Help a pair of chronic floorganizers
May 21, 2020 3:46 AM   Subscribe

I've always been the one with the messy desk, the messy room, and so on. I set things down on surfaces because if I tidy things away, I forget they exist. My partner is the same way. Do we have any hope towards a tidy home?

I have never gotten in the habit of putting things away into drawers, shelves, wardrobes, etc., because I'm so "out of sight, out of mind". Please don't say "If it was really important, you would remember to get it out". We used to have a bread bin, and the result was we would keep buying new bread and let the bread in the bin go bad because we forgot about it.

The same goes for half-read books, unpaid bills, clothes that need mending, whatever. Our kitchen counters are littered with bottles of sauces and spices, not because we don't have the cabinet space for them, but just to keep them more easily to hand.

We have a small home and things are getting much worse lately with all of our work stuff mixed in with the personal stuff.

There is a certain amount of ASD/ADHD neurodivergence at play here. I'm looking for resources, coping strategies, and personal stories, and I also have a little money to throw at this - drop a link if you have a life-changing organization product/system. Hiring in a professional organizer is not in the cards (maybe in the future, but not now).

I have already read Marie Kondo. I feel that our problem isn't too much stuff, it's finding the right homes for the things we do use, in a way that works for us. What are the best ways to move away from piles, and toward visual organization that looks tidy & presentable?

Things that have helped so far, keeping things in their place but still in view:
  • Coat hooks in the bedroom for "not dirty yet" clothes
  • Sticky hooks for keys, umbrella, brooms
  • An over-the-door pocketed holder for our shoes
  • IKEA Raskog trolleys
posted by Glier's Goetta to Home & Garden (32 answers total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
I very much feel you on this exact issue. Unfortunately I can report that it doesn't really improve with lots of space as I have managed to fill a whole house now with things I need to keep in sight so I remember they're there.

Some stuff that helps me includes:
- semi-clear storage tubs with those tab-click lids for most of my piles of different craft supplies. They have to be clear so I can see what's in them, but they stack. I got some from Joann when they had a big sale on storage and a bunch of smaller shoebox sized ones from the container store right after Xmas when they have a big discount.

- Decorative trays of many sizes to corral objects on tables. My kitchen table has a tray with raspberries on it from Ikea that keeps my napkins, salt and pepper, but also the cat's laser pointer and loose change and bills I need to look at... The tray helps me keep my pile contained so I still have a table to eat at. Other tables have different trays - in the TV room I have a tray for remote controls and my current crochet project and graph paper for videogame notes, for example.

- Utilizing the front inches of full bookshelves. We have many many books but don't often need to access them, or when we do we are looking for something specific. So I have started pushing them back as far as they will go and keeping other stuff in front of them. One bookshelf had family photos and knicknacks (which keeps them from encrusting the house elsewhere) but another has small bowls and open boxes full of things like house diy supplies (alan wrench set, picture hanging supplies, stud finder), small board and card games, stamps and twisty ties... I use washed glass jars for a lot of bits and bobs which again, are clear, so I can see what's in them, and they are slim so they fit in front of books.

- To organize and store my bags I took a few cardboard moving boxes (small) and cut them in half horizontally. These live on the shelf on top of my closet but could also fit under a bed. They are sturdy enough to corral my bags but shallow enough that they stick out of the top so I can see them all at a glance when I pull a box down. Kondo suggests storing purses inside other purses and I'm like, goodbye small bags I guess? So I line them up like files instead.
posted by Mizu at 4:12 AM on May 21, 2020 [10 favorites]

Open storage, with trays, baskets, bowls etc to corral things and make them look neater. So, open shelves rather than cupboards. I also have this problem and have not solved it. My husband hasn't, and helpfully 'puts things away' in places that they don't belong so I forget about them and can't find them. It could be worse.

I have categories of things that I can cope with being behind closed doors. Mainly clothes, food, crockery and kitchen utensils. I try to give those things places where they have enough room, make an effort to put away, and don't beat myself up about my regular failures. To help the place feel less cluttered, I also put away paperwork (eventually) in a filing cabinet. It all goes there and I don't need to see it to know that it's there.

