I know that feeling. You look around a cluttered, messy room (or even a whole messy home). You want to pretend you’re three and just pull a blanket over your head. Where and HOW do you even start? Today, we are GOING to get started. And I’m going to give you some easy spots to start in.
The Truth about the “Best Way” to Organize
I follow a lot of organizing Instagram accounts. All those pretty bins and things in rainbow order make my head happy, but the reality is that there is not BEST WAY to organize, and the people telling you that there IS aren’t doing you any favors.
The reality is that you need to find the best way for YOU.
- Systems that work for YOU (and my systems don’t even work for everyone in my family, how can you be SURE they’ll work for YOU?)
- A pace that works for you without being overwhelming
- Something that fits your budget — I don’t know about you, but my budget isn’t the “buy everything in the container store” type of a budget.
Because I just kept seeing organizing classes that only focused on decluttering, or on “fancy” organizing that I knew wouldn’t work for everyone. I created my own class that really helps you start where YOU are, and find systems and ideas that will work for you. You can even just jump in for a month and then leave when you feel ready. Check out The Organized Home!
Ok, now that we’ve realized there are no specific rules to organizing — don’t miss my episode on the same topic:
For ME my first step to pick a room. It helps me not get as overwhelmed by the WHOLE house. So, let’s talk about ONE messy room.
You could narrow this even more to just one piece of furniture. Lets’ remember that it’s simple steps like this that slowly lead to a clean house!
Where to start organizing in a cluttered dirty room?
For me, I start in a corner, . Then, I work in circles around the room as I get stuff done.
Things to consider:
Concentrate on Surfaces
If a whole room is super overwhelming, now is NOT the time to do a deep dive. Pick a specific area to start, and then rotate around the room from that spot. When you feel like you want to quit, look to the area you’ve cleaned, and realize how great it looks. It will make you want to keep going!
Flat surfaces are easy to find:
If you’re in your living room, hit those shelves.
If you’re in your bathroom, hit the counters.
If you’re in the kitchen hit the counters, and make sure to put away clean dishes (or do the dirty dishes) so the kitchen sink isn’t an issue.
If you’re in your room, start with the tops of your dressers!
WHY? For a few reasons:
Clean surfaces help your mind think you have a clean home.
Also, it will give you the chance to use those surfaces as you organize more, it will make it SO much easier if those are cleaned off first!
Use a Microfiber
If you can quickly wipe-down the surface as you go, the pay off is extra. I am a HUUUGE fan of cleaning the counters. It just feels good to see clean surfaces. I use this cleaning solution and a microfiber cloth (I get mine at Costco in the auto section, but those on Amazon are great too).
Why microfiber? I have a whole post on how much I love microfiber cloths, but their little fibers just clean faster. I think they’re the easiest way to clean. It makes me love them (although I hate how they feel on my hand — I remind myself they clean faster). There is no shame for wearing gloves as you do this!
For me, this is normally enough. If you happen to have a very messy area, you may want to bring more cleaning supplies.
Use a Timer
When I get super overwhelmed (and I want to be VERY clear that this feeling happens to me too — I don’t flit around like a fairy cleaning my house with a big smile on my face) I often think — I can do this for five minutes.
I find that when that timer dings at 5 minutes I just quickly finish the job. It feels so great, and the promise to myself that, if after 5 minutes I couldn’t take it anymore, I could stop — it gets me going!
It seems SO small, but when you do this EVERY SINGLE DAY it really does start to make a difference (and maybe you’ll want to extend the timer longer on some days). Sure, the first time is five minutes, but maybe the second time is 8 — or maybe even first thing you realize you want to go WELL past the five minutes. Just don’t burn yourself out!
The most important thing is to do it most every day and to keep going.
Pro Tip: I often do this when the thought of exercising makes me want to die. If I get 5-10 minutes in and I want to quit I stop (but I most often just keep going).
Where to start if your whole house needs organizing?
I want to give you a few options to get started:
Start in Your OWN spot!
If other people living at your house are making it hard for you to get started, start in a spot that is JUST yours (like your home office — vs one of your common areas that everyone uses). This has a lot of benefits:
- You reap all the benefits, and YOU can keep it that way
- They might get jealous of how awesome your spot looks, and consider letting you work your magic with them too!
Picking an areas of your home that’s not a common area also allows you to make ALL the choices — which is really empowering and easier to make quick decisions, build new habits and fill that trash bag!
BTW, this is part of word #1 in my 5-word challenge. I also talk with my husband about how we split chores on my podcast.
