This article originally appeared on Schoolhouse, a Portland-based company in the Food52 family of brands .
As students of design, we’re always observing the way people interact with and organize objects in their home. This curiosity drives our ideas and informs many of the products we create. While we are still (and will forever be) learning, we’ve found that the best wares fulfill a clear function and are adaptable to any home. While everyone approaches organizing their own way, we thought we’d pool together our collective cleaning knowledge and share a few unconventional tidying tips we’ve picked up through personal projects and our many photoshoot days.
1. Make a Home for Everything
One of the oldest—and truest—proverbs related to tidying up is that true order comes when everything has its own home. While giving every item its own place is not a new strategy, we have discovered a tiny tweak to this old adage that can work wonders in actually keeping a space organized.
Many cleaning experts will share that grouping items in the same category makes the most sense. While this may work for some of our things, we’ve found that a few of our belongings tend to never make it back to their rightful place. To remedy this, make a mental log of where the item usually ends up and relocate its home to somewhere nearby. For example, if an object consistently ends up on the living room table, designate a spot for it in the credenza or a cabinet nearby. The idea here is to realistic expectations and set your household up for success.
2. Designate a Clutter Bin
There is a point of diminishing returns in organizing where a system that’s too elaborate will actually discourage you from following it. Learning to allow for a little controlled chaos in certain situations can be a form of organization in and of itself. One such way we does this is by designating a bin for clutter. This can be especially useful if you have small children who are still learning to put things back. At the end of the day you can restore everything to its proper home and set the space back in order or use the one-minute-method (more on this below) to chip away at it.
3. Group Errands by Location
In almost any situation, the little things can add up. While usually mentioned in the context of finances, the same can be applied to tidying. The concept is simple — every time you get up to do something, spend one minute or less tidying. If you’re reading on the couch and get up for a glass of water, spend a few seconds putting an item away. Taking a bathroom break? Make a slight detour to restore order. While this may look different for everyone, the general principle is to micro-tidy throughout the day so you don’t have to panic clean later.
A tried and true way to make sure the larger errands get done is to create a rhythm of chores (a chore-us if you will). Here are a few examples to outline what we mean:
- Take out the garbage before you go on a walk
- Empty a few items from the car when you bring in the groceries
- Power clean the bathroom before you take a shower
- Wash a couple dishes during cooking downtime
There are endless ways to get creative and maximize your to-dos. Group your chores by location and we promise it will be time well spent.