There are two approaches to the corraling thing that might work, or to use for different things. One is to have uniform containers to cut down on visual clutter - so rows of clear boxes, or identically sized baskets, neat walls of open shelves or what have you. The other is to make sure that your containers are each beautiful to you. Tidy means everything has it's place where it lives. Not that everything is behind closed doors. A whole wall of open shelving that's 15 inches deep can store a lot of stuff in plain sight, and still look neat and intentional.
posted by plonkee at 4:36 AM on May 21, 2020 [8 favorites]

I use cubbies and open/visible storage--hooks, valets, overdoor racks, wire basket shelves, standalone garment racks (kept outside of the closet)--whenever possible, so I can either see the objects themselves, or see "what kind of thing" goes there. Then, whenever I store/organize things, I ask myself, "What is this similar to? When I'm looking for it later, what would I expect to find it next to, and why?" And that's where I put it, regardless of where it "should" go, or where other people keep theirs.

It's like a sorting game, because everything has to go somewhere, so what kind of personal conceptual systems (physical/spatial mnemonics??) can I harness to make that sorting memorable to me. For example, I created a cubby that is "cables/cords and other things that are shaped like cables/cords" which includes cables/cords (obviously) but also yarn/twine, belts (for pants), stretchy exercise bands, etc. Or I have one that is "stuff that goes on your head" which has hats, glasses, goggles, earmuffs, headphones, etc.

I do have some drawers for my cubbies (it makes it easier to store clothes in them), and then I group the clothes spatially, by where the clothes go on my body (so shirts are in cubbies above pants, which are above shoes/socks). But, like, there's still a separate cubby for "clothing for extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold" and one for "undergarments/accessories that I only need for fancy events" and these ones trump the normal shirt/pant/shoe/sock organization, because I just know that I think of these things separately.

I have no idea whether this system would work if I were having to do it with someone else, but it works great for me :)
posted by unknowncommand at 4:57 AM on May 21, 2020 [6 favorites]

Coming in to nth "open storage". If putting something in a cupboard makes you "forget" it exists, take the doors off the cupboards. For clothes, hang everything in your closet instead of putting it in a drawer; I've done that with my clothes for a different reason, and not only does it keep things corralled, I've discovered the additional benefit of my being able to "visulaize" outfits in the morning.

And so on. Open storage may be the way to go.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:00 AM on May 21, 2020 [6 favorites]

Clear containers, I use a lot of recycled glass jars of various sizes, picked it up from my grandfather who had scores of glass jars with their lids screwed into the rafters of his shop, anything you needed... just look up and grab a jar.

If I didn't live in an apartment I'd proably remove the cabinet/closet doors. As it is, I'm not even sure the sliding doors on my closets have ever been shut.

Sorta more of a guy thing maybe but the sock/underwear apocalypse. Find one style you like, buy a bunch of the same and toss them in a box or something. No need to even think about them.

Cut down some oatmeal to throw kitchen utensils in,but I also abide by the leave spices and sauces out taking up half the counter style.

Over time, some things have just found a place that's just where they live. It's a bit chaotic but they wouldn't be happy any other place.

Ideally I'd have a bunch of cabinets/shelves and the like with glass/plexiglass doors to keep the dust out but be able to see everything.

You might check out some of Adam Savages maker videos and take a look at his shop and how much is just visible and easy to find. First Order Retrievability.

I'll be watching this thread because I'm just the same.
posted by zengargoyle at 5:02 AM on May 21, 2020 [2 favorites]

I have
- two bookshelves in my hallway that are used for shoes, recycling, in-trays, and as a "mail station" where I unpack all the mail, put detritus right in the recycling/trash and deal with the thing.
- a hanging organiser thingy full of hats and gloves, which hangs from a coat hook next to the coats
- a clothes rail and a wall leaning ladder in the bedroom
- a magnetic knife rack on the kitchen wall
- a window sill where all the vegetables live
- a wall mounted spice rack
- cup hooks under the cabinets for all the ladles and spatulas and things
- a kitchen pegboard which has a holder for things like peelers and measuring spoons
- open shelving for my tea collection (I made this shelving out of a random Amazon box and stood it on the counter)
- a built-in charging station for phones and tablets and things in the living room
posted by quacks like a duck at 5:07 AM on May 21, 2020

We have the same issue here, multiplied by 3 very messy people, so I totally get it. One approach that seems to consistently work is to have only one place for certain kinds of items, and it's ok if this one place is visible.

