When you organize your space, you spend less time searching for the important things among random receipts, irrelevant paperwork and other items you have no clue why you’ve kept for 3 months or 3 years. You feel less overwhelmed and cut out unnecessary stress from your life. You feel the way you want to feel—calm, inspired, energized. Which is hard to do when you bump into piles of clothing—you don’t even wear or like—on your closet floor.
And, ultimately, getting organized lets you spend more time focused on your values (and less time focused on stuff and maintaining said stuff). It’s about being present to what matters to you.
As Cassandra Aarssen succinctly puts it in her inspiring, super relatable and practical Cluttered Mess to Organized Success Workbook, “Your physical space has an impact on your emotional well-being. Messy, cluttered spaces make us feel stressed and sad, while clean and clutter-free spaces make us feel calm and happy.”
Before you start organizing your stuff and space, the key is to consider your personal end goal, writes Carrie Higgins in her highly creative, idea-packed book Organization Hacks: Over 350 Simple Solutions to Organize Your Home in No Time! In other words, get clear on why you want to get organized—and what this means for you. Higgins suggests contemplating these questions: “What does an organized home look like to you? What does it feel like? What will happen when you get organized?”
Below you’ll find a range of tips from both books to help you get started with organizing your home.
- Challenge yourself to toss many, many items. As Higgins writes in her book, don’t organize your junk. When you’re tackling a specific category, such as clothes, shoes, paperwork, books or dishes, get rid of anything you don’t need, use or love, she says. Aarssen, who pens the blog ClutterBug, suggests donating 21 items from your dresser drawers, including at least six pairs of socks and four pairs of underwear. She also suggests donating 21 items from your closet; donating three tired-looking towels to an animal shelter; and purging five pieces of junk from your junk drawer. Make decluttering different categories into a game, into a fun challenge.
- After decluttering your clothes, hang the clothes you’re keeping with the hanger facing backward, according to both Higgins and Aarssen. As you wear an item, face the hanger forward. Every 3 months or so, Higgins suggests reevaluating your backward-facing clothes. And if it’s been 6 months, Aarssen says to donate it.
- Have a home management binder. Aarssen’s workbook includes over 100 checklists and worksheets to organize everything from your kids’ school schedule to babysitter information to your laundry to your meals. Don’t rely on your memory. Create a binder that keeps everything you need to manage your household. Aarssen shares what her binder looks like in this great video.
- Instead of keeping mementoes, such as shells, ticket stubs or beach glass, hidden, display them in glass jars or vases, writes Higgens, who pens the Making Lemonade blog.
- Keep a bin in your kids’ closets for clothes they outgrow, writes Higgins. “At the end of each season you’ll have all of your clothing to donate, hand down or resell in one spot.”
- If you have several kids, in order to hand down one child’s shoes to another, label a large zip-lock bag with the size and type of footwear, Higgins writes. Then label a large bin “shoes,” and stack the different bags.
- Use over-the-door shoe pocket organizers in different ways. According to Higgins, these are just a few options: Put the organizer in a utility closet and fill each pocket with cleaning sprays, rags, gloves, dusters. Use an organizer to keep art supplies. Use an organizer to keep seasonal items, such as hats, gloves and socks in the wintertime, and sunscreen, sun hats and sunglasses in the summer. Or use one in your kid’s room to house small toys, dolls and stuffed animals.
Decluttering and organizing our homes can feel like tedious tasks (that keep going and going and going). So get creative. Use your imagination to declutter on your own terms and create spaces in your home you genuinely want to inhabit. Spaces that help you feel the way you want to feel and live the way you want to live.