One Simple Step to Help You Declutter & Organize More Efficiently (so you don’t have to do it over and over again)
How (& Why) to Give Your Space Purpose to Declutter & Organize More Efficiently
You did your victory dance after all that hard work decluttering and organizing the playroom (again). You tell yourself that this time it’s going to last. But a few weeks later it’s like it never happened…can you relate? If so, read on because chances are you’re missing one simple but very effective step that many people tend to overlook when they’re trying to get organized.
Taking this step can not only help you to declutter and organize more efficiently, but also plays a key role in helping you actually stay organized.
It all comes down to one simple word: Purpose.
How Purpose Helps You Declutter Faster & Stay Organized
Many times when we’re decluttering or working on a big organizing project, we are so focused on the individual objects (To keep or donate? Where should this go?) that we forget about the bigger picture of the space we’re attempting to organize.
But, when we give our space a clearly defined purpose, it instantly becomes easier to identify what does and doesn’t belong.
This in turn makes decluttering much faster and more efficient because we already have a clear idea of how to use a space and what objects either support that purpose or don’t. And if you don’t have a space in your home that aligns with the use of a particular object, it’s also easier to recognize that maybe that item doesn’t really serve you.
So how do I clear clutter and get organized once and for all?
Most of the time, when a particular space, whether that’s a junk drawer or a spare room, repeatedly become cluttered and unmanageable, it’s because they don’t have a clearly defined purpose.
Lack of purpose leads to confusion.
I was emailing a student about this recently.
She was frustrated because she had been repeatedly decluttering the same junk drawers over and over again. Every time she thought she had it at a manageable level, her family would start to rifle through, shove things in at cleanup time, and it would be a mess again.
Through our email conversations, it became clear that the drawers didn’t have a particular purpose beyond holding miscellaneous, random, stuff. And since the contents were always changing, her family never considered that only certain items actually belonged in the drawers.
At clean up time, everything would be shoved and mixed into whatever drawer happened to be the easiest to access — including toys and items that had migrated from bedrooms and other parts of the house.
How to overcome chronic disorganization
I challenged her to give each drawer a specific purpose (socks & undies, home office supplies…etc.) and label them, temporarily, with a Post-It note for a few weeks to help everyone remember what belonged in the drawers (and consequently, what didn’t live there).
Once she started labeling the drawers and giving them a purpose, instead of just utilizing any available space, they were able to keep the clutter much more manageable.
So if you are working on a decluttering project, or planning to, your assignment is to give your space a clearly defined purpose, before you start.
Make sure everyone agrees on that purpose, especially if you want to maximize space in a small house
It’s important to have a conversation with your family so that everyone is on the same page about that purpose of each space — and don’t be surprised if their thoughts are different than yours.
You may consider the purpose of your garage, for example, to be a place to park cars and store some outdoor toys. Your spouse may be thinking of it as a mini workshop.
These are two very different functions, and you can see how it might be frustrating to constantly find piles of tools and half-finished projects in your garage if you only think of it as car storage.
That’s why it’s it’s important to have the conversation.
How to define the purpose of your space to declutter and organize more effectively
Think about the following as you start to narrow it down:
- How is this space used most of the time?
- How do I want it to be used?
- What is the most logical way to utilize this space as it relates to the rest of the room or home?
- How do I want it to look and feel when I’m done?
Give yourself the goal of being as singular as possible with the purpose of each space. In the example above, it may very well be that the best compromise is to use the garage to park cars and as a mini workshop, but if that’s the case, be sure set physical boundaries. The cars in the front, the workshop in the back where the cars don’t park.
By doing that, you are, in essence, dividing the garage into separate spaces within a shared room. But each has only one purpose. This will help prevent it from becoming a collection of miscellaneous clutter (tools, random items that are being “stored”…etc.) with no place to park.
Make sure that the purpose you’re giving to the space makes sense with the way you use the rest of your home or room.
For example, it doesn’t make much sense to keep your mail and home office supplies in a corner of your house far away from where you’re likely to sort the mail or need an envelope. When that happens, the mail is more likely to be piled on a counter or table instead of filed where it belongs. And those envelopes are more likely to be left near the door instead of with the rest of the office supplies. Then it all becomes clutter, causing you to have to declutter again.
Finally, when giving your space purpose, don’t just think in terms of an entire room. That’s a great starting point. But while you’re decluttering each zone, get as specific as drawer by drawer, bin by bin or shelf by shelf. The more specific you get, the easier it will be to maintain.
As you can see, by not overlooking the simple step of clearly defining the purpose of the space in your home, you’ll be able to declutter and organize much more efficiently — and keep it that way.
Now it’s your turn. Do you have a space in your home that, no matter what, you just can’t seem to keep organized? Tell us about it in the comments.
Hi! I’m Kristin, mom of four (ages 2-9) and author of Making Space: A Complete Decluttering Guide for Busy Moms. I’m a recovering hot mess mom and I live to help fellow hot mess mamas transform their lives through realistic decluttering strategies, time management tips and mom life hacks on my blog, Totally the Mom. Grab your free decluttering starter guide for busy moms here. Because kids are crazy; life doesn’t have to be. 😉