Where do you start organizing when you "don't even know where to start?"

A messy, disorganized home can be extremely daunting. And, honestly, who has the time these days for a tidiness overhaul? Even in quarantine, life is surprisingly busy. So, what do you do when you're standing in clutter, staring at a sink full of dirty dishes or a jam packed closet with belongings spilling onto the floor? Here are three approaches to declutter your life that I use depending on my mood, time, and the mess situation. They are as follows:

The idea of organizing can be a mental roadblock

  • The One-At-A-Time Approach
  • The Easy-Does-It Angle
  • The Burn-It-All-Down-And-Start-From-Scratch Hail Mary

Let me explain.

The One-At-A-Time Approach

This organizing approach is often best for beginners, who have always lived in mess and are ready to start somewhere. Anywhere. This simple approach is literally: see an item on the floor (or out of place), pick it up, and put it where it belongs. Do it again. And, keep doing it, until you can see a patch of floor. After things are tidied, you can move on to the actual cleaning. Use the same method of starting with small tasks for cleaning. Focus on vacuuming a room or wiping down the baseboards. One thing at a time.

This approach is ideal for getting started when you feel paralyzed and overwhelmed. It is the bite-sized method that gives you permission to just start. Progress follows. This however, is neither particularly efficient, nor does it help you if your goal is to purge and create systems to organize all your things and most importantly, KEEP them organized. But, sometimes you just need a place to begin!

The Easy-Does-It Angle

This is a little more strategic than the "OAAT Approach," but still easy and accessible. For this one, you start by picking up the mess, as before, but this time, take a walk through of your home first and assess the problem areas. Maybe even make a list with some key areas you want to hit. Figure out where the mess is starting, where it bothers you most, and where guests will most likely encounter it.

The most important part is to start with an empty space and try to visualize how it will function with your remaining items. Get creative.

Start there! If your entry way really bugs you because it's the first thing you see when you walk in the house and it's also the first impression for visitors, start there. Organize shoes at the door. Maybe put some in a closet and only keep one or two for easy access. If you don't already have a catchall for keys, get one or even start with an Amazon box with the flaps cut off. Clear out the coat closet so you have space to drop your bag or anything else when you walk through the door. This can apply to any space. Start small, but strategic. When that's done, move to the next problem area and repeat. Before you know it, your house will feel lighter and be a more efficient place!

The Burn-It-All-Down-And-Start-From-Scratch Hail Mary

From Scratch

This is where the real and more permanent change happens. This approach is for the ambitious who are ready to really go for it. In this approach you take EVERYTHING out and put it on the floor. You make your keep, maybe, toss piles. Cull down even further after that. Let go of the things you've been holding onto unnecessarily. You won't miss them, but you'll appreciate the additional space in your cabinet, closet, etc.


Assess what's left and then devise systems to keep the remaining items organized. Buy or create bins and holders, organize things by date, color, season, type, size, whatever. Get your label machine out, buy cute labels with a reusable surface, or just write on tape. It doesn't matter how you do it. If you're looking for system creation inspiration, Alejandra Costello's videos are excellent resources.

Get Creative

The most important part is to start with an empty space and try to visualize how it will function with your remaining items. Get creative. It is so much easier to keep things clean and organized when you have space to do so and systems in place that are functional.

I hope these tips help you find your starting point and help you declutter your life. Remember, you can employ them all in different situations. Also, be sure to check out my Spring Cleaning Printable Planner Kit.

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What are your biggest decluttering challenges? Comment below. Happy organizing!

As always, I'd love to hear any comments or questions you have about organizing! Please share your progress with me, in the comments below, or on Instagram, with the hashtag #midniteoilmedia.

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