Organizing Tips from Your Neat-Freak Friends

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Conquer Your Clutter

Location Supervisor

"My husband and I are compulsively tidy and we both like to store things in the place that we'll use them. It sounds simple, but it's amazing how many people don't do this! For instance, instead of putting all the sheets for the beds in one hall closet, I keep the guest sheets in the guest room closet, my son's sheets in his bedroom closet, and so on. I always wrap presents in my bedroom, so gift wrap, tape, and scissors all get stored in a Tupperware bin under my bed. I also keep bathroom cleaners under the sink in each bathroom, rather than in one central location. That way I don't have to run all over the house looking for stuff when I'm cleaning."

- Megan Barner, Charlotte, North Carolina

The Neatnik Files

"My motto: File, don't pile! I'm an organized person, but my counters seemed to be a catch-all of daily mail, bills, coupons, phone messages, and kids' school papers. So I bought a small desktop filing system that I keep right on the counter."

- Lisa Woodruff, Cincinnati, Ohio

Label Junkie

"I label everything -- and I mean everything. I keep a labeler next to my refrigerator to mark all plastic tubs and freezer bags with the name of the food and the date it was stored. That way there's no mystery meat or expired stuff that can cause food poisoning. The labeler makes a big difference because my handwriting is so bad it can't be read by me, much less my family."

- Alexis Moore, El Dorado Hills, California

Financial Scanner

"When I was a kid my mom's stacks of paper used to drive me nuts, so I'd reorganize all her receipts, bills, and mail -- which always made her furious! Stacks of paper still drive me crazy, so instead of using a filing cabinet, I scan all my important paperwork and store it on my computer. I organize it in different folders on my desktop, like car insurance and repairs or big-item purchases like appliances or my flatscreen TV. If I ever need a receipt or warranty information, I know exactly where it is. And it makes tax time a hundred times easier."

- Marissa Hermanson, Charlottesville, Virginia

Underwear Trick

"I separate all my lingerie into clear plastic ziplock baggies in my underwear drawer. It keeps bra straps, panties, and knee highs from becoming one tangled mess and I can always immediately find the underwear I'm looking for. I guess it's a little extreme, because my husband will no longer put laundry away -- he just leaves it on the bed for me to organize properly!"

- Tara Kurian, New York, New York

Basket Case

"It drives me nuts when things are lying around the house and not put back where they belong, but with a 12-year-old daughter and a husband, it's hard to keep everything contained -- and I refuse to clean up after everyone. My easy solution? I keep a decorative basket in our family room and at the end of the day throw everything that's left out into the basket. When someone asks "Where's my _____?" I just pull out the basket. Everyone is responsible for putting their own things where they belong."

- Karen Eschebach, Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan


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