Organize and Declutter Your Home – From Overwhelmed to Organized

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Organize and Declutter Your Home

Everyone wants to live in an organized and decluttered home.  But most people are completely overwhelmed when if comes to how to do it.  Where do you start?  What do you get rid of?  Where does everything go? This post will help you organize and declutter your home one room at a time by helping you create a master plan for your entire house and giving you the strategies you need to go from overwhelmed to organized. 

Imaging knowing where everything is.  Imagine never having to spend precious time looking for things before you run out the door.  These easy to follow instructions will help you do just that.  It will reduce your overwhelm and answer the looming questions you have about how to make it all happen.

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Create a Master Plan

Let’s go on a field trip!  Bring along that planner, we’re taking notes.  I want you to walk around your house and take a good look at everything. 

Think about your house as a tool that serves many different purposes.  It’s shelter, a storage unit, a venue for parties, a cafeteria, a hotel, and a sanctuary for retreat.  Tools work best when we keep them in their best working condition. That’s our goal.  You are going to sharpen this tool you call home so it operates at high capacity.  And, I’m going to help you do it.

Back to our field trip. As you go room to room, make note of what each room holds.  List what kinds of things live in each closet, drawer, and cabinet.  This isn’t a detailed inventory.  So, try not to get overwhelmed. List things like clothes, books, crafts, sports equipment, party supplies, pictures, memory boxes, blankets, games, books, office supplies, etc.  You’re looking more for categories than specific items.

Where would you put everything if you were just now moving in?  There are some obvious answers and some not so obvious.  I have a lot of big kitchen items that aren’t used all of the time and some pieces I only use for parties.  If I had an enormous kitchen with tons of storage, it would be easy.  But, I don’t. 

Your house probably isn’t going to have all of the perfect spaces for your things that you’d want.  You’ll have to get creative.  For me, it was clear that my kitchen needed an overflow spot.  And this overflow spot has moved many times as the needs of my family changed through the years.  But I always knew where my things were because I followed one simple rule. 

Birds of a Feather Flock Together 

Everything needs a home. So, when determining where things will live in your house, remember this rule.  Like things should live together. Your big stockpot and your backup crock pot and your enormous mixing bowls that you rarely use all go in the same place.  I kept all of these kinds of things together.  Sometimes they were stored neatly at the top of a closet.  Sometimes they were stored in my utility room.  Honestly, there was one time that they lived at the top of my bedroom closet.  That’s just where they all fit together during that particular point in our lives.

Why am I telling you this?  Because after you’ve gone on your field trip, I want you to sit down and gather your flocks of birds (on paper).  Decide where everything will live.  Write it down on paper.  Create a Table of Contents for your home.  Where will everything live when it’s all done? 

Now let me just warn you here, as you embark on this journey of home organization, you will probably have to adjust your plan.  The closet that you thought was big enough for the sports equipment or craft supplies may not be big enough at all.  You might just have to adjust the plan slightly.  That’s okay!!!  You’re allowed to do that.

Declutter Your Home and Organize Room by Room

Okay.  Now that you’ve determined what you want your house to look like, let’s get started!!  This is where you start your journey to declutter your home and organize it room by room, closet by closet, and drawer by drawer. 

This is going to take some time.  I mean, you didn’t get here overnight.  So, be patient with yourself.  Don’t get frustrated.  As they say, this isn’t a sprint.  It’s a marathon.

Strategies That Take you From Overwhelmed to Organized

1. Start small

You get to pick where you start.  These are your priorities and your rules.  Maybe start with a hall closet or utility room.  If your living room feels cluttered, you might even start there.  You will LOVE having a decluttered living room.  There is so much peace in that.  Just don’t overwhelm yourself.  Gather some small wins and gain some confidence before you take on your master bedroom closet, your kitchen or your office.

2. Focus on one area at a time

After you’ve created your master plan, don’t think about the entire house anymore.  Focus on the one area you’re working on at the moment.  Stay here until it’s done. Don’t be tempted to take on two areas at once. 

The only exception to this room is this… if you know other items go in this area that are currently stored somewhere else, go get them. It’s much easier to organize when you have all of the pieces. For instance, if you are in your bedroom closet and you know you have clothes stored in some other closet, go get them.

3. Remember, it will get worse before it gets better

This is SO important to remember.  When you first pull everything out of a closet and its laying all over the floor, it looks like a horrendous mess.  Well, it IS a horrendous mess.  But it’s not going to stay like that for long.  It’s only there so you can group things and put them where they belong. 

4. Declutter!! You don’t have to (or need to) keep everything 

You need to declutter your home.  Everyone does.  Ask yourself some hard questions.  

      • Do you need it?  
      • When was the last time you used it?  
      • Do you like it?  
      • Are you just keeping it because you feel obligated to?  Don’t do it!

The more I declutter, the freer I feel.  And the more I get rid of, the simpler life gets.  I’m not a minimalist by any stretch of the imagination. But holding on to a bunch of stuff I never use is pointless.  Don’t let your stuff own you by overtaking your home.  

