Steps to Organizing for Beginners

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Organizing isn’t genetic. You aren’t born being able to organize, it’s a skill you have to learn. In our fast-paced and ever-changing world, getting organized is becoming increasingly challenging. The clutter and chaos that accumulate lead to stress, decreased productivity, and even a negative impact on mental well-being. Fortunately, the act of organizing and decluttering offers a path to regain control and simplify our lives. Here’s a list of comprehensive steps to organizing to help you create an environment that fosters harmony and efficiency.

Feeling disorganized? Luckily, the steps to organizing is a skill that can be learned. Follow these steps and enjoy your efficient spaces!

Related Post: 7 Benefits of Being Organized

Related Post: Why You Can’t Stay Organized

Steps to Organizing

Getting started organizing can be so overwhelming that people put it off for way too long. Don’t make this mistake! Every minute spent organizing is worth it. Stop procrastinating and start to reap those rewards now!

As you work, know that some of these steps may overlap or make sense to do in tandem. For instance, decluttering is officially step 3 here, but step 2 may inspire you. That’s okay. This guide gets you started organizing, but it doesn’t have to be a rigid process.

Tackling the entire organization process in one go can be overwhelming. Consider breaking it down into smaller, manageable tasks. Organize one room at a time, or dedicate a specific amount of time each day to your organizing efforts.

Consistency is key, and small incremental progress will lead to significant results over time.

Organizing, Step 1: Set Clear Goals

Before getting started organizing, it's best to set some clear and achievable goals.

The first step towards successful organization is to define your goals. Take some time to identify the areas in your life that would benefit most from organization.

Maybe your kitchen is always a cluttered mess, but you also can never find that appliance you need.

Is your desk piled high with papers, resulting in missed bills?

Or how about your closet? Do you have a hard time finding the article of clothing you’d like or differentiating between clean and dirty clothes?

Setting clear goals will provide a sense of direction and motivation to keep going, especially during the more challenging stages of the process.

What might clear goals look like? Here are some examples:

  • I will pay all current bills and then file/shred all remaining papers.
  • My kitchen will be streamlined and functional. My counters will be clear and I will assign every item a home.
  • The only clothing in my closet will be clothes that fit me and make me feel good. All clothes will be on a hanger or folded nicely.
  • I will be able to find the clothing I’m looking for quickly and easily.
  • My children will clean up their toys independently.

Organizing, Step 2: Sort and Categorize

Sorting and categorizing items is essential when you're trying to get organized

Once you’ve got a plan of attack, start sorting and categorizing your belongings in the area you’ve chosen. Group similar items together, creating clear categories that are easy to manage and access.

In a kitchen, all cups go together, all small appliances, all utensils, all cutting boards, etc. Pull items out of drawers and cabinets. Don’t be afraid to make a mess.

In a closet, gather all types of certain clothing together. Once you’ve got all the shirts in one place, you can further categorize them based on sleeve length or casualness.

As you complete this step, you’ll probably come to see just how many belongings you have. You may even be a little embarrassed about it. That’s okay because you’ll do even better with the next steps to organizing.

Organizing, Step 3: Declutter and Purge

Removing extra items is essential to getting organized. Don't organize what you can let go of.

Clutter is the arch-enemy of organization. Decluttering and removing unnecessary items is crucial before organizing..

Go through each and every item in your space and adopt the “keep, donate, or discard” approach by creating three piles or bins. Put all items you want to keep in one space and all items you no longer want but are still usable in a second space. Use a garbage bag to gather all the other items that are past their useful life.

Determine each item’s usefulness and sentimental value. Only keep items that are essential and cherished. Eliminate duplicates, items that are broken, and anything you no longer love.

Remember – when everything is special, nothing is.

A decluttered space will serve as a blank canvas for your organizational efforts.

Inspo: Declutter Like a Mother

Organizing, Step 4: Create a System

Setting up organizational systems will help you stay organized long term

The third part of the steps to organizing is to create a system. This step is complex and will vary based on space, belongings, and personal habits.

Effective organization relies on well-thought-out systems. Whether it’s organizing your kitchen, office, or personal schedule, develop a system that works for you and your lifestyle. Organize your day according to your habits to make it more efficient.

