Have you ever looked around your house and wished it was a bit more organized? Maybe you think that about your whole house! Regardless if it looks tidy, I’m going to guess you have a few hidden spaces that could use some help and sometimes the hardest part is just getting started. My husband’s desk is the space that has been recently driving me the craziest because it’s right in our living room. He is not a naturally organized person, but was able to clean up the space mostly ON HIS OWN by following these steps. We have a tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be, but I believe in you. You CAN have an organized space that functions well for your family. This is a simple, yet effective way to tackle the clutter and start to take back control!
Step 1: Choose your space.
This is the most important step, because you need to choose your space wisely. There may be a lot of spaces on your list to be organized, but it’s important to start with a manageable job. I recommend choosing a space that can be organized in an hour or less – places like a kitchen or bathroom drawer, your car, the desk, or one closet. Then decide exactly what you want to use the space for and get ready to get started. After you have your space chosen set aside one hour where you can have uninterrupted focus on your task (or as uninterrupted as you can manage)!
The space we chose this week was my husband’s desk. I had been hinting that he needed to take care of it for weeks, but he finally decided it was time and tackled the space in about 30 minutes!
Step 2: Make your piles.
Now comes the hard part – starting! If you find yourself overwhelmed by the chaos, start by picking up just one thing. You need to get everything from the space out and sorted into four piles one thing at a time. Before long you’ll have made great progress!
*Keep: These are the items you KNOW belong in this space. Be very selective about what goes in this pile based on what you want to use this space for after you are finished. Just make a pile of these items – you can organize them after you are done with all the sorting.
*Move: Make a pile of the items that don’t belong in the space you are cleaning, but are things you still need to have in your home. This is also the pile I’d put the things you aren’t sure about – you can give it some time and revisit if you really need the item. If time runs short these items can be boxed up and sorted at a later time to be put away in their proper place.
*Toss: This is usually simple – trash goes in the trash. If you don’t need it anymore and it’s not something someone else can use, just throw it away!
*Donate: Put the items your family no longer uses or needs, but are still good quality items that someone might find useful into a box. I highly recommend taking this box directly to your car and bringing it to a donation center to avoid having the items brought back into your house. If you plan to have a garage sale, make sure this box gets sealed and put right into that pile for the same reason!
I did not take a picture of my husband’s piles – he was too efficient and had everything in folders or thrown away before I realized what was going on!
Step 3: Clean the space.
Once you get everything sorted, clean your space. It’s so much easier to wipe things down when it is empty! This is also a great time to take care of the toss and donate piles so they aren’t distracting you.
He skipped this step, sadly, so we still need to dust behind his computer. But because all the papers are in order this won’t be hard to do. Since it has been over a week and this still hasn’t been done, I will be sure to remind him of this step next time 🙂
Step 4: Organize your keep items.
Now is the time to get serious about what goes back into the space you have. I recommend sorting the keep pile into groups of like items. For instance, if you are cleaning a desk make piles of papers that go together and put them into folders. Or make piles of all the paper clips or rubber bands. It is important to have an assortment of organizing items like containers, baskets and folders to keep all the like items together once they are sorted. I have a box of random containers/baskets from the dollar store or washed cool whip/butter containers that I keep on hand for when I’m organizing a space.
**Side Note: I find that I use these types of containers the most so try to keep some in the house. This way when I’m working on taming the chaos I have a variety of options to choose from…
Once you have the items in containers be sure to label them! It’s highly important to make sure you know what’s inside each container to make finding things and putting them away quicker in the future. You can just use a sharpie maker to write on the outside or here are some other options to consider:
- Invest in a Personal Label Maker – be careful though, these can be addicting and you may find yourself labeling everything in your house!
- Make labels on a Circuit Machine – I make labels from fun paper and tape or tie them onto my containers.
- Chalk Board labels are super popular because you can re-label them when you have something new in the container. These are easy to make with paper and chalk board paint or you can just buy some!
After everything is sorted, stored in a container, and labeled as best you can, you can start putting items back in the space. It may take some trial and error to make it all fit so you can use it, but have fun trying different things. It doesn’t have to be perfect the first time – after you use the space for a week you may want to move some things around so it’s even more useful.
Step 5: Clean up.
Once the keep items are back in the space you are almost done. Keep at it and don’t give up yet – it’s important to make sure you always clean up before you officially call a job done. Be sure to put away your cleaning supplies, extra storage containers, and all your piles. If time allows this includes taking care of the “move” pile. There may be some items in that pile you know immediately where they belong, so take them there!
Some items might be harder to find homes for, especially if they belong in an unorganized space. Don’t be afraid to find a corner of your basement or closet to set the box to sort through the items later – but storing something in a pile isn’t a permanent solution so make sure to set aside time to tackle that box soon.
My husband and I worked on this step together. The trash was easy, but there were some items that we needed to think about so they just got put on a shelf downstairs to revisit later. We made sure that the space near the desk was free from the clutter overflow before we called our job done!
Remember, having an organized home takes time and dedication, so if you tackle spaces one at a time eventually you’ll have a place for everything!
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