A well organized room

Getting Organized: Five Tips to Get Started

Starting an organizational project in your home can be overwhelming if you have many rooms or areas on your list. You’ll need to start with a plan that will be effective in the long run.

Here are five tips for how to start organizing your home.

1. Start with a manageable project.

It helps to start with one area of the house, preferably a small space that can be completed in a short amount of time. Starting with a simple project and seeing it through to completion will give you the motivation you need to tackle the next space on the list. You might want to start with a small coat closet, a desk drawer, a dresser drawer, or any other space you could feasibly organize within an hour. When I’m short on time or if my project is a little more involved, I like to set a timer for 30 minutes and stop when the time is up. That way, I can tackle an entire decluttering project in short segments over a period of time.

Pictures help home organizing projects

2. Take a photo before you start.

The space you want to organize may feel cluttered and disorderly now, but snapping a photo before you start will help you see how much you’ve accomplished when you finish. Sometimes, that “before” photo, when compared to the finished project, will motivate you and encourage you on future projects. Taking a photo and posting it on your bathroom mirror will serve as a good reminder to keep on task until the project is complete.

 

3. Plan to give away more than what you keep.

If you have a lot of organizing to do and your goal is to really gain control of your clutter, prepare yourself to give many things away. Don’t cause more work for yourself or start new piles of clutter by setting things aside for garage sales or future DIY/craft projects. I think this is where many of us get tripped up, we want to be organized but we spend too much time contemplating what to do with our stuff or how to save it for some future purpose. We get sidetracked.

Garage sales are great for raising money, but if you are serious about organization, consider how much space, time and effort a garage sale will take away from your current project. Unless items are extremely valuable, put a value on your time instead. Sorting and stashing stuff for sales and future projects will delay your progress and likely cause new areas of clutter. And we don’t want that! Fill boxes or bags with things to give and throw away, and only keep what you really use right now. If you need to keep things but don’t have room for them in your home, a storage locker can be a great solution for items you need less often, such as Christmas decorations or other seasonal items.

4. Leave a substantial portion of the space empty.

Empty shelves and organizing

As you start paring down, give yourself some breathing room. Leave shelves or cabinets somewhat empty—many experts recommend leaving up to half the space empty—so you’ll feel more in control of your space. You’ll be less tempted to keep random things when you are not able to fill every square inch with stuff. Maintaining your newly organized space is easier if you have less on your shelves and in drawers. As a bonus, this will give you a little extra room if you run across other important items that must go in that space.

5. Set a goal to keep your space organized.

Once you’ve organized your space, don’t let it fall back into disarray. Form new habits to keep it neat and tidy as you move on to new areas you want to declutter. Do a daily or weekly spruce-up on your completed projects to keep the space under control. It’s much easier to organize a little once in a while than it is to do a big overhaul.

Getting organized isn’t an overnight process. It’s going to take some time to declutter all the spaces in your home. Starting out with reasonable expectations and goals and taking it one step at a time will ensure your effort is effective for a long time!

Good luck with your decluttering and organizing projects! Let us know how it goes!

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18 thoughts on “Getting Organized: Five Tips to Get Started

  1. Dan @ Home Decorating Shop UK

    An excellent list. Organising a home is often a stressful undertaking, and one of the best things which can do (and which they often forget to do) is simply to take a step back, chunk it down, and look at it from a wider vantage point.

    Reply
  2. The Refeathered Roost

    I love the idea of taking a photo before you begin. Sometimes it is hard to realize just what a difference you’ve made without something to compare your efforts with. I’m going to remember this! Melinda

    Reply
  3. Tanya

    These are great ideas Melissa, I don’t usually remember to take a picture before I start. The suggestion to leave areas of bare space (which most of us quickly fill!) is so true. Thank you!

    xoxo, Tanya

    Reply
  4. Colleen

    Oh….I have SO much to do! I have been “saving” items for “the garage sale” ! I think I’ll call the Salvation Army and donate it now. Thanks for your advice and ideas. I gotta get busy!!!

    Colleen

    Reply
    • Geri B

      I too save for that one big garage sale. Once the sale is over I don’t bring any of the items back in. I pack all those unsold items and donate to a charitable organization. This way I feel a win win, first from making money on items that were no longer needed or used. Second clearing out at the same time.

      Reply
  5. Dianntha

    Yes, I am beginning with the start of the new year. I have a large home and so much to do before spring when the outside takes so much of my time….so I am beginning with the laundry room. I am hoping this is a wise choice and we are about to see! Dianntha

    Reply
  6. my blog

    Thanks for the sensible critique. Me & my neighbor were just preparing to do a little research on this. We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more clear from this post. I am very glad to see such great info being shared freely out there.

    Reply
  7. Kathy

    Very succinct and easy steps to having a more organized home. I think the best place for me to start is my spare bedroom. I know I need to give more away which means I need to take a photo first and then go from there to declutter. Thanks for the tips.

    Reply
  8. Glenda

    I have lots of clutter. I find as I get older (just turned 50). I have less , motivation and lots of “I will get to it later” , moments. I have 2 boys 17 and 10 who see me be cluttered and so are they.:(………now I look at my piles and think…”oh goodness this must be how the hoarders started out” with little piles filling all the corners…..I’m afraid of my own patterns and really have a hard time getting anywhere. Would love some advice……..thx happy new year.

    Reply
  9. joan

    Great ideas! I donate the majority of my items to the DAV(Disabled American Veterans). They pick up free and have frequent pickup schedules.

    Reply
  10. Catherine D. Williams

    PLEASE SEND ME ANY E-MAILS OR BOOKS I CAN USE TO DECLUTTER MY LIFE, HOME, OFFICE, ETC. I’M 54 YEARS OLD AND IT’S VERY HARD FOR ME TO THROW AWAY ANYTHING. PLEASE HELP. DECLUTTER MISSCAT

    Reply
    • M

      Catherine, maybe you don’t need more things, like books. No book will teach how to throw away things. You just do it. Maybe you need to learn to see things just like what they are, things, they are not the moments, emotions or persons they remind you of. The emotional attachment is only in your mind, only you can change that.

      I had a lot of clothes I loved when I was 20, cool back then but completely out of fashion now and no longer my size. I couldn’t wear them, only look at them.

      It wasn’t easy to get rid of them but I FORCED myself to do it. I took pics of them and threw the clothes away. Now they are files that take no space in my home and do you know what? I don’t even feel the need to look at them.

      All it takes is getting started. Just that. Good luck!

      Reply
  11. Katy

    So excited to find you. Thank you for these great articles. I realize I now have to give away more things I don’t use.. I’ll keep going.

    Reply

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