Most people have some space in their home that somehow gets out of control with clutter and overcrowding. Whether it is your linen closet, your kitchen cupboards or your wardrobe, you started out with the best of intentions to use this great storage spot wisely. Over time you added more items, used a formerly empty spot to store something unrelated, or simply stopped (or never established) your system for organising the contents.
Rather than carry on with the frustration of seeing this cluttered space day after day, I encourage you to tackle this problem now! I will show you how to clear the space, sort your items and move forward in five simple steps.
Gather some supplies first:
- large trash bag(s)
- 4 medium to large size empty boxes or clear storage bins
- a notepad and pen
Always declutter your space first
You will take everything out of the closet/cupboard/ space and set to the task of decluttering first as there is no point in organising items that will not be kept. By removing unwanted items you can better see what things actually need to be housed there and decide how best to organise the space.
Sort items as you remove them
1. There will be many items that will not be returning to this space. As you remove items immediately sort them as follows into your rubbish bags and plastic bins or boxes:
- Rubbish – use sturdy and large rubbish bags and decide on things as they are touched
- Outgoings #1 (others): things that belong to other people or places and need to be returned (family, friends, library, video shop etc). If you are not sure you will remember where items are going, note them on your pad now.
- Outgoings #2 ( sell or donate): things to sell or donate/give away
- Recycling – all paper goods as you clear out old files, random papers and receipts (you can have a shredder handy for later too)
- To action – things to fix, paperwork discovered that needs to be sorted out and /or filed, things to put into use that had been lost in chaos (ie decor items, activity / craft items), things that belong elsewhere (ie books to bookshelf, toiletries to bathroom). Use your notepad and pen to jot down what items you are adding to this bin and where they need to go for handy reference later.
2. As you take out items that did not fall into the above categories sort them as you go. Create piles / groupings on a nearby surface (counter, table and/or floor). Before you replace these items in the space, stop and gather similar items that you know are elsewhere, but should now be grouped in one place.
Example: if you now have a grouping of candles, matches, oils, burners and such, but know you also keep spares in other rooms, go around and corral what you can find. These will now be kept in one location where you will have a better picture of what you own and how much. This avoids excessive unnecessary purchases (where you end up with 20 candles and 4 boxes of matches) and wasted time searching for missing bits when it comes time to use them (now which room did I leave the matches in last time?).
3. Now look at your groupings and ask some questions
Is there any grouping here that would be better off located elsewhere? Example: something you need regular access to and can be stored in your bathroom, a different closet, or your bedside table.
Is there any grouping that has an excessive quantity? Example: You may want to put the towels back in the closet, but realise that as you added new towels over the last year you did not get rid of any. Do you need 7 hand towels? If any are ripped or stained they can be tossed, donated or turned into clean-up towels (move these to the garage, your car trunk / boot, etc). Also make a note (mental or real) that you do not need any more of this item.
Is there any grouping that is now in need of replenishment? Example: If during the sorting process you finally acknowledged you did not need to hold onto those stretched out or ugly sheet sets, you may now find you are down to basics. Make a note of what you actually need to purchase so that you can keep an eye out for a replacement you will love.
4. Time to put things away in an organised way. Keep things simple and don’t over-think or stress about this for now. Look at your groupings and see how they can best fit in the space. Start putting them back in neatly, containerised as needed, and clearly labelled.
Example: As you use the space in the future you can notice when things need to be moved around (if you often access something and it is currently on a high shelf, swap it’s spot with something that you notice only gets taken out monthly). Keep an eye on your space and let it evolve over time. Just don’t add things into the space without thinking about them and where they belong. If an item has a home, then return it there. When you purchase a new item, make sure you decide where its home will be.
5. Take care of your sorted bins today. Since you organised them as you went don’t let this step being a stumbling block.
- Rubbish – tie off the bag and take it straight to your kerbside bin.
- Outgoings #1 (others): refer to your notes and make a clear list of where things are going so you can drop them off as soon as possible. If the list says “return roasting pan to neighbour Jane” then you will have it ready to give to her when you see her next. This bin should be moved immediately to your car (or front entry if you don’t have a car) and you should build these tasks into your upcoming week, etc.
- Outgoings #2 ( sell or donate): Decide immediately if these items will bring in enough money to warrant your time selling them (designer clothes? yes Old towels? no; If you have no Ebay/Craigslist experience perhaps a garage sale or consignment shop would be better. Decide now and make a plan. If you don’t have the time, inclination and /or money pressure required to organise a sale, then just donate the goods today.
- Recycling – take immediately to your recycling bin and/or use your shredder on sensitive documents.
- To action - refer to your list and make an action plan, schedule things in your diary, take next steps.
Find your simple,
I am linking up with Organizing Junkie in her 52 weeks of organizing