A few successes of note:

* Snack bowl on kitchen counter - Pretzels, chips, bread, hamburger/hot dog buns, etc., go in a big ceramic bowl on the kitchen counter. It can look messy at times, but at least we know where those items are, and only occasionally find moldy bread at the bottom of the bowl.

* Shoe basket next to the front door - If you take your shoes off, they must be put in the basket or in your own room. If you lose a shoe - did you put them in the shoe basket when you took them off? If not, then I can't help you.

* Coffee and related supplies always go in the cabinet right above my coffeemaker.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 5:07 AM on May 21, 2020

Get a label maker.

First, for paperwork, label two drawers or boxes. One is "To Do" which will include bills to be paid and the other is "File," for things that are done or don't need anything done but shouldn't be thrown out. All other paper goes in the trash. Once a day you go thru the "To Do" box and pick things to do that very moment. Everytime the "File" box gets full, you sort the papers and file them. Choose big file topics, don't get picayune about filing, because most papers you file, you'll never look at again. So using big topics, you may spend more time looking when you do need something specific but that is more than balanced by spending less time filing.

I keep a number of baskets for clothing labeled "To be washed," "For the cleaners," "To be ironed." This sounds like I'm anal-retentive, but I'm not. I worry, as the original poster does, about things that need to be done not getting done.

I applaud the hooks for clothes worn but not ready to clean and the hooks for keys. KEYS! After seeing old episodes of Friends and the Big Bang Theory, I put a small bowl on the shelf closest to the door. That's where keys go when I get home. That's where I find keys when its time to leave. It took little time for that to become my habit.

You're on your way.
posted by tmdonahue at 5:14 AM on May 21, 2020 [2 favorites]

We used to have this problem massively when we were in a tiny flat - the storage was so compact and crowded that if I put something away it was a huge hassle to find it, so I just didn't put stuff away.

The secret is boxes on shelves. I like bookcases, but just wall shelves would work too. Then I just went through everything and it grouped it - all the fabric in fabric tubs, all wool in a box, all sewing materials in a box, all glues in a box, presents I'm keeping till someone's birthday in a box... Then I labelled them, and crucially, mostly kept the kids off. Now if I want to see
posted by stillnocturnal at 5:22 AM on May 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

Whoops entered too soon;

Now if I want to see if I have any, say, wire, I know exactly which box it is and can just tilt it forward to look through. You can have the boxes see-through and it would be even more visible, but that amount of visual clutter would drive me mad.

We also got rid of our bread box because bread went to die in there. If we get another one, it will be front opening and I'll try take the door off so the bread is garaged but visible.

I also have nice decorative bowls for throwing small things like earrings, nail clippers or whatever into.
posted by stillnocturnal at 5:26 AM on May 21, 2020

Another thing that's helped (oddly) is having multiples. So we have scissors in the kitchen, and scissors in the living room right next door. Because we use scissors in both places. If I was in charge of cleaning we'd have cleaning supplies in the bathroom and in the kitchen even if they were identical. Pens live in a cup on the table in the living room. But a pen also lives on my desk now I'm wfh, and on my husbands desk. All of those places are 'away' even though they are all in plain sight.
posted by plonkee at 5:31 AM on May 21, 2020 [4 favorites]

Oh yeah, I have at least twenty pairs of scissors in various places, 6 tape measures, and many different pen pots.

For the kitchen, your obvious solutions are: a large spice rack, either freestanding or wall mounted, will keep spices contained but visible. Put the sauces in a tub or box or some sort, they will immediately look neater just for being coralled together. Get one of those magnetic, wall mounted knife racks - I use mine for knives, but also scissors and anything else metal that ends up in the kitchen for a while. Then use big mixing type bowls for other stuff - things that should eventually leave the kitchen, snacks, used dishtowels, whatever else tends to lurk on counters.
posted by stillnocturnal at 5:40 AM on May 21, 2020

I went through an ADHD “structure” class recently and the second week was all about dealing with things like mail and keys and bills that tend to get lost. And the advice is to put it wherever the hell you want to put it but make sure that is always where you always where you put it. I have cheap cardboard magazine holders from IKEA marked “bills,” “taxes,” and “to do.” They live in the bookcase next to my desk and after I open my mail I take anything that goes into one of those holders there straight away. Everything else goes into recycling or trash. I put in my phone when things need to be paid (I do it monthly) so I get a reminder the day before and the day of.

