The meals, the kids, the housework, the job…the only way to stay sane is to get organized. Fat chance, you say? Remember, the goal of organizing isn't to make your house pristine; it's to makeyour life more functional. So don't straighten for neatness sake—create an organized foundation for all the roles you play.


1. Assign specific living quarters to everything you own.

2. Put things where they work for you: vitamins by the juice glasses, coat hooks in the garage next to the car.

3. A small, open basket on the coffee table keeps remote controls from slipping between sofa cushions, says professional organizer Kathy Waddill, author of The Organizing Sourcebook: Nine Strategies for Simplifying Your Life.

4. Move all your CDs to a storage wallet. Say bye-bye to jewel boxes and CD stands!

5. Put wastebaskets in every room, suggests Waddill.

6. Whenever you run across anything empty, ripped, the wrong size or never used, immediately toss it in the trash or a charity box.

7. To stay on track, jot your cleaning routine on index cards and post them, says Debbie Williams, founder of

8. Use a plastic caddy, not valuable shelf space, to store cleaning supplies for surfaces and floors. Keep it on the broom and mop closet floor (locked, if you have small children) and tote it from room to room.

9. Store sheet sets in the same room as the bed, between the mattress and box spring or tucked into an underbed box.

10. Keep a cedar chest (or a light-weight wicker basket if you have young children to avoid accidents) at the foot of your bed to hide blankets and extra pillows.

11. Tuck a whisk broom and dustpan in each bathroom for a daily dust-up.

12. Put a different color toilet paper than usual behind your stash of regular rolls. When a colored roll ends up on the spool, it's time to buy more.

13. Keep real cleaning cloths next to your cleaning products, and ditch the box of rippedunderwear you keep in the basement.

14. Just accept it: Place a tall, narrow basket for his magazines next to the toilet.


15. Give kids their own alarm clocks and post morning checklists for them. (It'll be less for you to organize.)

16. Move kids' cereal boxes, bowls and cups to an "I can reach it!" lower cabinet. Also, put juice boxes, milk and other snacks in an accessible place in the refrigerator.

17. Leave a shoe basket by the front door (or the kids' bedroom doors) to avoid those excruciatingly long searches through the house.

18. Have a two-compartment hamper in the kids' rooms so they can sort lights from darks as they undress.

19. When switching kids' summer/winter clothes, mark boxes with the date and sizes so you don't have to paw through them to know if they'll fit.

20. No room for a dresser? One or two sets of plastic or canvas hanging shelves in the closet make choosing clothes easier.

21. Leave a weatherproof, bench-style storage box outside for the kids' outdoor toys.

22. Gather all balls into a large, mesh drawstring bag.

23. Keep some toys undercover in the living room with decorative, lidded baskets.

24. Stand kids' paperback books in rectangular plastic or wicker baskets so they're easy to sift through.

25. Photograph your child's 3-D creations and save the pictures instead, says momcentral.comfounder Stacy DeBroff, author of The Mom Book.


26. Post several weekly dinner menus on the fridge and alternate among them for easier grocery shopping and meal planning.

27. Don't keep space-hogging cookbooks. Photocopy favorite recipes and slip them into plastic sheet protectors inside a binder.

28. Tape an envelope for pizza and other takeout food coupons inside the cabinet door nearest the phone.

29. Use a mini flowerpot with drip tray near the sink to stash sponges, steel wool and food scrapers.

30. A crock with a wide mouth keeps favorite stove-side utensils from tangling.

31. Put countertop flour and sugar canisters on a lower slide-out cabinet shelf. Or use a sturdybaking sheet or plastic tray as a slide-out.

32. Double cabinet space with two-tiered turntables.

33. Trade round storage containers for more efficient square and rectangular ones, says DeBroff.

34. To free up kitchen space borrow, don't buy, things you rarely use such as juicers, waffle irons,melon ballers and rolling pins. Already have them? Sell them.

35. A second freezer makes you walk farther for the ice cream.


36. Use a morning checklist; kids aren't the only ones who forget things when they're in a rush.

37. Create other essential checklists: what goes in your gym bag, what joint-custody kids need to take back and forth between houses, what to pack for trips, information for babysitters, etc. Keep them on your computer for updating and put copies in a folder near the kitchen phone.

38. Set your computer calendar's alarm for the week before dates you need to remember, from an anniversary to the day you change the furnace filter. That will give you enough time to buy what you need.

39. Organize future events with a monthly accordion file. Put birthday cards, directions to a baby shower, a note to check on furniture deliveries, even vacation brochures in the appropriate months.

40. Put a clock in every single bathroom.

41. Always have backups: a spare set of car/house keys, a second deodorant, another way to get kids to school.

42. Make a standing monthly hair appointment.

43. Designate every Friday or Saturday as date night with your husband, and book a sitter for several weekends at a time.

44. Don't assume he'll keep those Honey-Do projects in his head. Post them on the bathroom mirror.

45. Keep a wish list of intriguing activities on hand so you don't waste precious weekend time figuring out what to do.

46. File copies of important documents (birth certificates, car title, passports, proof of immunizations, insurance information, etc.) in a three-ring binder with zippered plastic pockets. If disaster strikes, you can grab it and go.

47. Add address book pages sorted by category: kids' friends, gourmet food club, tennis friends, etc., DeBroff suggests.

48. Avoid a last-minute scramble to find rental videos by leaving unwatched and just-watched movies in a bag by your door.

