21 Organizing Strategies for 2021

January is Get Organized Month. Minimizing the clutter and visual chaos at home relieves stress and gives us more headspace to be productive.

We talked to Karen Swart, a professional organizer in Kansas City and owner of Organizing-Etc., about ways to get started and be successful in the new year.

In General

1. Start small. Do projects in small pieces so you don’t get overwhelmed and give up in frustration. “Instead of tackling your whole closet at once, consider editing just one area, such as jeans or sweaters.”

2. Give yourself a deadline on donating. “When you don’t, you’ll end up having donator’s remorse and keep more than you originally planned.”

3. Don’t buy bins until you’ve sorted things. “You might end up getting too many or not the right type.”

4. Organize according to the personalities in your household. “Creative people tend to want to see their options, so open bins are best. Type A people like things closed up, stacked neatly and labeled.”

5. Label with specificity. “Writing ‘Extra Kitchen Utensils’ will help so much more than writing ‘Kitchen Stuff.’ You don’t need an expensive label maker, especially in a closed storage space. A strip of masking tape and Sharpie will do.”

Home Office/Study

6. Recycle mail right away. “Ninety percent of the paper we get, we don’t need. Go through mail as it comes to the house and sort by ‘Recycle,’ ‘File’ or ‘Action Required.’”

7. File in finite categories. “Start with these five: banking, insurance, medical, legal, and taxes. Those are the most common.”

8. Group like things together. “Keep the space streamlined by grouping office supplies and electronic accessories separately, and archive tax files away from main office space if possible.”

9. Consider donating books. “We generally have more books than we plan to read. If you use books in your décor, donate the paperbacks for others to enjoy.”.”

Closet and Drawers

10. Edit ruthlessly. “We usually wear 25 percent of what’s in our closets. And that may be generous! If you haven’t worn it in a year, you’re probably not going to wear it again.”

11. Hang as many items as possible. “I even hang T-shirts if there is room. It allows you to see everything at once.”

12. Group clothes. “Start by organizing by sleeve length, then type of fabric, then color of the rainbow.”

13. Store clothes in drawers so you can see each piece at a glance. “For T-shirts either roll them with the decal showing or search YouTube ‘how to envelope fold.’”


14. Edit gadgets. “Lose the single-use, once-a-year items. Do you really need a melon baller?”

15. Limit food storage containers. “Get rid of the ones that have lost lids.”

16. Reduce the number of coffee mugs. “Most of us have way too many because we get them as gifts. Keep the ones you use the most and only enough for a few days of use.”

17. Trim the number of sports bottles. “Ask any organizer, and along with food-storage containers and coffee mugs, this is one of the kitchen clutter culprits.”


18. Pare down the cosmetics to what you use regularly. “Makeup you don’t use will go bad.”

19. Maximize the space under the sink. “Try using stand-alone drawers to store more items for easy access in the bathroom.”


20. Think vertically “Get items off the floor and store tools and items you only use once in a while up high.”


21. Scan prized pics. “The thing I’d want to save from my house if it caught on fire are all of the family photos. There are services that will scan, organize, and categorize them on cloud-based storage if you don’t want to do it yourself.”

Bonus tip: If any project is beyond your ability or you just need a helping hand, consider hiring a professional organizer. Their experience and expertise might benefit you.