Like many others, I put as many things as possible in see-through containers. And like the posters above, I corral things like spices on trays on top of counters. Start with one thing and practice, practice, practice until it’s a habit to always put your bills in one place. Then move onto the next thing. It’s really that boring and that basic. I have not lost my keys for several months, so finding a home for them has worked for me. Don’t despair if it doesn’t work perfectly in the beginning or even after several weeks. It takes a while to develop good habits consistently after a lifetime of being messy, which I am. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 5:41 AM on May 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

I feel you! I’m like you, but my husband hates clutter so he’ll “clean up” by stuffing things in the nearest closet/drawer and it drives me absolutely bonkers.

I hate the clutter too, but sometimes I need it. I have stuff I was supposed to give back to my mom 3 months ago that i haven’t despite seeing her 20 times because he keeps putting it in the basement. ugh.

Anyhow, I feel like i have 3 strategies.

For really important stuff, it stays out. I’m talking unpaid bills, uncashed checks, Amazon returns - but there is ONE designated place for it. Then i see it, remember “that’s the stack of important stuff”, and get to it.

I also have a decent amount of open storage, and limit cupboard storage to a couple of key places. In the kitchen, i have a small spice rack near the stove for my go-to spices. I also have a bakers rack that holds the rest of my spices plus easy-access dry goods. The cupboard space is mostly pots/pans/dishes, but we do have a vitamin/medicine shelf and 2 places for easy-access canned/dry foods. Note that i only put shelf stable items there so even if i just bought my 8th can of diced tomatoes, it’s not something that will go to waste!!

In the basement, i have open storage as well. We have 2 shelving units that I keep our extra dry goods/extra flour etc in.

Last is actual closed storage, like dressers and closets. First, I have designated places for things - my dresser has an undergarments drawer, a jeans drawer, a workout clothes drawer. I’m really strict that things only go in the right drawer, so essentially i started a mental map of where things go and had to learn that. For closets with deep shelves, I make sure things don’t go to the back of the shelf and i can see everything.

Another idea that a former colleague did was label the cupboards for her husband because he could never remember where anything went! She said it worked really well.

Oh and i keep a billion lists. I actually have a Google sheets with all our food on it to menu plan with, and that way i don’t forget to use the pork chops at the bottom of the freezer because they’re still “visible”.
posted by DoubleLune at 5:43 AM on May 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

Oh and
- I have a bookshelf by the back door where things go that I use out the back, garden tools and my "garden shoes" and an extension cable.
- I have two delightful little pottery bowls that I use to keep the dishwasher tablets and the washing machine tablets right next to their point of use
- There's "pens and scissors and stuff" pots in at least three places round the house
- I am going to get a whole NOTHER PAIR of "garden shoes" and store them by the front door for when I go to the bins.
- I have a pottery egg holder thing that's meant for 12 eggs, but it's on my dressing table holding earrings. Necklaces are hanging on command hooks on the wall.
posted by quacks like a duck at 6:12 AM on May 21, 2020

Lots of useful storage tactics have been mentioned above. But remember that tactics are useless if they are not part of an overall strategy. (Battlefield analogy.) And that strategy defines not precisely how you will store things, but what kind of mindset will result in neatness.

SO: you and your partner need to agree on a strategy against which to measure all tactics. I would like to suggest to you the neatness strategy of the Shakers, a communal sect that's still around but flourished most strongly in the early 1800s, with thousands of members in a dozen or more communities. When you have 60 or more adults living under one roof, and simplicity is one of your religious tenets, you need an uber-neatness strategy or you have chaos.

So the neatness strategy of the Shakers was: "A place for everything, and everything in its place." Upon Googling, they may not have originated that, and certainly others have adapted it. But the Shakers lived it. I know nothing about Marie Kondos but it probably underlies her approach as well.

If you look around you'll find things like this, how the Japanese apply it —  with some simple expansions of the principle into a daily routine consisting of the 5 S's:
-- Straighten up: decide what you need
-- Store: everything in its place
-- Shine: clean it up
-- Sanitize: make it safe (more of a workplace/industrial tactic but OK domestically as well)
-- Sustain: make the above four part of your routine every day, every moment.

