10 Organizational Systems that Are Essential for Every House

Use these 10 easy but essential organizational systems to simplify your home and everyday life while minimizing the clutter!

Organized Closet with Tidy Hanging Clothes

After living in our townhouse for seven years, I feel like I finally have systems in place for all of the major elements in our home… just in time to move and start all over again. 🙂

Because I don’t want to spend another seven years figuring out systems in our new house though, I tried to look at our current home and pinpoint the essential organized areas that keep it running smoothly so that I know what to focus on in our new space.

And since it would be awfully selfish of me to keep my findings to myself, I thought I’d share them with you in case you’re looking to get more organized as well!

Organized Garage

7 Simple Starting Points: A Guide to Starting an Overwhelming Organizing Project

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The 10 Organizational Systems that Keep Our House Running Smoothly

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

1. Paperwork

If you are like us, you have oodles and oodles of paperwork that enters your house on a daily basis. It never stops! There was a point in our lives where we really struggled to keep up with the inflow of paper because we were lacking a solid system.

And then we went paperless. And it has been the best thing we possibly could have done.

Computer sitting on a white desk with a with document in Evernote on the screen

Basically, Donnie is in charge of scanning any incoming paperwork that we may need to reference in the future. He then files it digitally in a system we have set up in Evernote, and then we can discard the paper originals.

We don’t have any filing cabinets stuffed full of bills and medical records; everything is digital. You can read more about how we manage our paperless system in this post.

Just when we thought we had the whole paperwork thing under control, though, our kids went to school. I have never seen so much paper come home in my entire life. Eeek. Once we realized how much paper they were bringing in the door daily, we realized that we needed a system for that too.

After a little trial and error, we found a way to minimize their paper clutter, display their proudest pieces, and save some of our favorite items for future perusal. I explain our system for handling kids’ school paperwork in this post.

Kids' Paperwork Organized in Slim Photo Books

Tips for organizing paperwork

  • Before putting any system in place for paperwork and kid’s keepsakes, declutter! We toss everything out we don’t need or want to keep first, then begin the scanning and organizing process.
  • While the paperless method works best for our family, it may not for yours! In that case, declutter the paperwork, then sort before purchasing folders, storage containers, and labels. This will help determine exactly what’s needed so there’s not an abundance of leftover supplies.

2. Schedule

One of the other areas that Donnie and I quickly learned that we needed a system for was organizing our schedule. It only took a few double booked appointments for us to realize that we needed to get on the same page, and fast.

The easiest way we’ve found to do this is to utilize a shared Google calendar. We both add pertinent appointments to the digital calendar, and both of us can access it from our phones and computers. This way before we schedule anything, we can easily check to see if there are any other events that would interfere and we avoid the double booking problem.

a screenshot of our Google calendar app for our family scheduling

If you prefer pen and paper for maintaining your calendar, you can snag our pretty calendar printables here.

3. Kitchen Supplies

Now let’s get down to our “stuff.” The kitchen, as they say, is the heart of the home, and it is also one of the first areas that can become unruly on the organization side of things! With so many gadgets, utensils, appliances, and pieces of dinnerware, cabinets and drawers can fill up fast.

top view of our organized silverware drawer

The number one thing I’ve done to combat this is to declutter ruthlessly. I got rid of items I had multiples of. I ditched anything I wasn’t using often. I threw away or donated any specialty gadget whose purpose could be met by something else (for example, my grill or oven could take the place of my George Foreman grill, so it got the boot).

an organized kitchen cabinet with cups and plastic storage containers

After decluttering, I was really intentional about how I filled my cabinets and drawers, placing the items I used most often within easy reach and the pieces I use more sporadically up higher. You can take a tour of all of our kitchen cabinets and drawers in this post.


kitchen organizational tips

4. Food

While we’re talking about the kitchen, the food also needs to be organized!

I store dry goods in my pantry, which we made more functional with ALGOT shelving (now called BOAXEL) from IKEA.

Once the shelving was in place, I used a combination of baskets, risers, and storage containers (with labels!) to organize the food in the most efficient way possible. More details about our pantry can be found in this post.

a small organized pantry with the doors opened

Our refrigerator is the second piece in the food organization puzzle, and though it is small, we’ve found ways to maximize the space using carefully chosen bins and specific placement for different types of food items. I wrote all about our organized refrigerator in this post.

front view of how we organized our small refrigerator in our town house

5. Clothes

Clothes are another thing that can easily take over every drawer, closet, and extra nook and cranny in the house!

I feel like we finally got our clothes under control when we applied the KonMari method. We first decluttered everything that we didn’t absolutely love and organized the remainder.