49. Stock your nightstand drawer with pencils, notepads, a phone book and a flashlight.

50. Corral an unwieldy bedroom reading pile with a small bookshelf next to your nightstand.


51. Allow only one outfit—tomorrow's—on the hook outside your closet door.

52. Buy a closet organizer instead of just dreaming about it.

53. Start each season by arranging clothes hangers so the hooks face out, toward the room, says Kim Cosentino, owner of the De-Clutter Box, Inc. in Westmont, Illinois. When you wear something, turn the hanger in. At the end of the season, get rid of anything that hasn't been turned.

54. Vacuum-sealed storage bags. Enough said.

55. Free up drawer space by stacking jeans, sweaters and gym clothes on closet shelves. Slip-on shelf dividers keep them from falling over.

56. Keep a stepstool in or next to your closet.

57. To free up your dresser, put plastic stacking bins with drawers inside your closet for socks,underpants and bras.

58. Bring order to scarves and belts with an "accessory ladder," a chain of shower curtain rings—one for each item—trailing down from the top of a hanger, says Donna Smallin, author of Organizing Plain and Simple. Clip purses to a second ladder.

59. Keep ponytail holders on shower curtain rings, too.

60. Hang a flat jewelry organizer with transparent pockets inside your closet door.

61. Pare down your cosmetics to fit in one portable bag.

62. Make a Just for Me pampering kit so lotions, scented candles, nail polish, etc., aren't scattered in three different rooms.


63. End key confusion with new, decorative keys: Use stars-and-stripes for the house, flowers for the garden shed, psychedelic for your office at work.

64. Removable key rings let you leave work keys at home on weekends, the car key with the valet and the house key with your pet sitter.

65. Line car-door map compartments with shallow, narrow organizing pockets to keep pens, notepads, hand lotion and lip/eye pencil from sliding around.

66. Use a clothespin to clip to your purse strap those "Can't Forget" notes: Get allergy shot. Pick up kids early. Tell mechanic about squeaking brakes.

67. To avoid "senior moments" with the dry cleaning, library books, videos or packages to mail, put outgoing items on the passenger seat, not on the kitchen counter.

68. Slide a local phone book under the front seat.

69. Pens with fuzzy animal heads are easier to find in the car.

70. Get a key chain–size Swiss Army knife with pullout pen.

71. Free up glove compartment space: Stow owner's manuals in the passenger seat's back pocket.

72. Stock glove compartment with takeout menus, napkins, nail file, car registration, tire gauge, first-aid kit and a roll of quarters.

73. Create a "just in case" box for the car trunk: umbrella, cheap rain ponchos, scissors, big black marker, tape, paper towels, plastic bags, extra kids' socks and a one-size-fits-all T-shirt, sweatshirt and pair of sweatpants for adults, another for kids.

74. Keep the charity box in your trunk, not your closet. When it's full, drop it off.


75. Keep an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses, pantyhose and other emergency gear in your desk.

76. Sort your day by activity, not project. Check the stack of phone messages only twice a day. Tackle the correspondence pile right after lunch, and head to the copy machine just once.

77. Use your datebook to keep projects on track. Block out times to tackle each bite-size segment.

78. If you don't need it every day, get it off your desk.

79. Don't just shift remaining papers around your desk. Flip the stack—oldest papers now on top—for a fresh perspective and quicker action, DeBroff suggests.

80. Tame the file frenzy with broader file names, such as one for "Employees" rather than two for "Personnel" and "Evaluations," Waddill recommends.

81. Use desktop or wall-mounted vertical file racks for an instant cleanup of your tornado-zone desk, Smallin says.

82. When you have a project with a lot of paperwork, stay organized by using a three-ring binder instead of flimsy file folders. List everyone involved and their contact information on the first page.

83. For smaller projects, write contact details on the front of the file folder.

84. Move finished project folders from your office into storage.


85. One credit card per grownup. Period.

86. Create a Receipt Depot: a folder near the door that everyone drops receipts into as they come home.

87. Bite the bullet: Computerize your finances.

88. Stick to a budget. Then you'll never have trouble covering those unexpected expenses.

89. Slip incoming bills, a pen and a thin calculator into a three-ring binder's inside pockets. Make a list of all your usual bills and expenses, and print out a fresh copy each month for your binder. Then mark the bills off monthly as you pay them. If a creditor isn't crossed off, call for a duplicate statement to avoid late fees.

90. Make sure your list includes automatic withdrawals for utilities and bills you pay online so you don't pay a bill twice or lose track of your checking account balance.

91. Ask creditors to shift your due dates to lump them all together or to split them between the two pay periods of each month.


92. Keep a Phillips and flathead screwdriver in a kitchen drawer to avoid a trek to the toolbox.

93. Affix baby food jar lids to the bottom of your workroom shelf. Sort nails, screws and bolts into the jars, and twist them onto the lids.

94. When you adjust your clocks each spring and fall, also weed out expired medicine, sunscreen, food, coupons and smoke detector batteries.

95. Hang a spray-painted Peg-Board for tools, coats, baseball caps; use wall hooks for blow dryers.

96. Store all car wash products in a bucket in the garage.

97. Keep a large, sturdy garbage can on wheels next to your car to toss candy wrappers or other trash, says Waddill.

98. Aim for easy access, not neat storage, for lawn equipment. Shift your tools the way you

shift your clothes: In the winter, put the snow shovel in front and the rake in the back.

99. Save space on rarely used equipment by coordinating a borrowing system: You'll have the fertilizer spreader, one neighbor will have the extension ladder, another will have a chainsaw, etc.

100. Install a hook above the kitchen sink where just-watered hanging plants can drip.