Messy House Messy Life! How to Start Organizing When Everything is a Mess!

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Messy House Messy Life – that is how I’ve been feeling!! When I see my unread emails start hitting the thousands, I can’t find my kitchen counters, I can’t remember what I was doing when I walk into a room, and I have piles of laundry on the bed that I am sifting through trying to find my work clothes I know it is bad! But how to start organizing when everything is a mess is the big question! It feels so overwhelming. I feel like by the time I clean one area another one has gotten trashed. Mom life, right!?! But we are going to tackle how and where to start organizing your home.

How it Got This Way

Super Messy KitchenSo everyone gets to this point for different reasons. For me, it was trying to balance starting this blog and getting the girls out as much as possible this summer. Something had to get left out right…and it was the housework. My significant other, Stew, kept up mostly with the dishes but that was it. Everything else just wasn’t happening. When I came back from vacation that was it. I walked in after the girls and I had been gone for more than a week and just wanted to walk back out. I have to have a neat and organized home to function properly! That’s why I say messy house messy life. My mind is scattered when in the back of it I constantly know I need to be focusing on getting the house in order.

It is embarrassing to show these photos but I want those who are feeling like no one else could have let their place get this bad know they are not alone and it can be tackled!! I had a couple more pictures that were even worse but I felt like these two gave you the idea. It just takes a little hard work and you just have to stop putting it off and start!!!

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So Back to How to Start Organizing when Everything is a Mess

Dollar Tree Laundry Baskets Stack of 3

How and where to start organizing your home? First, let’s pick a level. For me, this is my main level. I spend the most time here and I needed my kitchen back!! I used Dollar Tree laundry baskets. I have a bunch. They are great for separating clean laundry between me and the girls and towels and can be stacked so they don’t take up much space. I seriously have 5 of them in all different colors! I started with a trash bag, a basket for give away/stuff to sell, and two for items that belonged upstairs and downstairs. You could use boxes too if you don’t have a stack of laundry baskets like I do!

Step One: Picking Up!

The Messy Living and Dining Room

Start with the floors. Everything on the floors gets picked up and put away if it belongs on the level you are working on and goes in a basket or trash if it doesn’t. Just blow through it. Don’t worry about organizing yet. Just toss stuff in the cabinet or closet or on the shelf. We can start organizing after we have the place picked up. If you start to organize as you go you will never get through it. I can get distracted easily and I just have to almost not look when I put things away, just toss it in and move onto the next thing!!!

Next, do the same thing with the surfaces on that level. The counters, the tables, couches- just pick things up, put them away, throw them away or put them in the correct basket. Declutter as you go. Do you really need the item? Can you do without it? Don’t spend too much time thinking about it, most of these items are things we use and that is why they are out. If things are out because they are always out and don’t have a place think about getting rid of them or rid of something else to make room for them!!

We want to get through this part as quick as possible. I wipe down the counters and dining room table when they are clear and quickly vacuum but other than that I am not cleaning or organizing right now, I am picking up and want to get this done as fast as I can so I can start to feel progress and get motivated to start the decluttering and organizing and cleaning!!!

I felt so good when I had one corner of my kitchen looking like it used to! Just one small spot brought me so much joy!!! Now take your baskets and move to the next level. Put the items away that are in that basket and use it for the floor you just left. I had my den which was a disaster. I had taken boxes of things from my mom’s to go through, got them all spread out and then we had my stepdaughter come, last minute, to stay for the summer in that room. Everything got tossed off the bed, onto the floor, and stayed there. I just neatly placed things back in neat piles and put them aside. I will resume that project when I have my house back again! So pick and choose your priorities. Don’t put everything off but don’t hold up this whole project for another one. My basement needs to be completely gone through and organized as well. But both of these projects are going to be much easier to do when the bulk of the house is clean and organized again. Move through all sections of the house until everything is picked up from the floors and tables and counters!!

If you don’t get distracted you should be able to move through this step in anywhere from a day to a few days depending on how much time you have and how much needs to get picked up. For me, I only had an hour a day to dedicate to this project so I planned to take 3 or so days to address all 3 levels of our townhouse. Try not to spend too much time on deciding if you should keep or give something away. A lot of people say not to have a maybe pile, to only touch each item one time, but if you need one, do it. You don’t want this step to take forever because you can’t get through the decluttering part. You can address the maybe basket when you start organizing if you have to!!

Step Two: Clean!

Kitchen OrganizedWhen I say clean, I don’t mean deep clean. Wipe down, dust, vacuum, sweep, mop…just go over all the surfaces you just cleared. I prefer to get to the organizing and remaining decluttering as soon as possible. My next step for me, because I am a planner to a fault and because some areas are just more important to me than others, is to write a list of every area that needs to be organized in order of priority. This way if I only have an hour each day to dedicate to it  I don’t spend any time aimlessly deciding what to do that day. I have the time set aside each day on my google calendar so I can plan to dedicate my full hour to my organizing project.

Step Three: Decluttering and Organizing!

