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How to Organize Anything

16 Jul
The task of organizing can be an overwhelming one, especially if you don’t like to do it.  Even though I like to organize, there are times when I still feel a bit intimidated by the task ahead of me.  But, like anything else, if you break down a large project, say “organizing the garage”, into smaller, more manageable tasks, you will begin to feel a little less overwhelmed.  With that in mind, I’m going to share with you the 5 steps I use to organize anything: Sort, Purge, Assign, Contain, and Maintain. 
{And, no, it’s not some fancy or clever acronym.  Unless “S.P.A.C.M.” spells anything. 
Which, I don’t think it does.}
Step #1 – SORT

martinlee –

The first step is to sort through everything within the space.  Think about what you do when you sort through your laundry.  More than likely, you separate your clothes by color: lights, darks and whites.  When you begin to organize, you’re going to separate using these categories: keep, toss, and donate {or: yard sale}.  Consider using laundry baskets {inside} or tarps spread out on the ground like they did on the TV show “Clean Sweep”{outside}.

The “keep” pile should be filled with items that you use on a regular basis.  The “toss” pile should consist of trash {broken items that cannot be recycled}.  Lastly, the “donate/yard sale” pile will corral those items that you no longer wish to keep but are still in good enough condition for someone else to benefit. 

Depending on what area of your home you’re focusing on {clothes closet, for example}, you may want to also have a fix/mend pile.  However, give yourself a time frame to have those items fixed or mended by and if they are not, go ahead and toss them.

Step #2 – PURGE

reb –

Once you’ve removed all of the items you no longer want, it’s time to get rid of them.  If it is beyond repair and cannot be recycled, then throw it away.  If it can be recycled in any way, please do so.  {Use this phone app to find recycling locations near you.}  Lastly, if the item is in good condition, be sure to donate it to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army.  If you’ve got plenty of items that are in working condition, consider having a yard sale and using the process to go out and celebrate your organizing success with your family.

Step #2 – ASSIGN

Byron Moore –

So far, you have sorted through your belongings and gotten rid of the items you no longer need.  The next task is to categorize the remaining items.  For example, if you’re tackling your pantry, you may use these categories: breakfast items, snacks, dry goods, canned goods, condiments and sauces, beverages, etc.  Another example is the categories you may use for your books: romance, science, mystery, home decor, crafts, etc. 

The important thing is that the categories make sense to you {or whoever uses the space the most}.  If it is an area that the whole family uses, such as the living room, make organizing a family project so that everyone takes responsibility for that particular room.

Step #4 – CONTAIN

Graça Victoria –

Using your categories above, decide how the items within each category should be contained.  For example, you may be able to use baskets to contain some of your pantry items.  In your clothes closet, you may decide that an over-the-door shoe organizer is the best thing for keeping your collection in order.

In the same way you should personalize the categories, you should also personalize your containers.  Keep in mind, if the container is going to be out in the open, you may want to splurge for something attractive, such as a pretty basket.  However, if it is going to be out of sight {read: behind closed doors}, you do not necessarily have to go for something pretty.  Clear plastic bins are not necessarily the most attractive of organizing products but they work just fine in spaces where guests are not likely to peek, such as your linen closet, laundry room, pantry, etc.  If the plastic bins are too plain for you and you’d like to dress them up, all it takes is creating cute labels with your computer!

Step #5 – MAINTAIN

Tomasz Trojanowski –

This is THE MOST IMPORTANT step of them all.  It does you no good to organize a space in your home if there is no maintenance plan.  Why?  Because things will go right back to the way it was before you exerted all that time and energy trying to get it all in some kind of order.

In the week or so after you’ve completed an organizing project, it’s a good idea to evaluate how you or your family is doing in the area of upkeep.  If things are leaning towards “messy” again, ask yourself this questions:

“Is it not working because the necessary habits have not formed yet or is it because I need to make a change?”

Just because your kids have failed to use the hooks you’ve provided them, doesn’t mean that the hooks are not the answer.  It may mean that they haven’t formed the habit yet.  In this case, you will want to work with them to create that habit.  Give yourself some more time and see if things don’t improve.

Maybe your kids are using the hooks like you’ve asked but something just isn’t quite right.  This is when a change may need to be made, such as switching out smaller hooks for larger ones, hanging them a little further apart, or removing them all together and trying out something completely different.


Like I stated in the introduction, these steps can be used to organize anything!  By breaking the project down into smaller tasks, you are less likely to feel intimidated and more likely to make progress.

If you’ve used this method to help you organize something,
I’d love to hear about it.

Do you have another process you use to get organized?
{Maybe something with a more clever acronym?}  😉