How to Organize Anything in 5 Steps


melissa_shapiro_interiors / Instagram

Have you ever looked at super-organized homes and wondered how they do it? The truth is, there is no magic button or shortcut to getting your home organized. It just takes a bit of planning, dedication, and the right system. And while learning how to organize your closet may be different than tidying up your pantry, there are a few key tips you should follow no matter what you're organizing.

To help you tackle any home organization project, we enlisted the help of professional organizing expert Rachel Rosenthal. Whether you're finally hoping to get your closet organized or you really need to clean out those kitchen cabinets, these tips can help you get there.

Here's how to organize nearly anything in your home.

  • 01 of 05

    Stay Realistic About Your Organization System

    Well organized walk in closet

    Rachel Rosenthal

    The key to a well-organized home is a realistic plan and the dedication to stick with it. Anyone can plan out an intricate organizational system, but if it doesn't work for your household, it may not be easy to maintain. According to Rosenthal, it's important to "be realistic about how you and your family function and create organizing systems based on the way that you live."

    Sure, a complicated closet system or shoe storage plan sounds nice in theory, but if your family really just needs a basket by the back door for shoes, then it's better to keep it simple.

  • 02 of 05

    Declutter the Space

    Baby clothes closet

    Getty Images / Siri Stafford

    This may sound a little "chicken or the egg," but before you can organize any space, you need to make sure you only have the necessities. A cluttered home will only be more difficult to organize, so focus on keeping the stuff you really need and donating what you don't. Dedicate a day (or probably a few days) to organizing your tools, junk drawers, closets, basement, and kitchen pantry, then start going through just those items you've worn, used, or eaten recently.

    It's easy to wonder if you may wear that prom dress again one day (spoiler alert: you won't), but a well-organized home requires a reality check on everything you own.

  • 03 of 05

    Stay on Track With a Calendar System

    Computer with calendar

    Westend61 / Getty Images

    One of the biggest reasons an organization system fails is because life gets in the way. Between work and social events, most of us rarely remember to keep our closets arranged by color or to purge the pantry every month. For example, when you first learn how to organize clothes, it can take time to keep the items tidy. Rosenthal suggests scheduling your days, even for those mundane daily tasks.

    "Block off times in your schedule for everything from working out to grocery shopping to even laundry," she says. "Try to be strict with your schedule and get tasks done when you say you will to avoid feeling overwhelmed and frustrated."

  • 04 of 05

    Add a Drop Zone


    melissa_shapiro_interiors / Instagram

    While your end goal should always be to keep things organized, there are simply times when you need to toss something to the side and deal with it later. And that's okay! Consider creating a drop zone for all of those items you need to organize but simply don't have time to do so yet.

    For mail, Rosenthal suggests you add a paper drop zone near your front door for items such as bills, RSVPs, magazines, and more. Consider a few vertical files, separated by urgency: one for must-reads, one for magazines and cards, and another to be shredded or organized in the office. This way, you are one step closer to organizing those papers, but it's simple enough that you can stick with it when you walk in the door.

    Consider a drop zone anywhere you have an intricate organization system that takes a bit of time to keep up with. A basket for to-be-sorted clothes or a bin for books that need re-organizing can help you avoid cluttered surfaces.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Go Vertical With Your Storage

    White shelves with baskets

    Rachel Rosenthal

    Sometimes, no matter how many closets and pantries you have, it never feels like enough. And if you are lacking storage options, it can be difficult to stay organized. One way to maximize your available storage is to think vertically. Rosenthal suggests getting creative with the spaces you rarely use. Whether it's under your bed or atop your cabinets, there is likely some underutilized space you can tap here.

    "If you have extra floor space, consider adding storage ottomans," she says. "Vertical shelving or plastic drawers keep anything from extra clothing to snacks controlled and contained."

Organizing your home doesn't have to be a daunting task. By taking it one step at a time, you can create a system that works for you and your family, and maintain order in every room of your house.

  • Where do I begin to organize my house?

    When you begin organizing your home, it's helpful to start by removing items you no longer use. Once you've pared down your belongings, start planning out functional places to organize them that are easy to keep up with on a daily basis.

  • What is the fastest way to purge clutter?

    Clutter often includes a combination of important items and trash mixed together, which can make it difficult to clear out messy areas at once. To purge clutter quickly, start by throwing out the trash in each area, then group like items together. Everything you plan to keep can be put away in a designated space based on its use.

  • What should you not do when decluttering?

    Decluttering a home may become a big project when the process isn't functional. Sort items as you go and organize one room at a time. In most cases, your whole home can't be decluttered in one day—which can quickly be overwhelming if you start with a large area.