Here are some examples of organizing systems:

  • If you want your preschooler to get ready for bed on his own, keep his pajamas in a lower drawer of his dresser so he can pick them out on his own and get dressed. Putting his pajamas where he can’t reach them will make more work for you.
  • If you live in a 2-story house with bedrooms upstairs and a main floor downstairs like many Americans, keep toothbrushes in your small downstairs bathroom. You and your family can get dressed, come downstairs for breakfast, and then brush teeth downstairs before leaving for work or school in the morning.
  • If you drink coffee every morning, create a coffee station in your kitchen where all the items you need to make coffee are kept. This can help streamline your space and allow you to be more efficient on busy mornings.
  • You cook at the stove, so your pots and pans should be placed in a cabinet near there.

Needless to say, systems are not one-size-fits-all. They depend on many factors and need a lot of consideration (and sometimes tweaking) to work well.

Organizing, Step 5: Assign Homes

Giving each item a home is an essential step to organization

“A place for everything and everything in its place” isn’t just a saying — it’s a lifestyle and the key to maintaining organization.

Once you’ve decluttered and decided on an organizational system that works for your space and your family, it’s time to give items homes.

When an item is assigned a home, that home should always be used (meaning, put things away when you’re done using them!)

In the kitchen, put all the silverware in a silverware tray in a drawer, all the glasses on a cabinet shelf, all the pots and pans in a lower cabinet.

Remember – for your systems to work your items should be placed where they are used (see Step 4).

Use labels, bins, shelves, or folders to keep things in their designated places. A well-organized system of categories lays the foundation for a neat and efficient space.

Organizing, Step 7: Invest in Storage Solutions

Sometimes, investing in storage solutions makes sense.

IMPORTANT: You should only do this after you have completed all the other steps. And measured. Don’t do this if you haven’t measured.

To maintain an organized environment, it’s sometimes helpful to invest in storage solutions that align with your system and needs. The right tools can make a world of difference in keeping your space clutter-free.

I suggest trying free options (shoeboxes, mismatched bins, etc.) to test a system out before spending money on products.

Related Posts: My Favorite Organizing Products

Organizing, Step 8: Establish Routines

Creating organizational and tidying routines is important for maintaining organized spaces.

You may think that once you’ve decluttered and created systems , you’re done. While that is MOSTLY true, one of the most important steps to organizing is establishing routines to maintain the organization.

Set aside time each day or week to reset your organized spaces by decluttering and organizing any items that have accumulated. Make it a habit to put things back in their designated places after use. A few minutes of effort each day can save hours of reorganization in the long run.

Organizing, Step 9: Regularly Review and Revise

Are your systems working for you? Evaluate them periodically to see if they still make sense.

As life changes, so do our organizational needs. Regularly review your system to ensure it continues to work for you and your family. Be open to revising your organization methods and adjust them as necessary to accommodate new items, responsibilities, or changes in lifestyle.

Life doesn’t stop when you get organized. Kids grow out of clothes and toys. You’re bound to get a new appliance or two. Maybe you even add a family member or a pet to your home. Both big and small life events warrant a revisit to your organizational systems.

Organizing, Step 10: Embrace Minimalism

Minimalism may not be for everyone, but it can definitely make life easier.

Lastly, consider embracing the principles of minimalism as you organize. Cultivate a mindset of valuing experiences and relationships over material possessions. By owning fewer items, you’ll have less to organize and maintain, leading to a more fulfilling and simplified life.

Related Post: Why Moms Need Minimalism

A great way to explore minimalism and see if the lifestyle speaks to you is by reading about it. The More of Less by Joshua Becker is a great place to start. There are also countless podcasts about minimalism.

Steps to Organizing

Organizing is an art that requires patience, dedication, and a vision of how you want your life to be. By following these steps and adopting an organized lifestyle, you’ll not only create a clutter-free environment but also adopt a calmer, more efficient, and more productive lifestyle.

Organizing is an ongoing process, so be kind to yourself throughout your journey. Your home didn’t get cluttered in a day and it will not get organized in a day, either. Celebrate small victories and embrace the rewards of a well-organized and simplified life. Happy organizing!

Feeling disorganized? Luckily, the steps to organizing is a skill that can be learned. Follow these steps and enjoy your efficient spaces!

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