Get Started Organizing a Space You Love

Many people email or call me because they know they want to get more organized, but they don’t know where to start. They’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t have a clear plan for where and how to begin. Here are some ideas to break through that “stuck” feeling and get started organizing and create an organized home you’ll love.

Step 1:  Define your end result.

Get as clear and specific as possible about your vision for your space and what you want to create. Pull out a notebook or a three-ring binder and assign each room to be organized its own page in the notebook. For each room, answer these questions:

  • What’s bugging you about the space?
  • Are there things in the room that don’t belong?
  • When you’re done, how will the space look?
  • When you’re done, how will the space feel?
  • When you’re done, how will the space function?

Step 2:  Create an action list.

to do listBased on the answers to your questions, create a list of all the projects you plan to do. Then, plot out the steps to get from where you are to your ultimate vision. Be sure to list items you’d like to move from one room or storage area to another. The general rule of thumb is to store things where you use them, or as close to those areas as possible. For storage items like extra light bulbs, cleaning supplies, batteries and other consumable items, consolidating to a central location will make it easier to know how much you have on hand. (This will in turn streamline shopping trips—an added bonus!)

Step 3:  Take action.

Once you have a list of all the things you’d like to do, pick one thing and start! If general decluttering is needed in many of the spaces on your list, this is a great place to begin. First, go on a scavenger hunt and find all the things you know you no longer use, need, or love. Grab a box (or two or three) and set a timer for fifteen minutes. See how much bulk you can eliminate before the buzzer dings. If this feels great, set the timer for another fifteen minutes and keep going. Or set a goal to do the buzzer exercise every day for fifteen minutes until all your “low-hanging fruit” is gone.

Your goal for the scavenger hunt is to make quick and easy decisions to eliminate as many unneeded things as quickly as possible. Be sure to get these items completely out of your home. (Putting them in a box in a basement, garage, or other storage area in anticipation of a garage sale doesn’t count!) By getting these items out of your home, they’re completely off your radar screen. This will energize you to move on to the next phase of your project.

Step 4:  Concentrate on one space at a time.

After the scavenger hunt phase, focus on one space at a time. Once you’ve decluttered each room, select containers you love that are appropriate for the items that will remain in the room. By waiting until late in the process—after decluttering and defining which items will go where—you can feel more confident in selecting containers that will work in your space and be worth your investment. Add labels to your containers so it’s easy to maintain your new organizing system.

Step 5:  Continue to make progress.

From here it’s a matter of continuing to tackle one space at a time while maintaining order in the spaces you’ve already completed.

Start by defining the end result. What do you want to keep, where do you want to keep it, and what will your rooms be like when you’re done? Then go through each space and do an initial sort and edit, without digging too deep. Basically, get rid of the surface clutter and move things to where they will ultimately live (especially if they will ultimately live away from your home). This will give you breathing room and motivation to do the deeper purging. Once you’ve done the deep purge and have things where you want them, buy your containers. There is definitely a bit of moving things from point A to point B in organizing. The key is to decide where you want point B to be before you start the process. This keeps you always moving in the direction of your desired end result.

If you need help getting started, your timing couldn’t be better! Join my upcoming Organize-athon. I’d love to help you get started and create a home you love! You can read all of the details in this post.

Happy organizing!


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Aby Garvey is a creative organizing expert and simplify 101’s founder. She has created 14 online organizing classes, which she has been teaching since 2007, helping thousands of people around the world get organized. Aby loves to help people create positive change in their lives through her online classes and organizing eBooks.

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