Home Organizing Before Selling: Tips from the Experts

If you’re planning to sell your home, keeping it clean, organized, and decluttered will help during the selling process. The goal is to leave buyers feeling wowed and to create a space where potential buyers can imagine themselves living. Home organizing aims to create a space that creates competition between buyers to help you get the highest asking price. Some of the most important things you can start with are: 

Depersonalizing your home

You want to create a home where buyers can envision themselves living. Remove personal items to create a more neutral home. Take down your family photos, your children’s drawings, and other items that are extremely personal to you. While it may feel uncomfortable, it’s an effective way to provide a clean slate to possible buyers so they can imagine themselves and their families moving in once they buy it.

Organize your closets

Closet space is important to buyers, so make sure yours are clean and organized. Remove excess clothing and shoes that you don’t wear often and make sure everything is hung nicely on the racks. Use bins to corral extra items like bags and accessories or remove them completely. Keep the items you wear every day stored in a dresser away from the closet. The goal is to show buyers how much space they’ll have for their own clothing when they move into your home.

Keep counters clean and organized

The kitchen is a home’s main selling point, so it’s vital to keep your counter space neat and organized. Use an environmentally friendly cleaner to wipe down countertops and move items you don’t use daily to the cabinets or drawers. The more clutter-free your countertops are, the more open your kitchen will look. Most home buyers are looking for a nice, roomy kitchen they can cook in and enjoy.

Declutter your kids’ rooms

Cluttered kids’ rooms are inevitable, but it’s not going to be attractive to buyers. Put the toys your kids don’t often play with away in storage or boxes in the closet. Encourage your kids to keep their room clean and make bed daily. Use bookshelves or bins to keep items off the floor, so the room looks inviting and attractive in case the new homeowners want to use the space as a guest room or home office.

Here are some top tips from experts in the home organization field that’ll help you create a clutter-free home that buyers will love.

Home organization: FAQs with the experts

How can I maintain a clean and organized house during the selling process?

Maintaining a clean house during the selling process is never easy. Between photographers, real estate agents, house tours, and open houses, there’s a lot of activity in a home while it’s on the market. All the movement in the home is what builds up dust and dirt. The laborious process of keeping a home on the market cleaned is especially true if the family still lives in the house. 

The best way to maintain the cleanliness of a home throughout this process is by keeping a schedule and doing small things daily to maintain the house. 

If planning on cleaning without a professional, start by delegating responsibilities to the family. Empowering individuals with specific responsibilities helps ensure they’ll keep up with the tasks as much as possible.

Suppose the family is busy and can’t keep up with daily cleanings. Let’s face it, who has time for that when selling a home? Enlisting a professional’s help can have a profound impact. 

Start by having a professional do an initial deep cleaning of the home. Deep cleaning should focus on areas where dust builds up and is visible to someone viewing the house during a walk-through or in pictures. Areas like baseboards, blinds, and ceiling fans are significant during this step of the cleaning process. 

Then, have the same professional home cleaner visit once every two-to-four weeks and go top to bottom with more basic upkeep and maintenance cleaning. This cadence will typically be more than enough to maintain the home’s cleanliness in-between visits.

-Ryan Knoll at Tidy Casa

How can I keep my visible spaces decluttered?

An organized, tidy, and decluttered home is a top priority for a quick sale. With dedicated time for this, you can make it easier to sell and easier to move. Here are the top three tips for organizing your home to put your home on the market and make an easy move.

Decluttering: Potential buyers love to see a lot of storage in every space in your home. You can save much money and stress by decluttering room by room. Start in any area and go around the room, letting go of what you have not used and what you don’t love. If you are downsizing, use a rule of thumb of a percentage of space to a percentage of belongings. Donating is the easiest way to downsize. Begin this step 2 -3 months or as soon as you talk to realtors about your home sale.

Gathering categories together: Save your sanity with an organized approach to moving and packing. During busy times, stuff gets put wherever stuff gets scattered, and there is a lot of disorder in your home. You want to get together what goes together. That way, you can pack like items together. Your packing and unpacking are much easier, and you can label that box to be placed where it goes in your new home.

One category you want to keep together, and safe is your jewelry. A small safe is the best option for maintaining jewelry secured during this busy, high-traffic time. You will not have to worry about showing your house to potential buyers.

Routines make maintenance easy: Trash and recyclables build up every day. Have two days a week for trash disposal and one day a week for recycling. Your daily routine includes doing dishes, and your weekly routine includes completing laundry. This makes your home appealing for those who request a viewing at the last minute. Set up a responsibility chart so that everyone in your family takes part in the responsibility.

Maintaining a clean and organized home during the selling process for potential buyers is manageable with planning and organization.

-Certified Professional Organizer Ellen Delap, owner of Professional-Organizer.com

What are the benefits of hiring a professional organizer?

The most successful people stay productive because of their ability to keep their minds in order.  All of this can be attributed to the saying:

“An organized space equals an organized mind.”

Get You Out of a Rut and Help You Destress

Getting organized might help you feel less stressed. Working with a professional organizer can help you establish routines and habits that create long-lasting organization systems.

Help You Decide What to Keep and What to Let Go

Some decisions are hard to make without a little bit of guidance and direction. When unsure, we often walk away from what leads us to clutter. Professional organizers are skilled at posing questions that will guide your decision-making. Since they have no emotional attachment to the objects you can’t decide on, coming up with ideas is easy for them.

Ease Your Mind About Not Having Enough Time

A professional organizer can be helpful when you don’t have the free time to organize your bedrooms, bathrooms, pantries, closets, or drawers. They can complete all the labor-intensive tasks as you do your daily business. You can even discuss how you want your house to be arranged with them while they are there and how their strategy works for you.

Get Organized; Stay Organized

Professional organizers can help you declutter, create organized systems, and impart their skills to keep the systems running smoothly. The last thing you want to see after putting a lot of effort into getting a zone or whole house exactly right is clutter creeping back in. 

These few benefits are just the tip of the iceberg; there are many more. Learn more about working with a professional organizer and organizing methods at SolutionsForYou.com.

-Anne Blumer at Solutions for You

How can I start depersonalizing my home? 

In some ways, depersonalization is the antithesis of home organization, insofar that a goal of home organization is to create personalized spaces that meet the needs of specific users. However, we can invert this goal to create depersonalized spaces that meet the potential needs of nonspecific users. This then becomes a relatively simple task that does not require someone to think like an organizer to get the job done.

The objective of depersonalization, in the context of preparing to put a house on the market, is to create an atmosphere that allows prospective buyers to envision themselves living in your home. Therefore to depersonalize a home effectively it will be necessary to remove all items from the home (or at the very least out of view) that pertain to an individual’s identity and specific interests. Items that fall into this category are things like collectibles, hobby-related items, photos, sports memorabilia, and religious items.

In addition to removing the items listed above, it would be wise to limit the items left in the house to the absolute necessities. Imagine that you are packing for a month-long trip and that you are preparing to rent out your furnished and functional home. Those are likely the items that you’ll need to get through the day-day while your home is on the market. Everything else can be packed away in preparation for your move. What items remain can be stored, in uncrowded, inappropriately sized bins if desired.

Once you clear your home of personal and extraneous items, you can consult with an interior designer or stager to discuss your furniture and paint needs.

-Keith Bartolomei at Zen Habitat

How can I start downsizing?

Are you planning to downsize before a move? Here are 3 steps to start downsizing TODAY! 

Step 1, Set a date: First, set a date. Once you have your deadline, set a goal each week to focus on one category. Share this date with family members, let them know by a set date the remaining belongings will be sold or donated.

If you have a large home filled with years of accumulation, contact a local whole-home estate agent who can assist in selling items in your home. Get in touch with a local junk removal service and moving company to help move out bulky items. 

Step 2, Downsize by Category: Decluttering one category at a time helps you move through the process more efficiently. Spend a week going through clothing, a few days sorting books, etc. It’s easier to make decisions when you have all your options in front of you.

Step 3, Pass Along Stories and Things: Most things in your home have a story. Downsizing takes time and can be emotionally taxing because you are revisiting all those stories as you start to move things around. 

