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Peter Walsh

Peter Walsh

Design professional and star of TLC's Clean Sweep

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Meryl Starr

Meryl Starr

Organizing expert, author and personal consultant

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Debbie Stanley

Debbie Stanley

Author and owner of Red Letter Day, a professional organizing...

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Top 5 Things to Do

Think you’ll never be organized? Think again—with the right mindset and a practical approach, you can bring order to even the most unruly closets, garages or other clutter-ridden spaces. During the first 30 days of getting organized, follow these five steps and see for yourself!

1. Create a vision.

Before you can physically organize an area of your life, the most important thing to do is establish a vision for that space. What do you want it to look like? How will you feel when you’re in the space? Once you’ve envisioned the end result, you can take the necessary steps to make it happen.

2. Make a time commitment.

You’ll reach your organizing goals faster if you commit to working a certain amount of time each day or week. Be realistic about the amount of time you can spend and stick with it. Even if you don’t have a lot of extra time on your hands, 10 or 20 minutes a day, or a few days a week, will add up quickly.

3. Sort in a neutral zone.

Sorting through belongings is easier if you move everything out of the space you’re trying to organize. Choose a large, open area to sort things into “KEEP,” “SELL,” “DONATE” or “TRASH” categories; then arrange the “KEEP” items into piles of similar items. Now that you can see exactly what you have, do you really need 24 of those gizmos? Pare things down even more, if you can, and don’t put anything back in the original space without consciously choosing to do so.

4. Don’t blame yourself.

Disorganization happens to all of us at one time or another, so try not to beat yourself up about it. Yes, you allowed the clutter to be there, but dwelling on it isn’t going to help you move forward. The more you allow your guilt and regret to take over, the less energy you’ll have to make positive changes. Instead, give yourself a pat on the back for deciding to do something about the mess and get to work!

5. Make a place for everything.

Can’t figure out why you have clutter in certain areas of your house? Ask yourself, “Do any of these “clutter” items actually belong anywhere?” If the answer is no—and it probably is—you’ve just uncovered the real problem: There’s no place to put the stuff! Take the time to create “homes” for all of these items and watch the clutter disappear like magic.

Posted: 9/25/07

Very helpful advise. I used to be really organized. Then I got divorced. But now I am remarried and moving my thing into my husbands house or a storage unit. I have to be organized. It is very difficult to merge 2 households!! But I will use your great suggestions to get back to being organized. To tell you the truth, I was an elem teacher and other teacher always counted on me to find what they needed. I always did. I know I can be like that again.


Absolutely amazing!!! I'm a full time college student and mother of 3 boys, and all in the last 3 weeks~I have become buried in my own house. There are 2 weeks left until the end of the semester, then it's spring cleaning time--big time. I absolutely love the first tip! I love picturing what a space will look like, and then by using the other tips, making it a reality. I just got a shot of super-charge! Thanks so much!