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My Tried and True Rules for Getting Organized

By Nathan Coker
In AskErin
Nov 1st, 2023


Getting organized and staying organized is a learning process that never ends, but with years of organizing experience, I have developed a few steadfast rules that apply to almost every organizing scenario. Keep in mind, though, that all projects start with a plan!  Without a plan, any project is certain to go awry.” “Having no plan is having a plan to fail.” – Anonymous With that said, below are the rules I always follow:

1. Two years = Sayonara  I know you’ve heard the rule that you should get rid of anything that you haven’t used in a year, but my rule is a two-year rule.  I believe that there are situations in which you might not have used an item during the past year, but would use it during the next.  For instance, the weather in the past year might not have been cool enough for a sweater, but the upcoming weather will be.  Or, maybe you didn’t entertain very much during the past year, but plan to change that this year, so all of your pretty serving platters will come in handy.  

2. Limit Duplicates.  Typically, you need only one of each item in your home.  There are exceptions to that rule, so if it’s feasible for you to get rid of the duplicate, please do.  

3. Don’t Use Guilt as a Crutch.  There are two ways that you might experience guilt during the organizing process – 1. You were gifted an item, but you aren’t fond of it.   2. The item holds memories for you or someone in your family, but you don’t have a need or space for the item. Don’t let either of these guilty feelings get in the way of creating the perfectly- organized space that you dream of.   If possible, consider other ways you can utilize the item.  For instance, if it is an old furniture piece that doesn’t fit the aesthetic of your home currently, consider painting it and changing out the hardware.  Or if you received a gift that you do not foresee a need for, try to find someone who does have a need for it and donate it.  There are so many ways to honor an item yet part with it.  

4. If an Item Isn’t Loved, Let it Go.   This tip coincides with the tip above.  Keep only things that you love and that spark joy when you look at them.  Otherwise, your home will not feel like the sanctuary you deserve.

5. Vertical Space = More Storage. “TONS” of vertical space could be wasted in your home right now!  Stop reading and check all of your closets and cabinets.  How much unused space is there at the top of your closet?  What about under your sink?  If you see air, you are wasting usable space!!  To extend storage, add shelf extenders, stackable baskets and bins, or more shelves to these areas.  

6. Don’t Just Organize…Style!  Make every space in your home a place that makes you smile every time you open the door.  You can do that by adding special pieces to each area, like rugs, pictures, greenery, and anything else that would make the space more inviting. This includes closets and pantries.

7. Every Item Deserves a Home.  I am saving the most important steps for last.  Everything in your home should have its own personal, customized spot.  A pile in the floor does not constitute a personal, customized spot, by the way.  Instead, every item should be easy to find and easy to replace, so try using bins, baskets, and other containers to corral like items, for instance.  The clearer and cleaner your horizontal spaces (countertops, tables, etc.)  the more organized your space will look.  

8. Put Everything Back in It’s Home.  This final step is the step that is going to keep you organized.  Once you use an item, place it back in its personal spot each and every time.  It may take some getting used to, but it will pay off in the end.  Remember, take one minute and save hours later!

In the end, remember that your home should be a living space and not a storage space. Getting organized will create more time and energy for you to be able to enjoy your home to the fullest.