1. Home

Discuss in my forum

How to Organize Anything in 5 Steps

Organize anything in your home and workspaces

By

There are 5 steps you can apply in order to organize anything. Before you tackle your next home or office organization project, learn the steps of how to organize from professional organizer Lisa Zaslow, Founder and CEO of Gotham Organizers, an New York City based professional organizing firm.

Once you learn these organizing basics, you can apply them to organize anything in your home or office. From closets, linens, handbags, junk drawers, kitchens--the list goes on and on.

 

1. First, motivate + commit to organization

Bamboo desk set from Franklin Covey

This is about developing and maintaining motivation. Focus on the benefits of getting organized. Think about the time and money saving benefits of being organized: no more rooting around for batteries or light bulbs when you need them because you'll know exactly where they are stored. You can stop buying duplicates because you can't find an item you need. That means keeping more money in your pocket.

Lisa's Pro Tips:

  1. Start with an area in your home or office where you will see results quickly. I like to direct people to their kitchen junk drawers.
  2. Paper is the hardest thing to organize and can take a long time. Pace yourself and don't get discouraged.

 

2. Second, declutter the space

Before you can dive into an organization project, you've got to clear out the clutter. Lisa recommends you work on one area at a time and make it as fun as possible: play music, invite a friend to help, and most importantly, pace yourself so you don't burn out!

How to Declutter

Lisa's Pro Tips:

  1. Establish criteria for what you're going to keep and toss before you begin so you don't waste time and energy on items you are just going to throw out.
  2. Don't keep multiples of items (think: soy sauce packets, plastic utensils)
  3. Don't fall victim to the "I may need this some day" line of thinking. "Someday will never come," says Lisa.

3. Third, sort + group similar items together

This is the most important step. "This is where you begin to create order from chaos," says Lisa. First, begin with large categories and then break down those categories. Example: Books -----> Cookbooks, Novels, School Books.

How to Sort and Group Like Similiar Items Together

Lisa's Pro Tips:

  1. Group by type of item (i.e. all extra tubes of toothpaste in a storage basket in the linen closet, etc.)
  2. Group by frequency of use (i.e. all daily work clothes hang together in the closet, etc.)
  3. Group by project (i.e. everything you use to brew coffee in the same spot in your kitchen, etc.)
  4. Group by person (i.e. everyone's winter gear like hats and gloves in their own cubby, etc)

4. Fourth, create a place for everything through storage.

"This is where you make everything easy to put away," instructs Lisa. First keep in mind your "prime real estate" which are the spaces most accessible to you (Lisa: "between your shoulders and knees") and store things where they are used!

How to Store

Lisa's Pro Tips:

  1. Out of sight, out of mind so make sure what's important to you is visible. 
  2. Identify and use the appropriate containers for items. If they don't fit you probably won't use it for too long.
  3. Avoid mystery boxes by using clear containers and labeling them as soon as you fill them up.

5. Fifth, use routines to maintain your organization

The more frequently you maintain order, the less time it will take, so keep it up! Example: If you open your mail, pay your bills and file your receipts weekly, that will take about 4x less time than if you do so on a monthly basis, so schedule your maintenance to suit your style.

How to Maintain Organization

Lisa's Pro Tips:

  1. Schedule maintenance daily, weekly or annually; or,
  2. Event-based: as deadlines approach, when things become disorganized or messy, when the container for that items begins to fill up, or my favorite, when you have a gust coming!
  3. Use a timer to pace yourself.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.