April 28, 2020
6 Step to Organizing a Cluttered Area
Organizing and decluttering has always been fun and has always come naturally to me. Because of this, I don’t usually have to think much about it…I just do. So to write this blog post, I needed to explore my method and formulate actionable steps that will work for any cluttered space. After some thought, I came up with 6 basic steps that are easy to follow and shown to be successful when put into action! With these steps, I’m hoping you’ll be able to declutter any area to make it more functional and enjoyable.
Before Starting: commit, set the scene, be realistic with what you’re able to get done in the time allotted
The first thing to do before decluttering an area is to commit. If you want it done, decide and stick to that choice. Don’t second guess, don’t make excuses, and don’t drag it out. I know it sounds harsh but it’s critical for completing this task successfully.
The second thing to do before decluttering an area is to set the scene. You want the environment to be enjoyable and motivating to you. If you enjoy working and doing chores with music, put on some jams! If you work better when the kids aren’t around, ask your spouse if they could watch them for a bit. If you know a cup of coffee and a podcast are going to keep you motivated and happy, go for it! Find things that encourage you to keep going and get it done!
The third thing to do before decluttering an area is to be realistic with what you’re able to get done in the time allotted. If you’re able to get the entire area finished in one bout, don’t willingly drag it on! Get it done in the most concise way possible. But if you know that you (realistically) only have 30 minutes each day to work on it, set that time in advance and know that it won’t get done right away but it will get done in__days. Have a plan but if you know you have a million things that take up your time, don’t go into this thinking you’re going to finish it all at once. Be concise but realistic.
1. Sort everything into 4 piles: throw away, get rid of, doesn’t belong, and stays
The first thing to do is to sort. Take every moveable item and put it into one of the 4 piles mentioned above. You can do this on the floor, on a table, or anywhere where there’s space. The first pile, throw away, is pretty obvious. If it’s trash…toss it! Have a garbage bag by the area so you always have a place to throw things out. The second pile, get rid of, is for things you want to sell or give away. Be honest with yourself about keeping or giving away items. I always like to ask myself, “am I really going to get use out of it?” followed by, “would someone else enjoy it more?” You can also have a bag or a bin to put these items in. The third pile, doesn’t belong, is for items that don’t belong in that specific area. It could be a number of things but if it dense belong, it doesn’t stay. This pile will be distributed to wherever it belongs. The fourth and last pile, stays, is for items that actually do belong in this area and you plan on keeping there.
2. Eliminate the first 3 piles from the space
The second step is to take action on the first three piles mentioned in step one. Put “throw away” items into the garbage, place “get rid of” items in a bag or bin and set in a place (ex. car, by the door, etc.) where you can easily access them when you’re ready to take them somewhere, and lastly, put the “doesn’t belong” items away where they actually belong.
3. Sort remaining pile into categories of choice
Now that you only have one pile remaining, step three is to sort that pile into categories that make sense to you. It could be simple or complex, a few categories or many. For example, if you’re sorting a desk space you could divide the items into paper, decor, and supplies. A more complex area might be a bedroom where there would be more categories such as clothes, shoes, bags, books, decor, technology, etc.
4. Set the foundation
Now for the best part: cleaning! Step number four is all about preparing the area before you refill it with the fourth pile of things. This includes but is not limited to dusting, vacuuming, moving furniture, and wiping down surfaces. You want the area to be as clean as possible.
5. Choose organization style based on space
Step number five is all about choosing how you want to organize the space. Depending on the area, you could color code, alphabetize, organize by function, focus on aesthetic, or base it off of the items themselves. Color coding and alphabetizing are pretty straight forward and they would work great for desks, kitchen or pantry spaces, or an office. To organize by functions means to separate items based on how they work, what they do, or how they’re helpful to you. This style works great for areas such as garages, desks, kitchen spaces, or bedrooms. When focusing on aesthetic, the organization will revolve around how the space will look at the end. If you’re decluttering a space in your home that’s visible to everyone who comes in, such as an entry way or a main bathroom, or if the surrounding areas have a specific style, it might be best to focus more on aesthetic, whatever that is for you. Lastly, if you choose to base your organization off the items themselves, you’ll simply put things where they make sense to you. If you like having your stapler by the tape on the right side of desk or if you want the toaster by the coffee maker, do it! It’s your space so if you’re basing it off the items themselves, choose based on your preferences. If you can think of any other styles, don’t hesitate to use them. It should make sense to you and make the space more enjoyable. Also, feel free to mix and match! Your space can be functional and aesthetic.
6. Put away remaining items based on category and style
The last step is to finally put the items back into the area! You’ve already done the prep work so this step should be pretty easy. Whatever style(s) you choose will be put into practice here so get excited! I like all areas to be functional, accessible, and somewhat visually appealing (in addition to the style I’m going for). It’s a great rule of thumb for most areas with some exceptions here and there. If you can get use out of the area, the items in the area can easily be accessed, and the area looks presentable, I consider it a win!!
These 6 basic steps will help you organize almost any cluttered area. Tackle one area at a time and do it well! The better you clean and organize and area, the longer it will stay nice and the easier it will be to maintain.
Once the area is cleaned and decluttered….keep up with it!! The most frustrating thing is to spend time cleaning and organizing only to come back a week later and find it a mess again. Spend 2-3 minutes each day maintaining it (picking loose items up, dusting vacuuming, straightening, etc.). You worked hard on this! A little each day will go a long way.
Sort everything into 4 piles: throw away, get rid of, doesn’t belong, and stays
Eliminate the first 3 piles from the space
Sort remaining pile into categories of choice
Set the foundation
Choose organization style based on space
Put away remaining items based on category and style