Updated: Jun 19, 2020
1. Take everything out of your area
When organizing, the best place to start is with a blank slate.
It's one of the most important things to do when you are organizing. Clearing the space will make it easier to categorize and visualize how to use and organize the space once you've purged the items you don't need anymore.
Oftentimes, my clients come to me and say that they are overwhelmed. So we always start with taking everything out of the space.
When you see a clear space it changes the psychology of your mind. In order to create a new functioning space, it's best to categorize all the items you're pulling out as you take them off the shelves/racks/floor (I will talk a little bit more about that later).
Having a space that is filled with a ton of different small items, like a linen closet that has a lot of toiletries or different utility items for your home can make it feel really cluttered.
By creating an organizational system, you will be much more able to maintain the organization and give you time to do the things that you love, like spending time with family, your hobbies or your career.
When you try to organize within the space, it can become overwhelming, leading you to stop before you can finish!
2. Categorize all of your items and get rid of trash
Just like we were talking about before, it's important to categorize your items when you are pulling them out of the space.
Psst! This is the secret of how all organizers stay organized.
When you are looking for a specific item, it is easier to find when you it has a designated home.
For example, if you are looking for a new toothbrush or some extra floss, you can find it in a basket labeled "teeth".
This cuts down on the time you used to take searching for items and it allows you to more easily put things away, which decreases the clutter (AND your stress!).
For example, when I am organizing a kitchen for a client, I not only thinking about the way things will fit into the cabinets, but also the functionality and efficiency.
To illustrate, I put spices to the right of the stove either in a drawer (this is my preferred method because you can more easily see all of the spices and easily keep them alphabetized) or in the cabinet.
It's also smart to keep the plates nearby the stove, because you'll be grabbing the plate to dish up your food.
It's best to put lesser use items like Thanksgiving China or special party or event serving dishes in a space that is not as frequently used (either up high or in a cabinet that isn't in the main cooking station.
3. Purge Items
I find that purging after categorization makes it easier to make decisions.
When you see how much you have of a certain item, you can make better decisions about how many you should keep.
I agree that it is good to hold onto items that you will use, but you need to be real with yourself when you are purging the space whether it be your closet, kitchen or pantry you're organizing.
Ask yourself questions like, "When was the last time I used this?", "Do I have something else that is similar that I preferred?", "Why?", "Do I need this item, or have I needed this item within the last six months to a year."
It’s important to lead yourself through this process with questions because basing organizing solely on a feeling is not a logical enough reason to keep or get rid of something.
Memorabilia aside, we are talking about specifically functional items in the home.
It can be easy to just keep things, but it is important to challenge yourself when purging, or during this purging stage, because if you are serious about being organized and decluttering, this is the most important step.
Purging can be a very cleansing experience, you can literally feel the weight of the clutter lifting off of you.
For example, I recently organized my own closet. It’s funny how organizing for other people makes me want to purge my own stuff!
When I was going through my closet, I had done the same things over and over, I asked myself the same questions that I ask my clients.
This time, however, I was able to get rid of two full bags of clothes that I had been holding onto for a "specific occasion." You know what I'm talking about -- when you keep something in the closet just in case you ever need it for that "specific time it would be perfect for."
Well, this item had spent a few years in my closet being underused and that special situation never came up, so out it went!
I know that this is one of the hardest things to let go of, because everyone does it. Even organizers talk about keeping items because they may use it in a specific scenario or situation, but if you are truthful with yourself...
If those scenarios have not happened yet, you can probably purge that item!
4. Get containers for your "groups" of items
The next step in getting organized is using bins or baskets to contain your like items.
Congratulations! You are almost done with the project at this point.
The longest part of any organizing project is the first three steps.
Many Pinterest-perfect photos of organization show matching baskets.
It is important to remember that matching containers aren't just aesthetically-pleasing and are a better utilization of the space, but the uniformity changes your mindset.
It’s like when you have a really nice brand-new wood floor; you are more inclined to keep it clean then if you had ratty old carpet.
I tell my clients that it is really important to the maintenance of the organization because that mindset is the main thing holding them back.
The reason for this is because they have a large variety of bins in different textures, tapes, colors, and sizes. I also think that they look really presentable and clean for their price.
I specifically buy the Y-Bins at Target. They come in gray, white, opaque, teal, pink, black, and a brownish gray. They also come in a large variety of sizes.
They are perfect for pretty much any area of the home. I have used these bins in my client's closets, their pantries, make-up counters, bathrooms, kitchens, basements, garages, and storage areas.
If you like colorful bins, the best place to find these are The Dollar Store. They have a pretty good selection of baskets, depending on what size you're looking for.
If you want to categorize in your pantry, these little bins work well.
I like Walmart for their fabric bins. These containers are notoriously expensive, but they fit perfectly into cube organizers, which I also use a ton. You can also purchase these at IKEA and online, if you have a preference of style.
5. Put items into your containers and label them
You'll want to make sure to correspond the amount of each category to the size of the bin.
Depending on the look you are going for, as well as the texture of the containers you chose, your labels will have to function well with them.
I like to use the rectangular labels from Target, with a piece of clear tape to secure them to the container. This ensures that the label will stay on the container, but it will also look very nice and uniform.
We talked before about how uniformity is important in maintaining organization.
Yes, all of these Pinterest-perfect pictures of organization make people excited, and there is a reason for that! If you want to maintain organization and make it easier on yourself, this uniformity is essential.
6. Store like-items together in your space i.e. First aid kits with Band-Aids, and hair supplies with other hair supplies
When you are putting your baskets back into the space, it is important to put specific "genres" or like items together.
What I mean when I say this is that when I am putting a utility closet or linen closet back together, I put all of the first aid baskets together, like bandages in one basket, cold remedies in the basket next to it, and pain medication in the basket next to that.
This system applies to all of the items you just categorized.
The aesthetic of having all of your towels folded the same way on the same shelf will encourage you to maintain the organization, plus it’s pretty!
7. Make adjustments that work for you
The most important thing to remember when you are organizing, is the system has to work for you.
Yes, there are plenty of ideas and hacks about getting organized online, but not every system will work for every person.
This is something that I try to keep in mind when I am organizing for my clients, because something that works for me would not necessarily work well for someone I’m working for.
For example, when I organize a closet, I generally hang certain items, and fold certain items. For some of my clients, this system works. For others, they prefer to hang all of their clothes, or vice versa.
Don’t forget that organizing should be simple, because if it gets too complicated that’s when people get overwhelmed.
8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Looking to get organized? Reach out for help if you think you need it.
Just like if you had a leaky faucet in your home, you would call a plumber or an expert to fix it instead of just doing it on your own.
I consistently hear from my clients that they’re overwhelmed, don’t know where to start, don’t have time, or don’t know how to organize.
The reality of it is that all of those are good (and common!) answers have an expert come help you.
When working with an organizing professional, you can have package tailored to you to figure exact needs. What I mean by this is that if you only want five hours of organizing, and you want to get some help from an expert and an extra set of eyes you can do that.
Clutterless Home Solutions offers full-service organizing for somebody that would like to be completely hands off in the process.
This means that we do everything for you including having a video consultation with you, shopping before we arrive at the project, organizing all your items and taking away the trash, donating unwanted items, selling unwanted items that have a lot of value, and really just going the extra mile.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions where you just need a little extra support.
Clutterless Home Solutions