By Paula Redmann

Sarah Murphy believes every single one of us deserves to be organized and happy. That’s her mantra and

Sarah Murphy

Sarah Murphy, Owner of Organized and Happy

that’s why her professional organizing business, Organized and Happy, guides both individuals and businesses along the sometimes messy path of decluttering, tossing, and keeping. Spoiler alert: yes, you get to keep some things, but only if it’s organized.

Here are quick, inexpensive, and not-so-painful ways for you to organize your life in 2017.

Give Everything a Home
Where are your keys? Do you spend 30 minutes looking for your keys,  your purse, or that shopping list? By the time you find said item, you’re frustrated and sweaty. Every item needs a “home” in your house. Why are there stacks of stuff on your kitchen counter? Because they are orphans. They don’t have a home. Put items in the spaces and places they are used. Your bedroom shouldn’t store kid’s school supplies. The kitchen shouldn’t look like the bathroom.

Clear the Clutter
What’s eating up your kitchen space? Sarah says cookbooks are the guilty party. You’re saving that hardcover beast because you like the banana bread recipe? Traditional option: write the recipe on a card and put it in a recipe box. Newer option: take a picture of it and store it on your favorite digital device.

Containers cure clutter, right? You just buy containers and get organized. Boom! Hold off. Declutter first so you discover your clutter hot spots. Clearing out cluttered space opens up space. Bins, boxes, and baskets are not the answer.

Do you need 16 coffee cups or seven same-size spatulas?  Throwing out duplicates is the easiest way to calm the clutter and clear some space. If you have one gadget that you use once a year–that turkey baster or special birthday cake plate—get it out of the cupboard or drawer and put it wayyyyyy up on the top shelf in the kitchen or in the garage. That way you create more efficient use of the kitchen space you have. Wait a minute, back up. The garage? Yes, that’s because you have cupboards in the garage. Do NOT start stacking boxes and bins in the garage. Everything has a home, remember. The garage is for vehicles, not stacks of baby clothes.

Do Your Kids a Favor
Baby clothes! Know this: your children do not want 18 years of their clothing when they move out. And Sarah says no one wants to buy clothes that are 18 years old at your next

garage sale. Yes, please, keep that adorable blanket, the First Communion dress, the t-ball hat. Get one container for special pieces. Write that child’s name on it and gloriously present it to them when they are ready. Try not to cry.

Make Your Bathroom Peaceful
How about that bathroom? Do you need 15 bottles of shampoo? Probably not.  Sarah says our homes are places of love and comfort; they are not warehouses for products. Her other organizing tips for the bathroom include putting pony tail holders on a shower curtain ring and using silverware holders to keep toothpaste, Q-tips, and other bathroom necessities in their place. Big news: towels do not belong on the bedroom or bathroom floor. Seriously.  Sarah says over the door hooks in the bathroom do the trick. Real Simple magazine says multiple rows of hooks make way for more towels, and accommodate both big and little people in your home.

Weed out That Wardrobe
Sarah says we wear 20 percent of our clothing 80 percent of the time. One tried and true test is after wearing an item, turn the top of the hanger toward you when hanging it back in the closet. That’s your signal that you’ve worn that item. At the end of a season, save what you’ve worn and donate or sell those lonely pieces of clothing. Don’t save them for someday, or for when they’ll fit again. One step to organizing is getting rid of things, not simply moving them to another closet. Tidying is not the same as organizing.

One of the most difficult parts of organizing is the emotion tied to our “stuff.”

“But, it’s Grandma’s tablecloth. It’s Aunt Mary’s clock.”

Sarah says if it’s truly a treasure, then display it and love it, don’t pack it away.  She understands the memories attached to objects, but warns that our homes should not be museums.

“The rule of thumb, quite simply, is to keep items that bring you joy. Your home should be your castle and should scream who you are and what you love when someone walks in the door,” Sarah says.

Ready. Set. Go get organized in 2017.

Paula Redmann

Paula Redmann

Paula Redmann is the Community Relations Manager for Bismarck Parks and Recreation District. She likes torun, walk, play, sing, putter in her yard, laugh with family and friends, and count her blessings. She married her high school sweetheart, Tom. They have two grown sons, Alex and Max.