How to Get Your Home Organized

Once spring arrives, many homeowners will no doubt get busy with outdoor projects. But since we’re still a good number of weeks away from warmer weather, now’s a great time to focus on a task that many of us would rather put off — home organization.

Getting your home organized involves more than just putting things away. It means coming up with a system that makes sense for keeping your home tidy and orderly. With that in mind, here are some tips to get your living space organized in the near term as well as the long term.

1. Don’t Start Small

If you’re looking to get your home organized, you may be inclined to start with a specific area, like your cluttered bedroom corner or the filing area of your office. Instead, make a large-scale plan, says Marie-Helene Riverain, a Los Angeles-based professional home organizer.

First, she says, ask yourself why you want an organized home and what it will bring you. “It will keep your motivation and purpose fresh when you start feeling overwhelmed or feel that you’ll never be done,” she explains.

[READ: Easy Closet Upgrades for Better Home Organization]

2. Take a Category-by-Category Approach

Rather than tackle the process of getting your home organized corner by corner or even room by room, Riverain suggests organizing by category. “This will allow you to have a laser focus on just that category of things,” she explains, “and blissfully ignore everything else until their time comes.”

Rather than decide you’re going to tackle your pantry first and then move on to your office, instead, decide that you’re going to tackle a specific category, like books. From there, go room by room taking inventory, figuring out which books you want to keep versus donate, and developing a system for storing the books you want to hang onto.

Dealing with one category of item at a time might make the process of organizing your home less overwhelming. It’s the same approach you might take to any major task that seems daunting, where you break a huge job down into smaller ones and treat each completed task as an individual accomplishment.

The same concept applies, here. Rather than get overwhelmed by all you have to do, you can instead focus on a single category — for example, books — and then congratulate yourself once that job is finished.

[Is the Dining Room Dead?]

3. Be Prepared to Purge

In many cases, getting organized means learning how to pare down what we have. That’s why Riverain insists that purging is part of the process.

That said, Riverain doesn’t recommend focusing on the things you want to discard. Instead, she says, “Focus on what you want to keep.” Doing so allows you to take a positive approach to purging rather than a negative one.

Once you’ve decided which items you want to keep, by default, the rest will have to go. From there, you should make a plan to give those items away, whether to charities or friends who can use them.

“Do a search for your local donation stores and schedule your trips there. If you want to give some items to friends, prepare a different bag for each one with their name on it, and plan for a visit,” says Riverain.

[READ: The Do’s and Don’ts of Downsizing Your Home.]

4. Find the Items You’re Keeping a Home

So you’ve whittled down your belongings across different categories and have purged the rest. You might think you’re done getting organized, but there’s still work to do. That’s because, says Riverain, you’ll need to find the items you love a home.

To that end, she suggests keeping like items together. “It is the best way to find them when you need them, even if they are not in the room you need them in that instant,” she says. So rather than store some crafting supplies in your spare kitchen drawer, some in your kids’ playroom and the rest in your office, find one spot where all of those supplies can go.

Also, don’t skip the labeling process. It may seem a little tedious, but it’s an important part of getting organized. This is especially important when it comes to items you don’t use all the time.

5. Establish a Routine for Staying Tidy

Many of us fall into a similar pattern — we do a massive cleanup, pledge to keep our homes neat, and stick to that routine for a couple of weeks before we inevitably slip back into our old, cluttered ways. That’s why Riverain says that it’s so important to establish and commit to a routine for putting things back where they belong after each use.

Of course, it’s easy to see how you might neglect to put something away in the midst of a busy day. But remember, spending an extra 60 seconds to return something to its rightful spot each time could spare you from having to give up an entire weekend reorganizing your house down the line. If you get into the habit of putting things away as you use them, embarking on a major organization project is something you might only have to do once.

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How to Get Your Home Organized originally appeared on

Update 02/08/23: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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