Thursday, June 12, 2008

Clutter Control: Getting organized

Once you have eliminated your clutter, you will need to keep your things organized to maintain a harmonious living space. Here are some helpful Clean Team tips you can use to better organize your space. Be cautious not to let your new found organization as a cheap or lazy excuse to accumulate ever more stuff!


To help you arrange cupboards so you can see the items stored in the back of the shelves, install tiered shelves, like the one pictured. To make finding a particular spice easier, install shelves the height and depth of one spice container so each spice is visible. Arrange the spices alphabetically. The best place to mount this special spice shelf is on the inside of a cupboard door at eye level, if possible. Another alternative is a lazy Susan or double turntable shelf made specifically for this type of storage.


Use drawer organizers to divide sections in drawers to keep things and organized and separated. Drawer organizers can be found in many shapes and sizes.


A simple shower caddy will hold soaps, several bottles of shampoo and conditioner and a washcloth. Shower caddies come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are made to accommodate just about any shower. Whichever one you choose, make sure it provides a spot to hang your Clean Team Shower Wiper so you can wipe down the shower walls once a day to prevent soap scum and hard-water build up.


Closets can be organized with relative ease and just a few minor adjustments. You can add a second pole beneath the existing one to hang a second level of shirt-or jacket-length clothing. It does require a bit of measuring and hardware store shopping but is worth the effort. You can also use stackable plastic storages boxes or open basket drawers instead of a second pole, or in addition to it. This will add even more space for folded clothes, shoes and socks. Put up hooks or purchase accessory hangers for belts, scarves and hats. Add additional shelves if you have wasted storage above existing shelves. One extra high shelf is great for storing Christmas decorations and seasonal clothing.

General Household Storage

Fabric tote boxes are great for kid’s toys, art supplies, sewing supplies or other small items. For less than $30, they last indefinitely and come in a variety of styles and sizes, making them easy to incorporate with your d├ęcor.


The kitchen counter has to be the most often abused space for clutter. Mail is often the number one offender. Stand over the garbage or recycling bin to sort and eliminate most of your junk mail immediately. A nice decorative basket is always good for storing the mail items and coupons you want to save. A great alternative to a basket is a hanging mail and key rack, which will help to further eliminate countertop clutter.

Old Cards

Tossing old cards can be hard to do when they remind you of special occasions or are sentimental. A good way to enjoy such cards for a period of time before tossing them out is a Card Tree. Use it to hang cards for a period of time, before retiring them to the garbage. If the cards are particularly sentimental, you can always purchase a greeting card organizer, which allows you to file and neatly store them for a lifetime.

Setting up a filing system

Old documents, paid and unpaid bills and other loose papers can overrun your home office space in no time at all. The key to maintaining an organized home office area is a good filing system. Portable plastic filing bins are a great place to file your important documents and revolving accounts, but are too small for many of us. In that case, a two-or three-drawer filing cabinet is a good investment. Each drawer should be alphabetized or prioritized. To file in order or frequency of use and importance is often the most convenient choice for home filing systems . Subcategorize sections into specific accounts and names. Under Banking, for example you might have sub categories like Checking, Savings, Credit Cards and Retirement Funds. These would then be further categorized into the specific accounts where you would file all the related documents for that account. Setting up a filing system is easy enough, but the key is maintaining it. Don’t fall victim to procrastination, which leads to disorganization. Try implementing the “touch it once” rule. When bills or paperwork arrive, follow through right then. File it in its proper place. Also, don’t pay a bill and let it sit around to be filed later. This is how the vicious cycle of clutter starts.

Electronic Organization

This is the computer age and many of us live paperless – or at least attempt to do so. Photos, music, bills and many other aspects to our life are stored on our computers. Before long, an unorganized computer will perform slower and make it more difficult for you to find the information you need. So, how long should you keep old files on your hard drive? It's kind of like cleaning out a closet—if you haven't used a particular file (or sweater) in a year, you're pretty safe storing it somewhere else. How can you tell how old a file is? Rest your mouse cursor over the file name, right-click, and choose Properties. You can see when the file was created, last modified it, and most recently accessed. If a file is old, not important, and hasn't been accessed in more than 6 months, it might be time to clear it out. You should also have a system for weeding out and organizing your old e-mail messages. When answering e-mails, rename any messages you save so that subject lines clearly convey the contents (no more “Re: Re: Fwd: Fwd:”).

Digital Photos

The best thing about a digital camera is that it's easy to take thousands of pictures. That's also the worst thing about digital cameras. Digital cameras have eliminated the need for negatives and so the storage of digital pictures can be quite easy, you just have to keep up on it. Creating specific folders on your computer is the best way to organize groups of pictures, and the ‘My Pictures’ folder is a great place to start. In your My Pictures folder, create a subfolder for each year: 2006, 2007, 2008, and so on. You can subcategorize those folders into specific event names or dates. Arranging pictures by year is also helpful if you're scanning older photos stored in shoeboxes or albums that you took before owning a digital camera. Scanning old photos is a great way to eliminate extra boxes of cluttered photographs. You should back up your photos on disks or other storage device. Printed photos can be stored in neatly in photo books or boxes.

DVD and CD’s

CD’s and DVD’s can be neatly organized by purchasing a shelf or rack made specifically for their storage. These racks are easy to dust and allow for the easy organization and alphabetizing of your music and movies. For a house that has limited space or for the frequent downloader, a great alternative is storing your movie and music discs in albums. These are great space savers and one album can hold up to 320 discs.

Do you have an organization or cleaning tip you want to share? If so you could win a free autographed copy of Clutter Control by Jeff Campbell! Email your tips to to enter your chance to win!

** Many of the items mentioned and pictured in this article can be found at The Container Store

1 comment:

The Clean Team said...

Dear Clean Team

This idea only came to me yesterday thanks to a pizza order. I ordered a salad with my pizza from Papa Johns. I was working on the computer and didn't want to stop to prepare dinner. As I took the salad from the bag I noticed all the veggies sitting perfectly on top of the salad. I couldn't figure how that happened until I tore off the plastic film on top. The salad was in two containers that fit inside each other. The top tray had four little pockets which held the veggies. The bottom was a bowl filed with lettuce, a small bag of croutons and a fork. As I finished off my salad I noticed that once again I had left my earrings, watch, and necklace on top of my computer. At that moment I looked down at my salad container, perfect for holding these items safely( I find earrings everywhere) and small enough to stay on top of my computer. I washed the container and using double faced tape attached it to the top of my monitor. I know this won't work for everyone because I have one of the big old ugly ones. Then thinking of others who could use this idea in some way I remembered the tray on the table in my entryway. I stopped using it because the keys and mail I dropped there scratched my jewelry (or I was afraid it might) so I ended up going to my computer to check email and taking my jewelry items off there.
I now have one of these little salad containers in a little basket next to the tray on my entry way table. It works great! Soon I will get a flat screen monitor so I will need to train myself to use the basket anyway.
These little containers work great for inside drawers and for sewing items too. I am not a container hoarder so this is exciting for me to recycle this little container.

Many thanks for this submission sent into us by Sharon Ivie of Riverview Ward.

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