10 Tips to Organize Your Home in 2012

Find Your Inner Organizer

The new year is all about self-improvement, and for many Americans that means getting in touch with their inner organizer. After all, those cluttered shelves and mess of a home office could cause you to lose important documents, arrive late for appointments and feel just plain stressed out overall. Since getting more organized is such a common goal this time of year, it’s little wonder that the National Association of Professional Organizers has named January “National Get Organized Month.” In honor of the designation, MainStreet put together a list of 10 cost-effective ways to get your home in order so you can start 2012 off right. Photo Credit: Getty Images


Give Your Space a Purpose

Brette Sember, author of the newly released book The Organized Kitchen, says those looking to organize their home should start by giving each room a purpose. “This then allows you to decide what belongs there and what is in the way,” Sember says. Sember also suggests thinking about how you could more efficiently use each area of the room. “For example, if your scrapbooking stuff ends up sitting in a never-touched pile on top of the area where you like to fold laundry, you’ve made that space unusable,” she says. “Isolate activities or tasks that happen – or should happen – in that space and keep only those items there.” Photo Credit: Getty Images


Create a Schedule

Allison Flinn, a professional organizer in Raleigh, N.C. and the communications and technology director for the National Association of Professional Organizers, says you should make de-cluttering appointments with yourself two to three times a week for 30 minutes. “During this time, tackle the cluttered areas in your home or office and do not allow for distractions,” Flinn says. “Make immediate decisions as to what to keep, trash and donate. If you have to agonize over whether to keep or get rid of something, get rid of it.” Photo Credit: Getty Images


Make a To-Do List

Our experts say the next step in the organizational process is to make a to-do list. “Don't try to remember all of your to-do's,” Flinn says. “Write them down in a notepad or enter them into your smartphone.” Photo Credit: Getty Images


Dump the Junk

Sember, the author, advises people to clear out that junk drawer we all have somewhere in our homes. “Sort through everything in it and find a place for it,” Sember says. “Pens can go in a favorite mug. Coupons belong in an envelope or coupon holder. Loose paperclips, sticky notes, and notepads can go in a desktop organizer that sits on a desk or kitchen counter.” Sember adds that you should throw out the things in the junk draw that you never use, then once you have an empty drawer, make a plan for how to better use that space. “Use drawer organizers to keep everything in its place,” she says. Photo Credit: Getty Images


Repurpose Furniture

If you’re limited on cabinet space in the kitchen or any room of the house, you can repurpose an old piece of furniture or pick one up at a thrift store or garage sale. “Paint it to match your kitchen cabinets and change out the knobs to match your cabinets,” says Sember. “It will look as if it was originally meant to be in your kitchen and gives you valuable space for much less than additional cabinets would cost.” Photo Credit: Getty Images


Get Creative

While those big plastic containers might make for pretty storage, there’s a cheaper alternative. “Wrap boxes in colorful paper or fabric scraps and use for storage,” says Flinn. Jill M. Banks, a professional organizer in New Jersey, cleans clear plastic jars and repurposes them in her cabinets for organizing other items. “I currently use them to store pasta, dishwasher tabs, dog biscuits, steel wool pads, unused sponges from multi-packs, and much more,” says Banks. She also makes her own labels and stacks them neatly in cabinets or on shelves. Photo Credit: Getty Images


Donate What You Don’t Want

Placing bins or boxes around your house allows you to immediately put things you’re going to donate into one place. Lisa Reynolds, a savings expert at Michigan-based Redplum.com, advises people to put bags in their closet for clothes and shoe donations. She also suggests putting baskets near where you read to donate magazines to doctor’s offices, hospitals or nursing homes. Photo Credit: Getty Images


Follow the 'One in, One out' Rule

A great space-saving technique for those with limited space is the “one in, one out” rule. “For each thing you buy, get rid of something,” says Flinn. For instance, if you recently bought a new winter coat, consider donating an old one to charity to free up space in your closet. Photo Credit: Getty Images


Use Multi-Functional Office Products

When it comes to the home office, it’s the most important space to keep in order. Sally Morse, director of creative services for Hunter Douglas, a manufacturer and marketer of custom window fashions, suggests choosing items for this room that serve more than one purpose. “Purchase items that serve multiple functions such as an all-in-one printer-copier-scanner or a decorative table with drawers that can be used for both filing and work space,” says Morse. Photo Credit: Getty Images


Ask for Help

If you still don’t feel like your home is as organized as you would like it to be, the experts suggest you make a budget and ask for some professional assistance. “If you only have $100, ask for a professional to spend an hour or two to get you started and share ideas,” says Jody Driscoll, a professional organizer in San Francisco, Calif. Photo Credit: Getty Images


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