10 Habits of Highly Organized People

We grilled professional organizers for low-effort, big-impact practices they swear by.

Illustration: person's head as organized shelves
Photo: Maria Corte

Confounded by clutter? Overwhelmed by overflow? Stifled by stuff? We got you. If a disorganized home leads to a disorganized mind, these home-organization tips may just clear your mind, improve your health, and strengthen your relationships. Well...it'll clear your home, at least.

We solicited our pros to tell us how organized people stay organized. By investing just a little time—and no or very little cash—you can make a difference in your home and, in turn, your mindset and well-being. Read on for our that-makes-so-much-sense, why-didn't-I-think-of-that tips and tricks.

01 of 10

Avoid the big black hole.

Illustration: person's head as organized shelves
Maria Corte

A vast, open storage area invites mess, and it’s tempting to fill it with disjointed items that fit but don’t belong together. Once you do that, finding anything becomes a big chore. Compartments and containers are the remedy: Add bins to an armoire to separate table linens (runners and napkins) from table accents (candlesticks and vases), and fill a large handbag with small pouches so pens, keys, and lip glosses don’t collect in a jumble at the bottom.

02 of 10

Trick yourself with treats.

Attach a reward to a tedious task: Promise yourself a pedicure after you’ve organized the garage, or a session of watching The Blacklist after you’ve purged out-of-fashion clothes, and you’re more likely to follow through.

03 of 10

Say "No" to spillover.

Too many stuffed animals to fit in the toy chest? Too many clothes hanging on the rack? Instead of starting another bin for the extras or expanding into the guest room, exile the overflow to the land of the giveaways.

04 of 10

Keep the citrus reamer on the top shelf.

Consider the tools in your kitchen: How often you reach for each one? Keep standbys (like the vegetable peeler and measuring spoons) close at hand, and move items you use only sporadically (say an immersion blender) up high or in the back. Follow this same logic for all sorts of things: glassware, linens, board games, and office supplies, to name a few.

05 of 10

Spend 30 seconds now to save hours later.

Instead of dropping an item wherever you stopped using it, or onto some random pile, decide where it goes while you’re holding it, and put it there—right then. Otherwise, at some point you’ll just get fed up with the piles and lose a weekend afternoon when you’re finally motivated to put everything away.

06 of 10

Move castoffs to the car.

When there’s a box or basket in the trunk waiting to be filled with items to give away, it becomes second nature to regularly off-load unused items so they’re not taking up space in your closets. A full container is your cue to officially let go. Drop off the box at a local charity, or mail it through GiveBackBox.com, which offers free shipping labels to send items to a charity of your choice.

07 of 10

Install plenty of hooks.

When you make the most of wall space—like putting garden gear on a pegboard, hairstyling tools on a mounted rack, or brooms and mops on a hanging organizer—your stuff stays off the floor and within easy reach, and your space looks a lot neater.

08 of 10

Adjust your shelves.

So simple but such a game-changer: Vary shelf heights so the space fits your needs. This goes for bookcases, medicine cabinets, refrigerators, hall closets, and the pantry.

09 of 10

Think in zones.

Arrange items by use rather than type. In the pantry, group break­fast items: pancake mix, syrup, nut butters, and jams. In the mudroom, create a pool-gear station: goggles, arm floats, and beach towels. By the back door, set up a pet-stuff spot: leash, flashlight, treats, and waste-pickup bags.

10 of 10

Don't regret anything you've tossed.

When you separate emotions from purging decisions and admit that a clean, clear surface is more satisfying than having that thing you didn't use, it’s really not so tough to let go. Prioritize the greater good: a tidier, happier home.

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