Originally posted here.
1. Start small. Have a spot in your house where things seem to pile up? A basket with handles can make things look neater and give you an easy way to carry things to wherever they belong. Kammie Lisenby of Seattle Organizing Experts likes to use a basket with kids who tend to “dump and forget” their school stuff until the next day. You can have some fun with your child at the craft store letting them pick out the basket they want.
2. Grab 10. Set a timer for 10 minutes, grab a bag and find 10 things you don’t really need or want anymore.Make sure the bag goes out the door, though, because otherwise, things might migrate back to their original perch.
3. Involve the kids. Younger kids especially will like “helping” you straighten things up. “Delegate easier things to the kids,” says Denise Allan, a professional organizer and owner of the Bothell-based organizing firm Simplify with Denise. Those extra moments not spent feeding Fido can be used to sort through a drawer.
4. Think ahead. When you are shopping, ask yourself if you really have room for that 27th purse. “Closets should never be more than 80 percent full,” Allan recommends, and the same holds true for drawers. “You should have 20 percent ‘free’ so you can see what you have and things have room to move,” says Allan.
5. File it. Both Allan and Lisenby like setting up a file box for all of the art and other papers kids will accumulate throughout the year. Limiting yourself to one hanging folder per child per year gives you a “boundary,” says Allan, “setting the limit in advance of how much stuff you keep.” You can also keep a hanging folder for things you will need quickly and in the next few days, such as that 20-page list of school supplies you have to be able to find on your way out the door.
6. Call in a pro. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get help from a professional organizer. Many offer “quickie” consultations of an hour to help you get going. Your local library is also likely to have lots of “fast” organizing tip books, such as Jamie Novak’s 1000 Best Quick and Easy Organizing Secrets. Just make sure any such books you bring home get read, not added to that stack next to the bed.