Someone recently told me that cleaning with everyone in the house is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos. The same could be said for keeping it organized.
As a professional organizer, the common misconception is that my house is perfect all the time. I have a 5 and a 7-year old...and I’m human - that’s just not possible. Nor should perfection be what we’re all striving for - that adds unnecessary stress and the whole intent of organizing is to improve efficiency and decrease stress (often stress you didn’t realize you had). But, with the right systems in place, getting everything back to an organized state at the end of a day or a week is a breeze.
I wanted to share a few projects (and product recos) that will help get you on the path to an organized, more efficient home, whether you have five minutes or five hours.
5 minutes: Dishtowel drawer
Your dishtowel drawer is a great place to start because it's a drawer that only contains one category of items. Pull everything out of the drawer and part with any worn-out items. Set aside any that you use least often or no longer like and donate them. File fold all of the towels the same way and place them back in the drawer. If you need to subdivide the space, be sure to use a drawer divider that will give you flexibility.
10 minutes: Kitchen counter
I love to reduce visual clutter for my clients. The less you store out on the counter the better. Tuck cooking utensils away or, depending on the size of your kitchen and available space, keep a very minimal amount out near the stove corralled in a caddy. Store small appliances in lower cupboards or on shelves. Tuck your dish rack under the sink.
30 minutes: Desk drawer
This is particularly timely while we all stay home. A desk drawer houses a few categories of items. Take everything out of the drawer and sort items by type (eg. pens with pens, pencils with pencils). Relocate, donate, or toss items as necessary. Then, measure the drawer and source individual dividers to contain each category. This will allow for the most customization. Place categorized items in their respective dividers.
1 hour: Small linen cupboard
I recommend storing all of your linens in one spot. Pull everything out of the space and after you've edited your collection, fold all towels and sheets the same way. Stack like items and face the folded edges outwards for a clean look. Contain smaller items that easily topple when stacked (eg. facecloths and hand towels) in opaque bins. Labels are key; they will help all family members know exactly where each item belongs come laundry day.
2 hours: Toy cubbies
Any parent knows toys are a challenge, but here's the good news: kids love order! We recommend a dedicated toy storage space that's in a location and at a height that's convenient for your little ones. Take everything out and part ways with items that they have outgrown, are broken, or they don't show any interest in. Use broad categories (eg. instead separate categories for cars, trucks, airplanes, and trains, consider "vehicles"). Lastly, use labeled opaque bins to conceal contents and so that everything has a predictable place to return to.
3 hours: Entryway closet
This project will help tame your entryway. Remove everything from the closet. If you store off-season items elsewhere, make sure any outliers find their way to that additional storage area. Switch your hangers to a slim, non-slip style in a neutral colour. Create zones or labeled bins for each family member to store their small accessories in. Face shoes forward (heels to the wall) - it's easiest on the eyes.
5 hours: Bathroom
Take everything out of your drawers, cupboards, and medicine cabinet. While you're at it, check expiry dates and part with items that are expired. Categorize like items - sometimes this will involve subcategorizing. Store duplicate items together as backstock nearby so you're giving prime real estate to items being used now. Ensure anything that is a safety hazard for kids is stored well out of reach. Use labeled acrylic bins to hold your categorized items because they're easy to clean if a product leaks or spills.
As a mom and business owner, keeping your home organized may be the last thing on your mind right now, but it could also be just the thing to help clear it. I believe that once your life is clutter-free and well-arranged, you'll have a new appreciation for the importance of living neat.
Jen Rowe, Owner of NEAT Method Toronto, spent the better part of her 20-year career in corporate communications, primarily in the non-profit sector, but has always been an organizer at heart.
When she became a parent to her now 5- and 7-year olds, she started to dive deeper into how best to maximize the space in her family’s east end Toronto home and make it highly efficient for their lifestyle. In 2019, she parlayed this skillset into a career with NEAT Method. Follow Jen on Instagram @torontoneat_jen