I recently wrote an article for NW Kids Magazine called “10 Tips to Help Your Family Get Organized in 2018,” and I’m really proud of how it turned out! They included one of our photos of a project we worked on earlier this year, and there was even room for a pic of my son sorting his toys (oh man, we really need to get rid of those old blocks he hasn’t touched in 2 years!) Here is the text:
January is the most popular month for starting organizing projects, so here are 10 tips to start your family down the path to organization from a professional organizer:
- Have a family meeting to make sure everyone is on board with your resolution to get more organized. Is everyone willing to work toward this goal? If family members can’t agree on what the problem is, they won’t agree on what the solution is.
- Pick a room in your house to work in and start by clearing out the clutter. Plan to organize for no more than four hours each day in order to prevent burn-out.
- On the day you start decluttering, minimize distractions (phones!) and turn up the music to get the energy pumping. Set aside four boxes (donate, trash, recycle, keep) and start sorting!
- Can’t decide whether to keep an item? Ask yourself, “do I use it” or “do I love it?” If you can’t answer yes to one of those questions, the item goes.
- After you finish sorting everything, get those unwanted things out of the house pronto before they end up back in the mix! (See sidebar for my favorite family-friendly charities to donate to.)
- Find homes for things you want to keep by designating zones in your room. For example, a garage might have a camping zone, sports equipment zone, tool zone, etc. By dividing your room up into zones, it makes it easier to find and put things away
- Think of eye-level as your prime real estate, and store frequently used items there. It’s the first place you look, so it’s the logical place for items that get a lot of use. Store seldom-used items up high or down low.
- Matching bins on shelves are a great way to corral groups of similar items, such as kids’ toys or office supplies. Make sure to stick big labels on the bins so everyone knows what lives in the bins.
- You did the hard work of decluttering. Now maintain your organization by scheduling a 15-minute clean-up every night after dinner. Each adult pairs up with a child or two and spends 15 minutes in a room doing a quick tidy-up. You’ll be amazed at how organized your home stays with this daily routine.
- Still feeling stuck? Consider hiring a professional organizer to kick-start your decluttering efforts. Blogs, podcasts, and organizing-related Facebook groups can also give you inspiration. Happy Organizing!
Favorite Family-Friendly Charities to Donate Your Stuff To
Schoolhouse Supplies. Accepts arts and crafts, office supplies. Runs a free store for public school teachers so they don’t have to pay for classroom supplies from their own pocket.
Portland PTA Clothing Closet. Accepts kids’ clothing, shoes, backpacks. Low-income Portland Public School kids can pick up free clothing here.
Dress For Success. Accepts women’s professional clothing, shoes, accessories. Provides appropriate clothing for low-income women who are going to job interviews.
Community Warehouse. Accepts furniture, small appliances, housewares. Provides house furnishings for families in need.
Impact Northwest. Accepts toys, kid clothing, some baby gear. Works with low-income and at-risk families.
Multnomah County Library. Accepts books, DVDs, CDs. Donate up to two grocery bags of books to any library branch.
MaryJo Monroe has been a professional organizer with her company reSPACEd (www.respacedpdx.com) for 10 years. When she’s not helping families dig out from their stuff, she enjoys hiking and biking around her North Portland neighborhood with her 12-year-old son and husband.
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