A way to make this time more fun is to invite guests over often and let everyone know you are downsizing. You don’t want to push things on people, just talk to them about their hobbies and interests, then find things to pass along. 

We’ve all heard the phrase take a photo it will last longer. If you want to keep the memories of all the things you collected over a lifetime, take a photo of these items before passing them on. 

Bill Gates once said: “The great thing about a computer is that no matter how much you stuff into it, it doesn’t get bigger or heavier.” Digitizing papers, letters, photos, recipes, and articles allows you to keep thousands of documents in the palm of your hand. Use tools like Evernote, Dropbox, or Google docs to catalog and organize your virtual inventory. 

When it comes to downsizing, plan as much time as you can and get into a mindset of letting go. Focus on the future and your new life!

-Katherine Lawrence at Space Matters

How do I get motivated to declutter? 

When working with someone to help them declutter, I often ask, “What are you saying to yourself when you declutter.” They will say things like, “The project is so big.” “It’s overwhelming.” “It will just get cluttered again.” And we wonder why we aren’t motivated to declutter. We have stopped ourselves before we start.

There’s not only junk in your house, but lots in your mind.

To get yourself motivated, first, choose a tiny place to start. One shelf. One corner. One drawer. Picture how you want that space to look. See in your mind all the area you are creating in that moving truck. Stuff that you won’t have to lug into a new place. Feel the freedom in your body.

Then do a little self-talk. Tell yourself you are capable of this project. Say it’s just stuff, and you don’t have to make perfect choices. Remember times you were successful and decisive. Try these phrases:

“People declutter all the time; I certainly can.”

“All I need to do is 15 minutes right now. I can handle it.”

“I want to declutter now instead of waiting until the last minute.”

“I am excited not to have to move all the clutter.”

“I broke this down into a small enough chunk that it can be accomplished. I am improving my decision-making skills every day. I am looking forward to a clearer room.”

Put on music or an audiobook and set a timer for 15 minutes. Focus on just that one spot; if you get stuck, throw that object into a to decide later box. You want to keep the momentum going.

After 15 minutes, you can stop or keep going. But, once you stop, note the next place you want to declutter, so you’ll know exactly where to start next time. People waste a lot of time going around in circles with no plan.

Every time you declutter, I want you to feel good about what you did. It’s hard to keep something like decluttering going if you don’t allow yourself to feel successful. So notice what you accomplished and maybe track what you are doing. 

-Beth Dargis at My Simpler Life

How can decluttering help reduce stress and increase productivity?

When our spaces are cluttered and messy it can be a big distraction for us. Decluttering is one of the simplest ways to help relieve stress and anxiety. And just generally improve our well-being. This is important as part of our self-care.

By decluttering our spaces we are able to focus on the things that are important to us. As we don’t feel pulled in different directions by the distractions and clutter around us. It can leave us feeling overwhelmed and anxious. 

When we have an organized and pleasant space around us, it literally lifts our spirits. We feel more at ease and happy with ourselves and our home. It also becomes easier to stay organized in the future.

Decluttering makes us feel we have more control over our lives. As decluttering alters our physical space for the better, we see we can make positive changes around us. Even if it’s only small to start with. And that leads to a snowball effect in other areas of our lives. 

When items are organized properly and we know exactly where to find them. This leads to less wasted time and increased productivity. Which means we have time to focus on the activities we actually enjoy!

Chloe Dominik

What are some practical Feng Shui tips for organizing a cluttered space and promoting good energy flow?

Although decluttering is not exactly part of feng shui, decluttering does help feng shui by enabling you to arrange your centerpiece furniture and maximize your space to attract auspicious feng shui energy. For instance, if you live in an extremely cluttered space, the first step to bringing good feng shui is to decide where your bed, desk, and sofa should be placed, according to feng shui principles that use both the Form school and the Compass school. Once that is decided, you know where your items should be stored. That’s when you begin organizing, taking measurements, buying storage units that fit, and start decluttering. 

For those having trouble decluttering (or tossing things away), here are two mind tricks that help: visualize a clean home and motivate yourself with money by finding out how much your items are worth (a good tool to use is eBay). Don’t forget to organize first before buying storage units because you might end up having extra storage units, which are also cluttered. Over time, most of us buy more than we use, so make it a habit to clean your dwelling at least once a year (similar to spring cleaning).

-Victor Cheung at Feng Shui Nexus

How can I let go of sentimental clutter?

As the owner of a professional organizing company for the past 14 years, I understand our relationships with “stuff’ – and how it can sometimes turn into “clutter.” We tend to hold on to our stuff for one of two reasons:

First, we have one hand holding on to what we think we may need someday. The other hand is holding on to the past, the items and artifacts that gave meaning to life when they came into one’s life.

Holding on to what we may need and what has already happened doesn’t leave much room (literally!) for the present. It’s as if past and future upstage any hope of having an uncluttered present.

I get a sense that many folks believe that however they’re walking through their lives, they hold on to things that no longer reflect who they are. We look back at the past with a great deal of fondness; with that fondness comes holding on to the baggage of that time without considering that this time of our life has the potential to be, or already is, pretty darned good.

The hand in front is holding on to an unknown, unnamed future we call “someday.” We are afraid that something will happen (or not!) if we don’t have a particular item for “someday” because, when and if that day finally arrives, and we don’t have that thing, we will be unprepared, and that is bad. The problem with holding on to “someday” is that most people tend to have a lot of somedays on the horizon. Holding on to a lot of somedays likely means that you have a lot of stuff everywhere and you won’t be able to find what you know you have, if someday ever does arrive!

The hand that we have behind us? The one that holds on to the past? We believe that these remnants and artifacts from the past have particular importance, so important that we have to save them for what? 

One suggestion to start clearing the path from the past: remove ten things/day. That’s it. That’s all you have to do. And then, repeat.

-Regina F. Lark at A Clear Path

How can I get my family on board with decluttering?

As a professional organizer, I frequently work with homeowners to help them prep for sale with the objective of making their home, clean, organized, and attractive to buyers. In the process, however, many clients discover the very strategies used to organize their homes for sale are the same strategies that can be applied once they move into their new space. In either instance, a key ingredient for success is to involve everyone in the organizational process who uses each space. The good news? There are simple strategies to get all family members involved!

1. Help your family members understand what’s in it for them! Tap into individual or family priorities. When people have a “why” for doing the work it is easier to get on board. 

2. Set an example. Sometimes it is not that our family members don’t want to declutter, but rather that they don’t know how. Helping each member decide where to start, how to make decisions, and what to do with items they don’t want, provides a road map for them to follow.

3. Clarify the “rules” for maintaining. The general rule of thumb is that everything needs a home. Your family needs to know where each item should live so they can put it away. Your future buyers need to see that everything fits in your space because everything is well-contained. Once you have determined where something should “live”, label that space. This practice holds everyone accountable. Then, teach your family the 1 in/1 out rule. (If you want to bring something new in, something old must go out.)

4. Make it fun! Work in short bursts to maintain energy- set a timer for a decluttering session each day, but don’t let anyone work past the timer. Put on some music that the whole family will enjoy. Have a contest- who can find the most items for donation in their closet? Who can put the most items away before the timer goes off?

Whether preparing for a move OR preparing to stay- if organization is your goal, it pays to involve all individuals that share your space.

-Erin Gaskins at Room Redefined

How can I get my kids on board with organizing?

The best way to get your kids on board with organizing the selling process for potential buyers to be attracted to the house is to: 

  • Adjust the organizing system to match your kid’s age. Assign bins for specific toys using visual pictures of the items that are supposed to be in that bin such as a picture of cars for a cars bin. Older kids can use written-out labels to help keep items organized. 
  • Make it fun! Put on a favorite kid song and have a dance party or turn cleaning into a game. There are many ways to get creative so it doesn’t feel like a chore. Liven it up!
  • Under-the-bed storage is fantastic to have. It keeps your kid’s items looking neat in their bedrooms and it is simple to put away once they are done playing.
  • Decorative Bins – have plenty of decorative bins around so that you can place items into them last minute. Sometimes things come up so having a bin that can collect everything is perfect for those times. Once the potential buyers are gone, you can take the bin and properly put items away. 
  • Be patient. Your kids may put things in the wrong spots sometimes but remember they are just kids and they are trying to help. In time, toys will end up in the right toy box eventually. However, for now, embrace the moment that your family is working as a team to get the job done. 
  • Make a chore chart or schedule. It can be a huge help to your kids remember what they are supposed to do in their room. Plus, it gives them a sense of independence! Also, consider giving them a goal or treat to work towards to really make things interesting!
  • Constant reminders to put things back. It will take time but these reminders will become a part of their routine once they get the hang of it.

