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If labels make your pulse race, if you alphabetize your cookbooks, and/or sort clothes in your closet by color, then you might have what professional organizer Audrey Thomas calls a librarian's organization personality. You thrive on order and subscribe whole-heartedly to the motto "a place for everything, and everything in its place." But don't let your own perfectionism stop you from starting a project. Having a functional home is far more important than having a perfect one. Use these ideas to conquer problems areas in an efficient fashion. Plus, download our free tip sheet for streamlining your filing system.
Successfully manage the influx of papers and outerwear near your home's main entry point with a combination of open shelving, seating, and hooks. A repurposed bookshelf provides dual benefits: Its table surface gives you an immediate place to drop items, while the shelves below keep shoes, outdoor accessories, and other small items neatly contained. A corner bench encourages family members to remove their shoes before they track dirt into the house. Hooks keep coats, bags, and hats at the ready. If you have space, add open shelving or cubbies up high to house baskets or bins.
Personal cubbies make it easy for the whole family to access and organize coats, bags, books, and shoes. Plus, they give young family members a sense of ownership that encourages them pick up after themselves. To get everyone on the same page about household chores, consider hanging a weekly to-do checklist from a clipboard inside each cubby.
Make a habit of plugging in your electronic devices so you'll never be left without your tunes or a way to call home because of a dead battery. Set up a charging station in a home office or near the location you deposit your gear when you enter the house.
Frame the television with a bounty of storage and it's easy to find the necessary gear for a fun-filled night at home. The trick is to realize the space around the TV is finite; save it for your commonly used media. Put the overflow in out-the-way storage. As your kids outgrow movies and games, swap them with friends or donate them.
Today's popular video games often come with a host of bulky controllers, such as guitars, balance boards, and steering wheels. Look for a lidded ottoman with a slow-release hinge to stash these items out of sight. Or gather controllers in a large basket in an unused corner of the room.
No matter how well-organized -- or accurately alphabetized -- they might be, movies and video games usually read as clutter when they're lined up on open shelves. Instead, store cases in boxes that both look good and keep everything organized. Set up separate containers for kids' movies, parents' movies, and video games. Label each box so the cases get put back in the right spots.
Give your remote controls a good home and they'll be less likely to wander. Try a flatware caddy for TV and DVD player remotes and train everyone to put the remotes back in their home -- and nowhere else -- when they're not in use.
Declutter your counters for a kitchen that's calm, collected, and ready for cooking. Evaluate what you truly use every day and find new homes for the rest. Consider storing small appliances, such as a coffee grinder or toaster, inside cabinets. Try lining up cookbooks on shelves built into an island or located above a small desk. Keep the sink area clear by installing rollout shelves under the sink for handy access to dish-cleaning supplies.
Simplify weeknight meals and weekly shopping by developing a meal plan. Transfer favorite meals to standard sized note cards. Store the cards in a box or binder until it's time to pull out the recipes you plan to make for the week. Take the cards with you to the grocery store to ease ingredient shopping. Then attach the cards to a menu board that clearly lets everyone know what's for dinner.
Tidy up deep kitchen drawers with removable drawer dividers, such as baskets or clear acrylic trays. Divvy up foodstuff according to type and size to ensure treats and snacks are always within easy reach.
Reclaim the territory under your bathroom sink with a narrow freezer bin and clear acrylic shoeboxes tucked neatly into the space surrounding the drainpipe. Fill the freezer caddy with cleaning supplies and trash bags for easy grab-and-go convenience. Tuck rags, sponges, and scrub brushes into the shoebox drawers.
Use a pair of floating shelves to transform wasted vertical space -- such as next to a vanity or bathroom mirror -- into useful storage. Fill the shelves with small caddies designated for each family member to corral toothpaste, soaps, washcloths, and other bathroom necessities. Decorative labels adhered to the front of each bin provide easy identification for the whole family.
Stay on top of paper piles with a bounty of office storage solutions. A collection of floating shelves provides storage space for an array of bins that can house everything from office supplies to paperback books. Filing cabinets provide plenty of space to stow away file folders, reducing the amount of paper stacks that tend to find their way onto the desktop.
Stash your supply of greeting cards in a file folder. Tuck cards under themed tabs to make it easy to see when you're running low on a genre. Small files like these are also top-notch at organizing receipts. When receipts are stored in a single place, you won't have to tear the office apart to make a return.
A big closet is nice, but if it doesn't deliver the right kind of storage for your wardrobe, it can still fall flat. Take a detailed inventory of the number of hanging clothes, bulky sweaters, folded items, shoes, and accessories you need to store. Then reconfigure your closet with shelves, drawers, and rods that fit your needs.
Make the linen closet easier to navigate by storing sheets in sets rather than by type. Stack fitted and flat sheets and tuck pillowcases around the center to hold each set together. Make finding items a snap by labeling all of the contents with a hanging tag.
Capitalize on the space inside vanity drawers with dividers meant for office supplies. Jewelry stays untangled inside fabric-lined compartments, and there's no more digging for your mascara when makeup is separated in clear plastic boxes. Dividers also make it easy to transport your entire stash to another mirror if the bathroom is busy.
Attach a customizable wall panel to a garage wall and, voila -- now you can store a variety of large tools in an organized fashion. As a complement to the open storage, introduce closed cabinets and drawers to hold smaller tools and hazardous chemicals, such as gasoline, oil, and paint thinner.
Improve the efficiency of a utility closet by adding shallow compartments to the back of the door. With all of your cleaning supplies conveniently located in one place, everyday and emergency cleanups are quick affairs. Attach hooks to the back of the closet to support rags and a dustpan. And organize those plastic bags once and for all with a bag dispenser installed inside the cabinet.