Exactly how you translate the strategy into tactics is up to you (hooks, shelves, buckets, drawers, closets, etc.) The main thing, again, is to agree on the strategy and keep it top of mind in everything you do. When you do, the bread WILL go into the breadbox (a place for every thing), and you WILL remember to look into the breadbox for bread (because every thing is in its place).
posted by beagle at 6:45 AM on May 21, 2020 [7 favorites]

If you want to be able to see what's in your spice cabinet, could you draw a diagram of what goes where in your spice cabinet and hang it up on the front of the door? Or commission an artist to draw one? — if you can afford nice racks and bins and hooks, you can probably afford an hour of an artist's time.

That way, you can see what's there and be inspired by it when you're cooking, and be reminded of what goes where when you're putting it away. If you print it out and laminate it, you can even cross things out when you're temporarily out of them.

You could do the same thing for other cabinets and cupboards. Seeing the thing and having the thing put away don't have to be mutually exclusive.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:51 AM on May 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

We too have suffered the indignity of the forgotten, molding bread, and eventually used our very cool, built-in bread box to store dishtowels.

It sounds like open shelving (rustic! charming!) would really work for you. You can add shelves or take the doors of some (or all!) cabinets or switch out for glass-door cabinets (or maybe not; that might not be "open" enough for your brain). Smaller stuff goes into bins to stay contained. Most used stuff should probably stay on the counter (and I like to keep it near where it's used), next most often used stuff at eye level. Risers can keep smaller stuff that gravitates to the back visible.
posted by JawnBigboote at 7:08 AM on May 21, 2020

Julia Child very famously had a large piece of pegboard on one wall of her kitchen, with equipment hanging from it. Each piece was outlined on the pegboard so that she knew what went where.
posted by JawnBigboote at 7:12 AM on May 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

Our kitchen just has open shelves instead of top cabinetry. I really like it. In the spirit of Kondo, it gives me "permission" to invest in really lovely crockery that is displayed.

Our closet also does not have doors. It sometimes does get a bit messy, but that just spurs me to clean it up or clean it out.

Lots of little baskets and trays help make a surface that is full of "stuff" actually look and feel organised.
posted by like_neon at 7:42 AM on May 21, 2020

I struggle with this too, for the same reasons. I strongly agree with the heavy use of open shelves, see-through containers and trays. Anything that can't be forgotten about really can't go out of sight. I use big bowls and open bins for things like onions, potatoes and fruit - definitely no cupboards (yes I learned the hard way). For things that absolutely need to go out of sight but can't be forgotten, I try to immediately set a reminder with Alexa (substitute with your creepy robot overlord of choice, or some other reminder method) for a week or two later to check on it again.

Closed cabinets are ok only for non-urgent/nonperishable things and only if they're strictly organized so you don't have to remember where you put things (like all your opened sauces and oils on one shelf, nothing else on that shelf and also those things never go anywhere else).

I pile most of my rarely-used things into big boxes and rubbermaid bins in the basement that I can dig through as needed - not sure if I'd actually recommend this strategy since it's kinda the opposite of organization but it keeps the room looking neatish and works ok for things that are only needed a few times a year.
posted by randomnity at 7:45 AM on May 21, 2020

I need to keep my clothing visible so I can figure out what to wear. But I hate hanging up clothes (so much effort! so little surface area to see! so many stretched out shoulders!). I ended up (a) rolling up my pants, shirts, and sweaters so I can see their colour and texture which enables me to visualize them more easily; and (b) put them in a bookshelf or other shallow storage options (i.e. a shoe rack). This means they’re only one thing deep so nothing is hidden. It’s also easy to stack a bunch of rolls when you have edges that prevent them from sliding anywhere.

Also if you have the space for a ‘dressing room’ I would highly recommend it. All of my visible clothes are away from my sleeping area so my clutter doesn’t feel overwhelming when I’m relaxing. Currently my dressing room is my husband’s office but I’ve also had a bed in my living room and put my clothes in the tiny bedroom.

Nthing trays and containers for stuff that’s laying around. We have one in the bathroom, 2 in the kitchen (letters and papers vs. pens etc.), one in the baby’s room, one for dog stuff etc. etc.
posted by hydrobatidae at 7:47 AM on May 21, 2020

ADHD person here. The best organizing tip I ever got was: "If it doesn't get put back into the place where it is stored, then that's the wrong place to store it." It needs to be stored as close as possible to where it's used.

