Ever spent all morning cleaning out a closet, only to look around at all the piles on the floor and feel even more overwhelmed? This post is for you, my friend. Here are my four easy steps for home organization that lasts!
Picture that feeling when you first walk into a really nice hotel room. Everything is clean and fresh, surfaces are clear, and your eyes sweep around the room, noticing the beautiful linens, artwork, or breathtaking view.
Feels amazing, right? But by day three in that hotel room, your eyes are instead pulled to the toiletries strewn across the countertop, the pizza boxes next to the tiny garbage can, and the clothes tossed over the chair. Same room. Very different feeling.
This is the power of decluttering and home organizing, my friends. I want you to walk into your home after a long day and get that five-star hotel feeling. Seems easier said than done, but I’ve got years of trial-and-error experience that helped me create a system my family uses every day.
In the last post, we talked about the first essential step to successful decluttering — mindset. If you missed it, check it out. A solid mindset lays the foundation to ensure your hard work isn’t wasted.
Once you’ve laid the groundwork, it’s time to actually get started organizing your home. But…how?
My 4-Step Decluttering and Home Organization Process
Like I said, I’m no rookie here. That’s because — while my home tends to stay clutter-free for the most part — I’m not naturally wired to be neat and tidy.
It’s true. If left to my own natural inclinations, the title of my memoir would be “Little Piles Everywhere”. I think it’s got bestseller potential, no?
But over the years, out of sheer frustration, desperate to tame the overwhelm, I’ve created and honed an organizational system that allowed me to get truly organized at the onset, and keep it that way in the day to day. We’re certainly not perfect — I mean, I’ve got 3 kids homeschooling this year, you guys! But we typically stay about 20 minutes away from a truly clean and tidy house at all times.
Sound impossible? I swear, it’s not. If a recovering stacker like myself can do it, you can too. Here are my 4 steps for how to declutter and organize your home…
Decluttering and Organizing Step 1: Empty the Space
The first step to decluttering and organizing any space — your linen closet, your mudroom, wherever — is to empty the space. “But Nina, isn’t this harder than just moving things around?” Yes. But this step is the difference between making a space look decluttered and actually getting the results you want.
First of all, our minds are hardwired to find shortcuts. So if you’re staring at a row of shirts in your closet, trying to decide which ones to remove, you’ll probably take out a few and leave the rest. But, if you take them all out first, you override that mental progamming so you’re able to think critically about what you actually wear. You’ll put fewer back, leaving you with what you really, objectively need. (And, you’ll free up precious space for a closet that’s organized and calming instead of jam-packed).
Removing everything at the onset also allows you to rethink your storage and develop a plan that works better for your life. But it’s hard to envision a new solution when you’re staring at a closet that’s still filled with stuff. By starting with a clean slate, you’re able to really devise a functional storage plan that looks great now and helps you stay organized long-term.
So take everything out, my friend. Ev-er-y-thing. And then, you’re ready for step 2!
Decluttering and Organizing Step 2: Sort It Out
Now that everything is out of the closet and you’ve made a huge, colossal mess — congrats!! You’re ready to do some sorting. (Hold tight, friends, it gets better soon, I swear!)
A lot of home organization guides will tell you to create two or three categories, but I’ve found it pays to be more specific at the onset. Instead of simply ‘keep or toss’, I like to create 6 categories as I declutter my home:
By breaking up your piles into more specific categories, you make sure everything goes to the best place. Because home organization is a lot of work, my friends. And at the end of a project, it’s tempting to just put all the ‘keep’ stuff back in same the closet it came from. But that’s not always where it really belongs.
So as you’re decluttering, ask yourself:
- Do I love this item?
- Is this the best/most logical spot for it?
- Could someone else use it more than me?
- Can I recycle it?
- Is it valuable?
Use these questions to sort your stuff into the appropriate piles. Obviously the shred category is great for areas with papers, but it applies to closets, too. Got t-shirts or towels that are past their prime? Instead of throwing them away, could they be repurposed into cleaning rags? I love to see how much I can purge while finding creative solutions to keep things out of landfills.
Once you’ve sorted everything into your 6 categories, it’s on to step 3…
Decluttering and Organizing Step 3: Make a Plan
Now’s where the real fun begins! You’re ready to envision and plan your new, beautifully organized space.
First, remove everything but the “Keep” pile from the space. Put recyclables away, move the donate box to the car…get everything out of the space so you’re not tempted to just put it back where it came from.
Then, take a look at what’s left and create a plan to put it away. I’m a visual person, so I love to take measurements of the space and draw up a little sketch. I want to stress this point, friends: you do not need to go out and buy hundreds of dollars worth of home organizational systems.
It’s so tempting, I get it. And they can be really helpful. But you might have exactly what you need already (in another closet, perhaps?). So take inventory and get creative.
As you create your home organization plan, think about how you use each item, and how often. Daily use items should be front and center. Seasonal things can go on higher shelves.
And if you’re using baskets and closed storage — make labels. These can be unused adhesive nametags or paper tags from the craft store. Just get clear about what belongs — and what doesn’t — in each container.
And now, you’re ready for the final step…
Decluttering and Home Organization Step 4: Put Everything Away
You’ve done all the hard work, now comes the payoff! Sticking to your new organizational plan, put everything away in its designated place.
By this step, you should have a really clear idea of what exactly goes into the space. But continue to check in — does this item really belong here? Will it get used? Make sure every single item you put back is exactly where it belongs.
How to Stay Organized
There! Doesn’t that feel amazing!? Take a second to step back and really admire your hard work. Take a picture of that beautiful space.
The initial task is done, but as you know, it’s an ongoing battle to keep clutter at bay. That’s why my family does little resets — often in less than 10 minutes — each day. To target our most clutter-prone spots and prevent things from getting out of control in the first place.
In my new course, Declutter All of the Things, I walk you through the very system I use to organize my own home — and share my daily trick to keep my home organized for good.
In this course, you’ll get over 25 pages of printable labels, step-by-step instructions, and a 30-day plan to tackle your home’s clutter trouble spots. It’s got everything you need to create that 5-star hotel feeling at home each and every day.
Grab your Declutter All of the Things course here. You’re less than 30 days away from a home that feels amazing everyday, friend.