Start in an area you’re in often
When you fix a clutter spot it is going to inspire you to move to other spots, to make your WHOLE house as amazing as that spot looked. If you start in a spot that you’re rarely in, you won’t see it as often (and you also won’t feel that sense of pride as you see it).
Don’t worry you’re going to keep doing this system until you have your entire home clean!
Pick something easy
If you have an area that you think will be quick and easy to get started in — start there! That sense of accomplishment will fuel you to keep going.
Don’t get stuck in the rut where you think that little things that you are doing won’t matter. Every step you take is one step closer (but sometimes there are just a lot of steps).
It’s really easy to think that if you had more storage space, or more square footage to your house you’d have a much better life and organizing systems.
I’m her to testify that I have seen people in TINY apartments that were just a huge mess, move to large homes that are then just a huge mess. If you get the things you HAVE in line, it will only help you as you expand your living space.
Don’t get caught in the cycle of thinking if things were different you’d have a better life or an easier time doing it. Realize that you have what you have now, and you can start where you are!
It’s also good to remember that MOST people have too much stuff, no matter the size of their house — so EVERYONE is having to pare down to get their tidy home.
Things to do to stop procrastinating
Sometimes there are things involved in cleaning/organizing that make it so I don’t get started, or I feel overwhelmed by it. Sometimes having a step by step process it make it easier in everyday life.
Set up a table
As I am getting older it is harder for me to bend down, or work on the floor. If I’m going to “set up shop” in an area that has room for it, I often bring in a card table. It is easy to set up and take down.
It allows me to categorize things on a surface that doesn’t make me bend down or sit on the floor (and keep getting up — see my note about exercising above).
Every way you can make it a little bit easier, you’re more likely to continue.
Just split off the area you want to work on (even if it’s just a mental “split”).
I have zones in my kitchen — but most rooms have zones. Things like:
- one drawer
- one shelf
- one counter
But, like I said — even if your area doesn’t have a set “zone” — you can mentally make one, and just do that part!
Honestly, the smaller the better. SO many people say they want to “organize their dining room” when there is FEET of stuff on the dining room. Section it off, get started, and move to the next zone next time!
In The Organized Home we talk about all the zones you might find in your basic rooms, to really help you make it work for you!
Set that timer!
See a theme here? Decide how much time you have to get organizing and set a timer.
Sometimes, I set the timer for 5 minutes and just pull things out for 5 minutes, and then I take the rest of the time to sort, declutter and, clean the area and put it back.
This makes it fit SO well into busy lives. It also allows you to do a great job with the small area you’ve assigned yourself.
Get some bins
Sometimes setting up to organize can be hard. I always have a few bins with me:
- Goes somewhere else
You can use boxes, a laundry basket (I love these folding ones easy to store in the laundry room), cardboard boxes, old storage containers, or plastic totes. Just use something, that way when you go to the next room, you’re all set up.
It really helps in making a quick decision.
By using these in your decluttering process it just helps you feel SO much less clutter in a smaller amount of time.
Realize it’s a sunk cost
Sometimes we spend so much time beating ourselves up that our house has gotten this way that we aren’t able to see clearly to work.
How your house looks right now is how your house looks right now.
It is a sunk cost.
Now is the time to make a choice to do better, now that you know better.
The beauty is that each hour of each day (even each minute) we can enact change in our lives and truly make a difference in how our house looks, even how our kids act.
Sometimes it all just feels so powerless, but really it doesn’t have to.
What to do when you feel overwhelmed?
I like to take a deep breath, and realize that every home organization or cleaning task has a starting point.
“This” is where I am now, but at some point I’ll have a clean house and I’ll feel so much more relaxed and happy. I just have a small journey to go on.
Like, when you go on a car trip — sometimes you feel overwhelmed by the # of miles, but you just keep driving and somehow you get there!
And someday that will bet you with an entire house that’s organized!
Pro Tip: It can also help if you gather dirty clothes and throw in a load of laundry (make sure you’re just putting clean clothes away — no need to wash them twice). That’s something that’s automatic and easy to do. It helps your brain reset so you’re more ready to clean when you’re done. It’s a great way to keep going when you’re overwhelmed.
Get an Organizing Buddy!
Want some help and encouragement in organizing your house?
You can always join as team with a friend or family member, but sometimes it’s hard to admit you’re lost with organizing.
Come join me in The Organized Home? I will help you think of your next steps. It even comes with a Facebook Group full of tons of people that will remind you that you are NOT alone. I think you’ll love it — in fact, I guarantee it. 🙂
Save 10% on the course with coupon code PC10.