Updated: May 1
I know you have it.
That one space in your home that has become the dreaded dumping ground for all things seasonal, sentimental, and downright random.
It's a space that you desperately want to declutter and organize, but every time you go to do it, the overwhelm of the situation takes over and pushes you to walk away, shut the door, and turn a blind eye to the mess.
Trust me, I get it. Staring at a bunch of bins, baskets, and and trash bags full of, well, who even knows what anymore is not an activity that typically lands at the top of most people's to-do lists.
I think the most challenging aspect of tackling home storage spaces is the idea of having to look through so many different categories of items at once. The human brain simply doesn't perform well when it's faced with the amount of task-switching that typically occurs in this territory. And to make things more difficult, most of the time the containment options we've selected over time are solid in color, which keeps us from knowing which items are living inside of them. The thought of having to go through each individual container, determine what to keep, toss, or donate, and then plan out how to put everything away in a sensible order leads many of us to give up before we even begin.
But I'm here to tell you that going through your storage area with a small-wins mindset, a reset plan, and a coupling activity can free you from the belief that the job will never get done.
In this post I’d like to offer some tips on how to declutter and organize your home storage area so that you can create a space that is clutter-free and functional. It’s time to get that space under control, once and for all!
Adopting a Small-Wins Mindset
The first thing to do when preparing to tackle your home's main storage space is to adjust your mindset from feeling overwhelmed to feeling underwhelmed. Now, I know this sounds crazy, but there is a way to do it!
Instead of looking at the whole space as one job to complete (aka overwhelming yourself), give yourself a small goal that can be easily achieved. By stacking up these smaller wins, you'll eventually reach your larger, overall goal, which does not--I repeat, does not!--need to be accomplished in one day!
Here's a specific example of a small goal to set when preparing to tackle your storage space. Tell yourself that you will feel accomplished when you get the first bin on the top shelf sorted through. Yup, that's it. Then go ahead and grab that first bin and look through it to determine what inside will be kept, discarded, or donated. After determining what will continue to live in that first bin, throw a label on the outside so that you know exactly what it contains in the future. This label doesn’t have to be anything fancy… a Sharpie marker on duct tape will do!
After achieving your first small-win, you may feel motivated to keep going. If so, grab the next bin and go through it, just as you did before! Just be sure to move in a logical order--either from left to right or top to bottom--so that when you come back to the job later on, you'll know precisely where you left off.
Important Note: The moment you start to feel overwhelmed, STOP. Celebrate what you've accomplished so far and know that the job will get done by keeping a small-wins mindset and that awesome organizing momentum.
Resetting Your Space
As you work your way through all of your containers, the way to re-organize your storage space for success in the future is to zone out your items. One example of this is selecting a section for storing seasonal items only. Within this seasonal storage zone, consider keeping all of your Christmas items next to one another, your Halloween items next to one another, and so on. Continue on with creating zones for specific categories of items, like childhood sentiments, house paint, books, baby gear, etc.
When similar items are living in zones together, they're much easier to find and store away throughout the course of the year.
The Power of Activity Coupling and Body Doubling
Coupling an undesirable activity with something you enjoy doing is one of the best ways to get work done. What does this actually mean, you ask? When you pair up a less desirable activity like decluttering and organizing your home storage space with something you love doing, such as listening to your favorite podcast or a playlist free of Raffi and Cocomelon (if you're a parent, you feel me), then you can be transported into a more focused and tolerable headspace.
Another way that you can get a less enjoyable task completed is by having a body double join you. A body double is someone who is present in a space with you--whether that be physically or through a phone or FaceTime call--while you're engaging in a task you've found yourself avoiding.
Having another person with you in the space brings more accountability to the process and also offers you the chance to ask for opinions on any challenging decisions that may come up.
Trust me on this one... I've witnessed the power of body doubling and activity coupling plenty of times! When I’m working side-by-side with a client on organizing a space in her home, she's able to remain focused on the task, go through the space in a sensible way, make clear and concise decisions on what to keep, donate, or discard, and determine which pattern of re-organizing will work best for her moving forward.
Your home storage spaces don't need to be fancy looking. Reusing the containment options you already have (but with labels this time!) is a perfectly fine and functional option! However, if you want to go down the road of everything being matchy-matchy, I’d recommend these bins from Target or these from Walmart. They both come in various sizes, have latching lids, and are available at some of the best prices around!
I believe in you, friend! If you feel like the time has come to get that home storage space in order, then begin by following the tips outlined in this post. And if you're in need of a body double or a virtual or in-person coach, I'd love to be the one to help!