I am terrible at putting my clothes away after being washed in this house because our closet is through the bathroom, and there's no place in the closet to really dump laundry baskets. But in our previous house, the closet was one of those sliding-door things along one wall, and once I got a bunch of wire baskets (and switched to jersey, no-wrinkle clothing), it was simple to cram clothes into the wire baskets after they were dried.

Is there a door in your kitchen? To get bottles and jars off the counter, you could invest in an over-the-door organizer like this one. Pretty much all our closet and pantry doors have these on them. If you need the stuff visible, either install it on the outside of the door or put it on the inside and keep the door open.

No door, but a free wall? Get a wire shelving unit and store stuff there. Or get a rolling cart, which comes in all sorts of widths to fit whatever space you have. Our microwave is on a rolling cart now, and the open shelves underneath store things like rice, flour, sugar, etc. The top of the microwave contains my collection of tea.

We also use a wire grid something like this with hooks to hang barbecue equipment, mounted on the wall over the microwave, and got a pot rack hung from the ceiling over the island to store pots and other things that can hang. The latter mostly because we have a decided lack of cabinet space, but it does get things stored visibly, so we don't forget about them and they're off the counter and out of the way. Spoons, spatulas, and other often-used utensils go in a bucket on the counter.

I got a set of IKEA Billy shelves for my office that includes a table that folds down. In the linked photo, the table is currently piled with a sewing machine and supplies for making masks, and a couple of other things, but when I want or need the space, it all shoves onto the shelves and the table closes up.
posted by telophase at 9:31 AM on May 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

We have a tempered glass countertop in the kitchen. It's really nice to be able to see what's under the counter. We use that shelf more actively than any other in the kitchen.
posted by aniola at 10:32 AM on May 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

Your everything-visible system works for getting everything done and keeping things clean, it just looks untidy? Heck, that's not so bad! All you need (hah) is the ultraMorris plan to have nothing that you do not know to be useful AND believe to be beautiful.

My sweetie and I have, uh, no heuristic in common for sorting, apparently, so above the counters in the kitchen is all open shelving. But only stuff that gets used frequently can be on open shelving, as otherwise it gets dusty and also other stuff gets piled on it, and I hugely prefer having cooking tools be accessible with one hand. So figuring out how to use the smallest set of tools for all the tasks is a brain-game that makes it possible to have less stuff that makes it possible to have nicer, coherently organized stuff. E.g., similar things are on the same shelf for finding reasons, and they are always ordered by color if they're all the same size and by height if they aren't. Putting something back into its row is now easy even for strangers, because it's practically a Sesame Street game. Also, a row of height-ordered things on a shelf makes a wedge of space above it for a row of height-ordered-the-other-way things hanging from cuphooks from the shelf above.

Spices are sort of away because we have two drawersfull, but they're all labeled on top of the lids with drawings to make them easy to find, so as soon as the drawer is open they're Right There. Someday I'm going to design a sort of double-gradient plan to express our View of Spices and print out lids that express their gradient coordinates so it will be easy to put them away in the same place. Until then, they naturally drift into most-used at the front of the drawer. Still easy to hunt through.
posted by clew at 10:54 AM on May 21, 2020

I use a wire basket from Muji (something like this although I'm not sure those are the exact dimensions) to corral various vinegars and oils on my countertop (away from stove heat or direct light, though!). Looks perfectly reasonably tidy. There are probably cheaper analogues from Ikea or somebody. You can put spices on riser stands on the counter or in a cabinet so they're less likely to get lost in the back. You can have a lot of stuff out if you give a visual impression of purposeful organizing.
posted by praemunire at 11:21 AM on May 21, 2020

Use lazy susans in cupboards and the fridge. Visible storage, esp. things on lowest and tallest shelves, is helpful.

You have the habit of putting things down fairly randomly, and you can develop the habit of putting things in a specific spot. It takes time and some effort, but is quite do-able and has a big payoff. Start with general stuff - underwear goes in the top drawer, tshirts of any type in the middle drawer, pants in the bottom drawer, and get specific as you proceed. You probably keep silverware in a drawer and sorted; the trick is to learn the taxonomy of your stuff, and develop useful locations. Keys go near the door. Phone chargers go next to the bed. half-read books get a bookmark - a used envelope, scrap of paper, whatever, and go on a bookshelf; unpaid bills go in a stack of task-oriented paper things on your desk, clothes that need mending go in a basket near the couch, bottles of sauces mostly go on the door of the fridge, spices go in a specific cupboard or shelf.

