January 26, 2016  

How to Organize Any Space in 7 Steps

Do you have a drawer or closet door that you hate opening because it’s crammed with SO. MUCH. STUFF? One that you’d never dare open in the presence of company?

When you let your organization systems go awry, you waste time and money. You spend entirely too much time trying to locate that item you know you have, but you’re just not sure where it’s at in the jumbled mess in the back of your closet. You pay way too much money replacing items because you can’t find them, only to later discover they were hidden in a random drawer. Disorganized spaces are frustrating. They are stressful. And they need an overhaul. But sometimes you just don’t even know how to organize it . . . where do you start?

Although I’m an avid organizer, there are always areas of my home that need some organizing attention. I, too, have those doors I’d prefer stay closed when company comes over. No matter how organized I am, clutter still accumulates and once it already feels out of control, I tend to abandon my good organizing habits and instead add more things to the chaos. I think we can all admit to being guilty of getting lazy from time to time and just stashing things wherever is most convenient with no thought to long-term organization. While it’s okay to allow yourself some grace, it’s also important to take some time to reorganize those cluttered spaces every once in a while.

I’m sharing my seven-step organizing process with you today, the one that I follow for every single organization project, no matter its size. This post is an installment in the Resolve to Get Organized series, where I’ve been sharing organizing goodness all month long. I have to say, these have been some of my favorite blog posts ever and I’m so happy that you all enjoy talking organization with me!

What area of your house needs some organizing attention? Let’s tackle it!

This makes organizing seem so easy! How to organize any space in 7 easy steps

How to Organize In 7 Steps

The steps below can be followed no matter what size space you’re working on. If it’s a drawer or cupboard, set the timer for 15-30 minutes, turn on a podcast and get to work. If you’re feeling ambitious and want to organize a larger space like your bedroom closet or a whole room, the same steps apply but you’ll of course want to allow yourself plenty of time.

Gather these items before you start:

  • Garbage Bag
  • Three boxes/containers labels “relocate,” “donate” and “sell”
  • All-purpose cleaner and rag/towel
  • Other cleaning supplies as appropriate for your space

STEP 1 | Empty

To really tackle your disorganized space, you need to start from scratch. Get started by pulling everything out onto the floor/table/counter so your disorganized space is completely empty. Now you have a clean slate to work with!

This makes organizing seem so easy! How to organize any space in 7 easy steps

STEP 2 | Sort

Group your items into categories, being sure to group like items together. You can sort categories into different piles or boxes. If you have really small items, corral them into a plastic bag or small jar so they don’t spill all over the place.

STEP 3 | Purge

Don’t skip this step! You need to get rid of some of that clutter. As you sort items into categories, purge things that are no longer needed, worn out, or broken. Try not to linger on items for very long – just make a decision and keep moving. Use your garbage bag for anything that’s going in the trash, sort items you no longer want into the “sell” and “donate” containers and put anything that belongs somewhere else in the house into your “relocate” container.

After everything is sorted and you’ve decided what you’re purging, take some time to put away those items so they are out of your way. Carry your “relocate” container through the house, placing its contents in their appropriate homes as you go. Dispose of your garbage bag, and then put your “donate” and “sell” boxes someplace where you won’t forget to take care of them later.

STEP 4 | Clean

Whatever it is you’re organizing, the best time to give it a deep clean is while it’s completely empty. Wipe everything down with a rag, vacuum, dust, touch up chipped paint, tighten loose screws, etc. Make sure everything is clean and take care of any little maintenance tasks before you start filling the space back up again.

STEP 5 | Contain

Now that everything’s sorted and your space is clean, it’s time to find storage containers for everything that’s going back into your space. Before you go running to the nearest store to buy new containers, scout out options around your house. You probably have most if not all of the containers you need. Storage container options include baskets, bins, crates, boxes, shelves and drawers. Start organizing items into your containers, keeping like items together. Once you’ve used up the suitable storage containers you have at home, determine if you need to purchase any additional ones.  If you do go shopping, take measurements first so you make sure you get something that fits well.

This makes organizing seem so easy! How to organize any space in 7 easy steps

STEP 6 | Label

Labeling is essential to the organizing process because it makes it easy to see at a glace what is in each container and they also allow you to quickly see where something belongs when you go to put it away. Plus, let’s be honest, labels are pretty! If you need some simple labels, I shared a free download of these navy patterned labels last week.

This makes organizing seem so easy! How to organize any space in 7 easy steps

STEP 7 | Reassemble

Now comes the fun part – reassembling your space! Play with arranging all of your containers until you find an arrangement that works best. Keep in mind how you use the space, and consider ways to make it most efficient by placing regularly-used items within easy reach, for example, and keeping items used less frequently toward the back. At the end of this step, everything you decided to keep in your space should be organized in a container and all the containers should be arranged neatly in your space. This is the time to step back and admire your work! Now you have a designated space for every item – no more clutter!

Doesn’t it feel so good to reorganize a space in your house? All it takes is 15 minutes to organize a small space, and your work will make a big impact. The next time you’re starting at a disorganized mess and not sure how to organize it, turn to these seven steps.

What space are you going to organize next? Is there a space in your home that you really struggle organizing? Let me know in the comments!

Other Posts In This Series

Introduction: Resolve To Get Organized

Part 1: Setting Goals & Designing a Road Map to Crush Them

Part 2: Dominate Your To-Do List With This Time-Saving System

Part 3: How I Organize My Week for Maximum Productivity & Focus

Part 4: 7 Steps to Ruthlessly Organize Your Email

Part 5: How to Organize Your Mail to Eliminate Paper Clutter

Part 6: 13 Practical Habits That Will Keep Your Home Organized

Part 7: Organize Like a Pro With Free Printable Storage Labels

Part 8: How to Organize Any Space in 7 Steps – you’re here!

Conclusion: 6 Warning Signs Your Organizing Attempts Will Backfire

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About the author

Emily Counts is the founder of Small Stuff Counts, a home and organization blog she created in 2013. Her goal is to help moms make home life easier so they can create beautiful, organized, and thriving homes. She shares life at home as a mom juggling two young kids and being a working mom with a corporate job. The Iowa-based blogger lives in the suburbs of Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband, two children, and rescue dog. Emily has collaborated with brands including The Container Store, Cricut, Command Brand, Bissell, Sam's Club and Rubbermaid.

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