16 Tips for a More Organized Home

Sometimes little changes can make a big difference around your house. “The Spacialist” Erica Ecker--a professional organizer in New York City--gives MORE her tips for keeping an uncluttered work and living space.

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Corral your cords

Having your computer, phone, e-Reader and tablet cords lying around isn’t only unsightly—it’s dangerous. Wrangle wires with products like Cordies ($12.99; quirky.com), which keep them in place on your desk or floor.

Create a home for your electronics

“Docking stations are great if you have room, but sometimes the unit takes up more space than people have available,” says Ecker. To keep track of all of your gadgets, opt for a smaller product like GRID-IT ($24.99; cocooninnovations.com), a woven elastic panel that organizes accessories on your desktop or on-the-go in your suitcase.

Mark your wires

Many people's inclination is to hoarde their cords—hanging on to them long after they need them, worried that they'll later regret throwing them away. Use a label-maker or colored disks to mark which cables belong to which item to save time and space.

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Make a clean arrival

It's important to start with a functional landing strip—a place where things get dumped when you get home. Think about the tools you can use to stop the mail, keys and shoes from building up. If you tend to let the pile grow for more than a couple of days, one option is to designate clutter to a larger basket—and off the kitchen table—until you can redistribute it.

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Hook it up

“The hook is the unsung hero of organizing,” says Ecker. To free up floor space, use a wall unit with hooks and shelves to store keys, papers and more. One to try: this Formbu Wallmount Mail & Key Rack ($16.99; organize.com).

Docket your documents

For important old tax returns, bills, and leases, do an inventory and store it on your computer before stowing the files away. The next time you need to find something, you'll save yourself time rummaging through boxes.

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Store it out of sight

Once you’ve itemized your files, stash documents in a file cabinet like the HELMER drawer unit ($39.99, ikea.com). Keep the cabinets away from your desk to make room for your daily items.

Keep a clear view on your finances

“Mail is the biggest offender in building a pile,” Ecker says. The piles will happen, but you can keep control of them by choosing a small, clear box like the Desktop Mail Center by U.S. Acrylic ($22.49, organize.com). It will force you to deal with mail regularly—especially time-sensitive items like the check that needs to be deposited or the bill that needs to be paid.

Redirect your records

If you receive most of your mail electronically, create a dedicated email address for bills and investments statements. When you see a new email in the inbox, you will know that it’s important and it won’t get lost in the shuffle.

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Stop the magazine mania

For people who hold onto magazines for months, Ecker suggests committing to a certain number of containers and purging them when they’re full. Try the Bright Stockholm Magazine File ($7.99, containerstore.com).

Have a book clearance

If a book doesn’t fit into your current lifestyle or career, it’s time to edit it out. Once a year, go through your paperbacks and see what you can toss. If your child is in college, you don’t really need that book on how to raise toddlers.

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Don’t forget to download

Don’t rely on your bank to keep track of your banking statements; every establishment has its own policy for how long to keep records. Once every six months, download your most up-to-date statements as PDFs and place them in a folder, labeled by year. Ecker suggests using month numbers and years to view folders chronologically.

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Save a hard copy

Make sure that you are backing up your documents with either an external hard drive or an online program like Carbonite ($59/year; carbonite.com). There’s no use in having files stored if they can disappear with one wrong click.

Synchronize schedules

“The trick to a successful calendar is that everyone in your household commits 100 percent to using it ,” says Ecker. “The minute someone stops writing things down, no one trusts it.” If you forget when the calendar is on your fridge, try the front door.

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Get hands-free functionality

Using a headset like the Plantronics Blackwire 420 ($89.95, plantronics.com) for your calls will change the way you use downtime at your desk. As you wait on hold or catch up with clients, you can respond to emails and delete spam.

Be honest with yourself

Don't try to trick yourself into exercising by placing important drawers and papers across the room. Efficiency in the office means more free time outside of it, so keep everything you need within arms reach.

 

Click here for more tips for organizing your life.

 

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First Published July 6, 2011

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