What does an “organized” home look like to you?
Is it minimal belongings in view, or items neatly displayed? My husband seems less concerned with aesthetics, as long as he is able to find his things, however, I want every drawer and cabinet to look like an Instagram post (spoiler alert: they usually don’t, because real life!).
No two spaces are identical, and no two people will use a space the same way. There is a way, however, to go through the process of organizing any space. Large or small, you can apply the same steps to get every room organized in a way that suits your style.
A few tips before beginning to organize:
Make sure to reserve enough time.
Having to stop midway through a project can make a cluttered space feel even more overwhelming. You might wonder what you got yourself into, or you might feel intimidated once all the items that were in a closet or kitchen cabinets come out and are sorted into categories. Make sure you have enough time (and space) to find a good stopping point if you are unable to finish in one session. Because…
Decision fatigue is a real thing.
Depending on the amount of items you are sorting through, you may begin to get mentally tired of evaluating and making decisions on items. I usually see this with clients after around 4-5 hours. Allow for a break, or start up again the next day.
Have the necessary supplies ready. Trash bags (black for garbage, clear or white for donations), storage bins or boxes, label maker or a permanent marker for items going into storage. If you will be dropping items off at a donation center, have your car empty and cleaned out as much as possible ahead of time, or schedule donation pick up in advance.
Decide where to begin.
I am often asked what is the best place to start organizing. Often the best place to start is in a storage area. Sometimes this means a basement, attic or garage. By clearing out clutter from a storage area, you can free up space to move items that need to be kept, but don’t require easy access.
Whichever space you have decided to organize, the steps are the same.
1. Pull it all out.
I really think having a completely cleared space is the best way to declutter. Remove all the items and separate them into categories. Starting with a clean slate makes you less likely to cram too many items back in, and allows you to better evaluate your belongings.
2. Purge and edit.
Once the items have been sorted, go through each category and remove items that are no longer used, needed or loved. Notice where there are duplicates, and donate extras. It is less about deciding what goes, and more about deciding what stays. There are a few ways to evaluate your belongings.
*Have I used this in the last six months? The last year?
*The 5 second rule-If you cannot remember when you last used an item within 5 seconds, consider donating it.
*The Konmari method-Does an item “spark joy’?
*My personal favorite method-if I was packing to move, would this item be worth packing, paying to transport, unpacking, and finding a home for it in my new space? If not, let it go.
We use 20% of our belongings 80% of the time. Making that 20% as easy to find, and use, as possible will keep your home functioning more smoothly.
Now that you see exactly what you have left to store, plan where those items will best fit. This should be based on the existing space and frequency of use. Keep most used items in the most easily accessible spot, if space allows. Use post-it notes to plan where your categories will go. Ideally, there should be room to grow, with some of the space left empty.
4. Purchase (if needed!).
I know this is the fun part. I know it can be easy to buy those cute bins. They can be very motivating, and get you excited for organizing. However, too often they don’t work for the space you wanted them to. Waiting until purging and planning gives you a better idea of the best organizing products for your space. Use organizing products that are more versatile, because they can be reused in other areas more easily. Shop your home for baskets and bins you already own. Shoe boxes can be reused for storage, or as drawer dividers. It will save time and money to purchase your products later. Measure carefully! Cabinet hinges, door frames, pipes etc can keep organizing products from working as planned.
Place your items according to plan. Your plan may need adjusting, it happens! Sometimes we haven’t decluttered enough to make everything fit. Re-edit if needed, and remember to leave room to add items in the future! Having “room to grow” keeps a space from getting quickly getting cluttered again.
This organizing process will work best for drawers, closets and bedrooms. It can be done in larger spaces as well, providing there is enough available space to empty the room. Getting the space to be organized as empty as possible is ideal.