Learn how to organize your home in phases, even if you don’t have any extra money to buy new containers and furniture right now.
If you are constantly fighting with kitchen cabinet avalanches, stepping on Legos, and are late for work at least one day a week due to the clutter in your closet and bathroom, you probably realized it’s time for a change. But most people don’t just decide to organize their whole home at once and magically have all the funds they need to raid the container aisle. These three phases will help you get started on your journey to home organization without feeling overwhelmed.
Phase 1: “I don’t have any extra money right now but I can’t stand this mess”
Phase one of getting your home organized is all about decluttering, purging, and experimenting. You shouldn’t really be buying containers just yet anyway, because you don’t know what you need.
Start by doing a good old fashioned decluttering session. Trash anything that’s broken, damaged, expired, or obvious garbage. Sell or donate anything you no longer want or need. And relocate any items that don’t belong where they are currently hanging out. Just downsizing your belongings will instantly make your spaces feel less cluttered, even if they still are a hot mess. If you need help, my Home Decluttering Planner inside the Organized-ish Binder Kit Collection can assist with making an action plan and staying on track.
Once you’ve purged as much as you possibly can, shop your house for random containers, baskets, bins, Tupperware, shoe boxes, and even recycled Amazon boxes. Use those “found” containers to temporarily organize your spaces. By using temporary storage, you’ll get a better idea for what kind of containers you should buy later, what sizes you need, and what you like and don’t like. You’ll also get to experiment with different layouts and systems before shelling out real money.
Phase 2: “I’m ready to crack down and categorize everything into separate matching containers”
So you’ve figured out your systems, container types, layouts, and methods, and you’ve saved up some spare moolah to hit the store. Before you break out your credit card, make sure you’ve noted all the measurements of the spaces you’re shopping for and the containers you need in the Notes app on your phone. You may think you’ll remember, but it’s better to have it just in case.
Order all the containers you need, and don’t forget your choice of labels, too. As you organize your new bins, be extra mindful about how you’re sorting and categorizing. Make sure your sorting methods not only make sense to you, but they also make sense to your spouse and other family members in the house. Remember that others can’t see inside your brain and may not understand your organizing systems like you do.
Phase 3: “Some of my methods aren’t working so it’s time to switch it up”
The third phase is the editing phase. You’ve already set up your systems, snapped a photo to humble-brag on Insta, and have been living with your newly organized spaces for a few months now. You may have noticed some of the methods aren’t working as well as you expected them to. Some containers are too small. Some are too big. Some fall off the shelf. Some labels are too hard to read. And some aren’t even being used and clutter is still piling up.
Time to evaluate the hard truth that you may need to rethink your layouts and organization systems. But don’t feel bad, because this is totally normal. I’m a professional organizer and this exact thing happens with every single client I’ve ever had. Even a pro needs to make edits; it’s just part of it.
Switch up containers, try new methods, ask family for input, and be ok with a full restart. Remember that getting organized is a journey that never really ends, and progress beats perfection every time. That’s why I encourage you to be Organized-ISH.
Related Blog Post: 8 Organizing Mistakes You’re Making (And How To Fix Them)