Home Organization Tips for Back to School

With school starting up, it's a great time to revisit the basics of home organization.

My closet is a war zone from the past filled with clothes that I never wear and clothes that I say I will wear again. Some of them have tags still on them, while others have clearly need to be passed on. There are shoes and bags all over the place, and yet for some reason I haven't been able to part with this stuff. I also have a home office that looks like a tornado of papers and books. After writing the storage piece a few weeks ago I was inspired to clean up the mess and toys from my daughter's room and now it's time to clean up my own mess.

Related: Three must-have home organization products

Information from the Experts

Since I need some serious help, I asked Barbara Reich, a Professional Organizer for some tips on how to get organized. Barbara knows her stuff and has been on the TODAY show, Better TV Home and in the New York Times sharing her words of wisdom on how eliminating clutter can change your life. Here's are some of her tips on how to get organized for back to school.

Closet Organization

When it comes to the best way to tackle closet organization, Barbara Reich offers step-by-step solutions. 

  1. Start by dedicating a reasonable amount of time to completing the project. Plan on spending an hour or more depending on the size of the closet and how much is packed inside that closet.
  2. Have matching hangers, uniform containers, and garbage bags available.
  3. Sort the contents of the closet into 3 categories: donate, keep, discard.
  4. Ask these questions to determine whether something is worth saving: Is it in good condition/can it be repaired? Have I worn it/used it in the last year? Will I ever use it/wear it again? If I regret discarding it, is it replaceable (electronic chargers, yes; vintage handbag, no)?
  5. Separate anything that needs to be repaired or cleaned.
  6. Group like things together (black sweaters together in your closet, puzzles together in a playroom closet).
  7. Put what is used most in "prime real estate."

Tools to help with closet organization

Barbara says there aren't any special tools necessary to organize a closet, but a closet will look more peaceful if you have all matching hangers, all the same type/brand of container, and nothing on the floor.

Children's clothes should be organized by type, then color. For example, long sleeve t-shirts are separate from short sleeve t- shirts and all long sleeve t-shirts are kept together in the drawer or shelf. Within each category, organize by color.

Children's toys should be organized by type as well. All puzzles are kept together, all games are kept together, and all dolls are kept together. Toys with small pieces should be corralled in a bin or container and labeled.

Lifestyle Hacks for Moms

  • It often takes less time to "just do it" than it does to put something down or put something off. 
  • Do it the same way every time. Routines work. Put the phone in the same pocket of your bag, charge your phone in the same place, and put your keys in the same place. These things then become second nature.
  • Know what's important; ensure that gets done if you can't get everything done. Don't be afraid to say "no" to what you can't do, don't want to do, and know you shouldn't do. For example, don't volunteer for the bake sale if you're being asked to coordinate what all the mothers in the school are bringing. It's much easier to say yes if you're just bringing in the brownies.

TIP: Once you've organized a closet, take a picture of what it looks like. Put the picture on the inside of the closet, and hold everyone in your household accountable for putting things back where they belong!


  1. How to Design a Functional Nursery
  2. 13 DIY home improvement projects you can do in a weekend
  3. Organize your house to maximize space and productivity


Need more ideas on what to do with the kids? Be sure to follow our Organization board on Pinterest here.

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