Donnie and I share one small-ish closet in the primary bedroom and organize our clothes by type:

front view of our closet system

We use the filing method for our folded clothes to keep our drawers neat and organized. You can see a step by step explanation of how I fold our clothes this way in this post.

top view of a clothes drawer organized using the KonMari method

Since we have two boys, hand-me-downs are another thing we have to keep organized around here. I use plastic drawers and a labeling system to keep all of the different sizes straight, and you can snag my free printable labels in this post.

storage drawers that are labeled with the kid's clothes

6. Coats and Outerwear

We live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where we experience four (sometimes fairly extreme!) seasons, so we have coats and jackets in just about every weight to accommodate the unpredictable weather. We each keep our go-to coat of the season in the mini-mudroom we created on the main level of our house:

the nook in the basement organized with bags and jackets

All other coats are stored in a nook in the basement, which is right beside the door we use most often to enter and exit our house for easy access. I keep a bin for gloves and hats in this nook as well, so we can easily find what we need to bundle up in the winter. More information about our coat storage system can be found in this post.

an organized winter coat storage closet

7. Office and Craft Supplies

For the first few years that we lived in our house, I didn’t have a dedicated space for my craft and office supplies, and it drove me bonkers! Since I was trying to squeeze them in anywhere I could, they inevitably ended up all over the place and I could never find what I needed.

A few years ago though, we rearranged some of our spaces and I finally got an office of my own! I use a combination of open shelving + storage baskets to hold the majority of my supplies:

my organized craft shelving unit filled with supplies and stationary

I also have a few drawers to hold smaller items like paper clips, hole punches, sticky notes, etc.:

a three drawer organizer under the desk that is labeled

And finally, my closet holds most of my craft supplies (and extra pillows, of course!):

an organized office closet holding extra craft supplies, pillows, and other miscanellous items

8. Toiletries

I’ve tried a few different under-the-sink organization methods, but our current setup seems to work the best for our needs. I use small plastic drawers to hold the majority of the items under our primary bathroom sink:

showing the organizational system we use under the bathroom sink

And a combination of various bins to organize everything under the guest bathroom sink:

another bathroom system for under the sink organization

More details about our under-the-sink organization can be found in this post.


labeling tips

9. Seasonal Decor

I am not even a huge seasonal decorator (other than Christmas– then I go all out! 😉 ), but I still have several bins of seasonal decor that we store in our basement.

As I’ve said with many of the other areas, the biggest thing I do is declutter these bins on a regular basis. There is no reason to store items that I’m not going to use. I also use labels to tell me what is in each bin so that I can locate what I need quickly, and you can snag those in this post.

Plastic Storage Tubs Organizing Christmas Decor

10. Toys

Finally, this area my not apply to every single house, but if you have kids (or pets!) toys can be one of the most challenging things to organize. I feel like I’ve tried about every system on earth to organize their stuff!

We still have days when the house feels overrun with toys, but for the most part, we are able to keep them organized with 1) frequent decluttering; 2) labeled bins for smaller toys:

a shelving unit with bins to organize toys

And 3) open shelving for larger items:

open shelving units holding larger toys

I used to keep these large toys on the floor, and they drove me bonkers. The open shelves were exactly what we needed to keep the big toys organized, and I tell the boys that they can only have the big toys that fit on these shelves, so if they get something new, something old has to go.

Home Organizing Systems: Final Thoughts

So those are the 10 main areas where intentional organizational systems have been absolutely essential for us!

Now, there is not one perfect organizational system that will work for every family or every house– I’m sure some of ours will look similar in our new house and some will be quite a bit different! But if your goal is to get organized, hopefully this list can help you get started and know which areas to focus on to help make your home run as smoothly as possible.

Home Organizational Systems: Frequently Asked Questions

Before we buy any type of organizational system, we always shop our house first! It’s amazing the things you find when digging in storage or after decluttering.

Dollar stores often have containers and bins that are inexpensive.

When decluttering, think about selling the items. Take the money from the sales and invest that back getting organized!

See more tips for getting organized without spending a lot of money here.

Starting from scratch is the hardest part! Once we get a space organized, we take a few minutes each day to maintain it. This may be keeping toys corralled, decluttering the kitchen weekly before our next shopping trip, or getting our family to help pitch in!

This biggest thing to help with sustainable organization is being intentional frequently versus letting clutter pile up to repeat the process in the future. We have a whole library FULL of printables to help you make lists and tackle these projects once and for all!

Want to save this post to revisit later? Be sure to pin this post so you can find it easily!

10 Essential Organizing Systems for Every House

Are there any other areas you would add to my list? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Have a wonderful day!

Abby

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

24 Comments

  1. Love your posts! I’m working through our home as well and getting organized slowly but surely. I’m a board game nut and have a huge closet full of them. Couldn’t help but notice it looks like the boys have two versions of Chutes & Ladders but can’t tell what the second one is. This is such a minor thing, but we are looking to get that game for children that come to our house when we have company. Which version do your boys like best? Thanks Abby!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      You have a good eye, lol! They have the classic version and the “Super Hero Squad” version. I would say they play the Super Hero version more often, but the classic version might be more boy and girl friendly. 🙂 Hope you’re having a great day, Sarah!

