Organization 101: 7 Easy Steps to Creating Order in your Life

Whether you’ve got a closet that’s a disaster zone or your entire space needs a major overhaul, organizing can be a daunting task. These steps will give you the confidence to tackle that project you’ve been putting off. Trust me, this will be worth it.

Step 1: Take everything out

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This may seem counter-productive. Why would I want to TAKE OUT all of my stuff when I’m trying to PUT IT AWAY? Trust me, Step 1 is crucial. Clear out a large space on the floor for all of your items (preferably in one room) and dump errthang out – I mean everything – nothing is too small or insignificant. You may notice anxiety spiking (speaking from experience). Remain calm and carry on. Things have to get worse before they can get better. Consider taking a picture when all that crap is on the floor to save for your “before and after” shots.

Step 2: Create categories and sort everything into piles

Take a visual scan over your pile-o-stuff and start to notice how things might be grouped together. Good examples include “electronics,” “tools,” and “cleaning supplies.” Do this as fast as possible with as little thought as you can. Whatever it is, lump it into a category quickly and put it into the pile. Make sure to have an “I don’t know what this is” pile so you don’t waste time trying to play detective. It may be tempting to throw things away during this step, but hold off. There will be plenty of time for The Great Purge.

Step 3: Ready your containers

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After the first two steps, you now have containers that are empty. Take said containers and put them into their own very special group. They will be your saving grace in later steps. If you have cardboard boxes in this pile, don’t throw them out. Instead, fold the flaps down into the box so they won’t get in the way and will make storage easier. You might actually end up using them. Don’t buy containers ahead of time. You can always go back and purchase some later, but you will be surprised how your old ones might end up working. 

Step 4: Decide where things go and do what makes sense

Take a look at your now empty closet, shelves, drawers, etc. It’s time to decide where your items are going to live. Do what makes sense and do it quickly. Make a pile for “I don’t know where this should go” and save it for last. Don’t put tools in the pantry, cleaning supplies in the bedroom closet, or clothing in the garage. Ask yourself, “Where will I be when I need to use this? Better yet, “How could my life be easier when I need to find it?” Larger items are going to go in, you guessed it, bigger spaces. Things you use more often should be put in readily accessible places.

Step 5: Get rid of it or put it away

I know you’ve been anxiously awaiting this step. It’s time to actually start to SEE progress being made. Look at each item in your pile and decide whether it is worth saving, donating, or needs to be trashed. Good questions are, “Have I used this item in the past year?” and “Could I see myself needing this item in the future?” If you answered “no” to either one of these questions, decide whether someone else could get use out of it (and donate) or, if not, recycle it (if possible) or ditch it. Put large items away first to see the floor empty at lightning speed.

Step 6: Make it visible

Make sure your belongings are all clearly displayed at a glance. Transparent containers are your friend. While it is tempting to stack things on shelves, on top of one another, and shove them in closets like a real-life game of Tetris, you will end up in the same disorganized position as when you began. Do not hide things behind one another unless everything in front is the same. Use appropriate storage pieces from your container pile to keep smaller, like items contained. Label things if it seems to be relevant.

Step 7: Preserve your hard work

 After your space is exactly how you always knew it could be, step back and marvel at all of your hard work. Take pictures, print, and post them on the wall for family members, colleagues, and friends to know just where and how to put stuff back. Don't be shy about taking your loved ones on a guided tour, highlighting your handiwork, so that they, too, can maintain what you worked so hard to create. Finally, decide on a method to continually check over these newly arranged spaces thereby ensuring you can maintain the perfection you achieved.

Happy organizing!