Clean Sweep

What to do with all of your stuff

Do you ever wonder how your super-organized friend does it? Those neat, stacked piles of sweaters, drawers full of wrapping supplies and linen closets Martha Stewart would envy don’t just happen on their own—they take a little organizing motivation. Here are top tips from the experts.

Analyze What the Space Will be Used For

Do you need to organize your bedroom closet, linen closet, garage or home office? What activities do you do there, what items do you need on hand, and which items can be stored?

“What you’re putting in a closet is important. If you’re hanging clothes, you need more space for that. If you’re folding things, adjustable shelving is important. As the seasons change, the shelving can be adjusted accordingly,” says Lindsay May Schneider, owner and designer with California Closets.

Maximize Vertical Space

“I’m a big fan of vertical storage,” says Karen Doll, owner of Organizing Madison. “Shelves are great for books, folded clothing and baskets that can hold things that don’t sit well on shelves. In a home office, vertical storage is also great—trays that stack are excellent as they allow a space on the desktop to sort and separate your papers.”

Keep Things in Their Place

Doll offers her four best tips:
• Designate a place for everything.
• Store things where you actually use them (i.e. garden tools belong in the garage, not the kitchen).
• Store like items together.
• Put everything back in its designated place after using it.

Set Time Aside to Organize

Doll says it’s common for her customers to put off organizing until it becomes overwhelming: “People often think they need to set aside hours to do a project in one day. Commit twenty minutes a day; it can really make a difference. I encourage people that if they bring something new into the house, they need to get rid of something—the one-in, one-out rule—although some people would make more progress if they followed a one-in, three-out rule.”

Shayna Miller is associate editor of Madison Magazine.

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