      ~Abby =)

  2. Suzi Whitford says:

    Love all these tips! One thing that I additionally do is arrange my clothes in my closet by color. It looks like a beautiful rainbow and takes a bit of anxiety away when I have to choose what to wear. Because I’m normally in ‘color’ moods 🙂 And also, as a stay/work from home mommy – I have an outfit for each day of the week. It makes my morning routine smoother 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Love that, Suzi! Thanks so much for sharing!

      ~Abby =)

  3. It’s so inpirational to see all of this in one post! I’m working my way through my own home now, and while I have a long way to go, it’s so nice to be inspired for the future. I’m really envious of your pantry, I don’t have one and I find I really miss it.

    Thank you for sharing! 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Aw, so glad they were helpful for you! Hope you’re having a great week!

      ~Abby =)

  4. I bought a scanner and I can’t wait until we’re paperless! It must be such a freeing feeling! I looked at my file cabinets the other day and thought “I won’t need those anymore…”

    1. justagirlabby says:

      It really is so awesome once you have the system in place! We love it!

      ~Abby =)

  5. LA McClure says:

    I had to laugh at your ‘meanmommy’ tag! I think it essential that children learn early – one in, one out. “Stuff” smothers us!

    I wish I had just ONE drawer that was as neat as anything you have.

  6. Shandy @ HappyMeetsHome says:

    These are such great tips, makes me want to completely organize my house! I struggle sometimes with “I might need it someday” syndrome and being attached to my kids things for sentimental reasons, but I’m trying to learn to part with things. Clutter is making me crazy!

  7. Abby-I so appreciate this post! We just moved from a big, open home to a smaller, chopped up home and it’s challenging to find places for things. Your post has given me inspiration for some of those things that didn’t have a spot. 🙂

    Thanks!!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful for you, Lauren!

      ~Abby =)

  8. I’ve seen you mention going totally paperless a few times now, and my gut reaction has alway been, “But what about the things where we *need* originals?” But then I thought about it, and that’s really such a tiny minority of all the documents in our flat, and in many cases originals can be replaced without too much fuss; I think my fiancé had to spend something like £20 to get his birth certificate replaced as we needed it for our marriage licence and his mum couldn’t find it (something that also isn’t a problem if most of your documents are digital!). I finally clicked through and read Donnie’s post on the subject and it’s definitely something I want to do now.

  9. Diane + Dean DIY says:

    Great post, Abby! Thanks so much for sharing. I am sure you are encorporating the best organization plans in your new home to be built. That must be fun to start from scratch with all the great ideas on Pinterest and great places to shop.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      A little overwhelming, but SO exciting! 🙂 Thanks so much!

      ~Abby =)

  10. Zoe @ IntentionalZoe says:

    I love the fact that you seem to use all different types of bins. Primarily clear, but you also have great use for boxes and other types of containers which really bring about the convenience and compartmentalization of a space. It’s inspired me to start gathering all of my random bins, plastic containers, boxes and baskets and be more intentional with their use.

    Thanks Abby!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Glad it was helpful for you, Zoe!

      ~Abby =)

  11. Carole @ TootSweet4Two says:

    I love all your tips, meanmommy! I consider myself relatively well-organized, but I’m not paperless. I’ll have to think about that one! Also, I’m addicted to kitchen gadgets and have far more than I need (and use). I think that’s the area I’ll tackle first! Thanks for the great post!

  12. Love the organization posts! Being a little OCD, I think I’m really going to try the purging to really force myself to donate / throw away unused clothes because our closet is really tiny for our bedroom. We have 2 single door closets & looking to install shelves. For now, I thought of using rattan / wicker / ottoman storage at the foot of the bed for “everyday clothes” (tshirts, jeans, shorts… Anything that’s good folded) and was wondering if you could give any suggestions on organizing it in “one big box”!
    Thanks for the wonderful posts!!!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Hi, Roenlo! I would probably look for some bins I could use inside of the box to separate the different types of clothing. I use bins in my drawers that hold my socks and undergarments to keep them neat and tidy, and it works like a charm. I hope this helps! Have a great day!

      ~Abby =)

  13. I love the toy storage! I don’t have kids yet, but I could totally see myself using something like that. In fact I have the perfect place for it. I may just have to get one now and fill it with decorations. Can always convert it to kid related storage later 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful, Gina!

      ~Abby =)

  14. Shanyesica says:

    Wow ! This is sooo organized! Thanks for sharing.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful for you!

      ~Abby =)

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