Day 13: Sometimes It’s the Simple Hacks that Make the Most Sense

My pantry was driving me crazy. I couldn’t keep it neat and organized — and as a result, I couldn’t find stuff when I needed it. Every time I opened the door, things would fall out at me. And often, though I KNEW I had purchased a certain ingredient, I had to move many things before uncovering the one I needed.

This simple organizing hack is one of the most effective ideas for every room in your home. You'll be able to find things easier and see less mess! Part of a 31-day series full of tips for homeschool moms or anyone who wants to tame clutter and gain control of their life.

At one point I asked a very organized friend to take a look at it for me and make it better. She came back about 15 minutes later and said she was done. LOL.

What was painfully clear to her was an eye-opener for me that day and is today’s organizing tip: sometimes you need to store like with like.

She had grouped all the cans together, all the jars together, all the boxes together, and all the bags together. I had been trying to group all the spaghetti stuff together — the box of spaghetti, the jar of sauce, the can of diced tomatoes… and it wasn’t working. It looked messy and also was impossible to maintain that way. Once she grouped all the items in the pantry by package style, it was easy to see everything and find what I needed.

Welcome to 31 Days of Practical Organizing Tips for a Homeschool Mom’s Life!
Every day there is a new organization hack to help calm the chaos.
Find links to all 31 days here: 31 Days of Organizing Tips.

On Day  3 I suggested putting things close to where you use them, and when you do that, you might not be able to use this tip in those specific areas. But when we’re talking about a larger area like a pantry, or a clothes closet, or a makeup stash, or the kids’ schoolbooks — then grouping like with like makes lotsa sense.

In your clothes closet you might already hang all the pants together at one section of the bar, all the button up shirts together, all the skirts together, etc. If you are grouping by outfit, you might want to try this way instead. Grouping by outfit can get tricky — what happens when you have more than one shirt that matches a certain skirt, but only one of those shirts can also be worn with a certain pair of pants? You can come up with some complicated way to make that happen — but the more complicated it is, the harder it is to maintain.

You WILL remember what matches what, believe me, even when you’ve separated your clothing by type rather than outfit. And you are more prone to experiment and find new outfits when you can see all your options. Here’s a post about how I decluttered my clothes, with a small disclaimer: in the post I talk about grouping my Sunday clothes by outfit — somehow it seemed to me that they deserved that, since I have only a few Sunday possibilities. Guess what? The system broke down, and now I organize all the dresses together, all the shirts together, all the skirts together, and all the sweaters together. Go figure. :-)

When it comes to makeup, I find it works best to separate my makeup and supplies by whether they are long and skinny or boxy and flat. I have all my brushes and other long skinny things like eyeliner, mascara, and eyelash curler, standing up in a small decorative flower pot on my counter. So easy to reach and grab whichever one I need.

Then the powder, blush, and eye shadow is in a makeup bag in the drawer. I bring the whole bag out onto the counter to start, and as I finish using each item, I lay it down somewhere else on the counter, so there’s less to look through when I need the next thing. And coincidentally but helpfully, I’m working from big packaging (powder) down to little packaging (eye shadow); so pawing through all of it is at a minimum.  When I’m done with my attempt at beautification, I throw all the makeup back in the bag and return it to the drawer.

Schoolbooks: Store texts together, workbooks together, binders together, etc. I’m not talking here about each child’s schoolwork that they need every day, but about your larger library of homeschool goodies that you’ve either already used and are saving for another child or are just hanging on to because you can’t stand to get rid of it. Or have purchased for future use because it looked so amazing that you didn’t want to pass it up. :-)

You know we all have one, although some homeschool stashes are bigger than others, lol. I know it seems like all the resources for Saxon 6/5 should be together — but trust me, you will remember that there is a textbook, a homeschool packet, and a test book when you need the curriculum again. Storing them together leads to problems with the very thin packet and test book slipping down or falling out as you look for other things, getting pushed to the back of the shelf, etc. If you store only texts on that shelf, then you can get creative about storing packets and workbooks in bins so they don’t cause a mess by sliding all over. You can stack binders at the end of the shelf, one with the rings to the left, the next with the rings to the right, so that they don’t take up more room than you have.

Is this an organizing tip that you will use everywhere? No, probably not. Remember, in this series I am presenting a smorgasbord! You can pick and choose which strategies you think will be most helpful to you. But don’t forget about this one; even if you don’t see any applications of it now in your life, it might come in handy later.

Sometimes sorting things by packaging size and shape makes the most sense. It can help your whole house look less cluttered, and finding what you need becomes easier, too. That’s the whole point of organizing, after all. So give up the grandiose ideas and use the simple tips that are more effective.



4 thoughts on “Day 13: Sometimes It’s the Simple Hacks that Make the Most Sense”

  1. Great ideas. You actually do the exact opposite of what I do when I use a bag (yours, for makeup; mine, makeup, cream, meds, earrings, etc. when I travel). I empty the bag on the counter, put anything I won’t be using right then in the bag, and put each item in the bag as I use it…so when I’m done, the counter is empty.

    We don’t have enough space in the house to keep unused homeschool resources on shelves, so I box up what I can by grade level to keep in the garage. This also keeps me from holding onto something my kids no longer need. Several years ago when I started doing this, I inventoried every single book or CD related to homeschooling (curricula as well as resources like atlas books, etc.) and included the location of each item (9th grade box, kitchen bookcase, computer desk…) so I know what I have and where to find it. With 3 kids and roughly 9 different grade levels in storage and in use, it still didn’t take much longer than an afternoon to inventory everything, AND I was able to get rid of things that were basically duplicates or poor fits for our homeschool (the motivation being that I didn’t want to write down *everything* if we weren’t going to use it!). This is, by far, the most organized area in my life. ;)

    Thanks for doing this series!

    1. Wow, that’s REALLY organized! I made an inventory like that once — except mine was Christmas items, I think — and it didn’t last more than one year before I had not kept up with the changes that needed to be recorded, lol. But if it works for you, then that’s all that matters! And maybe someone reading this will benefit — so thanks for sharing! :-)

  2. Along with grouping clothing type together, I started a few years ago to put them in color order, lightest to darkest. It just makes it look so much more organized, and it’s just as easy to put things away (plus it makes dressing easier, if all the black blouses are together, etc. AND it helps you downsize more easily).

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