Declutter Before You Organize

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Who doesn’t say they want to be more organized as one of their resolutions?  But you have to declutter before you organize.  It’s a must so you will know what you need to organize.  And what you need to help you get, and stay organized.

Do you have a “junk” drawer which looks like this?  We will talk about this later.

The first thing I would say  are a couple of Don’ts.  

  • Don’t go out and buy a bunch of organizing bins or shelves. It’s easy to do this. But more times than not, you may not have what you need as you don’t know what needs to be organized.
  • Don’t start too many areas at once.
  • Don’t make unrealistic goals – most likely your whole house won’t get organized in a few days.
  • Don’t get overwhelmed – it took a while for you to collect clutter, so it will take a while to get it cleared out.  

What’s your biggest problem when it comes to clutter? Mine is probably paper – which includes mail, newspapers, magazines, and receipts. And my kitchen – I love gadgets.

How do you get started? If you think I need to get my house – my life – my family – organized, it can be overwhelming and you won’t get anything done.

START SMALL –  start with your biggest problem area and break it down into smaller steps. As an example – your kitchen. If you say I have to get my house organized, you probably won’t. But maybe your kitchen cabinets or bathroom will.

I’m a list maker (maybe that’s part of my paper problem). Make a list of the areas which need work.  

How many storage tubs do you have? Me – too many. These can be your friend or foe. They are great for organizing and storing, but then they can easily be used to stash stuff away. Although they cost a bit more, I am going to clear ones. Even with labeling, it’s so much easier to see what you have inside of a clear bin.

A few more hints to start your decluttering.  Get some empty boxes or garbage bags and label them:

  • Donate or sell
    File or Store­­
    Keep or relocate

Now what to do with them.

If donating, drop off or have picked up as soon as possible to keep from pulling things out. Also, think about are you really going to have a garage sale or put it online to sell? If not, donate it.

Trash – take it out of the house.

Some things you will want to keep and store such as keepsakes, but make a place for them. Try to use items in everyday decor so you can enjoy them.

Relocate – a goal would be to have everything in their proper place, or at least out of the room it’s not used in. Don’t take up room in your cleaned out junk drawer for a hammer if you only use it every few months.

Clutter is taking up valuable real estate in your home.  

Clutter costs you time and money.  How much time have you spent looking for something?  How many times have you bought a duplicate because you couldn’t find something.

Some papers are necessary – legal documents, warranties, receipts. Set up a filing system which works for you. Consider making a home notebook. This could include your manuals for those new things you got at Christmas. Master list for travel. Important phone numbers. Master grocery list.

Now pick a place to start – Here’s a few ideas to get you started in your kitchen:


  • Plastic bowls & cups – missing parts and lids
  • Chipped or scratched dinnerware & cookware
  • Odd glasses or mugs – how many do you really need?

Cabinet Drawers

  • Silverware – did you throw all those takeout packs in there?
  • Utensils – how many spatulas do you use? Or funnels? Or knives?


  • Do you have expired food?
  • Do you have food you won’t eat? (If good – donate it)
  • Are there only crumbs in the cereal box?

Refrigerator & Freezer

  • How old are those leftovers?
  • Are those condiments in the door expired?
  • Is there food you won’t eat?
  • Does any of the food have freezer burn?
  • Are there containers not labeled?

Under The Sink

  • Is this a dumping ground?
  • Do you have old cleaning supplies?
  • Do you have odd rubber gloves?


  • Do you really use the waffle maker or sandwich maker?

Junk Drawer – admit it – we all have one

  • Do you need 6 packs of post-its?
  • Is the hammer used often?
  • How many ink pens or highlighters are needed?

What does your kitchen need?

Again with a list. What does your kitchen need or you want to make it more functional and you to feel happier in it? Maybe it’s as simple as a new rug. Maybe you don’t have enough cereal bowls.

Practice a new habit of when something comes in, something has to go out. Did you get new cookware but you still have all the old? Get rid of what doesn’t work for you. Or, for a large pan you use occasionally, try to relocate it to another area.

Now back to that junk drawer:

To begin this or most projects, take everything out of the drawer and sort it – keep, trash, donate, relocate.

I picked up a few baskets at Dollar Tree which I had measured to fit into the drawer, and making sure there was the right size for what I needed such as a longer basket for scissors.  There was way too many pens, post-it notes, old receipts, and all around JUNK.

Plus after you get it organized, it’s easier to find what you need and to keep it cleaned out.

So many say I don’t have time to do this – find a few minutes here and there.  

While you are making you morning coffee, pick up old papers or receipts and toss them.  Pull those extra utensils out of the drawer.  

NEXT WEEK – we will talk about some of the unseen clutter.  Also you will find a schedule for helping to conquer the clutter.

What is your problem area?  



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Happy Travels, 


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One Comment

  1. You are so right about tubs. If I actually take action like throwing away that chopped cup or putting clothes in the giveaway bag, when it is time forthe major sorting by room, I do much better at not being overwhelmed! I also ussed this season to toss a lot of things like sad looking ornaments I don’t like anymore and old ugly wrapping paper and bags.Good tips.

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