Home organization hacks that will change your life

Admittedly, I am a pretty organized person. Everything has to have a place, and I definitely cannot stand when my apartment feels cluttered, messy, or dirty, but that doesn't mean I don't still have room to learn new ways to be even more organized and clutter-free.

If you've ever tried to learn some new techniques to keep your house organized or clean, then you know it only takes one quick search on Google or Pinterest to quickly become overwhelmed by pages and pages of "home organization hacks," many of which you've either heard before or aren't actually realistic for your situation. I'm here to save you time, as I have compiled what I consider to be hands down the best of the best actual home organization hacks that will truly change your life and clean up your space. Besides scouring the Internet looking for inspiration, I reached out to my community and asked what actually works in their homes, and I got some great ideas!

Start by purging

I recently read Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, and the main point she makes when it comes to decluttering your home and getting it organized is to start by reducing the amount of stuff you own; it sounds obvious, I know, but it's just so obvious that we often forget that we don't need to just start by organizing, we need to start by purging and then organizing what's left.

"Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle," she says.

In her book, she recommends doing this process all at once and one category at a time instead of taking the wildly popular approach of organizing room by room, and thus ending up with the same or similar items in various places all around your home. She also suggests holding up each piece one by one and seeing if it sparks joy. If it does, keep it and if it doesn't, toss it. Again, it sounds obvious, but when in practice, it can be a lot harder than it seems.

Put things in their place as soon as you get home

When you walk in the door after work, you're likely tired, and the last thing you actually want to do is unpack your bag. I usually beeline it for the bathroom, where I promptly remove my makeup from the day, then head to the bedroom to change into my sweat pants. As far as I'm concerned, this can't happen fast enough, and there's nothing wrong with this practice, but there is one thing that needs to happen first. According to blogger Amanda Brooks,"When you walk in the door, everything has a place. Keys, coats, shoes, mail, put it all in a specific spot immediately to save time searching later."

Following Amanda's advice is key. I hang my keys on the hook and unpack my work bag which I keep tucked on a shelf by the door; my coat is hung and my shoes are placed back on their shelf in the closet. While these tasks may seem obviously simple, when I'm running out the door for work the next morning, I don't have to worry about where my keys or bag may be; they're always in the same place.

Turn your hangers the wrong way

It's fairly safe to say that most of us probably have clothes filling up our closets that we have either never worn or haven't worn in a really long time. We think, "I really like that, I'll wear it next week," or "I just need to lose 10 pounds and then that dress will fit me again." As it turns out, we don't end up wearing that piece of clothing, whether it's because we ultimately don't like how it fits, it's out of style, or some other reason.

"Each season when I switch clothes in my closet, I put the hangers in backwards. As I use something, the hanger is turned to the 'normal' direction. At the end of the season, anything I haven't worn is easily identified by the backwards hanger. Those unworn items get donated for someone else to enjoy and help reduce clutter in my own closet!" said blogger Heather Blackmon.

Use zip ties or binder clips on messy cords

Several years back, I was working for a major technology retailer and one of my tasks was to assist with setting up new displays, swapping out damaged product, and managing the multitude of cables that were both visible to and hidden from the customer at our store. It would have been very easy for the store to look messy with power and security cables for every single device, so we had a solution: zip ties.

Keeping cables bunched and tied together keeps things neat and organized. Anthony Verducci from Popular Mechanics says, "A little investment in cable management will make your setup look better and save time when swapping equipment in and out." Zip ties are a cheap and easy solution, though you could also use extra binder clips or velcro ties.

Reuse an empty tissue box

One of my biggest pet peeves for about as long as I can remember has been opening up the cabinet below the kitchen sink and feeling like I was being attacked by all the plastic grocery bags falling out. While I'm a big advocate for using reusable grocery bags for the majority of your grocery shopping, every once in a while I'll leave them at home and opt for the regular bags so I can reuse them as garbage bags. Needless to say, I needed a way to keep them organized without taking up my entire cabinet space.

