No matter what space you’re organizing – whether it’s one drawer or a whole room – the keys to truly decluttering are basically the same.
Busting clutter and getting organized might seem a little bit daunting, and the trick to getting started is to break things down into smaller tasks. If cleaning out the guest room is just more than you can even think about taking on, try starting small! Could you clean out the closet in that room? Or clear out just the clutter that’s under the bed? Getting one chunk of the work done beats doing nothing at all, and once you get started, you might just find that you get some momentum and accomplish a lot more than you told yourself you would.
My husband and I have been transforming our tiny spare room into a nursery for our son, and there is no way at six months pregnant that I could clean out a whole room at once, even with his help. The break-it-down method worked great for us! We moved the guest bed to my studio on day, cleaned out the closet the next. A week later, Dave painted, and then we worked on placing furniture and hanging up art. There’s still work to do in there, but by breaking the task up, we were able to at least get things going, and instead of dreading the work we need to do in that room, I’m looking forward to the next project!
The other problem I find that folks run into when it comes to organization is not knowing where to start. When you’re faced with a mountain of junk shoved into a drawer or closet or piled up all over an unused room, it can feel impossible. The thing is, it doesn’t really matter how much there is to sort through. The steps for cleaning out your space are all basically the same. Check it:
1. Pull everything out
I mean everything. Whether you’re planning to keep something, donate it, or toss it. Just get it out of the space you’re trying to fix up.
You can leave bigger pieces of furniture, if you want. Once all of the clutter is out of there, move your bigger pieces to their approximate final locations. You might need to move things more later on, but just kind of guess for now. Of course, if you’re tackling something like the kitchen junk drawer, there’s no furniture to worry about.
Once you have everything out of the space you’re organizing, you will probably find colonies of dust bunnies. Get the vacuum, and clean those up! Wipe down any surfaces that have gunk on them.
The same thing goes for all of that clutter that you pulled out. Use a rag to wipe the dust off of books and trinkets, for example. Otherwise, you’re just going to be moving dust and grime back into your beautifully organized space!
This step is straight from an old DIY show, and I wish I could remember which one it was! The only difference with my method is that you have some extra piles, because you want to minimize what you’re sending to the landfill. Sort everything you pulled out of the room into three piles:
- Keep – These are the things you’ll be putting back.
- Donate or Sell – This pile is for things that are in good shape but that you don’t have a use for anymore.
- Reuse – That vase that’s just clutter in your living room might be just right for storing your kitchen utensils! Look at that clutter with an eye for reuse.
- Recycle – You might unearth mountains of paperwork or other recyclables. To the bin with them!
- Landfill – Unfortunately, you may find some bits of clutter that are just past their usefulness.
4. Put it back
Put all of those “keeps” back into the room, then deal with the rest.
If you want your newly decluttered space to stay organized, your best bet is to make sure every single one of those keeps has a designated space. In a drawer, that could mean using a drawer organizer or small boxes to wrangle each item. In an office, make sure your scissors and stapler have actual homes rather than just shoving them in the nearest empty drawer. Putting things away with intention can make a huge difference.
You might also discover more things that you’d like to donate, sell, reuse, recycle, or even landfill as you’re putting your keeps away, and that’s totally fine! Think of this last step as a second pass, and use a critical eye as you’re putting everything away.
Do you guys have any tips on getting organized? Share your ideas in the comments!
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Clarkston SCAMP