Originally published January 6, 2015 and updated December 2, 2021.
Are you read to get organized but just don’t know where to start? Starting with easy steps to start getting organized is the best way to avoid overwhelm and start moving towards a simpler and more organized life.
These small steps will help you get control of your physical spaces and time management. You’ll also be building good life skills (and teaching them to your children).
It’s important to understand from the beginning that the reason an organized life is beneficial is to give you control of your day and your space so that you can do what you want, the important things, rather than being stuck with too many chores and too much chaos.
As a professional organizer and mother of three, I really do get it – life is busy and you don’t have lots of extra time or energy for large projects. I’ve chosen helpful tips for easy ways to build good organizational skills. This will give you the starting point for your home organization and establishing good habits.
How do I get motivated to get organized?
- Take the time to think about why you want to get organized.
- Set realistic goals.
- Ask for help from a friend or professional organizer. I offer virtual organizing assistance where we work together via email and video chat.
How to Get Organized – 6 Easy Steps
1. Starting right now, when you get something out, put it away when you’re done.
No excuses. No delays. Put things away. Don’t worry about those things already lying around that need to be put away, just focus on not adding more clutter.
The old adage, “A stitch in time saves nine” is our new mantra. You’ll be surprised how much time and stress this saves you.
When you do well in the little things, they build on each other soon you’ll be creating an organizational system that works for your daily life.
2. Declutter 2 items each day – one easy item and one that requires you to make a decision.
Every day make sure you get rid of one easy item that doesn’t require any thought – it just requires action. Throw away that junk mail as soon as you bring it in from the mail box. Recycle that glass jar as soon as you empty it, no hoarding (one of my personal clutter challenges).
Each day also purge one item that will require you to make a decision – just one item. Don’t let yourself be deterred by being afraid of tackling a big organizing project, just take a couple of minutes during the course of your day to purge one item.
- When you’re getting dressed in the morning, look at your closet and pick one item that you can donate, give to a friend or throw away.
- When you’re waiting for that late night microwave meal to cook, go through the utensil drawer and look for that egg beater you never use.
- When you’re waiting at the doctor’s office, go through your purse and find items that can be removed. While waiting for the train, go through your email inbox and delete or file emails.
Practice this habit every day and soon it will become a daily routine that will give you a sense of accomplishment. And that feeling will keep you going until you find you’ve worked your way through a problem area and can move onto the next one.
3. Designate a folder to collect your tax paperwork all year long in one spot.
Tax time is stressful for everyone, but it’s so much more stressful for the disorganized person. Our goal is to build new habits that will reduce your stress.
Anytime you receive paperwork or a receipt that you need to save for tax filing, immediately place it in the tax folder. You’ll keep all that paperwork neatly filed in one spot and you’ll easily be able to find it next year when you need it.
Handling important documents and receipts on a regular basis will:
- Prevent the paper clutter from building up in your home office or kitchen counter.
- Save you time the next time you sit down to do your taxes. This gives you extra time to actually do your taxes rather than frantically searching for the important files you need.
- Save money.
- Reduce stress (which is one of the best things about establishing these good habits).
4. Designate a decorative box to hold mail or papers you need to deal with.
The easiest way to deal with mail and paper clutter is to identify a box where these papers are placed first thing when they come into your home.
The steps are:
- Bring mail and papers into your home by the end of the day every day.
- As a daily habit, stand by the recycle bin or trash and immediately throw out junk mail.
- Remove important papers from the envelopes and recycle the envelopes and inserts.
- Place the couple of things that you actually need to keep in the box.
- You can place sticky notes with due dates on time sensitive items. I recommend using the Organized 31 Tickler File system to keep on top of due dates and important tasks.
- Set a day each week when you process the items in your box.
If life gets busy and the box is full (or close to full), you need to take care of the papers before you can add any more. The box is a great way to create a visual reminder that it’s critical that you deal with the paper clutter.
Additional tips to handle important papers and set up a filing system.
- Couch Potato Organizing Your Paperwork – How I organize my documents and paperwork while watching my favorite show.
- Family Command Center Tips – 20+ family command center tips to help you set up an organization system to work best for your entire family.
- How Long to Keep Documents – It can be confusing to decide which documents and paperwork to keep & which to shred. These tips for how long to keep documents will quickly get you started.
5. Don’t buy any more items in your clutter category until you’ve gone through those items, assessed what you need to keep and purged the rest.
Everyone has at least one clutter category, the items you have too many of. Your clutter category may be clothes, shoes, books, DVDs, emails in your inbox, kitchen gadgets or recycled glass jars and containers (that’s me looking sheepish).
You may not be ready to face your entire clutter category yet, just don’t add any more to the clutter until you have tackled your clutter.
Don’t roll your eyes and ignore this area of your life. Identifying your particular clutter challenge area(s) is the first step to getting a handle on it. Stopping the clutter right now is a great way to move forward and take personal responsiblity.
You don’t have to stop bringing items into your home forever, just take a short break while you establish good organizational habits and create the home and daily life that you want.
6. Learn the Square Rule of Organizing to maximize your organizing and storage options.
When you begin dealing with your items in an organized way, finding square or rectangular organizing bins is ideal. This utilizes more of your space more efficiently.
When you understand that square organizing containers help you store more items more efficiently, you’ll be able to maximize your storage and clean up your clutter.
Once you try these 6 easy steps to start getting organized, you’ll be ready to tackle bigger organizing jobs. Build your organizing muscle by practicing one particular task at a time and before you know it you’ll have created the space and life you want.
My favorite tips to get organized and stay organized
How to Maintain an Organized Home – 20+ ideas on how to maintain an organized home. Once you’ve decluttered and organized, these tips will help you keep your home neat and tidy.
Daily Routine Tips from 10 Professional Organizers – How do you get everything done each day & have time for what’s important to you? With these My daily routine tips from 10+ professional organizers.
Be sure to pin these tips so you find them again when you’re ready to get organized.
You can find all our best tips on how to get organized in the table below. You can scroll though the table and look for ideas or search for specific ideas with the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner (on desktop). Click on the topic and then click through the specific article.
I’m a mom of 3, a veteran and military spouse. I’ve moved into 20+ homes all around the world. My passion is helping busy people make the space and time for what’s really important to them.