Monday, January 9, 2012

A Dozen Rules for Organizing Your Home. Painlessly!

Get organized. Stay organized. Here's tips. 
An organized home is one that calls out to buyers. In a good way.

Since January's buzz word is "organization," you'll find plenty of products and tools in stores right now to help you get organized. And you'll find plenty of advice in the media and online.

Here are my twelve best tips for tackling organizing projects when your home is for sale.

1. Location, Location. If you don’t have a place to put it, you can’t keep it.
2. Think! Get rid of junk before you organize. Don’t waste time organizing what you don’t want to keep. Declutter first.

3. Be Mean, and Mean It. Declutter when you are in a serious, even nasty, frame of mind, not a leisurely, happy-go-lucky one. It's easier to get rid of things when you are mad, as in, "I'm sick and tired of this crap!" See my post on organizing a closet for my plan of attack.

4. Cluster by Function. Think in terms of systems. Categorize by how and where you will use particular items. Examples: a shoe care kit in the closet, your bill paying box on the desk, a cabinet just for setting the table, a shoe box in the vanity for all first aid supplies, a tote in the bathroom with all bathroom cleaning supplies.

5. Accessibility Counts. Don’t waste prime real estate. Is the handiest space on your kitchen counter taken up with cookbooks you hardly use? Is the fancy china you use only for company on the most reachable cabinet shelf? Are your summer sandals front and center on your closet floor all winter? It's time to rotate seldom used or out of season items to less accessible places, and bring most-used items into prime spots.

6. Choose One Place Only. Designate a central command spot in the house where one calendar is kept, and any notes to other family members, schedules, invitations, and important phone numbers, are posted. Remember to keep personal information invisible to people touring your home.

7. Break It Up. When tackling a task you don’t enjoy, set a timer, and stop when time's up. Repeat the following day (or week) until the work is done. 

8. Tidy As You Go. Make it easy to put things away when you are finished using them. Work to eliminate the habit of dropping clothes on the floor by keeping covered laundry baskets near dressing areas. And by having storage areas like closets, cabinets, dressers, and shelves uncrowded. 

A pretty closet will encourage you to keep it organized and ready for a showing. 

10. Give the Day Structure. Have routines. Take care of certain tasks in the morning. Run regular errands on the same day of the week. Have an end of day routine. A structured day frees your mind for important decisions, and empowers you.

11. Name One Spot. Establish a holding zone in the house, where items that need to go elsewhere are placed. Clear this spot on a daily basis. This habit makes those spontaneous calls from your realtor less reason for rushing around.
Make it easy for everyone to help 
Photo: Better Homes and Gardens 

12. Hide Stuff. This tip breaks the rule most organizing experts tell you, but when your home is for sale, the rules change. Instead of storing small items in see-through containers, store in opaque containers, preferably all one color. You'll minimize the look of clutter, and cultivate a clean, seamless appearance.

In the top photo, I've lined clear plastic shoe boxes with scrapbook paper to hide the contents and create a more uniform look.

I wrote about thrifty fixes for closet organization, and Alexis, the expert organizer and blogger at Clean, Smart Simple, guest-posted here about how to make closets look larger.

Don't wait any longer to tackle the organizing projects your home needs to be the one buyers crave. With the right systems and the right attitude, you can have your entire home organized before February brings another buzz word.

For more tips on making your home more desirable, download my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Make Your Home Sell Fast and For Top Dollar.

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