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How to Organize Any Space

Ok, so you've finally built up the nerve to tackle the cluttered space that has been driving you nuts. Fresh cup of coffee: check. Goal-oriented mindset: check. You open that drawer or that door or that cabinet and you... gulp. Oh no, there it is again. That feeling of dread. That feeling of overwhelm. You reach into the cluttered space and begin pulling things out, just to break into a legit panic because of not knowing what to do with them. You then either throw a few things out or move them around to make the space appear cleaner and more organized, but really it's all the same stuff you started with. You decide today is not the day, close the drawer, door, or cabinet again, and walk away feeling... blah.

Have you been there, done that? I know I have. There is nothing worse than the very real feeling not knowing where to start when you want to organize a space in your home or at work. But I am here to tell you that there is a way to make a comeback and to get that space tidied up once and for all; you just need a plan.

It's no secret that planning leads to increased levels of success. Coaches, CEOs, parents... they all perform best when they take the time to strategize and determine which steps need to be taken in order to reach their end-goals. So, if getting a space in your home or work station organized is your end-goal, then doesn't it make sense to follow a plan in order to reach it? Well, huddle up, team, because here are the steps we're going to take in order to show that mess who's boss.


Step 1: Gather supplies.

Go into the job with the following items by your side: trash bags, boxes, and sticky notes.

  • Trash bags: Having trash bags available while organizing encourages you to... wait, can you guess? Yes, throw junk out! Keeping a physical, visual pile of stuff that you intend on putting into a trash bag when you are done organizing not only adds a step to the process, but it may also encourage you to second-guess the items you had previously decided to toss.

  • Boxes: Not everything you bump into during the organizing process will be either "Keep" or "Trash"; you are also bound to come across things that fall into the "Donate" category. Having a couple of boxes available to quickly place donation items in streamlines the purging process.

  • Sticky Notes: Sticky notes are great for categorizing as you go. Make sure you have a marker, too!


Step 2: Clear it.

Ok, there are TWO ways to go about this, so pick whichever one works best for your brain.

The first way is to pick a corner to start in and clear it out, item-by-item. Selecting a starting point and having the mindset of working in a circle will keep you from wandering around too much and will serve as a visual start and finish line. If you have to take a break from the project and return at a later point in time, you will know precisely where you left off. This method is best for moderately cluttered spaces.

The second way is to pick a category of items to begin with and collect as many of them as possible. By picking one type of item to find (such as t-shirts in a closet or cooking utensils in a kitchen) you can move around more and remain focused on a single thing rather than be overwhelmed by the whole space. This method is best for less cluttered spaces.


Step 3: Can it or categorize it.

As you are clearing items from the space, decide what to do with them as best as you can, right then and there. Does the item need a one way ticket to the dump? Can it be donated to someone who will find a lot more happiness in it than the dark corner it was hiding in? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then make sure the item goes directly into the trash bag or donation box.

But what if it is a keeper? If this is the case, place the item in your workspace and label the area with a category on a sticky note. By separating your items into distinct, labeled piles while clearing them from the targeted space, you will have greater success when it comes time to put them back; you're basically organizing as you go!


Step 4: Contain it.

Once the space has been decluttered and all of the "Keep" items have been sorted into labeled piles, it's time to determine which type of containment (if any) will be needed to keep the categorized groups separate from one another. This is the time to make the space look and feel the way you want it to. If you're going for matchy-matchy Pinterest-level stuff, grab the keys and get yourself to the store, stat!

If you don't care so much about the fanciness level of things, I get that; however, please keep in mind that containment is the key to maintaining any space long-term. Having specific sections or bins for each type of item helps you to not only find what you're looking for more quickly, but it also holds you more accountable for putting things away... Where they belong... So that the beautiful cycle of find-it-fast, put-it-away-fast can live on. You can find great containment options for less at places like Dollar Tree and Walmart, and if you really don't want to spend a dime on this step of the process, you can even use cut-down postal boxes to hold your sorted items in.


Following the steps in this plan is what will enable you to finally be able to tackle the disorganized space in your home that has been stressing you out. Of course this process will still require a time and energy commitment on your end, but this guidance will help you to be more productive and confident along the way. So get your best playlist ready, your favorite beverage in your hand, and go get 'em!

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