Whether you’re tackling your closet, your kitchen, or your computer files, there are three main steps that will teach you how to organize anything – here’s how!
There’s not much I love more than a thorough organizing project.
When you think of decluttering and organization, does your mind immediately go to The Container Store or The Home Edit? Color-coordinated closets and neatly labeled storage shelves? Mine too!
Many of us feel overwhelmed in our spaces from the messy junk drawer to the overflowing papers of the home office to kitchen cabinets and laundry rooms overflowing with everyday life.
The secret is to simplify before you organize.
But there are two main steps in decluttering that need to happen first before you can organize something efficiently. It’s not as fun to sort and donate as it is to organize, but any professional organizer would tell you this method is ESSENTIAL to having a newly organized space that has room to breathe.
Whether it’s your daunting attic with archives from the 80s, your kids’ toy baskets, or your kitchen cupboards, use this tried-and-true, three-step method to declutter anything.
How To Organize Anything
One of the reasons so many people have unorganized homes and digital devices is because the “giving away” part trips them up.
But before you can organize, you must simplify. It is a hard rule, and any organizing expert is going to ask you do it before you can organize your home. Good room by room and see what you can pair down.
A few questions you can ask as you sort through items in your home:
- Do I use it?
- Do I love it?
- Do I need it?
- Could I buy/replace it if I need it 5 years from now.
That last one is the kicker for me, as I sometimes want to hold onto things “just in case.” Like an extra comforter if we have juuuuust enough houseguests that someone has to sleep on the couch. But realistically if that were to happen, we could just borrow one from a friend!
I love to have things out of sight where everything has a place: from a throw blanket basket in the corner of the living room to a special box that houses the remote controls. I have a basket for our keys, a cabinet for dog supplies, and even a sunscreen drawer that’s easy to grab and go in the living room.
Because we have so many little collections of things (sunglasses, chapstick, keys) that need to be accessible by the door, I love furniture pieces with a lot of tiny drawers. I find them easier to organize than big drawers (although drawer dividers can help with that too.)
Example: A Messy Desk
Before I helped Mazen organize his desk we went through each item and removed the ones that were either trash (there was a lot of trash!) or he didn’t need anymore. Also, I love that he has his baby brother on a magnet there <3 Always ask family members for help making these personal decisions – then you won’t have any angry kids when you throw away their favorite keychain or “piece of trash” paper.
Group like with like. Sort things by both function and type.
You might store most of your socks rolled in one drawer of your closet, but maybe your soccer socks get stored in your soccer bag so you never forget them.
You could store all of your cleaning supplies in your basement, but that means when it’s time to clean the third floor toilet, you’ll have a lot more friction to get to those supplies. Maybe the best place to store cleaning bathroom supplies is your linen closet. See the backstory of my closets here: 3 Closet Makeovers.
Really think strategically about the best way to sort your items. Sometimes you’ll need to think outside of the box….shoebox!
Use big storage bins or baskets to help you sort items to donate or put in your trash can or recycling bin.
All of our extra sunglasses go in one drawer. (Nice grown-up ones go in cases that are being used during this photo shoot!)
This is the step everyone always wants to skip to! It’s the fun part. The part that involves pretty containers and neat labels.
But it only works if you do steps 1 and 2 first! I promise it won’t be as fun if you’ve filled up your containers and still have half of your pantry or closet to go and are running out of storage space already when you’re just starting out.
Things need space to breathe. Clothes need air between hangers, and tools need some flow between them on the garage shelves. Keep a little space in mind when you’re planning how you’re going to organize and which containers you will need.
If the closet you’re trying to fit things in to just isn’t big enough, then you really need to part with more stuff. Go back to steps 1 and 2 and edit some more.
One of my favorite storage solutions: You can use drawer dividers or a hanging shoe rack to help you sort things in small groups within larger dressers and closets. Baskets and bins are great for shelves. And desk organizers are perfect for any drawer whether or not it’s housing a stapler or beauty supplies.
Example: Kid Drawers
After removing the clothes Mazen had outgrown and then sorting them by type, we used IKEA bins to organize the socks, underwear, and accessories.
What organizing and decluttering challenges do you have within your own home?
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I need to clean and organize my linen closet. It is narrow but very deep so it offers a lot of storage space but I haven’t organized it at all. I like your idea for thinking about where things are stored and why. I can see moving some things around to where it makes most sense to store them, ie storing extra toilet paper in the bathroom instead of the linen closet.