Check out these 14 organizing ideas that stick.

By Eliza Cantlay

“My house looks amazing now, but how do I keep it this nice?”

This might be the question I hear most often from my organizing clients! Here are some tips of mine to save you time, money and sanity.

  1. Immediately get organizing supplies as soon as you have purged an area. If you don’t contain the items that made the cut to stay in your life, things will creep back to where they don’t belong! Ensure that all the hard work you did counts by getting containers and other supplies ASAP.
  2. Label everything. A label eliminates confusion as to where to put things away- the more people living under your roof, the more important this becomes. If you have children who do not read yet, a clear picture label works very well. You can use a label maker, stickers, or (my new favorite), glass pens. Labelling is the key to maintenance, because nobody can argue with a label!
  3. It is completely okay and encouraged to have a “Miscellaneous” category in any system. Figure out where it can permanently go when you have more time and clarity, but in the meantime, a “Misc.” category keeps it out of the wrong place.
  4. Set up recurring reminders to keep things maintained–mark your calendars for a closet purge every 6 months, a pantry weeding every 3 months, etc. Figure out how often each of your systems (or rooms) needs a culling and write it down! Don’t wait until it’s a mess again–this is a preventative step here.
  5. Create a Donation Station: Use a hamper, box or bag on every level of your home. When the container gets full, take it to your local donation center–hop on to reusefull.org to see which local charities take specific items.
  6. Involve your family in helping maintain the state of the house. It can’t all fall on you! They don’t teach organizing skills in school (yet), so it’s up to you to educate the household–it is a lifelong skill.
  7. Keep your space clean. If you are busy and can afford it, there’s no better way to stay on top of organization than hiring a cleaning service. A clean space is always more likely to stay organized.
  8. After your initial decluttering, use the One-In, One-Out Rule. If you buy a pair of shoes, donate a pair of shoes.
  9. Every time you organize a part of your home, give everybody who lives there a tour of what you’ve changed. This will keep everybody on the same page, which will keep things organized.
  10. Shop mindfully. Pause before letting future clutter in. Where will it live when you bring it home?
  11. Use containers as boundaries. For instance, put all daily-used toiletries on a nice looking tray on your bathroom sink. If it doesn’t fit on the tray, it needs to go in the drawer or under the sink. Or, if your shoe rack fits 20 shoes and you own 25 pairs, pare down until you hit the 20 mark. Use surfaces, trays, shelves and containers as boundaries–if you don’t let things overgrow the designated spot, you will never have to worry about maintenance.
  12. A clutter-free home and strong personal boundaries go hand in hand. Have a gentle conversation with your well-meaning parents, in-laws and friends about you and your family’s boundaries when it comes to clutter. You might say, “Instead of more toys, we’d love you to buy lessons or a museum membership for the kids.”
  13. Just because an item made the cut as a keeper during the organizing session doesn’t mean it still belongs in your home, if keeping it becomes cumbersome and distracting, move it into your new Donation Station.
  14. Call a professional organizer if you get stuck–we are well trained, judgment free and here to help!

Eliza Cantlay has been organizing and simplifying homes, offices and inboxes since 2010. She is the owner of Simplicana, which offers professional organizing services in the Kansas City metro.