One of the main reasons we hear for why people find it hard to declutter their house is that they just don’t know where to begin! It can definitely seem like an overwhelming chore (for those of you who don’t LOVE organizing as much as Mackenzie and I). Here are 8 tips for figuring out where to start your organizing project.
Think about your organizational end goal
If we’re at the point of exasperation with the state of your whole house, it can be hard to parse out what is MOST frustrating to you. You know you’re stressed out about the mess, but try to think about the WHY behind it. Is your messy bedroom causing tension between you and your spouse? Do you wish you could have nice, relaxing dinners at home, but your dining table is constantly covered in stuff? Have you been putting off inviting people over because your living room is a disaster zone? Honing in on what you want will help you discover the most important place to focus your energy first.
2. Start with a room that will have the most impact
Many times it is necessary to start by cleaning up the basement/attic/garage/storage area. If you find that you will be relocating many items from the house to that area, it makes sense that you create places to put these things. If this is not your situation, however, you should begin with the space you use most frequently. If you choose a space that you use every day, you can really appreciate the change, and will be more excited to fix up other areas of the house.
3. Start small
Oftentimes we get overwhelmed because we set our goal too high. You don’t need to organize your entire kitchen in one day. Start by organizing the fridge or pantry. Or even just one drawer. You want to get to that feeling of accomplishment, not hopelessness.
4. Don’t start by buying more stuff
We’ve all done it... substituted buying things for actually taking action (“I’m totally going to start writing every day… once I have this new leather journal”). We go out and buy a bunch of new storage containers and feel good for having progressed towards our goal, but then a month later the house is still messy and the containers have gone into the garage, unused. Sure, there are times when you just don’t have the right items for the job, but take some time to assess the situation first. Once you dive in, you may find that you are getting rid of a lot of things, or maybe you want to put them in another room entirely. And in many cases, people have storage items already lying around, or have things they can repurpose. Get a sense of what you really need before you drop a ton of money on something you may not need after all.
5. Make it enjoyable
You may hate organizing, but you can at least make it less terrible! Put on some music or a podcast. Invite your type-A friend over to help (it will make their day, trust me). Give yourself breaks. There’s no need to be a martyr about it!
8. Make it easier to focus
Set yourself up for success. Make sure you don’t have people (or your phone) around distracting you when you start the process. If you are organizing part of a room, and you keep eyeing other areas, you can even cover up the parts you aren’t working on with a sheet or a room divider.
7. Give yourself a reward at the end
Sweeten the deal a little bit. Maybe you can watch your favorite show once you’ve tidied up a bit, or you can go out for a special treat. Better yet, have someone else reward you (so you’re not tempted cheat!)
8. Go easy on yourself
Remember that having a messy or cluttered house is not a character flaw, it’s just a problem to be solved. And you don’t have to turn your house around overnight. Whether you schedule in weekly organizing sessions, or get to it occasionally when you have the time, be proud of yourself for working towards your goal!