The 5 Cardinal Rules for a Super Organized Home

updated Jul 16, 2020
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(Image credit: Lana Kenney)

I used to think that having a neat, organized home was all about effort. My house, I reasoned, was a little bit of a disaster simply because I didn’t want to put that much work into it. But what I’ve realized, over the years, is that having an organized home is a lot less about the amount of time you spend cleaning up and a lot more about how smart you are about where you put things. Here are five clever solutions I’ve come to embrace, that can make your life at home a little bit easier, too.

Keep things in the room where you use them

This may seem like a no-brainer, but a lot of people organize their houses in violation of this principle. Maybe you keep all your cleaning supplies in one space, when having bathroom cleaners in the bathroom and kitchen cleaners in the kitchen would make a lot more sense. If there’s anything in particular that you constantly find yourself moving from room to room, it makes sense to either find a home for that thing in the room where you use it — or maybe get multiples and keep one in each room so they’re always within easy reach. (I find that having a pair of scissors in pretty much every room is a real sanity saver.)

→ One Minute Tip: Store Things Where You Use Them

Have more storage than you think you need

“A place for everything, and everything in its place” is a good start — but you also need to allow places for things you didn’t imagine needed places. Leaving some extra space in a cabinet, a drawer, or a closet means that when you wind up with something new that needs a home, as you inevitably will, you won’t have to frantically re-organize everything you own.

One catchall in every room

We’ve been singing the praises of the junk drawer for a long time, but since moving into my new apartment I’ve taken this even a step further. I’ve discovered that it’s tremendously helpful to have a junk drawer (or junk cabinet, or box, or what have you) in every single room, as a catchall for little things like paper clips and twist ties that may not have a designated spot.

Deposit your everyday stuff right inside the door

The importance of having a proper landing strip cannot be emphasized enough. Having a spot close to the front door to deposit your purse, keys, jacket, and other everyday items will keep these things from winding up randomly distributed throughout your home. (Another thing Maxwell recommends for your landing strip is a trash can, so you can toss junk mail and stop clutter before it even gets into your house.)

→ One Minute Tip: Create a Basic Landing Strip

Have a permanent in/outbox

My biggest struggle with clutter is with the things that are either going or coming — the new thing you bought that doesn’t quite have a home yet, the things you mean to donate or have repaired that just haven’t made it out the door yet. My solution for this has been to have a permanent in/outbox, a catchall right by the door that provides a spot for things to hang out while they’re waiting to be processed. Let me tell you — it’s been a real lifesaver.

→ Beyond the Junk Drawer: Another Quick Trick for an Uncluttered Home