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Learn how to organize when you feel overwhelmed. Declutter, tidy, and style the home that you want and deserve.

Learn how to organize when you feel overwhelmed. De-clutter, tidy, and style the home that you want and deserve.

1 – Take a Step Back

Stop and take a breath. Look around and list 5 things you like about your home or space. What works right now.

Then grab a giant pad of paper and a Sharpie. Write down everything that you think needs to be done and everything that you want to change. I find that by simply writing everything down, it frees up the “mental clutter” and bandwidth in my brain that is thinking about all the stuff that needs to be done.

By putting all of these overwhelming thoughts down in writing, you can clear your mind of the “mental clutter” that is preventing you from starting your organizing project.

2 – Prioritize

Focus on one area at a time. You won’t completely transform and organize your home overnight.

What areas bother you the most? Or what areas do you spend the most time in? What area or room, if organized, would have the most impact on your day-to-day life? This is where you will start.

3 – Break it Down

Set reasonable goals and timelines. Maybe choose one room a month to tackle the rooms that stress you out most.

Break rooms down into zones or areas. Tackle the closet one day. That pile of boxes in the corner another. Maybe clear off the dresser the next.

Set small goals. For example: In our home, clutter tends to pile up on the stairs (stuff that either needs to go up or down). My current “small goal” is to keep the stairs clear. If sounds small, but having a clear walkway and landing makes such a big difference.

But that’s just my personal preference. Pick a small goal today and make it a priority for you.

4 – Get Rid of STUFF

I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it: You don’t need more organizing products. You need less stuff. Take the time to go through your belongings and get rid of stuff that you no longer need, love, or use regularly.

This can seem overwhelming at first, so work in small areas of your home. If you don’t know where to begin with getting rid of STUFF, take the 100-Item Challenge or use the Virtual Move Method in one area of your home.

This also means bringing less STUFF into your home. Consider doing a no-spend month, where you don’t buy anything but the essentials (like food). No Target impulse purchases. No new clothes. Nothing new comes into your house.

Put into place systems that make it easier to get rid of stuff from your home. Keep a box or bag in your front entry closet labeled “donate”. This way, when you run across a pair of the kid’s outgrown jeans, or a kitchen tool that you look at and say, “I am never going to use this again,” it goes straight into the donate pile.

5 – Make a Place for Everything

“A place for everything and everything in its place.”

Write this down on a post-it and place one in every room of your house. Once you have decluttered, assign absolutely every item a designated place.

"A place for everything and everything in its place."

There is no point in organizing if you don’t create systems that can be maintained. And the easiest way to create a sustainable organizational system is to make it easy to put things away next time.

Assign absolutely everything a place. This means that you may be pulling out the label maker at an alarming rate. This is especially crucial if you share your home with other people. Kids can be just as responsible for maintaining these systems as adults are.

Set the expectation that items get put away, and label everything so you never hear the excuse: “But I don’t know where is goes!!”

And for your little ones (who may not yet be able to read those labels), give this method a try.

6 – Make Home Organizing a Priority

You just organized a space in your home. Great! Now what? You have to maintain it. But trust me – maintaining an already organized space is way easier than starting from scratch. Also, take a peek back at step 5. Everything has an assigned place and it’s labeled. You’ve got this!

Set a reasonable goal, like “I will have clear kitchen counters and and empty sink every night before I go to bed”. Commit to maintaining this for 30 days. Pretty soon you have developed a habit. I am a big fan of the Evening Power Clean to help with goals like this.

Short on time? Do daily 15-minute “decluttering sweeps” to help keep the chaos under control.

Oh, and finally: cut yourself some slack. Life is tough enough. We don’t need to set unreasonable expectations for ourselves as well.

Life happens. Clutter will pile up. Messes will be made. Just pick up the pieces and start again. And remember: organize so that you can live a better life. Don’t live to organize.

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