Determine what you’re going to do with each individual thing as you declutter your home.

      • Keep it
      • Sell it
      • Give it away 
      • Throw it away  

You decide.  If you’re going to keep it, move it to its new home according to your Table of Contents and the categories you are creating.  Do this immediately.  Get it out of the area you’re in right now.  Let’s say you start with a closet.  As you pull things out of the closet, consult your Table of Contents for your house.  Take items to their new home as you’re pulling them out.  The new area may not be ready for the new items.  That’s okay.  That’s ultimately where this thing is going to live.  So, that’s where you put it.  You’ll get to that area when you get to that area.  Right now, you are focused on this area.

5. Think categories 

Remember the flocking birds.  Group like things together before putting them away.  This is important because you are not going to remember where you put every single item in the entire house.  But you will remember where you put its category.  

As a mom, I’m the go-to person for anything that can’t be immediately found.  I’m sure you are too.  So with this system, you just have to know where categories live.  It makes finding things so much easier.  And as your family starts to catch on, they will call on you less and be more independent.

6. Function or Form? 

We’ve all seen the amazing Instagram and Pinterest before and after pictures of the pantries and closets.  No question about it, they are gorgeous.  And if you want to take the time and purchase the bins and baskets to make every space look like these pictures, do it.  It’s your house.  But my recommendation to you in this stage of the game is to go with function over form.  You can make it all pretty later.  Right now, you’re just trying to get your house in order.  You can use a shoebox the same as you can a wicker basket.

7. Where do you find enough time?

Block time in your week to work on this area.  Maybe you have enough time to get the whole thing done with one block of time.  But depending on how big of an area you’re focusing on at the moment, you might not be able to knock it all out at one time.  If that’s the case, I would encourage you to plan an hour here and there.  You’ll be amazed at how much progress you can make in an hour.  Maybe even set a timer.  You’ll be surprised how well this works.

Take advantage of TV and phone time as well.  Maybe you can sort some items while you’re on the phone or watching TV.  I remember looking at the clock and noticing that I had 10 minutes before I had to leave for whatever.  I would work my focus area for 10 minutes.  Sometimes, I could clean out an entire drawer in that 10 minutes.  Finding random blocks of time in your day here and there will make a huge difference in your progress.  You’ll be glad you did it.

8. Keep organized areas organized

Once you have an area done, keep it that way.  Pay attention to it.  You worked hard to get it to this point.  Don’t let that hard work you’ve done to declutter your home go to waste.  Maybe plan some time in your evening routine to give a quick once over to the areas you’ve already organized.  Be proud of what you’ve done.  Don’t let it get away from you.  You don’t want to have to come back and redo something you’ve already done.  You created a foundation of routines for success.  Don’t go back to your old ways.  You know how to do this now.  

9. Train your family 

I like calling a meeting before I begin to let everyone know what we’re doing.  They may even want to help.  Either way, let them know what the categories are and where things will be located.  They’ll probably appreciate it.  Most people like to live in an organized home.  After you’ve completed an area, call everyone over and show them your hard work.  Be excited about it.  You’ve got a lot to be proud of.  They can celebrate with you.

I used to say to my family, “let’s go on a field trip.”  Then I’d walk them around acting like an over-exaggerated Vanna White showing them each area and threatening their lives if they didn’t help keep it organized.

10. Remember your why 

The process to declutter your home and organize it area by area is going to take time.  You’re going to get discouraged.  Remember why you started.  Maybe write it down.  Hang it on the refrigerator or your bathroom mirror.  Stay motivated.  

And when you’re done using something or you’ve just finished a project, make it a point to put everything back where it belongs.  Keeping your home free of clutter is an amazing feeling.  I remember times when I was tired and just didn’t feel like doing anything else.  I would ask myself, “What if my mom knocked on my door right now?  Would I want her to see my house this way?”  That would usually motivate me. Find your motivation.

11. Reward yourself after an area of focus is complete

This is important for brain training.  As I’ve said, you’re going to get tired.  You’re going to get frustrated.  It’s important to train your brain to know that a reward is on the way.  Perhaps let the reward match the size of the project.  Maybe even plan it beforehand so you know what you have to look forward to.

12. Wash, rinse, repeat

What’s your next area of focus?  Once you finish one area and reward yourself, repeat this entire process in another focus area.  Keep going. Before long, you will declutter and organize your entire house and your family (and your mental health) will reap the benefits. 

Staying focused on one small area at a time has become a stabilizing force in my life.  I’ve learned to break big goals into small pieces and knock them out one at a time.  As you declutter your home, remember this strategy.  I don’t want you to get overwhelmed during this process.  Following the strategies above will make this a much easier job to accomplish.

If I can do this, you can too.  Stick with it.  Don’t give up!  Also, if this article has helped you, please share it with your friends.  

If you’re following the Home Management Baby Steps, you’re ready to move on to Baby Step Six – Why Budgeting Finances Doesn’t Work


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