Over the years, so many of you have asked me about my methods for organization. You want specifics. You want photos. You want me to reveal the nitty-gritty. Well, I’ve finally sat down and transcribed some of my simple everyday strategies for keeping belongings easy to locate and visually pleasing in the process!
This article is meant to touch on a variety of areas in my life and how I keep them organized. This is what works for me and hopefully it can be a starting point to help you to discover some methods that work for you. Perhaps it’s second nature for Virgos to be supremely organized. Orderly surroundings give me a sense of calmness and as laughable as this might sound, my surroundings are a reflection of how I feel on the inside. Yep, a cluttered space to me equals a cluttered mind! You’ll notice that overall, I try to keep it simple — depending on what I’m doing, I sort belongings by color (clothing, shoes and books), title and date (magazines), and subject (client files and digital inspiration). I’ve found that the more difficult you make the solution, the harder it becomes to keep it up.
Hand-me-down bookshelf I use for shoe storage
I like the look of organizing shoes by color because what’s more cheery than having a mini rainbow nearby?! If organizing a collection by looks makes you happy, then so be it.
I have a fair amount of clothing but I do my best to clean out my closets regularly and to keep the selection as edited as possible. For bizarre finds, items I might just use for a themed shoot or clothing that has sentimental meaning that I just can’t part with, I use the small extra closet in my office for storage which I’ve dubbed my ‘Costume Closet.’ This keeps my regular closet much easier to navigate and appropriate for everyday wear.
Our house was built in 1928 and like most older houses, closet space is very minimal. For this reason, I have two large IKEA PAX Wardrobes that are set up in our oversized upstairs bathroom (it could easily fit 15 people; there’s just a toilet and sink). These closets allow for plenty of room for everything and a huge selection of customizable fixtures can be added.
My left closet is comprised of jackets, skirts and dresses (hanging) and pants, shorts and basic t-shirts (stacked on the lower shelves). The right closet is mostly made up of shirts, blouses, sweaters, cardigans and generally casual layers. Everything is arranged by color.
Below the hanging items, I have a color-coded drawer for socks and below that is an identical drawer for tights (also by color). The clear plastic organizers are from Target. The bottom of the closet contains a shoe rack which has a few odds and ends that I wouldn’t want to display — athletic shoes, flats, etc. And finally, the top of the closet contains a row of IKEA KASSETT Storage Boxes which house everything from extra shoe bags and scarves to childhood costumes and keepsakes. My system isn’t perfect but it makes sense to me and allows me to quickly find whatever I need.
I jumped on the bandwagon a few years back when this style of organization for books became trendy and couldn’t be happier with the outcome. The bookshelf is from West Elm and conveniently enough, it’s on wheels which makes cleaning super easy.
I’ve invested in quite a few packs of IKEA FLYT Magazine Files and choose to group my magazines by title and then date. I also have separate ones for reference materials and catalogs that I’ve saved for inspiration. These magazine files are great because they’re cardboard — when you’re finished with them, simply break them down and recycle!
The Container Store has a great selection of makeup storage solutions
A small cabinet in my office holds all of my makeup but I tend to keep the items I use on a daily basis all in one area. The Container Store has some fantastic makeup storage organizers and I found this acrylic option among their selection.
Folders of image-related inspiration stored on my computer
06. Digital Files
This is the most important area of my life to stay organized in (and I’m not exaggerating). When clients hire me for a design job, it’s important to keep their assets organized and if they need a file a few years down the line, it’s my job to locate it. For this reason, I apply a job number to each new project that comes into my studio. For instance, #NT151 would be for job 151 (NT = Nubby Twiglet). This job number also directly correlates to the invoice number when I’m billing a client. Once a job is complete and final files have been sent, I move it to an Archives folder so that my Clients folder doesn’t get overly cluttered with closed jobs.
For digital inspiration, my system is much more easy-going. I have a folder on my desktop titled 2011 Pix and drop everything I’ve gathered online into it. Every week or so, I drop all the strays into labeled folders that make sense to me. They can be as open-ended as food, cars, cameras, fashion and so on. Any way you can think of to break up a few thousand inspirational images should work just fine!
I also keep a folder on my desktop labeled Blog 2011. Every time I make a post, I drop all the final web-ready JPEGS in there so that I have a clean backup of every image I’ve posted for that year.
07. Digital Storage
I cannot stress this enough — keep your really important files backed up on TWO separate drives! I’ve heard horror stories of friends losing years’ worth of work when their external drive failed. I have two LaCie drives, (my favorite being the LaCie Starck 1 TB Drive) and I diligently back up my client files, photos and music from my main computer every few weeks.
Design Inspiration folder on Flickr
08. Online Digital Inspiration
Ever since I was in college, I’ve gathered up design-related inspirational images and uploaded them to a private Flickr folder. Now bursting at over 5,000 images, it’s a digital library at my fingertips that I use to gather research from for every new job that I start. The importance of having this inspiration saved online is that I can access it from anywhere — whether I’m freelancing, on vacation or in a meeting.
09. Loose Inspiration and Reference Materials
I have a set of IKEA flat files in the corner of my office that house all my clippings, notebooks and printed inspiration. The drawers hold everything from silkscreened posters to old journals. Having all these items clearly separated yet all housed together has been a lifesaver!
10. Collage Notebooks
I’ve been clipping visual inspiration from magazines since I was a teenager and those clippings can really pile up after awhile! I keep everything tidy by keeping notebooks for three specific categories: fashion, typography and interior design & home. As the clippings pile up, I collage them in, often categorized my theme and color. To see my collages, which I often scan for the blog, check out the Fashion Notebook, Decor Notebook and Typofiles sets on Flickr.
In Closing: Being Organized Makes Life Feel Less Chaotic
I hope that these examples will inspire you to get your life organized in your own, unique way. Because I have a lot going on, having some basic organizational systems in place means that I’m rarely wasting time digging for items that I think I may have lost. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to organize your belongings; your system just has to make sense to YOU. If you have questions or want me to cover another area of organization in a follow-up article, let me know in the comments. Happy organizing!