Organising Basics

One thing is for sure, as my home has become more and more decluttered, taking care of it has become easier and easier. Having a place for everything and everything in its place is a cinch. Here are the basic rules I follow to keep my stuff, neat, convenient and under control.

Keep things in the most logical location for your needs.

Store items near to where they are going to be used so they are handy when you need them. Baking pans near the oven, cups and mugs near the kettle,printer paper near the printer, your keys by the door you usually enter and leave from, with your wallet or handbag close by etc.. And remember I did say your needs, you don’t have to follow convention, you do what works best for you.

Allocate the prime position in a location to those items that are used most frequently.

It is natural instinct to follow this strategy. If something is being used often you will want to get at it quickly and easily, so store it in the easiest to reach place. When I say this I of course mean ~ away neatly unless you are actually using it. For example ~ If your kitchen cupboards are deep put the most used stuff to the front of the shelf (on leave it on the bench).

Centralise the storage of items that are used in multiple locations.

To make it easy to know when you need to purchase certain supplies,that are used in more than one location in your home, store the bulk of them in one location and meter them out as needed. For example, keep the bulk of your toilet rolls in the most logical location while only have two or three rolls in each toilet area. Keep the bulk of spare toiletries in one bathroom and share them out as necessary. Keep the bulk of office supplies in the office while only having the minimum basic items in their most used areas in the house.

Don’t overbuy.

Following on from the previous suggestions, don’t over stock items. It is my experience that the more of something that there is in the home the less care and frugality is lavished upon them. For Example, if items like office supplies appear to be in reasonably low quantities (one stapler, one whole punch, a half dozen spare pens, two erasers… for example) they are more likely to be returned to their rightful place when finished being used. And they are more likely to be used less generously or cherished, for want of a better word, making them less likely to be wasted or swallowed up somewhere in the house, car, school bags, messy desk, breakfast bar etc. . I use this tactic when it comes to hair elastics. The less of them I own the more careful I am not to lose them.

Not to mention the fact that the less spares of things you have the smaller the storage space they will take up. Of course what is a reasonable supply of anything will vary from one family to another.

Declutter unnecessary items on a regular basis.

It is always easier to get at what you need, store everything neatly and keep things tidy, if you don’t have a home full of stuff that is nothing more than just in the way. This is especially so for those items that keep coming in, such as paperwork and anything child related. Weed out the out dated and out grown as the new stuff comes in, as well as doing a regular declutter in these areas.

Put things back when you are finished with them.

All the storage planning in the world is not going to help you if you don’t put things back where they belong when you are done using them. One only needs logic to plan storage but it takes effort to stay organised. Many people who think they have no organisational skills may simply be neglecting this important part of the cycle of organisation.

So if you wish to be organised start by making space to manoeuvre your stuff. Then, once there is room, rearrange your stuff to what is most convenient to you. Make a habit of returning items to their place once done with. Maintain or continue with your decluttering and tweak the arrangement as desired. Following this regime you will soon realise that you are an organiser after all, and that it doesn’t take some special talent.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter something that came free with something else but you have never used it. My son’s current motorbike came with a touring bag which he has never used nor expressed any desire to use. My daughters partner however has a need for one of these, so it seems logical and practical to pass it on to him since he will get good use out of it.

Eco Tip for the Day

Take care of the things you do own so that they may last and last and not have to be replaced prematurely.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Mini Mission ~ Friday 22Dec2017 Declutter a couple of old shabby shoes that you no long choose to use.
  • Mini Mission ~ Wednesday 20Dec2017 Declutter by recycling some items. That mound ofused takeout containers, old newspapers and magazines, paperwork that needs shredding, glass jars you set aside in case you have a use for […]
  • How little we really need Every time I go on a long vacation I am reminded of how little one really needs to live a comfortable and functional lifestyle. My husband and I often stay in Airbnb places when on […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Yesterday I did my grocery shopping and as I was putting things away, I wanted to smack myself. Normally, I scan the cupboards and the fridge/freezer prior to shopping and I swear I did it this time too, but then I saw that I had purchased two items that I already had: lemon juice and salad dressing. UGH! I might get the salad dressing used before the expiration date, but I wonder if I can freeze the bottle of lemon juice?

    Hubby has three pairs of reading glasses and he is always asking me where they are. “They are in the bowl on the table, dear.” 😉

    It’s a good suggestion to have a certain place for everything . . . . which is why I had to resort to pink duct tape. Ha Ha!

    The gal from the cat charity hasn’t gotten back with me on a good date to take my things. Her husband got injured and so I understand her time is pretty tight right now. I keep looking around and seeing yet more junk that the charity can have. Hope to be free of this stuff soon.

    • I don’t know if you like hummus, but it uses a lot of lemon. There is also a recipe for Beach Street Chicken here at

      You can always make lemonade. I use 1 part lemon to 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. If it is too strong, add a little more water. I have frozen fresh squeezed lemon juice before and it worked fine. There are a lot of yummy lemon recipes out there if you are looking for desserts!

