Basics of Home Organization

Implementing the 4 M's

The secret of home organization lies in the implementation of a simple four step process. I call it the 4 M’s.

We all live with the constant threat of clutter. It bombards us on all sides. Some clutter we invite into our homes and lives, some forces itself upon us. Whatever the source of our clutter, we can learn to control it with these simple principles.

Minimize

The most basic concept of home organization is the need to minimize the stuff that occupies our space. Purging must be a regular part of our routine.  The less stuff we have, the easier it is to create and preserve an orderly environment, and the easier it will be to implement the principles that follow.

I talk to tons of people who recognize they have too much stuff. What they don’t understand is how to reduce it. In some cases, they’re not ready to do so – they have an emotional attachment. In many cases, they simply don’t know where to begin.

Get Help Getting Organized

I know it can be difficult to part with possessions. You think you might need it someday. You feel guilty for spending money on it. You feel an attachment to it. Whatever the reason for your hesitation, an unbiased opinion can be extremely useful. That’s where I come in. If you need help with the process of purging, contact me today.


Here are a few suggestions for minimizing the excess in your home.     

Discard

Get rid of the broken, battered, unwanted, unused, outdated, incomplete, unnecessary stuff that’s cluttering your space. Take an honest look at your possessions and decide to part with the things you don’t want, need, or use.

Donate

There are literally thousands of organizations seeking donations of gently used stuff (household goods, appliances, clothing, etc.). Donating to a worthy cause can ease the difficulty of parting with your belongings.  

Recommended Reading

For an extensive (though by no means all-inclusive) list of donation options, see the Donate Your Stuff section of this website. There you will find detailed lists of donation options for specific categories of items as well as household goods in general. 

Reduce

Some people have a tendency to collect multiples – everything from vegetable peelers to office supplies to hand tools to small kitchen appliances. If you’ve got more than one of the same thing, take a moment to consider how many you really need. Chances are, one will do the trick. Most households get by just fine with one ice cream scoop, one blender, one hairdryer, etc. Donate the excess to charity. 

Recycle

Recycling is a responsible way of decluttering. Often multiples can be combined into one package (particularly in the kitchen), thus freeing up precious space. The excess packaging can then be recycled.  

Do you have a tendency to hang onto original packaging 'just in case'? Take a moment to seriously consider the likelihood that you will need it and recycle as much as you possibly can to free up space.  I once worked with a family that saved all their plastic berry containers (dozens of them), not because they had a specific use for them but because they might be useful as storage containers. If you don't have a specific purpose in mind and you haven't used it in 30 days after emptying it, recycle it. 

Many household items can now be recycled to include televisions, computers, mobile phones, extension cords, athletic shoes, crayons, cosmetics, and carpeting. Check with your local recylcling center to see what sorts of items they accept. You can also do some online research to see what companies take back used items. This list from Mother Nature Network is a good place to start. 

Maximize

When it comes to home organization, it’s important to maximize the space or use it to its full potential. Most home organization projects benefit greatly from simply rethinking the space. Here are just a few suggestions for maximizing your space:

  • Group like items in baskets, boxes or stackable bins
  • Place organizers or sorters in drawers to keep the contents in order
  • Utilize the space inside cupboard and closet doors
  • Utilize wall space for shelving or hanging pegs
  • Add an extra shelf 12” or so above the hanging rod in closets
  • Fill an awkward niche with shelves
  • Look for multipurpose furniture – coffee tables with storage, ottomans or benches with storage inside or underneath, etc.
  • Make use of hidden space such as under the bed

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Master

The true quest of home organization is to become a master of your space. It’s not enough to minimize possessions and maximize space. Systems need to be established in order to master clutter once and for all.

The purpose of a system is to evaluate what is causing the clutter in your home and develop strategies for dealing with it or preventing it. You can learn more about systems here.

Consider these simple ways of mastering clutter:

  • Establish a habit of dealing with whatever you’re carrying with you as soon as you enter your home - put coats and shoes away, sort mail, put purchases in their proper place, etc.
  • Create a paper processing center to keep bills and other correspondence organized.
  • Find a permanent home for everything you own and develop a habit of putting things away.

Maintain

The final step in the home organization process is to maintain the order that’s been established through minimizing stuff, maximizing space and creating systems to master clutter.

The best way to maintain home organization is to develop a habit of purging. Train yourself to routinely look for things you no longer use – clothes that are too small or damaged beyond repair, kitchen tools that don’t work the way you hoped they wood, toys that are broken or missing pieces, etc.

I wish you ongoing success in implementing these 4 basic principles of home organization. May they bring lasting order to your home.

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