When was the last time you smiled with pride upon opening a cleaned-up junk drawer or closet? If you can’t recall ever having this feeling, it’s time to hit these hot spots.
In fact, it’s smart to tackle organization projects now, since you’re likely to be spending tons of time at home anyway, because COVID-19 is lingering on.
And you don’t need all weekend to make some progress.
“Mini tasks make a big difference—like the ones you can accomplish during a TV commercial break,” points out Jamie Novak, author of “Keep This Toss That.”
You might be surprised by how tackling just one small area—like your overflowing silverware tray or tool chest—can put you in a much better mood. Organizing can also help lower your stress levels over the long term.
“Visual chaos is a constant reminder of things to do,” Novak explains. “This, in turn, is a distraction that can make doing everyday chores that much more challenging, frustrating, and time-consuming, since you have to work around stuff that’s in the way.”
Feeling inspired to stress less by reducing your mess? Here are 10 organizing hacks for the clutter magnets in your home. Tackle just one today, and we promise you’ll feel better!
1. Toss your expired makeup
Do you really need six different moisturizers and 20 lipsticks?
Take five minutes to go through the medicine cabinet, keeping only the makeup you love. Why risk an infection from concealer that’s funky?
“Makeup goes bad within three to 24 months, so if it looks funny, crumbles when you open it, or smells bad, then it is bad,” says Julie Coraccio, the organizing mind at Reawaken Your Brilliance.
2. Pare down mugs
Jeanine Boiko, a real estate agent and blogger at Okio B Designs, is strict with the number of mugs she keeps, limiting it to one per family member (four).
“Juice glasses have been trimmed to six, and the rest, along with wine glasses, are stored in a cabinet in the basement and brought out as needed,” she says.
Darla DeMorrow of HeartWork Organizing recommends letting extra mugs go—even if they came with a dish set, were picked up as a vacation souvenir, or were a gift.
“Once you’ve enjoyed them, you’re under no obligation to keep them,” she says.
3. Ditch some spoons
“Know yourself. Can two spoons get you through?” asks Coraccio.
DeMorrow suggests an 80-20 scenario here.
“You probably use 20% of your spoons and spatulas 80% of the time, so put aside the ones you always reach for, and then see how you feel about the rest,” she says.
4. Shred takeout menus
Do they even print takeout menus on paper any more? Go online for the most current one—or ask Alexa about the Indian food on the corner.
“I get why people still keep takeout menus for convenience, but at least limit them to what you use most,” says Coraccio.
5. Recycle plastic containers
This spot is white-hot for most people. Assess your drawer, and determine what you really use all these containers for.
If you take leftovers to work for lunch every day, keep several; but if you barely cook, donate them to a shelter or recycle them. When you have your ideal number, pair lids with bottoms for a streamlined look.
6. Rename the junk drawer
If you call it the messy drawer, you’ll live down to these expectations. Instead, blast it wide open and toss every old pen, outdated appliance manual, and leaky battery.
Once it’s pristine, it’s no longer the junk drawer—it’ll simply be a drawer in your kitchen.
7. Refresh your clothes closet
If you don’t wear it, it goes—period.
“Be intentional with your closet, because it’s the best way to prevent clutter,” notes Mary Basher, an organization expert with Modular Closets.
No time to clean it out completely? Even if you remove just a couple of things that don’t fit or that you no longer love, you’ll be working toward a more organized space.
8. Clean out the car
“When was the last time your car was tidy and clean?” asks Basher.
Take 10 minutes and bag up trash, then clear out items like books and CDs that won’t be needed during the next ride. Next, get in the habit of emptying the car of trash each time you return home.
9. Sort old socks
Spend a few minutes piling up unworn T-shirts, ragged dish towels, and socks with no match, and then give them the recycle treatment.
“I use them for dusting, and my husband uses them in the garage and in the yard,” says Boiko.
But don’t let your rag bag grow out of control.
“Designate a container or drawer to hold the exact number of rags you have and no more—one in, one out,” says DeMorrow.
10. Run the dishwasher
Yup, run it every night, even if it’s not full.
“It costs less than 50 cents to run each load, and you’ll start the day with a clean set of dishes,” notes DeMorrow.
Empty the machine in the morning, load it at night, and you’ll never have dirty dishes in the sink.
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