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Clear the Clutter: 17 Home Organization Hacks

Organizing is so much more than pretty baskets and bins. “It’s about living a life you love to come home to, knowing where all your stuff is, and lessening the load of what’s no longer serving you,” says Karlee Alves, owner of 2B Organized Sacramento & 2B Organized ( “The key to being organized is to have systems in place that work for you, your family, and your lifestyle.” If you’re looking to find peace and happiness in every nook and cranny of your home—from the garage to your closet—don’t miss these top tips from area pros.

Know your why.
“Why do you want to get organized? Is it because you want to be able to find the things you need when you need them? Is it because you want to live more peacefully? Is it because you want more time with your family and less time trying to sift through clutter and manage stuff? Wanting a picture-perfect pantry because Instagram says it will make you happy isn’t enough. You need a strong why behind your reason to want to get organized for long-lasting, sustainable change,” says Alves.

Organizing is a journey, not a destination.
“Similar to health and fitness, habit and lifestyle changes have to be made for the changes to stick. You can do all the things—hire a personal trainer, buy the Peloton, go on a fad diet—but if you don’t make overall lifestyle changes your weight will slowly creep back on. Organizing is very similar in that maintenance and new habits need to be made to create lasting change,” says Alves.

Start with one, small, measurable area.
“Taking on an organizing project can be very daunting. Many of us put off projects like this because we believe we shouldn’t start it if we can’t finish the whole thing,” says Dawn Cannon, owner/operator of Finely Organized ( Instead of looking at the entire room and being overwhelmed by the task at hand, start with one drawer, one shelf, or do what is called ‘batching’—completing one task throughout the whole area, such as carrying a trash bag around the room and removing garbage or putting all the items that don’t belong into a laundry basket.”

Remove and look at everything.
“Take the time to remove all the items from a space (closet, cabinet, drawers, or shelves) so you know exactly what is there,” says Susan Mann, owner of So Organized ( “This allows you the opportunity to purge the items you don’t need so you can donate, recycle, or dispose of them; and gives you a chance to look at the empty space and reorganize it in a way that is more useful and functional for you.”

Keep your files organized


Purge and edit.
“Letting go of things that no longer serve you is a crucial first step in any organizing project,” says Cannon. “Anyone can shuffle things around and make a room ‘pretty,’ but what have you really accomplished? If you think about it, we bring something new into our homes or offices nearly every day, whether it’s mail, groceries, or something we picked up at the store. If we’re not letting go of things at the same pace, at some point, it’s inevitable that we’ll be overwhelmed with clutter.”

“By giving your belongings a physical boundary, it helps to keep like things together with less migration. Document trays are a great example. How often do you look at your desk, or the kitchen counter, and your mail has multiplied into several different piles from one end to the other? Having one designated place will save you time and space when you’re searching for something,” says Cannon.
“Most of us, in fact 80%, are visual learners—meaning we rely heavily on visual cues to process information,” says Cannon. “By labeling containers, even when we already know what’s in them, it will help solidify in our brains where these items are and where they should be stored after use. Since very few of us process information the same way (even if we are visual learners), labels significantly help when there is more than one person accessing the items. In a pantry, for example, everyone in the family will know where to retrieve and store the ‘chips’ if they’re contained and labeled.”

Organize your food so you see it.
“Put fruits and vegetables in clear containers or mason jars so you can easily see what you have. Use a turntable for condiments so they don’t get stuck behind other items in the refrigerator. You’re more likely to eat the food that you can see, which leads to a lot less waste,” says Kristina Lewis, owner of Blitz Organization (

Sunk-cost fallacy.
“The sunk-cost fallacy is the phenomenon whereby a person is reluctant to abandon a strategy or course of action because they have invested heavily in it, even when it’s clear that abandonment would be more beneficial,” says Cannon. “Storing that dresser in the garage under a pile of who knows what will not get your money back and serves you in no way. Remember, ‘cost’ is what you give up for something, it is not only money. Storing that dresser is costing you time, space, energy, and stress.”

Edit before you shop.
“I see it all the time: People buy organizing products thinking it will solve their problems, when in reality if they took the time to edit out the things they no longer need, want, or love, they might not actually need to buy the countertop makeup organizer because all the makeup actually fits neatly inside the drawers once they’ve pared things down,” says Alves.

Collaborate with your household.
“Think of your entire household and how they also use the space you want to reorganize,” says Mann. “Discuss with them how you envision the area looking after you reorganize it and ask for their input, so it works effectively for everyone and stays organized over time.”

Everything has a place.
“Designate a laundry basket for each child in your home so they can put backpacks, jackets, toys, schoolwork, etc. in it, rather than leaving these items scattered throughout the house,” says Mann. “At the end of the day, have your child help with putting these items back where they belong. It’s a good routine to teach them to be responsible for their belongings and alleviate clutter from building up.”

One in, one out.
“Adhere to the ‘one in, one out’ rule. Bought a new sweater? Great! Get rid of one of your old ones,” says Alves.

Utilize unused space.
“If you need more storage, consider using shelves and hooks on your walls or an over-the-door organizer for wrapping paper, snacks, shoes, supplies, etc. The possibilities are endless!” says Lewis.
Turn the page on paper.
“Create a system for all the paperwork that comes into your home. Paperwork can pile up quickly, so it’s a good idea to only file away what’s absolutely necessary and toss or shred the rest,” says Lewis. “Mount a document organizer on the wall or have a file box on top of an entryway table, counter, or placed in a cabinet. Throw out junk mail, put bills and any other action items into a folder when you’re ready to tackle them, and file important paperwork right away. Whatever system you plan to use, make it an easy one!”
Do it daily.
“Organizing is a daily practice that needs to be cultivated, reset, and maintained,” says Lewis. Give yourself time and space to get started. The joy you’ll feel once you’re done is indescribable!”

Just keep going.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day and overall sustainable change requires time and dedication, but knowing where all your items are and loving everything you own is such a motivation to not allow things in that won’t serve you,” says Alves. “Once you’re at a level of maintaining, you’ll realize the journey was well worth it and the path forward is so much easier because you've put in the work.”

by Kourtney Jason
Top photo sonyachny - File folders photo ©Delphotostock - Kitchen cabinet photo © Pixel-Shot - Other photos courtesy of their respective companies or organizations.