Disorganized? – 5 Steps to Make Space

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Do you feel disorganized? No matter how much stuff you have, most of us would like to be organized. We just don’t know where to start. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming to declutter and organize if you follow these five steps to make space in your home, office, schedule or life.

black and white tee-shirts hanging neatly on wood hangers on black rod

Life and stuff get in the way of what we want to do and our best plans.

Is this you?

  • You were organized at one point, but life events have derailed your organizing systems and plans
  • You’ve never been the most organized, but would like to be. You just don’t know where to start. 
  • You start decluttering and organizing, but then overwhelm sets in or you get distracted.
  • You’re fairly well organized, but have some areas you’d like to tweak and improve.

You know the old adage, “What’s the best way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” When you purposefully walk through the simple MAKE SPACE steps, you can make it happen. 

Disorganized? – 5 Steps to Make Space and Get Organized

messy pile of clothes, shoes and purses

Whether your disorganized life involves a large pile, many large piles or simply a few things, the way to MAKE SPACE and get organized is the same. 

Planning for Organizing

Before you tackle the actual steps, you need to plan for the process. Taking a few minutes to to set yourself up for success with planning is a valuable investment in the process.

Motivate – Determine your motivation for decluttering and organizing. Are you clearing out a room to create a nursery or so a parent can move in with you? Are you trying to simplify your space for your busy family? Are you trying to downsize before a move? What is your motivation? Keep focused on your goal when the going gets tough during the decluttering process.

Access – Take a good hard look at your space and access on the strategic level what needs to be done. This assessment will help you determine what resources you need to acquire. Do you need a ladder? Do you need to buy heavy duty trash bags? Do you need to obtain help, either friends or by hiring a professional organizer?

Keep Guidelines – Determine your guidelines for items you will keep. For example, if you’re downsizing, you can only retain what will fit in the new home. 

blue square that spell out MAKE SPACE

Establish Schedule – Set a realistic timeline for accomplishing your decluttering and organizing tasks. Be sure to factor in time to rest both physically and emotionally.

The five steps to Make Space – Accomplishing Decluttering and Organizing

Sort – Take everything out so you can see it. As you take items out of cabinets, closets or the corner of the room, sort them into piles of like items with like items. Depending on your particular items, your piles may be all pencils together or all writing utensils together. Or you may sort all socks together and then realize you need to sort winter socks, lightweight socks and holiday socks into separate groups. As you begin sorting like items with like items, you can adjust your groupings to make sense with your items. 

Part With – Once all the items are sorted into groups, evaluate the categories and the items within each category. Which items are you ready to part with? If you have a large pile of soccer items for your daughter and she no longer plays soccer and has outgrown the sizes, it’s time to let those items go. If you find that you have four flour sifters, ask yourself how many do you really need? Keep the one or two you prefer and let the other ones go. These are decisions that no one else can make for you. However, it can be helpful to have a friend or professional organizer help you talk through the letting go process so that you can work through sometimes difficult questions and decisions.  You may find the free Purging Clutter Checklist or my book, A Year of Decluttering Motivation helpful.

Assess – After you’ve removed the items that you are ready to part with, take time to assess what you have remaining. Before putting items away you want to access your unique space, your unique items and how you want to use the space and items. This will help you organize and put away items so that the space functions perfectly for you and your specific needs. Consider:

  • How you want to use the space
  • How you want to use the items
  • The priority of item use
  • The nature of the item
    • Heavy items should be placed closer to the floor
    • Drippy items should be place closer to the floor
    • Toxic items should be placed out of the reach of children and pets
    • Breakable items should be placed in a safe location
  • How often will you use an item
  • Where will the item actually fit
  • What makes sense in your unique space

Contain – Use containers to help organize items when you put them away. I recommend that you begin by using repurposed containers. You should try living in your newly organized space before you invest in lovely new organizing bins, baskets and tools. Using repurosed containers is also a great solution for those who move often, are on a budget or are concerned about being earth-friendly. Some of my favorite repurposing ideas are:

Once you’ve lived in the space a few weeks and are certain that the set-up is working for you, then you can measure and go and purchase gorgeous organizing bins and tools, if you’d like. You can also slowly invest in beautiful organizing bins as they go on sale or ask for them as gifts. 

Evaluate – Making space and organizing is an ongoing process. Don’t be fooled into thinking that once you’re done organizing, you’re done. Live in the space a month or so and then evaluate what is working well for you and what needs to be adjusted. I’ve lived in my current kitchen for four years and just last week made an adjustment in moving the chip clips from a separate cabinet to the cabinet and shelf where the chips are kept. Duh! I don’t know what took me so long to realize that it makes more sense to keep them together. Be aware that you will need to reevaluate your organized space again and again as your life and your needs change. 

Would you like to tackle a disorganized space in your home or office and make space? You can start today. 

The 30 Days of 10-Minute Decuttering Challenge is a great place to start. 

Find all my decluttering tips, printables and challenges 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.

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