KEEPING IT CLEAN Part IV: Getting Organized

IMG_1348.JPGIn my previous posts on “Keeping it Clean” I went over my cleaning schedule and daily habits for keeping up with chores, and I talked about how to purge items from your home using methods from Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

Part I: Cleaning Schedule

Part II: Daily Habits

Part III: Purging

But while purging alone can make a tremendous difference in your ability to keep your house clean, it isn’t enough! No matter how much we purge unnecessary and unwanted items from our homes, if our organizational systems are lacking you bet we’re still going to be struggling to keep up with those messes.

You may remember there are two major roadblocks to having an orderly home. These include…

…too much stuff.

…insufficient organization.

We covered what to do if you’re struggling with too much stuff in Part III. So let’s move on to the second roadblock: insufficient organization.

Let’s Talk About Organizing

That old proverb “a place for everything and everything in its place” exists for a reason. As a librarian, I think of it this way: every book in the library has its own home on the shelf so it’s easy to find, easy to put away. Shouldn’t it be the same in our living spaces? I say yes!

So, let’s get back to Marie Kondo and that life-changing magic of hers. She suggests that we organize in the same order in which we purge. Start with clothes, end with sentimental items.

Once again, here’s that order, as outlined in the book:

  1. CLOTHING: tops, bottoms, clothes that should be hung, socks, underwear, bags, accessories, clothes for specific events, shoes
  2. BOOKS
  4. KOMONO (miscellaneous items): CDs/DVDs, skin care products, makeup, accessories, valuables, electrical equipment/appliances, household equipment, household supplies, kitchen goods/food supplies, other

Once you’ve got that order down, all you need to do is…

…gather anything and everything you already have in your house that you can possibly use to help with organization.

…get busy putting all your remaining stuff in order!

Whatever you do, don’t overthink this step in your tidying journey. You know all those beautiful closets and cabinets you see featured on Pinterest? The ones that have neatly matched boxes and baskets lined up in a row and everything looks utterly perfect? Yeah, don’t get stuck on organizing like THAT. Trust me on this. That’s another one of my major takeaways from reading Kondo’s book. Shoe boxes, for example, are perfectly suitable for lining the inside of your dresser drawers.

That’s not to say that I didn’t go out and buy a few containers and baskets here and there. Believe me, I did. However, if I had waited until I could afford (or had the time) to buy an entire array of these organizational tools, tidying just wouldn’t have happened.

If you really want to “Pinterefy” your organization later, by all means, go out and get those bins and baskets. But, in the meantime, just focus on using what you already have on hand to create more order.

For example, I organized our “junk drawer” in our kitchen using cardboard boxes and glass jars I had hanging around the house. Here’s what it looks like:

Junk Drawer.JPG

It’s nothing fancy, but everything has a home and that’s what’s important! Please note, however, there is a tiny someone in the corner of the above photo who is now just tall enough to reach inside this drawer…and she definitely has her eyes (and fingers) on the paperclips and rubber bands, amongst other items shown here (don’t worry, she can’t reach the scissors!). I dread the day she figures out how to remove the caps from the Sharpies…which brings me to my next topic…

Biggest Challenges to Organizing

The biggest organizational challenge in my world is having to work to tidy around the other people (and the dog!) who live with me. This is especially true when it comes to our two-year-old. Any of you who have children know how difficult it can be to stay organized when it comes to all the stuff kids accumulate.

When I first read Marie’s book, Alice was only a little past her first birthday and was just beginning to accrue more toys, books, clothes, etc. Now that she’s officially a toddler, I’m starting to have to purge some of her things and create new organizational systems to store all her stuff!

Here’s how we recently organized her closet to help with this dilemma:


We did the same kind of thing in the nursery closet! Check it out:


In this case, we did purchase specific organizers since we didn’t have any existing organizers that would work to declutter the closet spaces on this level. I’m glad we did! Just another step to organizing the chaos!

Do You Feel Ready to Stop Asking, “Why Can’t I Keep My House in Order?”

Although I’m oddly passionate about organizing, I have to admit that this particular post in the “Keeping it Clean” series has been the hardest for me to write. I organized a TON of items in our house last year, and most of those organizational systems have stood the test of time, but I’m finding there are new organizational needs that have begun to rear their ugly heads since I first read Marie Kondo’s book (see my post on our new Family Command Center for one example of an organizational change I’ve made as I face these challenges).

Still, after going through the process of purging and organizing, I can say in all honesty that I rarely ask myself anymore “why can’t I keep my house in order?” What I DO ask is “how can I make this organizational system work better for our family?” and I’m looking forward to sharing further posts with you on how I’m working to improve upon the organization we already have in place.

While I don’t think Marie’s methods are completely foolproof, especially when you share your home with others (note that Kondo didn’t have children when she first wrote this book!), I did find a lot of value in reading her work and applying it to our home.

More orderly houses=more time for the things that REALLY matter, am I right?

Happy organizing and, as always,

Ciao, babe!





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