After living in our house 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!
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
The 10 Organizational Systems that Keep Our House Running Smoothly
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.
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 file some of our favorite items for future perusal. I explain our system for handling kids' school paperwork in this post.
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.
Since I am a pen and paper girl at heart, I also keep a paper planner that I use on a day to day basis for my own notes, time blocking, goals, and plans.
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.
The number one thing I've done to combat this is to purge 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).
After purging, 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.
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.
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.
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, first purging everything that we didn't absolutely love, and organizing the remainder. Donnie and I share one small-ish closet in the master bedroom and organize our clothes by type:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
I also have a few drawers to hold smaller items like paper clips, hole punches, sticky notes, etc.:
And finally, my closet holds most of my craft supplies (and extra pillows, of course!):
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 master bathroom sink:
And a combination of various bins to organize everything under the guest bathroom sink:
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 garage. As I've said with many of the other areas, the biggest thing I do is purge 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.
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. My kids are currently 7 & 4 and 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 purging; 2) labeled bins for smaller toys:
And 3) open shelving for larger items:
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 Cs that they can only have the big toys that fit on these shelves, so if they get something new, something old has to go. #meanmommy 😉
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.
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!
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.