In this post: Looking for organizing hacks to keep your home orderly? You might want to think about banishing these 12 things from your home.⇒
Sometimes being organized is as much about what you don’t have, as it is about what you do have.
Not that long ago I visited my parents’ old home. They recently moved into an apartment near me and at first brought only the essentials with them. So when I went back to their house to get some of their things, I was a little bit shocked.
My mom always prided herself on being a clean-freak, dusting and vacuuming daily. But that doesn’t tell the whole story and has very little to do with being organized.
In reality, every single drawer and cabinet I opened had a stockpile of plastic bags, crammed into every crevice. I kid you not! It was like a plastic bag museum. No one could ever need that many plastic bags. And worse, they were the small thin kind from CVS or Shoprite that couldn’t hold much even if called upon to.
That day’s visit inspired this post, as I realized being organized is in large part about knowing what you need and what you don’t.
Here are 12 things you won’t find in my home:
1. A closet full of old mis-matched towels – I’m a fan of all white towels, but whatever color you choose, have a few sets and leave it at that. There’s no reason to save old, ripped towels from your former bathrooms. Sure, keep a few in the garage for the car or a flood, but in your main linen closet, all matching towels will give you a much more orderly look. Bonus points for all white because it feels so spa-like.
2. Free clothing from an event you don’t care about – You know the sort. Free gifts from a corporate event. Tee shirts given out at a fundraiser. Party favors that were cute until the minute you left the party. My hubby is guilty of this one and it drives me crazy. He’s the guy that actually wears the shirts and jackets given at the company picnic.
If you didn’t select the item and it’s not something you would buy yourself, get rid of it. You’re not obligated to keep it just because it was free.
3. Mis-matched pens with corporate logos – Similar to the free tees, but way more prevalent, how many of you have a draw full of pens with the bank’s logo on it? And there are always a million of them, like they multiply in the drawer! How come when you’re looking for the one pen you love to write with, its always missing? But the bank logo pens are so plentiful, they can’t fit in the holder. They’re always either stuffed in a cup so full that the last one can’t fit all the way in or spilling over the tray and littering the drawer.
Yes, you can toss a perfectly good pen, just because you never sought it out and you don’t like the way it looks or writes. Instead I buy boxes of my favorite pens so they all match and I always have my favorite pens to write with. We’re not talking Mont Blanc pens. They can be inexpensive pens, as my favorites are. But they’re selected on purpose and give a neater look.
4. Stray post-it notes or loose memo pages – The bane of any organized person’s existence are those little notes you scrawl when you’re on the phone or not at your desk, which then wind up in a pile – at best – or scattered all over the place. The post-its lose their sticking power and there’s always one or two that fluttered behind the desk.
My simple solution is to tape them into a spiral notebook, so at least all my info is all in one place. Nicer is to copy over the notes neatly when there’s time, but the key to staying organized is to be realistic about upkeep, so taping them in a book will get the job done.
5. Lipstick colors I don’t wear or like – This should be a no brainer but its amazing what we will keep when we realize we shouldn’t have paid for the item in the first place. If the item is new and you realize you don’t like it (but you wore it once or twice and they won’t take it back), offer it to someone close who may appreciate it. If the lipstick has been in your drawer for several years, toss it. It’s probably spoiled anyway.
6. Free samples, especially makeup – Another pet peeve of mine, a bottomless box of tiny free samples that you will never look at is utterly useless. If it came as a free gift, toss it or give it away. You’ve gained nothing by keeping an item you will never use. Regardless of how free it was.
My policy is to only take the items I think I may want and leave the rest from the outset. Once I get them home, I keep them out on my dressing table. If I haven’t tried them after a week or two, out they go. The only exception is travel size versions of the items I actually already use. Those go right into my travel bag (that I always keep packed!)
7. A plastic bag full of plastic bags – So, getting back to those plastic bags, just say no! Or if you must, keep a handful. You will never need 100 plastic bags that don’t close properly. I promise. I prefer to keep a small bag full of heavy paper shopping bags. They’re more constructed so easier to carry things in. And you only need a small selection of varied sizes. For things that could spill, I use large zip locks. They close tightly and are completely see through, so you alway know what’s in them.
8. Empty shoe boxes – Along with the plastic bags, this was another surprise I found at my parents’ house. Countless empty shoe boxes. Find a better way to store your shoes. Then get rid of the boxes. I use plastic shoe drawers. They’re stackable, see through, and they keep your shoes dust free. They’re also easy to use because they pull out, so you know you’ll put the shoes back. With original shoe boxes, it’s too difficult to find anything in them. If you use them, you probably never wear the shoes because you forgot you have them. Or like my mom, the boxes are empty, taking up most of your closet, while the shoes are thrown in loose on top. Toss the boxes. Stat.
9. Old newspapers and magazines – Nothing creates a bigger mess than mountains of old magazines and newspapers. I try to keep only the last month’s magazines and keep them on the coffee table where I know I will read them. If they get too old, they’re old news anyway. Read them, tear out what you want to save for later and toss the rest. And while you’re at it, don’t keep publications that were sent to you for a free trial. You either like the magazine enough to buy it and read it or you don’t need it.
10. Loose menus, several from the same restaurant – Did you ever go to a friend’s house and decide to order in food? They open the menu drawer and there are 20 menus from the same restaurant, all thrown loose in the drawer. I decided long ago to corral the menus in one place, so I keep them in a looseleaf binder with plastic sheet protectors. I slip the menus into the plastic protectors and file them by cuisine. If an updated menu comes with my next order, I throw out the old one and replace it with the new. Unless you’re planning to wallpaper your kitchen in menus, there’s no reason to keep more than one.
11. Wire hangers from the cleaners – Another pet peeve of mine, flimsy wire hangers from the cleaners drive me crazy! Invest in matching hangers. Your clothing will all hang at the same height, keeping your closet looking neater. Good hangers will also be strong enough to keep clothing hanging properly and in good shape.
12. Old ripped undergarments and socks – Why do people keep these? You’ll never wear them. Buy enough so that you can skip laundry if need be. But toss the undergarments with holes in them. They serve no purpose.
Most of the things on this list are simply garbage, but if you have things you don’t need but they’re in perfectly good shape, donate, sell, or give to a friend. Those that are junk of course should be thrown out. You wouldn’t believe how much easier you’ll breath with empty space around your home.
Now, if you happen to be in need of plastic bags, hit me up. I have enough from my mom’s house for the whole lot of you!
Organizing Hacks Source List
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