20 Ways to Get -- and Stay! -- Organized

Project artFeel like your home is overcome by clutter? Take heart: You can reclaim your closets, cabinets and countertops from the piles of stuff that are overrunning your home. Check out these savvy tips from the women of iVillage on how to clear up your space -- and keep it organized, for good.

1. Do a little at a time.
"Doing it a little at a time is a real mind-saver. Rather than feeling buried, I watch as things slowly and steadily improve. It's very encouraging."

2. Make a "purging" checklist.
"Ask yourself these questions if you don't feel comfortable throwing something away: (1) Do I like this item? (2) Do I use it? (3) Is this the best place for it? If you answer no to any of the above, you need to decide on an action!"

3. Put it on your schedule.
"Schedule time to work on your clutter. In fact, put it on your 'to do' list or on a calendar. If you have mountains of paper like I do, this will serve as a reminder for you to work on it."

4. Imagine your home, organized.
"If you envision the way you want to live and just try to do one little positive thing toward your goal, eventually you will get there."

5. Give away things you don't need.
"Letting go of things that I don't need has cleared space for better things to come into my life. For example, I cleared out old stationery from my office and gave it to a preteen neighbor. She says she's been using it to write all her camp friends. We both benefited!"

6. Commit to one drawer, cabinet or shelf a day.
"You'll get overwhelmed if you look at the entire house as one big area to clean. Commit yourself to doing one drawer, cabinet or shelf a day. You'll be amazed how quickly one drawer or cabinet can go."

7. Start a "to do" list -- then organize it!
"I started a list of everything I wanted to get done. I then divided it into categories: thank-you notes, Christmas stuff (putting stuff away/taking stuff back), general household, stuff to fix around the house and so on, and put it all in my Palm pilot. I had never used 'to do' lists before, and I found they really helped me -- I guess because I do forget what I intended to do sometimes."

8. Toss before you buy.
"Purge before you shop to see what you have or what you may need -- then you can organize and make purchases for what is really necessary."

9. Clean as you go.
"I make piles for things that are going to another room. (Seems everyone in my family leaves their stuff in the kitchen, the hallway or the foyer!) It's a good clean-as-you-go system."

10. Subdivide your closets and shelves.
"I put a wire shelf that expands on the top shelf of my closet. I put shell tops on the bottom and sweaters on the top shelf. It looks just like an ad for closet organizers!"

11. Get the kids involved.
"Let your kids be part of organizing their rooms. Have them sort like things together. Then let them decide if they still play with all the stuff. Ask how they would like to arrange it (in bins, on shelves, etc.). By making them a part of the process, they're more likely to keep it that way."

12. Make it hard to make a mess.
"In the hallway near the kids' bedrooms, I put a wired shelving unit with baskets on each shelf. I put the Golden Books in one basket, Dr. Seuss in another and all the hard-to-rip ones at the bottom for the toddlers! The kids can easily flip through and see all the books, without them landing on the floor. It works!"

13. Put shower essentials in easy reach.
"A corner shelf in the shower holds my nail and body brushes. A side holder attached to the shower wall holds the soap. Shampoos are in an open-weave suction basket above the water faucet."

14. Create personalized medicine boxes.
"I got a plastic box for each person in my family. I put a name on each and placed each of our prescription medicines into the appropriate box. I then made up an over-the-counter medicine box."

15. Use a folder or envelope for coupons.
"I have a envelope-like wallet that I keep coupons in. I clip the coupons and then keep the envelope near my keys, so when I go shopping, I always have the envelope with me."

16. Start an at-home filing system.
"Prepare a paper organizer for all of your house papers and bills. Then separate these sections (with tabs) into areas such as 'credit card,' 'electricity' or 'painting services,' so that you end up with a directory of your stuff."

17. Create storage centers where you need them.
"We have one bathroom upstairs and one downstairs. Upstairs has a linen closet, but for downstairs, I bought some individual plastic drawers that can stack on top of each other. I put them in the hall near the downstairs bathroom. I put towels for the bathroom in one drawer, dishtowels in another and tablecloths in a third."

18. Designate a photo album and scrapbook depository.
"I am a scrapbooker and one who just loves pictures. I had so many albums that I didn't know what to do with. My solution: I leave my really nice scrapbooks out on display, but I store the rest in a wooden chest. Bonus: They are now safe from pets and children -- and the chest looks great too."

19. Set up your kitchen to "go with the (work) flow."
"Start with your sink. If you're right-handed like I am, dirty dishes go on the right of the sink and clean dishes on the left. What's next? Moving 'em to a shelf! So make a cabinet to the upper left of your sink their home. There, group your dishes by how often you use them: high usage on a more accessible shelf; rarely used on another."

20. Make the bed every morning.
"I know it might sound like a small thing, but making the bed every morning has been a great help in my quest to get organized. I look at that bed every day when I come home and think, 'Well, there's one thing I don't need to do!'"

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