How Do I Begin Organizing My Home When It’s Chaos Everywhere?

Written by Neat Freak

Has clutter taken control of your house and your life?  Do you feel absolutely overwhelming by the chaos that has crept into every corner of your lovely little home?  Remember the day you moved into your house and the hope you had then for a neat and orderly existence?  That was a wonderful dream, but it seems far away now.  Day by day, month by month, year by year, your house has become a dumping ground for unfathomable piles of debris.  But, there is hope once again.

Most people cannot dedicate a full day or week to getting one room in order.  That’s why so many folks get frustrated trying to get organized.  They look at a room in their house and decide that “today’s the day I’m going to organized that room”.  Out comes everything from the closets, drawers, cupboards, end tables, bookshelves, and corners.  Now they have a pile in the middle of the room, and it’s time to run and get the kids from gymnastics.  Then it’s dinner and bed, and there they sit looking at a mess.  There is a method, a step-by-step procedure, that must be laid out if you are to be successful in your organizing project.  Let’s see what we can do to get this project off the ground.

You need to walk through each room of the house and make notes of what needs to be done before you start tearing your house apart.  Make your list a brief outline of basic areas that you need to address, then add any specific areas that may have become a particularly grueling problem.  In your master bedroom, perhaps, write “his closet” and “her closet” in separate columns, noting what specific things may need to be done in each.  For instance, in “his closet” you may indicate that “sorting out t-shirts” is one area and in “her closet” you may want to list “sorting shoes” as an item.  Take this approach with each room of the house.  You may want to list the kitchen as a project, but split it into specific areas that you can handle, like refrigerator, pantry, pots and pans cabinet, baking supplies, etc.

Now, determine which tasks will take a relatively brief amount of time and which will take a good part of a day.  Once you have your tasks split into “all day”, “1 hour”, “half day”, and the like, take a look at your calendar and pencil-in those tasks amongst the other chores you have each day. Try to complete at least one task from the list each day. If you have a relatively light schedule on Tuesdays, use that day to carry out a larger task.  If you are chauffeuring the kids all over town on Fridays, use that day to complete a small task.  Post your list next to your calendar so you can keep track of your achievements each day. 

Beginning with Day One on your calendar, see what task you have scheduled.  Let’s say today is a pretty busy day, so you’ve decided to tackle your linen closet which should only take one hour to accomplish.  Not much time, but it’s do-able.  Get out a couple boxes and a garbage bag.  You’ll want to quickly sort your linens into boxes marked “keep”, “donate” or “rags”, or throw what is unusable into a garbage or recycling container.  Depending on what you keep in your linen closet, of course, you will design a system that suits your particular need.  Since you only gave yourself an hour, we can assume that you already have ample shelving and don’t need to install a new storage system.  Once you have culled the undesirable items out, wipe down the shelves with a good cleaner, and return your good items to their home.  You may now cross that item off your list. 

It’s Day Two and you have given yourself a monster task because your calendar was clear.  You are about to tackle your clothes closet.  You’ve allowed an entire day for this project because you know it’s been years since you’ve seen the back of your closet.  As soon as you get the kids off to school you begin the project by putting dinner in the crock pot.  This is an important part of a day-long task as you may lose track of time and forget that your family will be home for dinner sometime tonight!  Then, pull your hair back, roll up your sleeves, and open your closet door.  I won’t go into a lot of detail here, as you’ll find specific tips for cleaning out your master closets by searching this very site, but there are a few basics we can cover.  Take everything out of your closet and throw it all on your bed.  Grab each item and very quickly decide if you “love it”, “like it” or “loathe it”.  Hang up only the items you can say “love it” to. Then, if you have room, hang up the items you said “like it” to. When you run out of room, some of the “like it” pieces will go into a donate box.  All the “loathe it” pieces should go into the donate box unless they are in bad shape, then they should go in the trash.  Continue this way and you’ll be done before you know it.  You may now cross that item off your list.

On Day Three, knowing you would be exhausted by your clothes closet nightmare, you’ve given yourself a simple task – cleaning out your bathroom medicine cabinet and under the sink area.  You’ve allowed yourself a half-day to accomplish this task.  Start by throwing out any expired medicines and beauty items.  Take everything out of the medicine cabinet and below the sink and give each area a thorough scrubbing.  Remove any remaining medicines from the bathroom and store them in a different area of the house, away from moisture, such as in an upper kitchen cabinet.  You should now be left with just bath, beauty and first-aid items.  Using your clean medicine cabinet now to store personal care and bath items only, such as toothpaste, floss, clippers, tweezers, soap, bandages, ointments, and other small items, carefully organize according to your own personal needs.  You may want to gather bins or small boxes to organize other items under the sink, such as toilet paper, wash clothes, and hot water bottles.  Deciding how to organize these spaces will depend on your family and the ages of the children, for safety consideration.  You may now cross that item off your list.

And on we go to the next day, and the next, until you have crossed off every item on your list.  Organizing your home in a structured manner such as this is often the best way for families to manage.  Blocking a specific time period to tear apart an area in your home and put it back together is much more easily tolerated by everyone than creating more chaos in the midst of a chaotic day.  And, if a task takes more than a day, say for instance, you are installing a new closet organizer before you organize your clothes, your family will be prepared ahead of time and they will know what’s going to happen. That may be the day you have a “leftover smorgasbord” for dinner. 

Maintaining your newly organized home will be the biggest challenge.  You’ll need to get the entire family involved by eliminating the “I’ll do it later” mindset.  Everything has a place now… let’s put it where it belongs.  This will take some training as everyone in the family has become used to dropping stuff anywhere they want.  Isn’t that how your house got into the mess it was in to begin with?  Gentle reminders will work, but it will take many gentle reminders at first.  Be patient.  You’ll forget, too, and fall back into your messy ways once in awhile.

Organizing our homes is one of the most often discussed challenges that people struggle with each day.  I believe the struggle seems so difficult because we tend to look at the big picture instead of breaking the job up into small tasks.  By developing a list of tasks and organizing them on our calendar, we have just accomplished the job of organizing by doing what we do with the rest of our lives.  We schedule everything else, why not schedule organizing our homes?  Give this method a try for one week and a guarantee you’ll be well on your way out of the chaos and into the sunshine!

Each area of our homes deserves special consideration when it comes to getting and staying organized and you’ll find special tips and ideas right here for organizing every area of your home.  Visit us again when you need a little help getting started with your next adventure into organizing your home and life.

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