Organizing your home seems like a daunting task. And, let’s be real–it IS a daunting task. (Or maybe it is just me?)
However, just like any other big thing in your life, if you break things down into actionable steps, organizing your home seems a lot more doable. Especially when you realize that it does not all need to happen today.
Hopefully, you have spent the past few weeks decluttering. As I pointed out, it is MUCH less overwhelming to separate out decluttering and organizing. They are really two distinctive tasks.
If you want to catch up on all of the posts featured in this challenge–go here.
You may find (and I usually do) that while you are going through the organizing steps, you will end up decluttering even further. And this is a good thing! Just make sure you follow the same steps and actually remove the items from your space and into their new homes ASAP!
Here are my 8 steps to organize every room like a boss!
- Make a list. I am a procrastinator, and, honestly, cleaning and organizing is not my favorite thing to do (I’d rather be crocheting, or drinking coffee, or crocheting while drinking coffee.) So, when you want to organize your space, make a list of all of the things you want to organize. I start with what rooms I want to deal with, and then I drill down to what I want to organize in each room. For example, with my kitchen, I will break things into zones like my friend Katie does. Or, with my bathroom, I will list spaces such as under the sink, medicine cabinet and drawers. OR, I may just list some of the trouble spots in my home, like organize my landing zone in the kitchen, my nest in the living room (am I the only one that has a nesting area near my favorite chair?), my bedroom closet, or the top of my dresser.
- Eat the Frog: As Mark Twain once said “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” You know what the frog is in your home. You know what it is because you keep bumping it to the bottom of your list. And if you are a procrastinator, like I am, it will do you some good to read Eat the Frog, by Brian Tracy. Seriously. Just do it. Now. I’ll wait. (Now go to that frog spot in your house and look at it while you complete the other steps!)
- Determine the PURPOSE of the space. Every space in your room has to have a job, or purpose. Your bedroom closet is for housing your wardrobe, my medicine cabinet stores medicines, the mail center is for sorting and dealing with mail, the stovetop is for cooking. Now, look at the space. Is there anything out of place? Are kids’ water bottles taking over the mail center? Do you have work bags taking up space in your clothes closet? (guilty) Is someone storing dirty dishes on the cooktop? Remove any items that do not belong in the space. (See, I told you we might be doing a little more decluttering!) Now, make this purpose your new mindset! (You may need to post notes to keep your family on board–like “Stop! Water bottles belong in the cabinet over the sink–NOT on this counter!” These notes are awesome because the kids will someday entertain their therapists with stories about notes from crazy moms!)
- Can you utilize the space better? This step in organization is over overlooked. Most people tend to jump to step 5–a trip to the store to buy containers. BUt unless you come up with a plan, those containers will end up in a pile on your next decluttering spree! Take a good look at the space. Clear it out. Measure it. Visualize what it will look like in an ideal space. Maybe even sketch it in your notebook. Keep in mind the style of your home. Keep in mind the people who live with you. And, above all, KEEP IT SIMPLE! I like to try out a one-week test run of my new spaces. I organize things the way I want things (often using temporary fixes) and see how the system works under real-life conditions. You may find (like I have) that a cute basket to collect mail will also collect unwanted, out of place items–rubber bands, barrettes, apple cores, phone chargers and the like. So hey, maybe a basket is not the right container for this space! However a vertical mail organizer may not be as pretty, but it is less likely to collect non-paper items.
- Shop, slowly and mindfully: Now is the time to visit your favorite store to pick up tools to keep you more organized. If you are really lucky, you will already own everything that you need! However, you need to remember that containers, and hooks, and bins, and baskets are not magical! These containers are just a means to an end. You want to make sure that the containers and tools fit your space, your style, AND your budget. If you purchase shelving to organize your basement or garage, make sure that the bins that you purchase (or already own) will fit neatly on the shelves. Try to choose items that will blend with your decor, rather than making your living space look industrial or like an ad for the Container Store (unless that IS your personal style!)
- Set your system: Set up your new space. Make sure that every item has a home (as my grandma said, A place for everything, and everything in its place!”). Do you have some homeless items? Determine if they really belong in this space (see, decluttering never really ends). Once everything is in place, take a photo. You can then reference that later to determine if you are sticking to your organizational ideals. Use the system for a week, and then revisit and adjust as needed.
- Train your family. You will find that your loved ones will need repeated reminders of how spaces are used. (And, if you are anything like me, you will need to remind yourself as well.) Habits take weeks to cement into place. Try to be gentle. A simple, “Please put your shoes away” before dinner goes over better than a mom shrieking like a harpy every.single.time that she trips on shoes in the entryway. Trust me, the shrieking feels better in the short term–but no one in the house even hears that tone.
- Step back and enjoy your new space! This new space has taken some time to achieve, but by now you are probably pretty proud! And you should be! Take time to enjoy it, look at it, admire it! And now–move onto the next space on your list! Lather, rinse. repeat!
Some of my favorite organizational tools:
- This overdoor basket unit works well in my pantry for keeping smaller items in check.
- This hammock is a must-have for all of those Beanie Boos the girls insist on collecting.
- These refrigerator bins are PRICELESS lifesavers.
- No home office desk space? No problem! Take it vertical!