Where Do I Start Organizing?

by Lisa Woodruff

Jan 1, 2016 | Episode 81 | 15:05

It's January 1, 2016. You are committed to GETTING ORGANIZED this year. But you are looking around your house and suddenly you are paralyzed.

Where do I start Organizing?

The most basic answer is you just start! Seriously. You didn’t get disorganized overnight, and you’re not going to fix this in a day, so start.

Now, there are 2 different plans of attack to bring your chaos into a manageable state. Both work equally well, and I use both plans with my professional organization clients.

The first is the …

ROOM BY ROOM organization plan

I suggest starting in rooms where YOU have the most control so that the organization does not get “undone” as soon as you leave the room!

When my kids were little and hubby and I spent the day cleaning, I would always tell him to leave the family room for last because the kids were playing in there. At the end of the day he said, “Your right! There is no point in cleaning the room THEY are in!”

Step one; Pick a room YOU control.

Start with YOUR closet, the laundry room, the home office or the kitchen. Then move on to the family room, kid’s rooms, garage and pantry.

Once you pick your space, STOP and THINK about what IS working and what is NOT working. And not everything is “not working." :)

There are SOME things that are working. What are they? Why do those work for you? Can you apply that thought to the areas that are not working?

Step two; decide how much time you have to devote to this project TODAY.

If you have the whole day, empty out the space, purge and put back what you want to keep.

If you have a limited amount of time, divide your space into 3 or 4 sections and work one section at a time: empty the space, purge and put back what you want to keep.

Step three; DO IT!

No, it’s not going to be perfect.

Yes, you are going to get overwhelmed.

No, you won’t have the “perfect” organizers to put your stuff in when you’re done.

You can shop for the organizers AFTER you know what you’re going to keep.

In my experience it takes organizing a space about 3 go a rounds to really get it picture perfect.

The first time you are overwhelmed and purge items that are older than your children.

The next time around you do a deeper pruning and get rid of some older “favorites” that you can live without.

The third time through if you haven’t used it in 6 months – you pitch it. You enjoy knowing what you have and where it is WAY more that “having stuff”.

I know this was true for me with my master closet.

Organization of the master closet the third time.

I just “organized my closet” again last week in 2 hours – got rid of 2 garbage bags of clothes and felt great.

You’ll get there too!

The second plan is to attack the WHOLE house in spurts and then go to the room by room plan.

The second method to getting started organizing is...


Some of my clients either could not afford the room by room method, or were SO overwhelmed it would have been pointless to completely deep organize their kitchen when the rest of their house was causing them SO much STRESS!

So, I started offering a WHOLE house purging session. These sessions are exhausting and a great workout. I have the clients schedule for AmVets to come to the house the next day because we often FILL the garage with donations and trash.

This is not a day when we reminisce about a picture we find or plan how to create new systems. Oh, no. It’s a quick paced “save the house” mission.

Step one: decide how much time you have to devote to this project.

This CAN be done in short spurts daily –like 20 minutes--but I prefer to set aside a BIG chunk of time like 6 hours or the whole day. It is SO worth it!

Step two: make a list of ALL the areas that are cluttered and stressing you out.

List every room. I suggest leaving the garage, basement and outside areas off your list.

Then divide the amount of time you have by the number of areas you need to tackle.

Often my clients will list:

Notice we are not looking at closets, either.

About one to one-and-a-half hours per room will suffice.

Step three: prepare!

You will need to know where you will be taking trash and donations. I suggest the garage if at all possible. Most of my clients will agree to park outside until trash day.

If your garage is full, that is ok. Just find another location to put the bags.

Buy the more expensive black flex trash bags. You will thank me. Have another color trash bag for actual trash. The different colors will really help as the day goes on to know which bags are “trash” and which are “donations”.

Find a place for the kids to go that day. It will be worth it!

Have some quick meals ready for your break time. You will work up an appetite.

Step four: PURGE!

Start in the first room: kitchen. Set the timer for whatever amount of time you have for that space.

Your goal is to pitch anything that is trash first. If you get stuck on something, PUT IT DOWN and move on. Keep up your momentum.

Next, if you don’t:

Donate it!

If you are done before the timer goes off, move on to the next space anyway. If you have time, you can come back.

At the end of the day, you will feel like your house has lost a TON of weight. Most of the clutter should be GONE and what is left now needs to be organized.

BUT - you still have closets, drawers, etc. to go through in each space. SO, once this “mass purging” has taken place, you can then go back and use the room by room method of organizing to really hone in on systems that work for you and your family.

I hope that helps you GET STARTED!

And if this is your year to GET ORGANIZED! Join the 100 Day Home Organization Program!

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