    • Hi Michelle, how annoying for you doubling up in those grocery items. I have no problem with these two items as I no longer buy lemon juice in a plastic bottle, nor salad dressing because I never made it to the bottom of the bottles before the expiry date. If I do make salad I generally just make a dressing myself. It is amazing how simple yet nice is the combination of olive oil, fresh lemon juice pepper and some fresh herbs.

      The pink duck tape on the tools make sense if you aren’t the only one using them and they are likely to get confused with the outdoor tools. This is another problem I eliminated when my son left home. He didn’t have any tools of his own so I gave him my indoor tool kits. I figured it wouldn’t kill me to walk out to the garage, which is attached to the house by an internal door, and gather what I need from there. Just like I gave my daughter our second step stool. Another items that was both in the laundry and the garage, all within easy walking distance.

      To bad about the charity shop girl (I hope her husband is OK). I know how it feels having stuff mounding up in your donation pile. Lately my husband has had to take to car a lot because of the incessant rain so it has been a big enough challenge just getting to the thrift store for my shift, never mind actually taking stuff with me. It didn’t help that the kids kept giving my their stuff to donate as well. There has been no rain this week, YAY!

      • It take a while to go through lemon juice. I have one lemon muffin recipe that uses it in the icing and then if I have forgotten to buy a lemon, we’ll use it in our Bloody Marys as a last resort. I do actually purchase the smaller salad dressing bottles for the very same reason – rarely use them before expiration date, but I love the sound of your simple dressing and will see about implementing that. 🙂

        Charity shop gal: Terrible thing. She said he was in a horrible accident while bicycling. He broke facial bones, his jaw bone, with a bunch of other problems and she has been taking care of him. I feel terrible for them. I’m sure this is a difficult time for them right now, so I’m being patient. I can wait. 🙂

        Yay on no rain your way!! We have strangely had a lot of humidity in Colorado right now, so I was unsuccessful in continuing with my exterior painting last weekend and hope to get back to it this weekend if it doesn’t rain.

        Marianne, I will do a search on lemon desserts because I am definitely fond of lemon sweets! Thank you!

        • Hi Michelle. Oh my, I understand what the charity shop lady is going through. I am not sure if you are aware that almost three years ago my son had a cycling accident in which he also broke his jaw, broke to vertebrae, lacerated his chin and received a serious brain injury. It was a very scary time but luckily young men have a better chance of bouncing back from their injuries, particularly brain injury. I imagine this gentleman suffered the same thing. I hope he comes through OK. Just yesterday the dental assistant at the surgery I go to had a chat to me about the very same thing. Her brother has just suffered a brain injury, similar to my son’s, in a motorcycle accident. I think she found it reassuring to know how well Liam came through. (Liam had his teeth fixed at this surgery after his accident.) Her brother, like Liam at the time, was nineteen. When Liam was in ICU there were two other nineteen year old boys with injuries from a motorcycle accident and just recently I met another women whose son, again nineteen years old, is recovering from a motorcycle accident. I swear nineteen year old boys are a danger to themselves and ought to be wrapped up in bubble wrap until they are about twenty five.

    • Michelle – we used to have a lemon tree and yes you can freeze lemon juice BUT I’d recommend doing it in an ice tray and just defrosting cubes as required. OR make some Lemon Honey. I was given a bowl full of lemons last weekend and that’s what I’m going to be making if I can find mum’s recipe.

      • Michelle, as the owner of 2 lemon, 2 orange, 1 lime and 1 grapefruit tree I can tell you that the best thing you can do is freeze lemon or any juice. We use ice cube trays for small amounts to use as addins for recipes and other freezer containers for one cup increments for lemonade. It’s lovely. That way we can have it all year round and not have to use that nasty stuff in the bottle.

        • Thanks all. Yes, it’s true that bottled lemon juice is nowhere close to the same flavor as fresh and I only use it once in a blue moon, and that is why I am peeved that I now have two full bottles. :S And guess what, got rid of the ice trays a long time ago in a declutter frenzy. LOL

      • Hi Moni, lemons are so good for you too.

  2. I also like to put “Like” items together: Garden things, car things, camping things… I bet you can guess what I did today in the garage!

    I was just explaining to my daughter the importance of putting things in its place and knowing where things are. The other day, my husband wanted to buy some super glue. I told him that we already had some. He didn’t look before we went out, and didn’t think we had some. When we got home, I found it right away. You can avoid buying multiple numbers of the same item if you keep things in their place and check if you need something before shopping.

    • We absolutely agree Marianne. Add to that my tight fistedness and this is something that very rarely if ever happens in this house. The family also know to ask me first before they assume we don’t have something.

  3. We are getting things organized much better because we have less. I love being able to know where everything is. these are good Colleen.

    • Hi Deb, its not only about knowing where stuff is, I love being able to get at it easily. My kitchen is so much more functional now although I haven’t really moved much around in there. Simply having less of it means that things aren’t buried behind each other unless they are things that are used much less often.

  4. Those are really good, Colleen. I am actually one of those lazy persons who always claimed to not be “naturally organized” etc. However, now that I decluttered so much and don’t add new clutter anymore, organizing and cleaning have become much easier and actually even chaos due to busy times isn’t getting as bad as it used to.
    We got rid of another huge stack of books today. It feels great.

