Organizing the Little Things in Our Homes

Organizing all the little things in your home is so important yet we don’t do it.  Even I feel overwhelmed sometimes when I’m working with someone and we take care of organizing all the big things first and then we look at the little things and we both say to ourselves, “now what?”  Of course, being a professional, I don’t say it out loud, but I do think it.  And I often hear my client let out a big sigh as they look at all those little odds and sods, bits and pieces, and random stuff.

Organizing the little stuff takes a lot more effort than the big stuff.  It’s not as obvious how to sort it, where to keep it and how to make it stay organized.  So we end up with a “junk” drawer or two or three.  Or piles of junk or “crap”, as so many of my clients like to call it.

I often wonder what’s the worst thing that would happen if you just closed your eyes and tossed the lot.  Seems to me that would be very freeing.  What would you be tossing exactly?  Probably things like hair elastics, pieces of ribbon and string, random batteries, matches, candles, screws, nails, pens, staples, paperclips, elastics, band aids and on and on and on.

First, consider how much you can let go of.  The stationary store is not going to stop selling pens anytime soon, nor will the drug store stop selling hair elastics, and I’m pretty sure the hardware store will have a package of screws next time you need them.  Consider donating as much as possible and throwing away any random one-off items.

Sort all those little things.  It’s more like micro sorting at this point.  Separate the paper clips from the elastics from the staples and so on.  Think about how you will store them to keep them separated as you are sorting.  Try not to default to the easiest decision, which is to keep everything.  The more you let go of, the easier staying organized will be.

Think about where you would most likely go to look for those items when considering where to keep them.  If I am looking for a candle and matches, I would probably go to the kitchen or dining room.  If I need a nail or a screw to hang a picture, I would either go to the garage where all my household repair items are stored, or I would have a shelf in a closet or in my kitchen to keep the household items I use a lot.  If I was looking for hair bands, I would go to the bathroom, and so on.

Choose containers to put all those things in.  With little stuff, small Ziploc bags, tiny plastic containers and organizers with sections are your best friends.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to work.

If you struggle with keeping things organized, use labels. If you find yourself throwing paper clips in the elastic container, put a label on the Ziploc or container that says “paper clips”.  Trust me, that will make you think twice before you start to undo all your hard work by mixing them up.

Don’t let the little things take over your home.  Take control and keep only what you use right now.  Keep in mind a rule that the Minimalists use – if you can replace it in 20 minutes for under $20, let it go!

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