3 Things Super-Organized People Do at Home that You Don't

I think my wife wrote this article under a pen name. No one else could have described my decluttering short-comings so accurately! I'm going to get it right this time.


by Shifrah Combiths
Apartment Therapy
January 7, 2018

Each of us have personal feelings about cleaning and home keeping. But what remains remarkably similar across the board are the trouble spots that we all find tricky to solve. Which, by extension, means that those perpetually organized people who never seem to have the stuff explosions most of us fall prey to have found successful ways to address these very same sticking points.

They have a system for incoming paper and mail

Nothing multiplies like paper piles. People who stay on top of paper clutter have a system that works and that they stick to. Such systems might include:

  • Walking straight to the recycling bin when mail is in-hand and tossing circulars, offers, and other junk straight into it. 
  • Dealing with time-sensitive papers right away. The field trip permission form gets signed within the first ten minutes your kid puts it on your desk, for instance. You don't have to remember to turn it in later, and the paper is back in your child's folder and out of sight. 
  • Treating kids' paper deliveries like the mail. While it's in your hand, recycle what you don't need, take care of papers that require action right away, and store or photograph art that you might want to save. 
  • Have a place for everything else. Bills that you can't deal with right away, insurance documents you have to make phone calls about, and papers you plan to file in Evernote — these need a basket or bin to contain them. The only way to keep this spot from growing out of control is to have a designated, regular time to deal with these papers. Organized people all do it.

They have a system for not-quite dirty clothes

Clothes that have been worn but don't yet need to be washed are a clean bedroom's and picked-up closet's downfall. You've got to have a plan and place for them or these clothes will end up slung over chairs and/or pooled on the closet floor. Wardrobe Purgatory: Where to Store Your Worn (But Not Dirty) Clothes has some great suggestions and tools to help, including over-the-door hooks, stands, and racks.

They have a daily routine to clear their most common surfaces

Surfaces are breeding grounds for clutter and if they aren't cleared off vigilantly, they'll always be cluttered. Think of your bathroom counter, kitchen counters, and dining room table for starters. Make certain spaces off-limits for the entire family as a set-down spot (for instance, the dining room table), and address the other surfaces nightly. Put bathroom and kitchen counter items back where they belong or corral things that must remain out on trays. Remember that that first thing you place on the counter because you don't want to put it away invites more items to join it, so resist the urge.

Read this article at Apartment Therapy.

​27 Things to Get Rid of in the Kitchen Before Thanksgiving

by: Shifrah Combiths November 6, 2017

(Image credit: Morgan Schemel)

(Image credit: Morgan Schemel)

Nothing turns a happy chef into a frazzled one like rifling through drawers or disassembling the kitchen to dig out the necessary tools. Don't let this be you at Thanksgiving. For a smoothly running kitchen — and, more importantly, a smiling cook — eliminate everything that doesn't need to be in your kitchen before the big day.

Donate or toss these extras:

  1. Any more than three spatulas (keep any combination of no more than three sizes or types)
  2. Can openers (you only need one)
  3. Corkscrews/wine bottle openers (keep the one you always reach for anyway)
  4. Tupperware missing lids
  5. Lids missing tupperware
  6. Empty glass jars you're keeping "just in case"
  7. Used twisty ties
  8. Pens, pencils, Sharpies (you get to keep two of each)
  9. Paper and plastic grocery bags (depending on what you use them for, keep about five of each)
  10. Condiment packets from fast food places or restaurants
  11. Take-out menus
  12. Everything in the junk drawer (except what's worth putting back in and organizing)
  13. Papers and pictures stuck to the fridge
  14. "Junky," advertising, or broken magnets
  15. Extra whisks (no more than three in different sizes and materials)
  16. Used candles
  17. Salad tongs (you need one set, max)
  18. Napkins from the drive-through
  19. Expired spices (get new ones for maximum flavor; make a list)
  20. Expired canned goods and other pantry items
  21. Chipped mugs
  22. Chipped dishes
  23. Chipped anything
  24. Old rags and sponges
  25. Cleaners you never use (again, keep only what you always reach for)
  26. Bottle brushes (you can keep three if they are different sizes)
  27. Aprons in excess of whoever cooks in your household plus one for guests

Move these things somewhere else:

These kitchen items don't need to occupy valuable real estate in prime locations of your kitchen. Things that you use only a couple times a year should be stored in the hard-to-reach spots or, if you have the space, elsewhere in the house, like a cabinet in the garage.

Bonus: If you dig up and move these things out of the way now, you'll know exactly where they are when you need them on the big day.

