhythms:

Organizing and keeping a clutter free home has so much to do with our rhythms of life.  One of the things I do when helping a client is to help them discover how their family uses a space.  Where do people naturally drop their bags and shoes?  Where does the mail usually pile up?  How many blankets do you really need in the living room for watching tv?  Does anyone actually sit at that desk to work?  When you can take an honest assessment of our space and our natural rhythms we can develop organizational systems that compliment us instead of forcing us into things that feel so very unnatural.  Start small and create some small regular patterns for your family.  Sort your mail when you first come in the door.  Clean up all the shoes and coats before bed every night.  Get some hooks by the door you actually enter your house for coats, bags and purses.  Don’t make your life harder with organizing….find ways to use organization to make your life richer.20131121-123445.jpg

4. Be intentional About Storage:

I have three children who create all kinds of beautiful art.  They write amazing stories.  They wear adorable clothes.  I enjoy keeping ‘things’ that remind me of these children’s stages of life.  That is ok!  Find a system for how you’re going to keep these things.  If you don’t you will just end up with piles of things you want to keep and you’ll make yourself feel guilty about keeping them.  Designate a keepsake bin (or two) for everyone in the family. Yes…even you and your spouse.  Designate bins to keep the outgrown clothes…maybe just until you’re ready to donate or sell them…but make sure you have space to put the things as your children are outgrowing their clothes.  Be intentional so that these things do not become a burden of guilt.

school papers

5. Choose Your Containers Wisely:

Everyone knows you need containers when you want to get something organized.  The difficult part is finding the right containers for the job.  There is a huge market out there trying to get you to spend your money on containers.   You don’t have to spend a million dollars to get organized though.  Take a look around your house and see what you might already have.  You can find inexpensive containers at the thrift store, Target or Ikea.  Use a vase to organize all those pens hanging out in a drawer and reclaim some drawer space.  Find a pretty serving dish and toss all your kcups inside and store on the counter.  Use a woven basket to hold craft materials or lunch box supplies and sit them up on a shelf “hidden” from plain sight.  Use inexpensive clear bins to organize your pantry.  It doesn’t have to be an item designed specifically to organize one particular item.crayons


6. Allocate More Space Than You Need: 

This is one of the biggest mistakes I see people making when they are organizing on their own.  They get a closet looking wonderful but they have just enough space for the shoes or clothes they already own.  So what happens when you go shopping the next season?  Your space is busting at the seams again and you’re unorganized again.  Always leave a little room for growth. And when you do add new things remember to consider purging something at the same time.clothing purge 1


7. Think Outside The Box:

Just because that closet is called a “coat closet” doesn’t mean that’s what you have to use it for…think about what you need to use it for.  I have a pie safe in my dining room full of board games.  I have a dresser in that same room full of craft supplies.  I have another dresser at the end of my hallway  that holds all of our gloves and winter hats.  I use a pretty little wooden tea box to hold my business cards.  I use a beautiful three tiered cookie plate to hold my children’s beloved rock collections.  This is a wonderful way to incorporate things you love into your home by using them for useful purposes.chest 2

8. Don’t Keep Things Out of Obligation:

Just because your Aunt Shirley gave you this apron 7 years ago and you don’t cook at all doesn’t mean you have to keep it.  The gift givers most certainly didn’t give you something because they wanted you to feel burdened by it years later.  Think about the items you store out of obligations and decide to free yourself from obligation.  Keep them if you like but because YOU are deciding to keep them and not because someone will check up on you to make sure you still have said item.  Of course you need to be mindful of family heirlooms and special family items.  But maybe you are not the person to keep them…consider another family member who might actually enjoy those items or have the space to use them.nothing but beautiful

9. Give Honor To The Things You Love:

This goes along with my previous point.  I tell my clients all the time to “give honor to the things you love”.  Do not hide away something you treasure in a cabinet to collect dust or get moldy.  If you have an item that is special to you..put it on display, wear it, hang it up or use it.  Enjoy that item. If it gets broken…know that you have loved it and used it.  I promise you will get so much more joy from using a special coffee mug your sister in law made you every day than if you keep it in the back of the cabinet and never use it for fear of breaking it.  Each time I see or touch an item that was gifted to me and is special it brings me so much joy.  Find a way to give honor and enjoy the things that mean so much to you.


10. Be Willing To Try:

I often ask my clients to step outside of their comfort zone and let me rearrange their furniture or pull everything off a shelf.  Sometimes we spend so much time trying to decide what we are going to do that we never try.  And if you ARE one of my clients you know that plenty of times after we try something we realize it does not in fact work and we have to move things back.  This energy spent is never lost because NOW we are confident that we must come up with another way.  Be willing to try new things just to see if they work better for you and your family.  You never know….they just might work better!
gift certificates 2014

I challenge you to take one of these principles and apply it to your home, office or even your vehicle.  Think about it and decide what you can do today to make more space for yourself, more time for your family or more peace in your home.