I remember seeing the idea of putting your plastic grocery bags in an empty tissue box in Real Simple magazine several years ago, and I have never looked back! A lot of websites will also suggest the idea of taking an empty wet wipe container for the same purpose, but I advise against that as I found the little notches on the side of the opening sometimes rip the bag, thus making it unusable unless you want to end up with garbage falling out or dripping all over the place when you go to take out the trash. The empty tissue box, however, is perfect.

Clean the kitchen before bed every night

Blogger Mindy Nienhouse says, "Never go to bed with a dirty kitchen. I always make sure there are no dirty dishes in the sink, anything in the drying rack is put away, and counters are wiped down. I've found that the kitchen is the easiest room to get dirty/messy, so this really helps prevent that!"

I couldn't agree more. Knowing there are dirty dishes in the sink makes me anxious, which is going to keep me up all night, so I too make sure that my dishes are done before bed, or at least rinsed off and put in the dishwasher until it's time to run a full load.

Use a carabiner to hold hair ties

I once had a roommate who was always losing hair ties, so she would keep them everywhere in hopes that she would be more likely to find one the next time she needed one; she even had a few dangling from her turn signal in her car. It drove me nuts. Whether you are this extreme or not, I highly suggest taking Good Housekeeping's advice and using a carabiner to bunch all of your hair ties together and then give that filled carabiner a home with the rest of your hair supplies. You will never have to hunt down a hair tie again when they're all together.

Create an album for special cards

I have always found that getting rid of cards from friends and family, whether they're for birthdays, holidays or just because, can be especially tough. On the top shelf of the closet in my old bedroom at my parents' house, there is still a box of cards I received as a kid that I haven't been able to toss. I find it especially comforting to look back on old cards from grandparents who have since passed, or where a friend wrote an especially sweet note. While there are several that I can part with and probably should, after stumbling across an idea from the DIY wedding blog Something Turquoise, my next plan is to make a greeting card album. I love the idea of bundling all of those special cards together so any time you need a little pick me up, all you have to do is flip through. Plus, by using a large album ring to hold them all together, you can easily keep adding any other cards in the future.

Repurpose mint tins for organizational containers

I think it's safe to say that we all have some kind of junk drawer. I know my parent's have one in their kitchen, but mine is my desk drawer. Aside from it being the drawer that holds all of my odds and ends, believe it or not, it is actually still organized. I hated having rubber bands, push pins and paper clips all over the place, so I reused old mint tins. I have one for rubber bands, one for push pins, one for paper clips, and one for black binder clips. I also have a small box for an extra phone and iPod charger.

With that said, it is not recommended that you hold onto things that you "may use someday," for when that day comes, you will likely forget you have it. Plus, it's for now it's just adding more clutter to your home

Deal with mail right away

This isn't entirely an organization hack so to speak, but it will help you cut back on clutter. When I get home from work each day, one of the first things I do is check the mail. Sometimes there may be a lot and other days very little, or even nothing, but regardless, I always sort through it immediately. Some people may find a mail station to be a great solution, where they can sort the mail for each person in the house, but since I live alone, it's all for me. If there's junk mail, I immediately throw it in the recycling bin, any letters or cards are immediately opened and enjoyed, and any bills are put right into a pocket in planner as the reminder to pay them.

On the days when I feel lazy, I throw it right on the table and the longer it sits, the less I want to deal with it and thus, the more anxious it makes me, so I've found that regardless of how tired I may be after a long day at work, dealing with my mail right away really is the best idea.

Don't forget the garage and basement

It's so easy to take whatever may be cluttering up the house and just throw it out into the garage or downstairs in the basement and totally forget about it. Next thing you know, your house is going to look like an episode of hoarders, as you forget what is actually in those spaces, let alone how to find anything that you may actually be looking for.

Garages and basements are nice because they provide so much extra room for our things, but they're really only useful if we're using them properly. If you don't have them already, my first suggestion would be to build shelves. From there, you can add any additional peg boards or hanging racks for bikes and tools, and don't forget labeled plastic storage bins for any holiday decor or miscellaneous items that may be in that space too.

Give everything a place

Organizing your home does not have to be such an overwhelming task. While you could spend days scouring the Internet for inspiration or even more ideas and techniques to try next, I think Marie Kondo says it best in her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing: "The essence of effective storage is this: designate a spot for every last thing you own."