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10 Ideas for Organizing your Messy Home Including your Clothes

Updated on October 30, 2012

We have all felt the terrible feeling that our houses are just a mess. It's usually because we have too much stuff. No matter how hard you try to stay on top of the mess, you're always going to have new things coming into the home. You have to periodically go through the mess and organize it to make sure that it doesn't overwhelm your home. It can be tough to figure out where to start. However it doesn't have to be impossible. The following ten tips should help you if you're feeling overwhelmed about the process of decluttering your home.

1. Start with one. The biggest problem that most people face when it comes to decluttering is that they don't know where to start. You feel so overwhelmed by the mess that you don't even feel like you can begin. Narrow down your starting point by making sure you start with just one area. It may be one room, one shelf or one drawer. Just pick one place that you're going to completely clean off. Don't move the mess somewhere else; truly get rid of it whether that means putting an item in its proper place, recycling it or mending it. You can finish a whole house going from one to one to one in this manner.

2. Don't fall into the trap of the "maybe" pile. This pile just might be the single most destructive thing when it comes to decluttering. You make a "keep" and a "give away" pile and then you have a maybe pile. What's it for? There's no point to it. It's tough to make a decision either way about whether to keep or ditch something but this ruthless "yes or no" process of going through your stuff is going to make it a lot more likely that you're successful in your cleaning endeavor. Ditch your "maybes". The only exception is if you have to get a final say from someone else in the house; make sure they give it a yes or no before the cleaning is done.

3. Put yourself on a schedule. You need to know when you're going to work on this house cleaning project. Will you do fifteen minutes of cleaning every morning until the mess is gone? Will you spend every Saturday afternoon on this project. Commit to a schedule that is going to work for you and then stick to it. Write it on your calendar. Don't let others interfere.

4. Get others involved. You don't want people interfering with your decluttering process but it's great to get other people involved. The most likely culprits are your family members. Delegate small tasks to kids and spouses. For example, kids can go through stacks of books and keep only their favorite five so you can donate the rest. Send hubby out to the garage or workshop to declutter there. And don't be afraid to ask for help from friends and neighbors in the form of having them come pick through your giveaways, help with an hour of sorting through stacks of paper or cart some stuff to the Salvation Army for you. It'll help keep you accountable to your task and it may inspire them to declutter too!

5. Decide when to do your closet. The toughest part of decluttering for almost everyone is the closet. You don't want to get rid of clothes that have sentimental value. You swear you'll fix that broken zipper or squeeze into those old jeans again. You know how it goes. Decide whether you're the type of person who wants to do this task first and get it out of the way or save it for last. Once you've decided, do it or put it out of your mind. That frees you up to declutter the rest of your home.

6. Have a system. You really need to know what your goals for decluttering are and to make a system that will make them happen. Do you want everything to have a place? Defining and even labeling those places would be a key part of your organizing system. Do you want to get rid of things you no longer use? Keep that goal in focus as you sort through your stuff, asking yourself when the last time was that you used each item.

7. Buy or make organizers. There is a reason that neat freaks use organizers. It's because they work. You'll find that your home is a lot more neat and clean if it's got organizers around everywhere. Files, boxes, baskets and closet shelves are great organizers. You don't have to buy the fancy stuff; you can recycle items you have to make these organizing systems. In fact, this is a great way to repurpose old stuff and kill two birds with one stone!

8. Celebrate your progress. As you move forward through this task, celebrate your progress. When you finish an area, celebrate it. For example, when you finish cleaning the living room you can have some friends over to play board games there and show it off. When you clean out your home office, turn a corner into a fun little reading area and spend some time relaxing there. This reminds you of how you want your home to be and why.

9. Ask yourself if there's a bigger problem going on. If you just can't seem to get far enough through the process of decluttering to actually be ready to celebrate your success then something deeper might be wrong. Many people have emotional attachments to their things and that get triggered when it comes time to clean and declutter. If you suspect that something more is going on with your hoarding problem than just laziness or lack of time then consider working through that with a psychologist.

10. Get professional help. A psychologist isn't the only kind of professional who can help you with this situation; a professional organizer might be someone else to turn to. If you just feel too overwhelmed or unready to deal with your mess yourself then you might want to put the job into the hands of someone who does it for a living. There are a lot of folks around these days so see if one of them will work right in your home. If you can't afford a professional then considering getting a nanny's helper or personal assistant to help with some of the tasks.

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  • MopHolder profile image

    MopHolder 3 years ago

    There are various ways of storing spices and food in your kitchen.

  • Vickie Bovender profile image

    Vickie Bovender 7 years ago from Southeastern US

    This is a wonderful article, very thorough. I'm a pack rat and need to try your suggestion about just starting with one something. Thank you for so many good tips.

  • uliveulearn profile image

    uliveulearn 8 years ago from Canada

    Great information here and well said. I will add a link to my related hub. Thanks.

  • Steppeno profile image

    Steve Collier 8 years ago from Jones Road Farms, 1785 Ben Jones Road, Clarkesville, Ga. 30523

    This is a terrific article !!! It just so happens that my house caught fire a couple of weeks ago and I've moved into my mother's old home... She is the world's worst "Pack-rat" anyone has ever seen !!! I've been working 8 and 10 hours a day on the problem, but I am starting to see a little light at the end of the tunnel... LOL It seems to be a lot easier for me to discard items than it has ever been for her... I've asked her for years to seek professional help with her collective disorder but she is stubborn and set in her ways... She is one that has to have the decisions to throw away stuff made for her because she saves everything !!! Thanks for the great tips... I needed that.

  • profile image

    Nan 8 years ago

    I can't throw stuff out. As a past teacher I always keep helpful books, and games for kids. I keep clothes for years, I have so many clothes that I sometimes give some away to charity, but I have too many clothes, I'm going to need them someday. Dishes, silver and household items. Clutter seems to make us happy. Good Article.

  • LeonJane profile image

    LeonJane 8 years ago from Australia

    Very good advice here KV, but for me its hard to throw stuff out. I seem to hoard things, and when I do throw stuff out and declutter I end up wanting or needing that thing I just threw out, a week later. :(

    Sometimes it’s best to back the truck up to your house and “if in doubt, throw it out”. Quick, like removing a band aid is best, so you don’t think of all the sentimental reasons for keeping the crap!

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