  • Party platters
  • Cake/cupcake carrier
  • Pie pans
  • Pie weights
  • Specialty bakeware (the madeleine pan, the tart pan, the springform pan, etc.)
  • Trifle bowl
  • Sprinkles collection
  • Cupcake liner collection
  • Piping bags and tips
  • Candles
  • The apple peeler/corer
  • Specialty molds (a spoon mold, heart molds, bundt cake molds)
  • Cake stands
  • Gravy boat
  • Large roasting pan
  • Electric knife

Putting the time in now to get behind-the-scenes ready will not only pay off on the biggest cooking day of the season, but will also give you an efficient kitchen all year round.

Read this article at Apartment Therapy

Regain Control: 7 Bad Housekeeping Habits to Quit Right Now


I chose to include this article, because I know a thing or two about clutter. My wife wouldn't want you to see — in fact she wishes she didn't have to see — the clutter (magazines, newsletters, and books) on my bedside table. It's time to turn a new leaf...   —Charlie

by Brittney Morgan, October 16, 2017
Assistant Lifestyle Editor • New York, NY

Clutter is just a fact of life. Stuff piles up, messes are made, and dealing with it all becomes one of many things on your to-do list. Easy enough to manage when life is calm and work is steady, but when things get hectic, it's more and more tempting to let things slide and deal with them later. And eventually, all that procrastinating can turn into what feels like an impossible cleaning challenge.

But, of course, that's not the case. Any mess, no matter how big, can and will get cleaned up. And, the best way to regain control is by focusing on and changing your behavior, one bad habit at a time. So, read on, and for any behaviors that you know you are guilty of, make an early resolution to start breaking them now — you'll be surprised how quickly your space will turn around.

Tossing random items in a "junk drawer"

Having a place for all your miscellaneous stuff? Great. Shoving all that miscellaneous stuff in a drawer until you can't even open it anymore? Not so much. It's okay to have a junk drawer, just make sure you're strategic about it—keep loose items like buttons and screws in small plastic bags or boxes and label things so you can easily tell what they are. Most importantly, make sure you don't over-stuff things into it, or all your hard work will go to waste.

Not cleaning up while you're cooking

The line between cooking and making a mess is a thin one, but any messes you might make during meal prep are much easier to clean up if you just take them on right away. Spills and splashes can dry and stain if you don't clean them right away, meaning they'll be harder to clean up later—and if you put cleaning off until after you're done, you might feel less motivated to do it. Make it a rule that you clean up while you cook (but of course, give yourself a pass for dishes that require serious concentration).

Not treating stains and spots right away

Getting set-in stains out is much more difficult than removing stains as a spill happens—so if you have a tendency to let them sit and deal with them later, definitely make it a point to break that habit now. Make it easier by keeping a stain removal spray or any other household stain removal products you might need in an accessible place, and try to train yourself to make cleaning it up right away your instinct. Your rugs and your laundry will thank you.

Not sorting your mail as it comes in

Mail is a small daily mess that can become a massive clutter problem quickly. When you check your mail, don't just drop it on the coffee table or counter and leave it there—collecting paper and envelopes like that guarantees two things: your home will look cluttered, and you're almost guaranteed to lose sight of important documents. Make it a rule that when mail comes in, you sort through it right away—shredding whatever you don't want, and storing important papers in a safe place.

Hoarding stacks of magazines you never read

Magazine subscriptions, much like the rest of your mail, can accumulate faster than you realize. Keeping a small stack on your coffee table or on your desk is fine and can add a little personality to your home, but if you find yourself holding on to every issue of a magazine you've received for the last 3 years, you might want to think about recycling them or giving them away to get the bulk out of your home. In the future, make it a habit to get rid of old issues as new issues come in.

Putting off laundry until your last pair of socks

Laundry isn't exactly the most fun chore, so it tends to be one of those things people put off until they absolutely can't put it off anymore (I'm definitely guilty of this, and it's a tough habit to break). Don't wait until you're down to your last pair of socks—that you're definitely re-wearing—to put your clothes in the wash. Instead, instate a new rule: once you have one load's worth of laundry, tackle it. It'll be a lot more manageable than your past bulk laundry loads, and you'll never run out of clean clothes again.

Throwing clothes and accessories on a chair

Does the chair in your bedroom pull double duty as clothing storage? It's easy to come home, get changed and drape your clothes on a chair to deal with later, but if you let it pile up you'll have a whole new decluttering challenge to take on later. Break the habit by making a rule that you have to put things back in your closet or dresser before you can take new things out, or if that doesn't feel doable, make your new rule that nothing is allowed to stay on the chair overnight.

Read this article at ApartmentTherapy.com