    • Hi Sanna, you are proof then that organisation is not a special skill just a state of declutteredness. I am glad you enjoying the benefits of it. And YAY! More books out the door, that is big.

  5. We don’t have enough storagage space. but i think that is more because we have too much stuff. So I am continuing to declutter. When I finally get some empty space and get rid of things that are on the floor and scattered throughout the house, then I will definitely look at where I store things.

    I like the concept that when there are fewer things, they get looked after better. We have huge quantities of pens and folders, in fact lots of all stationery. If I declutter, I know my family will have to return them to their rightful place.

    • Hi Lucinda, do you know what I like about this comment? Although you are aware that you still have too much clutter and aren’t at a point where you can rearrange much right now you don’t sound negative about it. It sounds like you are working away at it and are content to know you will get there in your own time. I don’t know if that is how you feel but that is how it came across to me. Good for you if that is the case.

      • Thanks, Colleen. I am a pretty content person. And I am happy with the way I am working away. It’s not the end of the world if I don’t have my house perfectly as I want it. After all, I have lived this way for many years. I’m happy to be a work in progress!

        • Good for you Lucinda. I think it is society’s instant gratification desire that gets them into this cluttered mess in the first place. Getting out of it isn’t so instantaneous and requires patience. One just has to come to terms with that. Of course a person can declutter quickly but in my experience that is far less effective and ends up leading back to the same situation down the track. This is because the appearance of the house has changed but not the attitude towards acquiring stuff.

  6. I have always been one to organize my stuff, I made sure that I always put like things together so that I could have a chance of at least finding something when I needed it. It didn’t always work so great (I still couldn’t always find things when I needed them), and even after putting like things together, I knew I had too much thus the decluttering began. The answer to it all is decluttering. When you have fewer items, you can find things easier and you tend to take care of items if you have less of them.

    • Hi Jen, I also was one to organize my stuff, however, like you, it didn’t stop me from acquiring a little too much of it. I am loving my new lifestyle and am still finding ways to minimise and organise to optimise the simplicity of my home. I’m loving it.

  7. Colleen! I honestly don’t know how people operate from day to day without knowing where items are – exactly where they are. How can I do an emergency string change before the end of the lesson if I don’t know where my pliers, my string winder or my wire clippers are? How can I splash a dash of olive oil on my salad and have a quick working lunch if I spend 10 minutes looking for the oil? How do “fix” a check made out to me incorrectly and with a red pen if I cannot locate the one red pen in the house? Cripes!

    • cj, I so agree with you. People call me a neat freak. I tell them I am just someone who doesn’t want to waste valuable time looking for things and cleaning things.

      • Well said, Deb J!!! Indeed, we are neat freaks, but time freaks. They have us all wrong, Deb J. Have a fine and fun day!

    • Hi CJ, I have to also say that even with the excess of belongings I once had I was still very organised. If anyone wanted something in the house they new to ask me because I would put my hands on it in an instant. The difference now is that it all fits more easily and is even easier to get my hands on. I also appreciate each and every item more because my belongings have been diluted down to the most useful and nice stuff.

  8. Logical for me is socks in drawers in my buffet at my entry (aka landing strip). I also keep handbags in the cupboard in the buffet too. Just makes sense. Jewelry is all displayed in the bathroom where I put on make up (and the bathroom is pretty close to the entry/exit too for last minute accessorising).

    I love one of your readers one hand rule – making the prime position idea almost moot if you’re that declutteted! I’m not – the kitchen under stair cupboard has two layers (front and behind) but I do keep lesser used stuff to the back.

    Thanks for a’ll the encouragement to be and stay decluttered! I’m scared that moving into a bigger place with more s storage might counter act my skills learnt in the past years

    • Hi SarahN, I love your sock storage solution, it makes perfect sense to me. I used to keep my handbag in to buffet as well, until I freed up an over-door hanger and moved it into the entrance cupboard. Not sure why I hadn’t thought of that before as I would probably have cleared the hanger sooner.

      Today I am planing on transferring some small home hardware items together into one storage bin. I has stored them as inside and outside items but all they are doing is wasting spare so it is time to consolidate. I suppose this became possible over years of minimising in each area but whatever the reason, today is the day that they become one and an old tackle box will be heading to the thrift shop.

      Sarah, I am sure you will do just fine in a bigger place. My place has spare space all over the place now but I just get excited that those spaces are empty and have no desire to fill them up with stuff.

  9. Love these rules! I’ll try to follow them. I’ve decluttered my room – I’m going to see if I can rearrange things. Perhaps I find more items to declutter because it doesn’t fit.

    Tomorrow I’ll be dropping four bags off at goodwill and one bag of expired medication to the pharmacy. Love the fact that the clutter will go out of my room and it will be gone for good!

  10. Colleen this is so inspiring! I am getting so much better at putting things away and only having things we will use in storage areas. We use a lot of pencils and erasers for school, but really we have way too many because our children get them as gifts, and I have had a hard time passing up buying them the nice/fun ones at the beginning of each school year. So now I am sharing our excess and keeping our favorites out where they will be used. We can always get more if we run out, and by now I know how much we really do need in a year.