Kitchen OrganizedSo like I said, I prefer to make a to-do list by priority but you can also just go room by room. Each area that you get through will make it easier to keep going. As you see your progress it will motivate you to move to the next area. Don’t buy things to help you organize until you have gone through everything. You are not trying to add items, we are trying to minimize the items we have. Once you have decided what you have to keep in an area and decided how you want them organized you can grab some bins or baskets or crates.

Don’t jump ahead though or spend a fortune. You may have something you can use from another area that will end up free after you have decluttered!! I used some old cardboard boxes here and there until I figure out exactly what I would need. The Dollar Tree is my favorite place for organizing bins on a budget. However, the quality is not the best and if you can spend a little more check out these great organizing products from Amazon below only when you have completed your organizing and minimizing.

shirts folded verticallySome tips for organizing are to fold items vertically to fit more in drawers and be able to see everything easily. Make sure you are only keeping things that bring you joy is something else Marie Kondo teaches in her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Get rid of paperwork that can be found online if you ever need it again. Try not to let nostalgia cloud your judgment. Take a picture of something if you need to or if you really want to keep things like ticket stubs and such make a scrapbook that will go neatly on a shelf. Don’t let these items clutter up your home.

How I Did on My Clean Up Project

I have to admit I sidetracked several times and did not totally follow my own advice. I stopped at the main level and organized the coat closet because that was bothering me more than the upstairs was. I picked up and have been decluttering the upstairs while also going through and organizing my emails and working on some side projects to try to bring in some much needed extra income. So after the main level and upstairs started looking pretty good again my priorities shifted. This is ok too. I feel so much better having my whole main level and upstairs feeling like home again. I did a lot of decluttering and organizing upstairs already and am working on selling some of it. I will probably really tackle some of my decluttering and minimizing upstairs before moving on. The basement is my lowest priority and will be the biggest job. After I finish upstairs I will go back to the main level and organize and deep clean before heading all the way down to the basement.

If you are like me with very limited time we have to really prioritize what is most important at the moment. I don’t have a huge backlog of laundry to do anymore and the sink has been empty more than full so these things are so important to me!! I still have the prioritized to-do list that I am working through little by little. I also have a cleaning plan that I need to put back in place. I have daily and weekly chores on a chart so that if I do a little each day I will get through the whole house each month. It is easier breaking it down this way instead of trying to do it all at once. At least it is for me with Stew working all the time and having 2 young kids while still working 2 days a week outside the house and working on a few freelance projects at home. The biggest thing to think about is moving forward what are you going to do to ensure that you don’t end up back here again.

Girls Organized Closet den organized  Linen Closet Organized My Closet Organized

Let’s Keep it Clean and Organized!!

I can keep cleaning and organizing new areas if others are not getting destroyed in the meantime. I have started delegating chores to Stew and the girls. He spends a lot of time in the basement on his Xbox when he isn’t working, so he can bring the laundry down every other night, drop it in the washer, flip it to the dryer in between games and bring the dry laundry up for me when he is done. I just sort it into different baskets the next day, one for each girl, towels, and my clothes.

LJ can completely put her laundry away including hanging her clothes. She is only 4 and a half. T can put all her clothes away except for what needs to be hung, with a little help if I put the items in piles for her. She is almost 2. So don’t underestimate what your kids can do to help. It also makes it quality time with the kids and not something that has to be done while they are sitting with an iPad or in front of the TV. LJ actually folds washcloths better than her dad! I empty the first half of the dishwasher and leave anything that isn’t breakable and that they can reach and both girls finish it for me. LJ can help me load the dishwasher and both girls take the recycling out to the bin on our deck. They have to put all of their toys away in the living room and in their room before bedtime. These little things make the daily housework so much easier to keep up with.

Rules to Keep Things Clean and Organized

  1. Put everything away right away, don’t leave it for later. If you empty the dishwasher every morning then it is always ready for dishes to be loaded right in. Have your kids clear their own place at the table and wipe down the table and the chairs while you straighten the kitchen after meals. LJ will even grab the cordless vacuum and clean up their mess under the table. When you bring the mail in, immediately open it and recycle what doesn’t need to go into the mail sorter. These little steps make a huge difference.
  2. Take 10 minutes every morning and night to declutter. Also, have a general schedule you go by for chores. I try to have Stew do the laundry every other night and if the dishwasher is full or close to we run it every night and empty it every morning. This also keeps things from piling up. I will do a post sometime about the chore schedule I use to clean my whole house top to bottom in just a half-hour a day.
  3. Minimize!! Have a place for everything. If while you are organizing you keep having things that just don’t really have a place you need to declutter and minimize!! Until everything has a place you will always be ending up with a mess. I just don’t have enough space for everything and since upgrading our home is not an option I am working to get rid of anything I don’t absolutely have to have.

I hope this helped you tackle your messy house and get your life back on track. I planned to make this a series with a separate post on each step as I completed them but since I sidetracked (and also have some posts on kids’ subscription boxes and kids’ board books that I want to get up soon) this ended up being one long post! I’ve also had 2 sick kiddos after not even one full week of being back to school so I had to improvise my cleaning plan around them!!

Let me know how your cleaning project went. What do you do to keep yourself from getting behind again? Have you found ways to help you declutter and minimize efficiently? Let me know in the comments below!!

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