-Shanice Bannis at City of Creative Dreams

How can I make decluttering a habit?

The best way to create any habit is to be intentional in practicing the habit. So in answering the question, of how to make decluttering a habit, that’s the answer, practice decluttering on a consistent basis. In making decluttering a productive habit for you, to reduce the clutter in your home or space in general, I recommend starting small. Start small both in space and the amount of time you plan to dedicate to decluttering.

  • Set aside a specific, short amount of time. I recommend starting with 30 minutes. Set your timer for 30 minutes. The idea behind setting a short amount of time is that, for starters, it is not overwhelming. You know you only have to get through 30 minutes at a time and once your timer is up, you’re free to move on to a different task.
  • Select a space or category that is a bit cluttered, but not terribly overwhelming. This can be as simple as your makeup brushes or a small space like a junk drawer in the kitchen. The focus here is that you want to start in a space that will allow you to see small wins within your 30-minute time block. Starting in spaces that are too cluttered oftentimes doesn’t result in mini wins, which makes it all the more difficult to make decluttering a habit.
  • Practice tips 1 and 2 daily. The idea is to get into good habits and practice letting go of items that are not serving you or the space. When you can set a daily timer to declutter different spaces or categories in your home, you, in turn, develop a routine that works for you, all while creating more space to breathe and enjoy the items you love, use, and need.

The idea is not to develop this habit overnight- that’s not how habits work. Instead, you want to focus on practicing simple tips that are intended to help you create a routine around creating space in your home (or where you decide to declutter).

-Kenika Williams at Tidied By K

What should I start decluttering with? 

I always suggest to my clients and students that they start their decluttering process by doing a walk-through of their entire space and looking at it with fresh eyes. Be sure to bring something to take notes with on the way! This home tour aims to list your clutter trouble spots and any furniture items you want to remove before listing to create your action plan.

From there, I create a spreadsheet with four columns: To-Do Item, Deadline, Status & Notes. I like to use a digital spreadsheet so that I adjust my to-do list in order of priority. When you’re moving, some to-do list items may take precedence due to their deadline, needing outside vendors to help with repairs, and more – so it can be beneficial to get all of those small projects out of your head and noted on one main list.

To-do list items may include the clutter spots you noted in your home tour. For these, I would get as specific as possible. Instead of registering “declutter bedroom,” you might want to list instead: declutter bedside table, declutter top of the dresser, declutter under the bed, etc. This can help get things done on your list. Instead of one giant project that could take hours, you can knock off a to-do list item in a shorter amount of time. That way, you’ll feel accomplished faster, keeping you motivated.

Also, note that you may want to consider removing furniture or pre-packing items you won’t need until after the move. The more you can pre-pack, the easier it is to have your home feel larger and more organized. You’ll also want to de-personalize your home as you go – removing family photos and anything with your child’s name. The goal with all the preparations is to make your home feel open and spacious so anyone can walk in and picture themselves living there.

-Carly Adams at Tidy Revival

Which room should I start decluttering when moving?

Picture this: your home just sold, and you are ready to start packing for the move. Where do you start?  The garage.

It may seem counterintuitive initially; after all, there is a whole house of household items to pack. Wouldn’t it be easier to start somewhere else? Starting with the garage creates a staging area for everything that you will be selling, donating, giving away, recycling, and throwing out. It is also the perfect spot to set up a packing station with folding tables, boxes, packing materials, labeling supplies, etc. Later there is space to stack boxes and totes so that your living spaces can still be enjoyed in the weeks while you wait to close.

Divide your garage into zone categories for the different items that will be leaving your home, and you won’t pack anything by mistake. Take this chance to clear out the clutter and maybe even finally unpack those boxes from your last move that are still in the garage. 

If your garage is full of “delayed decisions,” you will want to start by ordering a dumpster. So often, we keep things to use for “someday” and hang on to past equipment for hobbies, sports, and interests we once enjoyed. Instead, consider the new lifestyle you will cultivate in this next chapter of your life and take the time to sort out your possessions accordingly.

Once your garage is clear, it can be the perfect place to stage a garage sale. Suppose you decide to sell more oversized items on Craig’s List or Facebook Marketplace. In that case, the garage is an easily accessible, safe place to invite potential buyers to come view and pick up their purchases. Your privacy is protected.

Packing up your garage first paves the way for a smooth move

-Valerie Cady at Winnow & Spruce Organizing

How long before moving should I deep clean and declutter my home? 

Ideally, you should deep clean and declutter your home before you put it on the market. The average time to sell a home is 78 days, even in once-hot markets, like the Tampa Bay area where I live. So, you will need your home to be show-ready from the day it hits the market.

Depending on how much time you have to work on your home each day, I recommend giving yourself 2-4 weeks before you put your house on the market to declutter and deep clean it. I know people’s number one problem with decluttering is feeling so overwhelmed they don’t even start. It is unrealistic to think you can declutter and clean your entire house in one weekend. 

Once you understand that, it makes the job easier and feel more manageable. You will accomplish much more if you start small. ⁠Which is your messiest or most cluttered area? If tackling the entire bedroom seems too big a task, then pick just one part, just the closet. Or, if you only have a little bit of time, clean out and reorganize one or two dresser drawers. ⁠⁠Just start. ⁠

If you already have a new home in mind, think about the items you currently have. Be mindful of having a smaller garage, basement, attic, or storage space. What items do you want/need to keep, and what won’t you have room for? Have some garbage bags handy. If it’s broken or unusable, trash it. Have a couple of large donation boxes nearby, too. If someone else can use it, donate or sell it. ⁠

Once an area has been emptied, give it a good cleaning before putting back the items you want to keep. Boom! One room is done! Now, move on to the next one. Then repeat. Decluttering and cleaning this way allows you to use your time more efficiently. Working on a small area at a time will enable you to stay focused and get it done without feeling overwhelmed.

⁠Having less stuff to keep track of (and clean) will lift a weight from your shoulders, bring a sense of calm and peace, and make packing up your current home much more manageable!⁠

-Pam Hoepner at Life, Creatively Organized

How can I maintain my clutter-free home?

First impressions count, and staging your home for selling is important, but so too is ensuring your home is clean and organized throughout the selling process. Not only does it affect how prospective buyers feel when they enter your home, but it makes it easier for you, as the buyer, to be confident your home is always ready for viewings with minimum stress and hassle.

There are some easy ways to maintain your clutter-free home throughout the selling process. Clearing the obvious clutter and getting rid of items that you don’t use, love, or add value in some way is a good start. If you’re not planning on taking the stuff with you, declutter it now as a priority to reduce some of your clutter and create visual and physical space. Avoid buying anything new so you’re not adding to the clutter until you’ve moved.

It’s also helpful to establish some simple habits to stay clutter-free. Give everything a home for easy storage whilst not in use and put things back after you’ve used them. Do a daily reset of your home to clear away the clutter of the day. Keep counters, tables, floors, stairs, and flat surfaces clutter-free. Not only does clutter attract yet more clutter but a clear line of sight creates better flow room-to-room and gives the impression of more space.

A clutter-free home is easier to keep clean and tidy. Create a housework rota so you do a few chores on a regular basis. This will keep the daily dust and dirt away more effectively than doing nothing all week and having to catch up at the weekend. Identify the key areas of your home that get the most traffic and use, and prioritize those for cleaning and organizing.

Keep in mind what prospective buyers will see and think as they enter your home and move around it. Remove excess clutter and create habits and routines to keep your home clutter-free so potential buyers can get a true feel for how they could use the space if they were to live there.

-Antonia Colins at Balance Through Simplicity

How do you motivate yourself to get things done?  

We all get lazy, overwhelmed, or even panicked at times, and pushing ourselves to tackle tasks can become a task itself! It’s even more difficult when you don’t enjoy the task.

Well, this certainly won’t help if your taxes are still not done but if you’re trying to get yourself organized, here are some tricks.

Firstly, and most importantly, don’t try to do it all in one shot! That thought even freaks the professionals out!

Here are some fun ways to break down the daunting task of organizing almost anything:

By Room is the most practical method. Choose one room at a time to concentrate on, then de-clutter and organize until you’re satisfied with the results.

By Category can be very productive. Pick a category every time you decide to de-clutter. One week it could be clothes, the following toys, the next books and so on. Make sure you find everything that fits into that category and evaluate whether to keep or donate.

Now we start creating the “games” and having some fun:

Numerically there are two ways you can commit to playing this. Using the first method, on the date you decide to organize, you commit to donating/discarding the number of items for that date. For example, if you organize on the 10th, you eliminate ten things. With the second, you use the number represented by the month, so in April, you would choose four items, and in November, you would choose 11.

Alphabetically speaks for itself. Make sure you list everything before you start so you don’t forget a category.  S is for sewing accessories, shirts, stuffed animals, etc. You can pick on “S” a day or plan a day full of “S’s”.

By Color may be the hardest one to do. Choosing a color is easy, but you must hunt all over the house for things of that color; however, it may keep your kids busy for a while!

There is no right, wrong, best, or worst.

Whatever it takes to accomplish your goal is the best way.

-Tracey Shadley at Organize A-Z

How can I declutter for Feng Shui? 

Whether planning a move from your home or not, here are some Feng Shui ideas to keep your space from overwhelming you, saving you nimble and free, and providing you with lots of space you didn’t know you had. This process requires time for decisions; it is not a two-week quick-fix approach. 

Start in the deepest, darkest parts of your home. This would be in the basement, the attic, the back of closets, or boxes that haven’t been opened in a long while. When pulling weeds, you want to be sure to get the roots so that the weed doesn’t come back. These dark areas are like the roots—make sure you get into all the corners.

Limit the time you work on this project. A Feng Shui approach is to de-clutter in increments of nine (9 minutes, nine items, etc.). When moving into these hidden areas, it isn’t always possible to adhere to this, so set a specific goal, like clearing out one shelf, moving out everything in one corner, etc.

Get the stuff out of the house. Don’t let bags and boxes of things sit by a door or in the hallway until you decide to take it all to its final destination. Get rid of it right away. Not only does that prevent you from rummaging through it again, thinking you may want to keep something, but it also starts a pattern of “emptying.”

Be prepared for chaos. No matter how you try, it will seem like stuff is everywhere. This is why you want to tackle one small area at a time, which will be easier to handle. Even then, there will be messiness.

Involve your space. Don’t think for a minute your area isn’t thrilled you’re doing this. You can keep a silent conversation going to thank it for its patience, honor its reliability, and even put forth an apology or two for your unintended neglect. Your space can help you clarify what to keep and what to release.

Honor the process. As momentum happens in this clearing-out process, you will notice a change in your energy and attitude. You may feel lighter, happier, and stronger; stuff can weigh you down. Treating the items as treasures yet things you need to release, puts a different perspective on clearing out. Even if you’re tossing items into recycling, do it with respect. After all, for a time, those things made your life better.

-Carole at Carole Hyder

​​How can I start purging for my move? 

If you’re planning to move, the sooner the weed-out/purge process begins, the better! Editing and purging items that are no longer needed is one of the essential elements of staying organized. Here are some steps to remember:

Donation Sources: Think about who might be able to make use of the unwanted items. When you have a charity or a friend/relative who would appreciate those things, it is much easier to part with them.

Consider where you will move: Think about the climate, the size of the new living quarters, and what your new space will be like. 

Lifestyle change? Are you moving because of a job or family dynamic change? Working from home or in an office? Consider what you will plan on keeping based on these changes as well.

Moving mentality: We like to tell our clients to live today as though they’ll be moving next month, keeping only what you would take with you. The decision-making process can be challenging, and letting go of particular items and memories is tough. We make suggestions like writing a story about an object or taking a picture of it to keep its memory.

Don’t look at the big picture: It’s easy to get overwhelmed. We encourage clients to go item by item through each and everything. 

Bag it up: Have bags and labels handy. You’ll have bags going out to the trash, bags for donations, and even to particular people. 

Decisions, decisions: During the purging process, the decision maker must be present. Trust is necessary; we do not eliminate anything from a residence without permission. 

Guiding you through the process: Our job is to coach you by asking questions like, “when was the last time you used this” “how often do you use it” and “will it be needed in your new place?” These questions will spur your thinking into making decisions more quickly.

Encouragement: Letting go can be challenging. At Chaos To Order, we encourage you along the way as you make decisions while we get items into the proper places. It’s a quick, efficient way of helping you get from Chaos To Order.

-Monica Friel at Chaos to Order

How can I maintain my organized kitchen every day?

To keep your kitchen organized, include a quick tidy-up in your daily routine. Every evening take a few moments to return things that have been left out and put them where they belong. This quick kitchen walk-through to ensure items have been put away can prevent the pile-up of clutter on the countertops and kitchen table. 

Limit what you keep out on the countertops to keep your kitchen well organized. Try only to leave out the small countertop appliances that you use daily. Other items used less frequently should be stowed away. It is important to declutter to make space to store these items. 

Having too many things makes it impossible to keep the space organized, and you lack enough storage. Make the time to sort through each area of your kitchen, one shelf or drawer at a time. To help fit organizing into your busy schedule and ensure you do not get overwhelmed, work in small areas at a time. 

Take the items out of one drawer or off one shelf. Decide what you want to keep, what you can donate or sell, and what might simply need to be recycled or thrown away. Return the items you are keeping to the shelf or drawer. Once you have sorted out all the spaces, it will be much easier to keep things organized in the future. When returning items to storage, think about your kitchen in terms of zones so you can easily group similar items. When you know where to go to look for what you need, it helps to keep the mess to a minimum. Use storage containers to hold small items that are likely to get lost. 

Do not forget to sort out the refrigerator and freezer. Knowing what perishable foods you have can help you save money by not re-buying things you already own. And you will remind yourself to use items up by their expiration dates. And, of course, always check the expiration dates to ensure you discard food beyond the best-by date. 

Jamie Novak author of Keep This, Toss That: the practical guide to tidying up

How can I maintain my organized kitchen drawers?

When you’re selling your house, you want to make sure that potential buyers can visualize how they would use the space, especially the soul of a house – the kitchen. That means taking a hard look at your own storage in your kitchen and decluttering where necessary. One area that is often overlooked is the kitchen drawers. These can be a catch-all for everything from utensils to tupperware. By taking the time to organize your kitchen drawers, you can show potential buyers that your home is both functional and stylish.

One way to organize your kitchen drawers is to add drawer dividers. These can help to create a more organized look and make it easier for buyers to see how they could use the space. You can find drawer dividers at most home improvement stores. Another option is to use plate holders or spice racks to help buyers to visualize how they can put their kitchen tools in your home. By taking a few minutes to organize your kitchen drawers, you can make a big impression on potential buyers.

-Kelin at Hydrangea Treehouse

How do I keep my pantry organized?

The best way to keep your pantry organized is to treat it not as a storage space but as an active resource you manage. Most people struggle with pantry clutter because there’s no urgent need to keep it looking nice and clean like other spaces in your home since everything is hidden behind a door. And when you get home from a big grocery shopping trip, most of us are tired and welcome the opportunity just to shove everything in any free space.

Unfortunately, this strategy means you’re accumulating clutter and losing track of what is inside your pantry, meaning foods in the back are expiring, and you are collecting duplicates without knowing it. That is why scheduling a regular pantry audit is the most effective way to keep your pantry tidy.

  • Take 5, 10, or 15 minutes each month to touch everything in your pantry and track what you already have, everything else will fall into place.
  • Save your pantry audit for a time when you’ll have a few minutes to really see what is there, what you need, and how you can make slight quick improvements.
  • Open your pantry once a month and set a timer for 15 minutes. In that time, commit to just being present. Yes, it’s boring, but it will save you money, time, frustration, and food waste. 
  • Touch every item in the pantry. Move similar items together, toss things that have expired, and take note of anything that is running low. Can two canisters of dried beans be combined to free up one of the canisters? Just do it really quick while you’re thinking about it. 

This isn’t about perfection; it is about consistency. And consistency, in small doses over time, adds up like compound interest into more and more of what you want from your life and home


How can I maintain my bedroom organized? 

Making your bed every day sets the tone for an organized life, in my opinion. So start there. The key to keeping your bedroom organized is to have only the things you use, wear and love in your dresser, closet, and nightstands; if you have more than that, it’s time to donate, sell or throw anything you don’t use or wear.

I’m a fan of the capsule wardrobe method for your clothing. It minimizes the amount of clothing you own and streamlines your day when you’re getting ready in the morning.

Use a pretty basket or bin for your laundry hamper so your dirty clothes aren’t just lying on the floor.

Get into the habit of washing, folding, and putting away clothing on the same day.

Folding your clothing using the Marie Kondo method is a great way to keep things organized, and you can always see what is on your shelves and in your dresser drawers.

Use the space under my bed for storage (out-of-season clothing and extra bedding).

I’m a massive fan of slimline hangers and drawer organizers for dressers and nightstands. Both keep your space neat looking and everything organized.

Pretty baskets for things like throw pillows and throw blankets are a way to keep them from looking messy when they aren’t on your bed.

You should also take a day each season to go through your things and access them if they still need to be in your home. Another method that works well is; for every item that you bring in new, something old has to go out.

I hope these small tips help you to keep your bedroom organized. Visit my blog for more organizing ideas.

-Lynn Vogeler at Living Large in A Small House

How can I keep my kid’s room organized? 

From toys to clothes to school work and everything in between, maintaining your kid’s room can feel like a daunting and overwhelming task but it doesn’t have to be!

Organizing your kid’s room—and keeping it that way—will save you time and sanity, while increasing the sale of your home. The best way to accomplish this is by getting your kids to join in on the process. We recommend completing our five-step Live Light, Live Better process:

Step 1: Purpose + Plan. When you keep the end goal in mind the journey becomes more manageable. Define, together, what your goal is; the plan is following the remaining steps to make it happen.

Step 2: Remove + Refresh. Begin by removing all items from the focus area so you know exactly how much stuff is actually in your kids’ room. You might be shocked at the sheer number of items and that’s okay! As you remove the items from dresser tops and desks now is the perfect time to refresh the area by cleaning and dusting so your home looks and feels fresh for showings.

Step 3: Sort + Categorize Once items have been removed it’s time to sort them into categories such as shorts, toys, homework, etc.

Step 4: Declutter + Decide Decluttering before a move is a perfect time to identify what serves you and your kids so you don’t take unwanted things with you to the next house. Go through all the items in each category and donate items that no longer fit, throw away broken ones, and keep only the things your kids use, love, and treasure.

Step 5: Organize + Systemize The key to keeping a kid’s room organized is by creating easy-to-maintain systems they can follow. You absolutely don’t need to make them fold every piece of clothing but you do need a home for it. We recommend designating dedicated drawers for shirts, pants, etc., and baskets for smaller items like socks and accessories.

Remember, it’s a lot easier to let things go when you focus on what to keep rather than what to discard. Making your kids a part of this process will help immensely in helping them keep their room organized long after the process is completed!

-Erin Neumann at Sacred Space Organizing

How can I declutter my bathroom? 

The main objective when decluttering any area is to generate space.  If you are not sure how to accomplish this task, here are some easy ways to identify purge-worthy items in your bathroom:

  • Look for obvious things that need to be thrown away, such as empty product bottles, tubes, tubs
  • Purge products you have tried like samples but don’t particularly like, so they are just sitting under the sink or in the drawers & cabinets
  • Set aside gifts that you will never use
  • Identify old & expired makeup & beauty products

After you have decluttered the more accessible categories mentioned above, you should gather the remaining things in the same type to determine if you have duplicates. Some common bathroom categories are Skin care, Cleaning, Body Care, Oral Care, Perfume, Makeup, Medicine, First Aid, and Cleaning. Some individual items that tend to be in larger quantities are cotton balls, bar soap, body wash, lotion, cotton swabs, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and liquid hand soap. 

One common mistake people make is buying in bulk, storing the items currently being used with the bulk extras or, as we call it in the organizing industry, back stock. You can free up prime storage space by separating bulk items and storing them in another area to “go shopping” or shop your stash once you run out. When deciding where to store your bathroom items, think about what you use in the bathroom every day, every week, and every month.   

Every day, the items you use should be within arm’s reach, such as on the counter, in the medicine cabinet, or in the top drawer. The items you use less frequently, like not every day but a few times a week, can be stored in lower drawers, an easy-access bin, or a drawer under the sink. All other items used a few times a month can be easily accessible from under the sink or in a separate cabinet that may be behind you.

Always remember to separate small items in your drawers with trays to help you maintain order, and if you have deep drawers, purchase trays with some height to maximize the depth.

-Tanisha Porter at Natural Born Organizers

How can I organize my medicine cabinet?

Bathrooms sell homes, so having an organized medicine cabinet is worth the effort. While medicines enter our lives for various reasons (illness, prevention, auto-refills, etc.), we often forget to go through and clear out those that we no longer need. Stockpiles of medicine are both cumbersome and potentially dangerous, as old medications can end up in the wrong hands.

Here are a few guidelines for helping you sort through the backlog that may be crowding your space:

  • Empty the cabinet to a clear sorting surface. Wipe out the shelves with a damp cloth.
  • Remove any medications that are expired, as well as any that your family doesn’t find helpful for any reason (e.g., it didn’t work, your child has grown out of liquids, etc.).
  • For non-medicine items (e.g., makeup) that you keep in your medicine cabinet, simply sort through and pitch whatever you aren’t using.

It is never wise to flush medications down the toilet or throw them loosely into the trash. To safely dispose of medicines:

  • Drop them at a pharmacy that accepts medicine.
  • Buy a medication disposal bag.
  • Take them to your town’s safe disposal location. Many police stations now have 24 hour drop boxes.

When it comes time to reload, it is helpful to group like items together. For example, prescriptions on one shelf, cold relief on another, painkillers on another. You might find it helpful to use an organizer inside your medicine cabinet for small items such as tweezers, cotton swabs, thermometers, etc.

If you need to store medication in a larger space, such as on a shelf in a linen closet or kitchen cabinet, consider purchasing a riser and/or some stackable plastic bins or baskets that you can label. For bottles, a turntable on a deep shelf comes in handy.

If you have small children, remember to keep all medicine out of reach, with safety caps on the containers.

When your medication storage area is well organized, you will be able to quickly find what you need and tuck it back out of sight with little effort.

-Seana Turner at The Seana Method

How do I declutter my basement? 

The best advice I can give anyone who wants to declutter their basement is to never try to do the entire space in one chunk of time(one day, one weekend, etc.) Even if you have the desire, motivation, and physical stamina, most people will reach decision fatigue within 2 to 4 hours time and have difficulty returning to the job at a later date to finish it. I recommend dividing the space into sections or quadrants. You can even use painter’s tape to create visible sections.  Once you’ve created the sections, commit to doing one section at a time.

When working in each section follow the basic steps of any decluttering project. Begin with three groups of items:

  • Yes items: Things you want to keep. For now, just label them as yes or put them in a “yes” bin or section.
  • No items: Things you no longer want or need typically will be either trash, recycling, or donations. Have a box handy for your donations as well as a bin for garbage and recycling. 
  • I don’t know items: Things that require more thought. I recommend you set them aside and come back to them after you have done a few sections in the basement and have more practice with making decisions. Ask yourself questions like “do I use this?”, “When was the last time I used this?”, “Does this fit my current lifestyle?” and so on…

Once you’ve decluttered all of your sections it is time to store your saved items. Review your space and the items you’ve chosen to keep. Do you need shelves? Is there a good wall against which storage shelves will fit? How much vertical space do you have? Once shelves are in place you should store your items in airtight storage containers with snap lock lids. Label your boxes or your shelves and voila, you have an organized basement where you can find your stored household items.

-Kira Coopersmith at Sensible Sort Professional Organizer

How can I maintain my organized laundry room?

You either have a spacious laundry room that’s actually a room or a laundry closet, if you’re in an apartment like me.

Either way, the best way to maintain your laundry room organization is to identify storage possibilities. Having a home for everything is key for organization, but you need some type of storage to do that. At first glance, your stacked washer and dryer inside a closet doesn’t appear to be useful but there’s hope. 

The best way to make a room with no storage function is to look for the empty space and go up. From the inside of the door to the wall space- those are all potential areas that can be used as storage. 

The inside of your laundry room door is the perfect place for over-the-door storage. I’m an ambassador for The Elfa Door Rack from The Container Store because of how renter-friendly it is. However, you can use any over-the-door storage. Make sure you think about your lifestyle when choosing the best option for your space. 

Your wall space, everything the washer and dryer unit isn’t blocking, is golden space to work with. From shelving to an iron board holder, to hanging baskets as storage- you want to maximize the vertical space to best serve your needs. 

Next, organize your laundry tools into smaller containers- specifically ones that match the measurements of your storage. Measure the depth, width, and height of your new storage solutions and get containers for them. Opt for the shape and material that match your style and lifestyle. Don’t forget to label everything. There are so many fun label options on Etsy or you can make your own with a label maker. 

Finally, style your laundry room with fun and personal details to make it pop. If you can, swap out the light fixture, add wallpaper, or paint the door, the possibilities are endless.

-Rebekah Bashorun at Organize For Love

How can I maintain my organized basement?

Maintaining the space is often difficult because it’s not your primary living area. It often becomes what I call the “purgatory” of your home, where things go when you’re not quite sure what to do with them but you’re not ready to let go. Because of this, your storage space can get very disorganized very quickly. Here are some tips on making and maintaining organization in your basement storage room.

  • First, shelving is key! You always want to look vertical when you need more space. Adding shelving to any storage space will give you more room to store what you need. There’s no need to spend much money on shelving in an area like a storage room.
  • Second, sort the items you want to store into categories and home each type together, so it will be easy to find things like holiday decorations or camping gear. Your basement storage is also the place you should keep memorabilia.
  • Third, have a drop spot in your storage room. A folding table or an old dresser will do. Just a space where you can put something, so it’s out of your way upstairs until you have the time to find the right home for it. But don’t make it a habit. I suggest that clients spend an afternoon in their basement storage room once every six months to a year. Just taking the time to review items to see if there’s anything you no longer need and to put things away.

If you’re challenged with clutter in your home, it’s because you don’t have enough long-term storage. I’ve seen many large houses with no storage room. What were they thinking? Everyone comes with stuff! I believe 10 to 20% of your home should be for long-term storage. If storage is your challenge, it may be time to call in the pros. You can find a professional organizer in your area by visiting NAPO.net.

-Janet Schiesl at Basic Organization

How can I maintain my organized desk? 

Here are a few simple steps that can be taken to keep a clean and organized desk. 

Start with a purge. The first step to getting your desk organized is to get rid of any unnecessary items that are taking up valuable space. This includes old paperwork, empty pens, dried-up highlighters, receipts, and anything else that you no longer need. Once you’ve decluttered your desk, you can begin thinking about how best to organize the remaining items.

Create a designated space for each type of item. No matter how small your desk is, there are always ways to maximize space with the help of storage solutions. Desktop organizers, drawer dividers, binders, and stackable trays are all great options for keeping your desk neat and tidy. If you have the budget for it, consider buying custom storage solutions that are specifically designed to fit your needs.

Prioritize horizontal surfaces – It’s easy for horizontal surfaces like desks and tables to become catch-alls for whatever doesn’t have a designated home. To avoid this problem, make it a rule to only keep items on your desk that are absolutely essential. Everything else should be stored away in drawers, cabinets, or shelving units. Not only will this free up valuable space on your desk, but it will also help prevent distractions by minimizing the number of visible items.

Take the time to declutter on a regular basis. Get rid of any items that are no longer needed or used and clear off your desk at the end of each day. This will help prevent papers from piling up and becoming difficult to find and will also give you a fresh start for the next workday. 

Lastly, label everything so that it can be easily found when needed. 

By following these simple tips, it is easy to maintain an organized desk.

-Mary Beth The How-To Home

How can I maintain my decluttered drawers? 

At Donna Declutter LLC, we not only organize drawers but also love setting up our clients so they can easily keep things organized after we leave. 

The guiding principle for any organizing project is to have a place for everything and everything in its place. We recommend sorting everything into categories and micro-categorize as much as possible. Your drawers might be your office supplies, but within that category, separate the large paper clips from the small paper clips, different sizes of binder clips, the sticky notes, markers, pens, and pencils, into their groups and then get drawer bins to hold each group. You can find many options of desk drawer organizers online. Start by measuring your drawers to make sure the tray will fit. Count how many categories you have and plan to get a few organizing trays to accommodate a few drawers. These trays work well in the bathroom, tool, and kitchen. Just as you separate your knives, spoons, and forks, you can separate your spatulas and wood utensils from your ladles, tongs, and strainers. We know that some of you have more space than others, so just do your best.

Once everything is organized, implement the practice of the guiding principle, I repeat – a place for everything and everything in its place. Suppose you aren’t prone to putting things away as you complete your task; schedule some time to make it happen.  It can be at the end of every day or evening, so you start each morning with a new, organized space.  You can set your alarm for 10 minutes before your work day ends or it’s time to get the kids ready for bed. Take those 10 minutes to put everything back in its place. It’s excellent training to form good habits for your work colleagues or family. After a couple of months, it should be a simple habit to follow, so you won’t waste time looking for things, and you’ll be happy to save that time to spend on what you enjoy.  

-Donna Roses at Donna Declutter

How do I declutter my closets?

Decluttering is a process that requires intention, time, planning, and goals. Dictionary.com defines “declutter” as: “to remove mess or clutter from (a place). to organize and prioritize (one’s commitments, material possessions, etc.).”

Step 1: Define your goal – What’s my purpose in decluttering the closets?

Step 2: Create a plan – Schedule a weekly specific date and time to start the process (when are you most energized – daytime, evening? Pay attention to your body clock)

Reality check – Schedule 30-minute intervals – giving yourself permission to start, stop, and re-start the same day and time of each week

Come prepared – white trash bags (label donations) black trash bags (label Trash, Other, Keep,) and cleaning rags (clean and dust shelves and closet rods while they’re empty)

Step 3: Set your timer – digital or an egg timer for 30 minutes

Play “Beat the clock” How many black sweaters can I gather and sort thru from my closet floor in 10 minutes?

Step 4: Be judicious in your decluttering process – ask yourself these questions:

  • When is the last time I wore this?
  • By keeping this item, how is it helping me meet my goal?
  • Where and how often do I wear this?
  • How much time, energy, space, and money do I want to give this item?

Step 5: Celebrate the baby steps!! – Rome wasn’t built in a day and it’s okay to chunk your decluttering process into manageable bite-size steps! In fact, I strongly recommend this method so that my clients see and experience success and don’t get overwhelmed with all the stuff.

-Tammy C. O’Neil at The Organizer Coach (call for a free consultation)

How do I declutter my yard? 

Are you getting ready to put your house on the market? Your yard is one of the first things potential buyers will see. Get it organized so they can easily imagine themselves relaxing and enjoying the natural beauty surrounding the home.

Gather everything together: Go around your yard, grabbing every object that’s lying around. Put it all into a big pile.

Sort into categories: Next, figure out what category each item belongs to and group each category. 

Pare down the excess: Yard and garden items are large, so they weigh a lot and take up room on the moving truck, making your move more expensive. Streamline by letting go of anything you don’t need to maintain your yard and that you won’t need in your new home. 

Create storage zones: Figure out where to stash everything. When organizing for selling your home, the plan will be to create an uncluttered look that helps buyers see how easy it is to live in your home.

If you have a shed or garage, store most outdoor equipment there. If not, use the back or side wall of the house (somewhere less visible) to establish a streamlined storage area.

Create storage zones based on categories that’ll help you find what you need when needed, but they also create a tidy look that will appeal to home buyers.

  • Sports equipment: Store in weather-proof buckets or bins.
  • Lawn and gardening tools: Install hanging organizers on the wall, ensuring each item has a spot.
  • Lawn and gardening supplies: Sturdy plastic or metal shelving or cabinets will make storing bags of soil, lawn chemicals, and flower pots easy. 
  • Grill tools: Keep these clean in a lidded bin that can easily be stored under the grill or brought over to the grill.
  • Toy storage: Make sure it’ll be easy for kids to get toys out and put them away.
  • Oversized items: Give these their own section, so they don’t block other things and are easy to get in and out of.

Now that you’ve organized your yard, you’ll have an easier move. And now that your yard is tidy, buyers will be able to focus on the beauty of your home.

-Kate at Kate Bosch Professional Organizing

When decluttering, what can I do with items I no longer want to keep?

You’ve just finished decluttering the last room – congratulations! – and now you face all the items you’re ready to part with. The obvious options are selling them, donating, and discarding them. Other possibilities exist, but let’s look at these obvious ones first.

The good news is there are several ways to sell items you no longer want or need.  However, I’ll say the same thing I tell my clients: Your things are worth what someone else is willing to pay for them now, not what you paid then.

Onsite estate sales companies and auction houses look for volume and value, plus many smaller items that buyers can just carry out to their car. There’s a glut of used furniture already available, and younger generations want very little of it.

If you’re parting with luxury fashion, jewelry, watches, or other high-end items, the RealReal can be a rewarding place to sell them. Be aware that they will need to authenticate them before they’ll accept them for sale on their platform.

The RealReal is just one among several online sales outlets. Remember that you’ll need to photograph, write descriptions, answer bidders’ questions, and pack each item for shipping. 

Local pickup is ideal since it’s often faster and less complicated. When you have a substantial number of items, MaxSold provides an efficient and well-organized way to sell them. They’ll take care of everything from photos and descriptions to scheduling and supervising the pickups. They also have large local marketing lists of potential bidders.

Donating items to nonprofit organizations, though, can provide a receipt you can use as a write-off on your taxes. If you have a mountain of items to donate, call your local donation centers to see which can send a truck to pick things up. If your donations will fit in your car, just drive them there.

You can also host a Giveaway Party. Invite your friends and neighbors over to choose from your downsizing offerings. You’ll have fun, and you’ll know your treasures will be appreciated by someone you care about.

There – you’ve done it! Your decluttering project is officially complete. It’s time to reward yourself and enjoy how much you’ve lightened your load.

-Marty Stevens-Heebner at Clear Home Solutions

Decluttering with classical Feng Shui

Many of us struggle in our homes with an accumulation of personal and household items, commonly known as ‘clutter’.

Whilst strictly speaking ‘clutter clearing’ does not form a part of traditional Feng Shui practice, it is nevertheless an important area that we all need to address on a regular basis, in order to ensure that the flow of Qi (energy) in our living spaces remains vibrant and dynamic.

In his book ‘Feng Shui -The Living Earth Manual’, GM Dr. Stephen Skinner says, “like the body, every house has orifices, doors and windows that need to take in the flow of Qi, which must then circulate without stagnating to enable the house to breathe”.

As such incoming Qi must be able to move around a home smoothly from room to room without encountering an excessive amount of furniture, decorative objects or unwanted items. In fact no area inside or outside of your home should be obstructed or blocked off, as this causes Qi to become stagnant and lose its beneficial qualities.

There is no doubt that we are all energetically tied to our environment, with our personal fortune and well-being affected by where and how we choose to live. Therefore the simple act of clearing clutter from our home can create a fresh space for wonderful, new opportunities to enter our life and affect positive change for a better future.

So get focused and empower yourself by making clutter clearing an annual event. You’ll be surprised and delighted at the difference it will make in your home and in your life!

Master Janene Laird at Feng Shui

When decluttering, what can I do with items I no longer want to keep?

You’ve just finished decluttering the last room – congratulations! – and now you face all the items you’re ready to part with. The obvious options are selling them, donating, and discarding them. Other possibilities exist, but let’s look at these obvious ones first.

The good news is there are several ways to sell items you no longer want or need.  However, I’ll say the same thing I tell my clients: Your things are worth what someone else is willing to pay for them now, not what you paid then.

Onsite estate sales companies and auction houses look for volume and value, plus many smaller items that buyers can just carry out to their car. There’s a glut of used furniture already available, and younger generations want very little of it.

If you’re parting with luxury fashion, jewelry, watches, or other high-end items, the RealReal can be a rewarding place to sell them. Be aware that they will need to authenticate them before they’ll accept them for sale on their platform.

The RealReal is just one among several online sales outlets. Remember that you’ll need to photograph, write descriptions, answer bidders’ questions, and pack each item for shipping. 

Local pickup is ideal since it’s often faster and less complicated. When you have a substantial number of items, MaxSold provides an efficient and well-organized way to sell them. They’ll take care of everything from photos and descriptions to scheduling and supervising the pickups. They also have large local marketing lists of potential bidders.

Donating items to nonprofit organizations, though, can provide a receipt you can use as a write-off on your taxes. If you have a mountain of items to donate, call your local donation centers to see which can send a truck to pick things up. If your donations will fit in your car, just drive them there.

You can also host a Giveaway Party. Invite your friends and neighbors over to choose from your downsizing offerings. You’ll have fun, and you’ll know your treasures will be appreciated by someone you care about.

There – you’ve done it! Your decluttering project is officially complete. It’s time to reward yourself and enjoy how much you’ve lightened your load.

-Marty Stevens-Heebner at Clear Home Solutions

What are the five steps to arrange and organize space? 

This question will be answered by multiple experts who are members of the American Society of Professional Organizers

  1. Declutter Surfaces: while still living in the home, try to keep the amount of ‘stuff’ gathered on surfaces (bathrooms, kitchens, etc.) to a minimum. 
  2. Depersonalize: try to limit the number of family photos that might be scattered around the home. Buyers want to envision their own family living in the space.
  3. Tidy Kitchen Area: sometimes overlooked, but cleaning your sink and limiting the amount of counter clutter will make a big impact.
  4. Start Packing: if you know you are moving soon, start packing items you won’t be using over the next few weeks/months. If it’s summertime, pack your winter clothes/jackets.
  5. Clear the Garage: if your garage is currently empty and used as storage for things other than a car, take time to sort it out.  Buyers want to believe a garage will fit their car & not just boxes.

-Liz Halvoresen at Mess to Bliss

Selling a home is a stressful event. These five steps break down what needs to be done so your home is ready to show while you are still living in it.

  1. Declutter and edit everything. Before listing is the time to go through everything – kitchen items, clothes, toys, etc. Donate, throw out, or sell anything you do not wish to bring to your new home. Ask yourself if it serves a purpose and if it brings you enjoyment and a smile. If not, get rid of it. By having less in your home it will appear more open, and it’s less to put away when preparing for a showing.
  2. Depersonalize. While you might love that special pillow with your initials that grandma needlepointed and a framed wedding photo of you and your spouse above the mantel, prospective buyers might not. It’s difficult for many buyers to imagine themselves in the home when someone else’s photos and unique mementos are displayed. Package those up in a box or bin, label them, and store them away for opening in your next home. 
  3. Deep clean and maintain. Once you cleared out clutter and stored your personal items, it’s time to make your home sparkle. Buyers don’t want to think about the cleaning they will have to do when they move into a new home. Clean the home so it’s move-in ready, and then follow a daily and weekly cleaning schedule. When there is a last-minute showing, you won’t have to worry about scrubbing the bathroom because you’ve been keeping up with the cleaning.
  4. Create systems. Create systems and places for storage of your day-to-day items so you can quickly straighten up for a showing. Everything should have a place.
  5. Make a plan for showings. Get a bag together that you can quickly grab on your way out of the house when there is a showing. Have kids? Add some snacks, a tablet for a movie, and some games and books to keep them entertained for a couple of hours. Have a pet? Plan for where he/she will go when someone comes to walk through the home. And be sure to ask your realtor for a couple of hours’ notice so you can straighten up and store valuables before leaving.

-Anne Waisanen at Wise Organizing

The first step to arranging and organizing your home for sale is to start early. Depersonalizing one’s home and priming it to be appealing to someone else can be an emotional process, and you don’t want to feel rushed. Starting the process as early as possible gives you time to think clearly and make sound decisions.

If you have fewer belongings, there is less to then organize, stage, and eventually pack, so the first hands-on step to make your home more attractive to buyers is to declutter. Buyers have a hard time seeing the potential in a space past any clutter, not to mention clutter creates visual noise and makes a place feel smaller. Your decluttering journey can start simple with a small space such as a drawer or closet.

Pack or put away highly-personal items from the home before inviting in prospective buyers. This refers not only to family photos on tabletops or on the walls, but also unique-to-you things like magnets and scraps of paper on the fridge, and personalized signage outside. Before the house goes on the market, pick an area of the home where storage is logically kept, and temporarily store these personal items there.

Walk through your house and sort “like with like” items and return items to their proper homes so that each room appears thought-out and intentional. Give each space an identity.

Is it a bedroom? Make it look like a bedroom. Buyers shouldn’t wonder, “What’s this room supposed to be?

Once items are sorted into their correct locations, when arranging and staging each room, make each space feel bigger by getting items off the floor and out of corners, putting away small miscellaneous items. In the end, buyers need to be able to imagine themselves in your home. Give them a clean canvas from which to dream and envision.

-Caroline Dockery at Categorically Caroline

What are the five steps to arrange and organize space? 

This question will be answered by multiple experts who are memebers of the American Society of Professional Organizers

  1. Declutter Surfaces: while still living in the home, try to keep the amount of ‘stuff’ gathered on surfaces (bathrooms, kitchens, etc.) to a minimum. 
  2. Depersonalize: try to limit the number of family photos that might be scattered around the home. Buyers want to envision their own family living in the space.
  3. Tidy Kitchen Area: sometimes overlooked, but cleaning your sink and limiting the amount of counter clutter will make a big impact.
  4. Start Packing: if you know you are moving soon, start packing items you won’t be using over the next few weeks/months. If it’s summertime, pack your winter clothes/jackets.
  5. Clear the Garage: if your garage is currently empty and used as storage for things other than a car, take time to sort it out.  Buyers want to believe a garage will fit their car & not just boxes.

-Liz Halvoresen at Mess to Bliss

How can I keep my moving boxes organized? 

Moving is hard. It is overwhelming to conceptualize how we will fit everything in our homes into a collection of cardboard boxes. Making matters worse, when all the boxes are packed and delivered to our new home, how do we find what we need? Everything looks the same!  Creating an organized system before the packing begins will help you know where to find your things and have some peace at the same time.  

Before you begin, my one piece of advice is to purchase quality moving supplies. Boxes, packing paper, and tape can be costly, but they are worth it. Avoid using Amazon or liquor store boxes. When boxes are uniform in shape, they are easier to manage throughout the entire move. 

Before you pack 

  • Declutter. Avoid paying, packing, and moving things you no longer need. As you move through your home, look for items you do not use. 
  • Remove contents from closets and open storage boxes. Ask yourself if you like or use things enough to justify moving expenses and the dedication of space in your new home. 

As you pack 

  • Keep similar items together, this will make locating items and unpacking exponentially easier. Dishes in one package. Bathroom drawer contents in one box, etc. 
  • Labeling boxes well is the secret sauce for success. Using a black marker indicate where it goes and what is inside. If a box is particularly heavy or fragile, mark it on the box as well. 
  • Label boxes with the name of the NEW room and a brief description of the contents. Example: FRONT BEDROOM – PHOTO ALBUMS

As you unpack 

  • Before you open a single box, walk through your new home and create a plan. 
  • Use Post-It notes to indicate the drawer where you will put your eating utensils, which cabinet will store your towels, which shelf in the pantry will be dedicated to snacks, etc. This small step will speed up the unpacking you are ready to do.  

An organized move does not need to include a lot of colored tapes or unique labels. It takes a little time to move your move from overwhelmed to complete.

-Jennifer Snyder at Neat as a Pin

What is your best advice for including children in house organization? 

Kids love to learn, so teach them lessons that will benefit them throughout their life. Kids also thrive on routines, so establishing a few family routines will help to maintain the organization in your home.

Start by giving your children responsibility for their own things, like toys and clothes. Your job is to make it easy, fast, and fun. Here are a few tips for including your children in house organization.

  1. Make sure each task is age appropriate.
  2. Identify homes for items so the kids know where to put things away.
  3. Show them how to do each task and monitor them while learning.
  4. Give them the responsibility of keeping their things under control.
  5. Set up routines for bedtime, homework, bath time, dinner hour, etc.
  6. Use an analog clock to teach children time.
  7. Make a family calendar and encourage everyone to use it.

Getting them on board and ensuring they follow through will be your biggest challenge.

Here are a few routines where your children can take responsibility:

  • Feed the pets.
  • Make the family grocery list.
  • Vacuum the main rooms of the house.
  • Pack their own suitcase for vacation.
  • Read to their younger siblings.
  • Water plants.
  • Put toys away.
  • Make their bed.
  • Put dirty clothes in a hamper.
  • Empty the dishwasher.
  • Set the table for dinner.

Choose tasks that are done regularly. I think it’s a good idea to mix and match. Make sure to assign age-appropriate tasks so they don’t get overwhelmed. You will not only lighten your load, but you will also teach your children responsibility.

Janet Schiesl at Basic Organization

What is the physical impact of disorganization?

Organizing your physical environment is more than just making your home or workspace look nice; it’s essential to taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional health.

The first step to understanding how your physical environment can affect your mental and emotional well-being is to recognize the link between stress and cortisol production. When we experience stress, our bodies produce cortisol, a hormone that has both short-term and long-term effects on our bodies. In the short-term, cortisol increases your heart rate and blood pressure and suppresses your immune system, making you more vulnerable to illnesses. In the long term, cortisol can cause depression, anxiety, and weight gain.

Disorganization can be a source of stress, making it difficult to find things and making your environment chaotic. When we experience stress, our bodies produce cortisol, which can have a negative impact on our mental and emotional well-being.

Finally, disorganization can impact your physical safety by increasing your risk of falls, risk of fire and making it difficult to eliminate germs and pests from your environment.

When you’re feeling less than your best mentally or emotionally, it can be difficult to summon the motivation to organize your environment. However, feeling ashamed of your physical environment isn’t productive. Here are a few tips to help you get motivated to organize your space when feeling less than your best mentally or emotionally:

  1. Start small – Break big tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks, and focus on one task at a time. This will help you feel accomplished and make the task less overwhelming.
  2. Get organized – Invest in containers you can use to store items and label them accordingly. This will make it easier to find things and will make your physical environment look more organized.
  3. Set a timer – Set a timer for 15 minutes and focus on one task while the timer is running. This will help you stay focused and make the task less daunting.

Lastly, don’t forget to seek support. Clutter and disorganization can be signs of neurodivergent characteristics such as ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, OCD, depression, and PTSD. It’s ok to ask for help, and plenty of resources are available to help you organize your space. Working with a professional organizer trained in helping with these needs can greatly support gaining control of your space and your health!

Erin Gaskins at Room Redefined

Remember these home organizing tips to provide a beautiful, clean space for potential homebuyers to consider. Consider getting a pre-sale home inspection to ensure your home is ready for the market and prepped for a quick sale. Taking a few simple steps to organize will ensure that your home looks neat and clean, so buyers will be ready to make an offer as soon as they walk in the door.