Life comes at you pretty fast. And by life, we mean the struggle to manage all the stuff you somehow continue to accrue. As years go by, you move and move again. Then, your kids grow up, and they move and move again. Through it all? Stuff.

Don’t miss life’s precious moments buried under a distracting pile of stuff. Before that happens, take heed of a few quick and simple steps for organizing the stuff you have and preparing for the stuff you will have. Just a little prep work will save you countless headaches, whether you’re moving, trying to make more room, or you just need to find that one kitchen gizmo that does that thing.

If you can implement these common sense organizational strategies into your home management, you’ll find it’s not only easier to find your stuff, but that you may not need as much space as you thought.

woman in glasses organizing with post-it labels

Label

We’re not saying you have to label everything in your house like you’re preparing for a spelling bee. Labeling some things will help keep them together and organized, however. For example, if you tend to organize the silverware in your drawers in a certain way, consider labeling the tray you keep in your drawer. That way, you’ll always know where this spoon goes, where that fork should go, and where the knives fit in all this.

This can be especially helpful in closets. Merely labeling a drawer with what tends to go there–underwear, socks–can be a mental reminder not to put anything else there.

If you have any boxes filled with things you don’t use or look at very often, labels are especially helpful. You don’t want to be digging through 30 cardboard boxes to find that funny picture in your yearbook. You needn’t label more than you want to, but the more you label, the easier you may find staying organized. As long as you follow your own labeling, of course!

several categorized drawers

Categorize

Come up with categories for the items you’re organizing and arrange them according to these categories. For instance, store “miscellaneous kitchen supplies” together in boxes or bins, then put them in a specific area. That will be the “miscellaneous kitchen supply area.” If you want to get really wild, label the area itself. It will make the most sense to keep the things you’re storing where you’re most likely to use them. Reserve part of your closet for winter jackets, another part for spring clothes, and so forth.

When it comes to less used things like old toys, books, or family heirlooms, keep a shelf in your basement or garage open for them. Devote a corner of your garage to all the golfing supplies you swear you’re going to use when you retire. Make each individual storage area the home of a category. When everything is neatly categorized and labeled, you’ll know exactly where to put anything that turns up. If you need anything, you’ll know where to find it.

It’s important to stick to your system once you’ve put it together, though. If you have a place where you keep all your cleaning supplies, but you start putting cleaning supplies somewhere else, you’ll just confuse yourself.

Shipping foreman in hardhat with electronic list watching boxes be stackedshipping

Schedule Organization Times

This might sound a little intense, but it doesn’t have to be a big production. You probably have a rough time of the week for dusting or vacuuming. In addition to routine household chores like this, take just a couple minutes to take inventory of your things and put things back into the right place. You don’t need to make a list like you’re a foreman at a shipping company–though you can, if you want to! That’d be kind of cool.

If you live with anyone else, encourage them to do this, too. This could be an especially good exercise for kids, because it could remind them of the things they have while teaching them to value and care for these things. To make things easier, you could assign different rooms to different roommates. Everyone could be in charge of cleaning and organizing their room plus one other room in the house. You’d be surprised at how much more stuff you’ll remember if you do this.

woman smiling woman in blue with box of items to donate

Discard Unused Things

It’s hard, but it’s also one of the most important parts of staying organized. Are your Taekwondo trophies really that important? A couples times a year, take stock of what you really do and don’t need. It’s easy to become sentimental about our possessions, but remember: they’re just things.

If you forgot you had something until you’re looking at it, that’s a sign you can get rid of it. If you’re constructing elaborate narratives for an ultra-specific situation when you might need something, you can probably toss it. If your spouse witnesses a hired hit and you both have to go into witness protection, are you really going to live in a Hello Kitty? Sure, you might learn shipwright skills in community college classes down the line, but do you even want to patch up that canoe with the big hole in it?

It’s hard to admit, but getting rid of something that evokes good memories won’t get rid of those memories. You’ll always remember that time dad’s butt broke the canoe, even if you don’t have the canoe anymore.

If you’ve done all you can and still feel like you’re being swallowed up by your stuff, we get it. Whether you recently downsized or a child returned from college with all kinds of furniture, there are a billion reasons to need a little extra storage space. We at Storage Direct offer highly-secure, spacious, climate-controlled units near you. Our service is the best there is, and best of all? No judgments. You wouldn’t want to see some of our closets.