Decluttering and Organizing
Don’t Know Where to Start?
Has your house ever felt so messy and cluttered that you don’t even know where to start? Mine has! I’ve organized many times and used a ton of different decluttering guides, and it never seemed to last. Finally, I designed a plan specifically for my house and my family, and it works perfectly. Before you begin decluttering, use these questions to help you create an organization plan that is perfect for your house and your family.
You Don’t Have to Be a Super Organized Person to Have a Neat Home
I have an important disclaimer. I am not an overly tidy person. It does not come naturally to me. I have to work hard at organization and tidiness. I have learned everything in this Decluttering Series the hard way. These strategies have worked for me in my own home to create a livable, functional home out of the chaos. If you struggle with tidiness, these strategies can work for you too.
Find What Works for You
Organization is not one size fits all. What works in my house, won’t necessarily work in your house. We all have different standards, homes, habits, hobbies, and people we need to accommodate. What drives me crazy, won’t necessarily drive you crazy and vice versa.
This guide will help identify what works for you, what doesn’t, and how to fix it. As you read through these next questions, really think about the answers. It might even help to jot them down and make a few notes. Make plans that will be functional in your home at this moment, with the people that live there. Plan for the people and home you have, and you will end up with a lot more peace. We want to create a home that functions around your people as much as possible. It’s easier to change systems than people.
Before You Begin Decluttering Ask these Questions
1. What do people always need help finding in your home?
Somehow, when they assigned family jobs, the moms got stuck with being the manager of everyone’s stuff. Maybe we’re just lucky, or maybe it’s because men are terrible at finding things. I’m not sure the reason, but I do know that in my house if someone has lost something, they come to me.
I have realized that when the same person loses something over and over, it’s a symptom of a broken organizational system. You need to figure out why they continue to lose it. Does it have a place that it belongs? If not, the answer is simple, make a place for it and teach that person to put it there every time.
If it does have a “place” why can’t they find it? Is that place too messy to find it? Does it need to be organized? Can they not get to it easily? Do they know where it belongs?
If they know where the item belongs, but are just not putting it up, finding it a new easier “place” might be a simple solution to your problem. There might be some reason they aren’t putting it up. Find an easier place to put it, and be done with it. Remember, it’s easier to reorganize than to continue the stress and nagging.
My Husband’s Socks
In my home, the person always losing something was my husband. He could never find his socks. He was driving me CRAZY, and I was driving him crazy being rude about it.
When I finally had enough and went through his drawers, I realized that he had a drawer full of different types of socks: short socks, work socks, and dress socks. All of these socks were black, and all were in the same drawer. So, it actually was difficult for him to find the socks he needed. We simply sorted out the socks to different drawers and solved the HUGE STRESSFUL problem. No marriage counseling required.
What items are always lost in your house? Maybe there could be a simple fix that will help an even bigger problem. Select the most important areas before you begin decluttering. This is where you will start.
2. What area of your home makes you the craziest?
Is there an area of your home that always makes you aggravated, an area that you avoid because of the clutter?
My bathroom sink always had too many products on it, and they were constantly falling into the sink. Trying to get ready made me crazy. So, I realized I either needed major decluttering. Once I got rid of the extra bottles, the bathroom became a nice tidy haven for me to get ready for the day.
Perhaps the area that drives you crazy is your kitchen or laundry room. Maybe you need a new system to keep these places in order. My laundry room was a close second, and now I a have such a simple system for that room of my house. I will share that system in next week’s post.
Spending some time thinking about the most stressful areas of your home before you begin decluttering will let you know where to focus your efforts.
3. What items are always left out?
The key to having an orderly home is that everything has a place. Just as your forks and spoons have a specific place, so should everything else in your home.
Sometimes, every item has a place, but you still find stuff laying all over your house. Before you begin decluttering think about the items that get left out the most.
If you continuously find the same item laying out, maybe it doesn’t have a place, or maybe it’s time to rethink that item’s place. It might be too inconvenient, or it might just not work anymore.
You want your home to be as functional and convenient as possible. Where do you store your coffee cups? Likely, you store them near your coffeepot for convenience. It is human nature to expend as little effort as possible.
If putting an item away takes effort, we’ll just leave it out planning on putting it away later. Then later, we forget. Try to find the easiest place for these items so that everyone will be more likely to put things away.
With Children, It Could Be Accessibility
For about two weeks the bread kept being left out on my table. I finally realized that my daughter, who had begun to make herself a PB&J after school, couldn’t reach the bread’s “place.” After she asked one of us to get the bread down for her and made her sandwich, she just left it on the table.
I reorganized some of my food storage so that they could reach all the snacks that were most convenient for them.
So, maybe that item that is left out isn’t malicious. Maybe there is a simple change that could be made to make everybody’s life easier, keep your home tidier, and make less work for you.
4. What chores do you hate?
Just because you hate a chore doesn’t mean that your organizational system for that chore is broken, but it could. I know that before I developed a simple laundry system, it was the chore that I hated the MOST. It was because I had no system for laundry at all. Now, that I have a simple laundry system, I don’t mind laundry. My most dreaded chore is now washing dishes, and my dishwashing system could admittedly use some work.
Think about the chore that you hate the most.
Do you have a plan for completing this chore? Maybe it’s not the chore itself that you hate. Maybe there’s a way to simplify it or get the rest of the family to help.
5. What systems aren’t working?
Sometimes we go to great lengths to create organizational systems in our homes that work, only to find out that they do not. Do you have any of these systems in your house? Are you clinging to any broken chore charts or command centers that aren’t working or are wasting your time?
If so, there is no shame in abandoning them and finding a simpler way. Sometimes we can over-organize ourselves to death when a simple approach is often best.
My Dream/Nightmare of the Perfect DropZone
Once upon a time, I had this dream of an entryway drop zone. I had seen all the beautiful images on Pinterest and knew I just had to have one in my home. The drop zone would have hooks for backpacks and jackets, bins for our shoes. It was going to be glorious and so perfectly organized. I was determined to make this work.
I tried it first with just hooks, bins and a bench, and it failed miserably. So, I spent three days building a special shelf just for this drop zone. It still just didn’t work. It created chaos and a bigger mess. My little girl would have every single pair of her shoes in her shoe bin. Every jacket in the house would be thrown into the shelf. It was a nightmare for us. I’m still super jealous of all the cute little entryways I see on Pinterest.
I finally dropped the idea, and we have a MUCH simpler and more effective system for us. We each put our jackets and shoes on a hook in our own closet. It’s a little less convenient, but much more functional in our home.
Simplify Systems Whenever Possible-
So, finally, look for systems that you can simplify. Sometimes the simplest routines are the easiest. Are you doing something in three steps that could be done in one? Find places to cut time and effort before you begin decluttering.
Take time to consider these questions before you begin decluttering. They will give you a great idea of where to start, and what systems need to be revamped. Remember decluttering is a lot like dieting. You want to get off to a good start. So, start in the place where you think you need the most work. This will, hopefully, let you see good progress right away, which will be so helpful. Comment below, and let me know how the organization is going.
Make sure to also read the next post in this cleaning series The Worst Decluttering Mistakes That Are Sabotaging Your Cleaning Efforts.