If I put stuff in a container, I try to label the container. I use tags, tied on with string or twine, otherwise I have no idea where the craft stuff for shibori dyeing is in the wire rack of craft stuff. If I put stuff in a tote bag, and I frequently do, it gets a tag. Sometimes the tags get tarted up with stamps, but the fact that all the tags match makes it look okay to me. I bought a labelmaker and for a while, labeled the shelves in the kitchen. Overkill? perhaps, but I know exactly where the cupcake liners are. There must be a place in your home where you can rely on having sharpies, masking tape, pens, pencils, notepaper, post-its, clear tape. I use plastic crates; they have a ridge for hanging file folders. When my car was totaled, I was able to find the title with ease, and I thought it would take days of paper sorting.

Don't treat it as I'm a mess so I have to do this dumb organizing and tidying. Treat it as I will enjoy having better access to things I need and having a tidier house. ADD makes it harder to do this task, and much more important. I am not a Marie Kondo-ist, except that she treats is as a way to value what you choose to keep, and do so consciously, and that resonates. My house is a horrid mess because the stuff proliferated and then I was unwell. Do yourself a favor, and use your energy to make your home a pleasure to occupy.
posted by theora55 at 1:34 PM on May 21, 2020 [4 favorites]

Over the door pocket holders for EVERYTHING. Or at least every door you can stand them on. With labels, if possible. This trick has free up SO MUCH counterspace in our teeny tiny bathroom! And it's helped in our coat closet, too. (Which is more of a storage closet, because the coats have command hooks, otherwise they end up on the chair nearest the door.)

Oh, and command hooks, lots of them. It sounds like you may already use them?

Might not be your thing, but I know someone who removed the doors from pretty much all the cabinet and closet space, made sure that the shelving/storage was optimal to be effective, and loves the fact that they can SEE what they have. (It'd drive me crazy, because it feels messy to me. )
posted by stormyteal at 10:56 PM on May 21, 2020

Hooks. Hooks. Hooks.

Not just hooks for keys and small stuff, but hooks to put throw you jeans that you are going to wear later, the backpack, a pair of socks, anything.

If you can, take the doors off your wardrobe or cupboards. If you can see it, it makes all the difference.

Get rid of as much 'stuff' as you can.

I'm so hopeless, that if I can't see food or water I forget to eat for days
posted by Flashduck at 7:14 PM on May 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

The bane of this is having the same type of item in multiple places.

You can put folded clothes on a bookshelf. The shelf can be in a closet, in the bedroom, or in an armoire (fancy!)... but basically, putting all clothes on equal footing to be worn, and if folded clothes don't fit on a largish bookshelf, it's time to prune anyways.

For your kitchen, with some spices on the countertop and some up in a closet? The ones in the closet are doomed. Put them all in the closet.

For food, knock it down to *three* piles: dry goods in the pantry, snacks in a separate spot, and then the stuff in the fridge. Put the bread in the fridge, so you find it when perusing for what to eat, and that's where the peanut butter and jelly (or sandwich fixins) can live, as well.

The goal is still the same; all stuff of the same type have to go together, or some of that stuff is absolutely going to go to waste.
posted by talldean at 7:38 AM on May 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

telophase, my apologies for the nitpick but those shelves are Ikea Ivar shelves, not Billy. Mentioning it only because I was looking at the Ivar shelves recently (at the Swedish site) specifically because the fold-down table looks kind of awesome.
posted by Bella Donna at 9:57 AM on May 24, 2020

Lidless boxes are great for this because you don’t need to futz with opening or closing them but they still make things look tidier and more organized (and help keep different types of item separate). Along those lines, optimize your systems for making it as trivial and easy as possible to put things away: reduce the number of steps you need and keep homes for things close to their uses.

I got both of those tidbits from Susan Pinsky’s “Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD” which I highly, highly recommend whether or not you have any particular diagnosis. It’s an opinionated but clear and logical book.
posted by en forme de poire at 7:47 PM on May 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

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