Organizing Pro Offers Suggestions

We all get frustrated when we can’t find bills, a favorite shirt or an ingredient hiding in the pantry. And it’s hard to face that office desk covered with paper. So why don’t we get organized to make life a little easier?

“Organizing take time and it’s not very fun to most people,” says Professional Organizer, Sherry Brown from Organize This! “When people get home, they are tired and have fifty other things to do and organizing isn’t one of them.”

“Our daily lives are so full, that we just don’t have time to keep organized. I find easy solutions for busy people to stay organized,” Brown continues.

Procrastination, feeling overwhelmed and inability to make decisions are some of the hurdles people can’t overcome, says the pro. “A delayed decision creates clutter,” says Brown. Her suggestion? “If it takes less than a minute, do it now.”

Here is a list of organizing tips from other pros. They all agree they would never leave the office without the one tool everyone should have: a label maker.

“You don’t need a fancy one,” said one pro, who swears by the P-Touch labeler sold at office-supply stores. “Just one that makes big labels so you can glance at them quickly.”


• Set a timer for a short period — a minimum of five minutes. “It’s just about getting started, then making a habit of it,” said Brown.

• Begin with one small task — for example, a drawer, a box or a desktop. Sort and place in four piles: trash, recycling, donate/sell and keep.

• If you like lists, write down each step, such as “purge shirts,” using 5-minute increments.

• If possible, invite a friend to help you stay focused.



• Think in zones. Group and store like items together, such as a cutting board next to knives. Place spatulas and tongs next to the stove. Organize tools and utensils in drawers with dividers.

• Create a kids’ area with bowls, sippy cups and plates in a lower drawer so they can help themselves.

• Move items rarely used, such as a gravy boat or seasonal dishes, to the back or high up on shelves. Hang a list inside the cupboard door so you don’t forget what’s there.

• Label all the pantry shelves for ease in putting groceries away and making a shopping list.

• To prevent food waste, organize products by year. “Label two shelves ‘2014’ and ‘2015’, and at the end of the year, move things up or throw them out. Watch for expirations dates too. Toss anything that is expired,” said Brown.

• Audit food-storage containers every six months, and toss the ones without matching lids, or repurpose them for other uses.

• Place mini shelves under the sink to store items vertically in labeled containers.


• Organize products by use, type and season in labeled, clear stacking bins, such as “First aid.” Store sunscreen and bug spray together, likewise shampoos and conditioners. The more you sort things by function, the less likely you are to waste money and add to the clutter by buying duplicates.

• Attach a magazine rack on the inside of a vanity door to hold hair dryers and curling irons.

• Maximize vertical space. Install a shelf unit above the toilet or above the door. Stick adhesive hooks on walls to hang towels and robes. Hang a shoe organizer on the back of the door to hold hair products, brushes and everyday items. Kids can keep their stuff down low, and the adults up high.

• Corral the cleaning supplies in a caddy under the sink, and have disinfectant wipes handy to keep the bathroom clean and germ-free.

• Assemble a toiletries basket for guests, and to use up travel-sized products.


• Purge clothes regularly.

• Organize clothes by type, not color.

• Use open shelves that accommodate shoes of different sizes and styles.

• In entry closets, remove the high shelves, raise the coat rod and install a second one below for kids’ coats.

• Not sure which sheets are queen or king? Label shelves in linen closets, and store sheet sets in one of the pillowcases.

• Place rolled up towels below and on top of wire stands.


• Install designated hooks, baskets and a boot mat for each person in the family for backpacks, shoes and coats. “Make sure the kids can reach them,” said Brown.

• Use labeled bins to store sports equipment and other gear on shelves or a bookcase along a wall.

• Designate drop spots for mail, keys and electronics.

• Hang a shoe organizer on the door to hold sunglasses, gloves, dog leash, so you can grab and go.


• Move trash can, recycling, file cabinets and shredder within arm’s reach of the desk. “Once you decide what you want to do with the paper, you can complete the task quickly,” said Brown.

• Sort papers by category — active, reference and archival — and group them together in designated folders. File the archival papers in drawers in a color-coded system.

• File active papers in horizontal trays labeled in front so they’re easy to access.

• When possible, pay bills online to reduce the amount of incoming paper and avoid late fees.


• Follow the “one-in-and-one-out rule.” “If you buy a new pair of jeans, throw out or donate an old pair of pants,” said Brown.

Parts of this article originally appeared at


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