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7 Almost Effortless Ways to Get Just a Little More Organized

Maybe one day you'll sort through your junk drawer and Tupperware collection. But for now, you just need to find your car keys.

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Keep a ‘donate’ bin near your car

Or find a similar system that encourages you to clear out the clutter. “I keep my Goodwill bin right in my garage,” says professional organizer Liz Allen. “If I notice a piece of clothing doesn’t fit correctly or is misshapen, it goes straight into the bin. Because it’s in the same place as my car, I’m more likely to take it with me when it gets full.” Here are 16 things in your closet you can finally get rid of.

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Tidy up your tech

There’s no excuse for a cluttered computer. Create folders in your email inbox (even better, change your preferences to have incoming email sorted automatically) and on your desktop and delete the messages and files you no longer need. Additionally, whenever you receive a marketing email you don’t want or care about, unsubscribe immediately. Tech should add to your peace of mind, not introduce even more chaos. Don’t miss these genius uses for your cell phone’s camera.

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Never lose your car keys again

Identify the items you regularly misplace—be it your car keys, cell phone charger, or spare umbrella—and give them a designated home. “My husband and I have a basic container in the kitchen where we keep our car keys,” says Allen. But the trick isn’t just to set up that space; it’s to make sure the item never goes anyplace else. “In order for it to work, the keys must go directly from our hand to the container.” Find your version of the kitchen container and make a habit of using it.

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Write things down

Find a notebook you love and write things down. One study found that students who wrote their notes by hand learned more than those who typed them on their laptops. The same rule can be applied to your to-do list, schedule, and other mental reminders. Jot things down as they come to you to help set them into your memory. Here are the sneaky reasons you never finish your to-do list.

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Set the dining room table

The dining room and kitchen tables can quickly become drop zones for clutter. One personal organizer told Reader’s Digest she advises clients to clear the table, put a flower arrangement in the middle, and set it with place mats and utensils. That way, family members are less likely to make it messy. The same thing goes for other parts of your home. Make a space beautiful and you’ll feel more inclined to keep it that way. Check out these secrets a personal organizer would never tell you for free.

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iStock/Marjan Veljanoski

Follow the two-minute rule

If a task will take less than two minutes, do it now. Open the mail as soon as you get home, do the dishes right after you use them, and put things away when you’re finished with them.

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Make your bed

Your first task of the day gets the ball rolling. “If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another,” Naval Adm. William McRaven said in a University of Texas, Austin commencement speech. “By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.” Here’s what else making your bed says about your personality.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest