Where to Start Organizing When You Feel Overwhelmed

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Sometimes hardest part about organizing is knowing where to start. When your whole house is a mess – it can feel overwhelming.

In this case, it is a good idea to start with your biggest pain point or the area that will have the biggest impact.

person buried under a pile of clothes with arms sticking out in the air

Why I Start With a Quick Win

I like to refer to an area of big impact as a “quick win”.

For me, this is usually a very busy space in the house that has become cluttered – which means it is dysfunctional.

When a space that you use all the time gets out of control – everything can seem a little haywire.

So, when you bring control back to that one space, it can have far reaching implications. You will feel like you have it together and will gain the self confidence that you need to organize other areas in your home.

The Best Areas to Start With

Obviously, everybody will have a different pain point – so the best place to start organizing will vary for each person.

But I will give you some examples of what works for me.

Your Home Office

I do the most work at my home office desk. Now that everyone is working from home or on a hybrid basis – my “home office” has become just a small corner of the family room.

Now, I have to say that I am not the most organized type of worker. I end up with disorganized piles of paperwork all over the place. And eventually it gets to the so bad that I can’t see the surface of my desk.

This is my breaking point. I know that when my desk is in this state it becomes impossible for me to get any work done.

I am overwhelmed. I don’t know where to start. And I fear that I am missing important deadlines, bills, documents, and information.

So, no matter how cluttered the rest of the house might be – I make it a priority to organize my desk.

When my desk is in order, I somehow clear up the mental space to be able to work on other lesser important (to me) areas of the house.

Your Kitchen

For most people, the kitchen is one of the busiest places in the house. Not only is it a place to cook and eat, but it is also a place to gather. Countertops can quickly become drop zones for bags, homework, electronics, and mail.

When this place gets cluttered, the whole family suffers.

So, organizing your kitchen can be a big priority and a good place to start.

Your Basement or Storage Space

The storage space in our basement is multi-functional. We use that room to store things we don’t use too often, as a laundry room, and also as an overflow pantry for things that don’t fit in our kitchen pantry.

Typically this space is pretty orderly – but when it starts to fill up and get disorganized, you can feel it in the rest of the house. The closets get fuller and there are things lying around that no one knows what to do with because there is no more space in the storage room.

I have found that organizing this space first can have big impact on the organization of my entire home.

Maybe you have a room like this, too. Start here and see if it alleviates clutter in other areas.

Your Garage

The garage is another place that affects the whole house when it is disorganized.

Following the same concept as the basement, when things are working – the garage provides additional storage.

I keep a lot of things in the basement that I use often – like reusable bags, plastic bags, and paper bags for instance.

There are a few baskets that I use to keep these bags organized but we get more bags coming in the door than I can use.

So eventually, my bag storage area in the garage starts to overflow and becomes a big mess.

Paring this collection down to a more manageable state is important. You can read more about how I organize paper bags here. It may seem like a really small thing – but it has a big impact on how efficient I am at home.

What Will You Organize First?

So, next time you feel a little frazzled – like your entire house is falling apart – take a moment to reflect and zero in on the root of the problem.

When you identify the culprit – the area in your home that is causing you the most stress and angst – organize that area first.

It will most likely be a room that is busy and that you use a lot – something like a home office, your kitchen, or a closet or storage area.

Then break that task down into smaller steps and before you know it, you will have brought some order and calmness back into your life.

Happy organizing!

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