The word organizing usually does two things for moms…

…it either conjures up the idea of a lovely, orderly world where everything is in its right place, or it brings forth a great deal of frustration with the idea of never-ending sorting of junk.

Which one do you resonate with?

Hopefully, if it’s the latter, I’ll help you see why organization shouldn’t feel like an overwhelming idea, and how you CAN get your home organized (and maybe even learn to love organizing!).

clutter-free living room with a couch and coffee table.

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Why is having an organized home so important?

Why is it so important to have an organized home? Does it really matter if everything I own isn’t put in a dedicated place or if I have to take a few extra minutes to search for my car keys once in a wile?

Well, actually, yes it does matter.

Mostly, I find that it matters because of three things: the anxiety that clutter causes, the HUGE amount of time we waste dealing with clutter and being disorganized, and the money that we waste due to being disorganized.

How does clutter cause anxiety?

Do you get stressed when you see piles of clutter all over your house (or in your teenager’s room)?

You see this stuff all over the place and you start to worry about it…you worry about how long it is going to take to clean up, you worry about what others might think if they saw it, and you worry about how you even let it get to that state.

The clutter’s presence causes you anxiety. And no one can enjoy their home or relax in an area that is cluttered.

There are several reasons why clutter causes so much anxiety, according to Sherrie Bourg Carter, PsyD., writing at Psychology Today:

  • Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren’t necessary or important
  • Clutter distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on
  • Clutter makes it more difficult to relax, both physically and mentally
  • Clutter constantly signals to our brains that our work is never done
  • Clutter makes us anxious because we’re never sure what it’s going to take to get through to the bottom of the pile
  • Clutter creates feelings of guilt (“I should be more organized”) and embarrassment, especially when others unexpectedly drop by our homes or work spaces
  • Clutter inhibits creativity and productivity by invading the open spaces that allow most people to think, brainstorm, and problem solve
  • Clutter frustrates us by preventing us from locating what we need quickly (e.g. files and paperwork lost in the “pile” or keys swallowed up by the clutter)

So by eliminating the clutter from our homes, we can improve our emotional state–as well as that of our family–and reduce or eliminate any guilt and embarrassment we might feel. Those are good reasons to start getting rid of clutter!

table covered with random clutter.

>>Check out the FREE printable download at the bottom of this post!

How much time do you waste dealing with clutter?

When your belongings are strewn all over the house, or stacked in piles on your kitchen counter or on your dining room table, it causes you to spend a lot of valuable time dealing with it.

First, there is the time we spend moving clutter around. We might have to clear off the dining room table to be able to have a meal with our family, or clear clutter off the bed in order to go to sleep at night.

Then there is the time we waste looking for things: homework, bills, keys, a favorite shirt–the list could go on. Being able to find something when we need it not only saves a lot of frustration, but it conserves our time.

How does clutter affect your finances?

Clutter not only affects your mental health and your time, but it can affect your wallet as well!

There’s the obvious point that you may purchase something that you already own, but can’t find. But did you know that clutter can cost you in other ways?

There are 5 other ways that clutter impacts your budget:

  • It increases health care costs because of treatment for stress, anxiety and depression (see above)
  • It requires money to rent self-storage units to store the clutter
  • You miss out on the money that you could earn by selling excess items at garage sales, consignment shops and the like
  • You miss out on the tax deductions you can make for donating items to charities
  • You pay late fees because bills aren’t paid on time due to the fact that they are lost in paper piles

Did you realize that clutter cost that much? Save the money that you would spend on maintaining clutter and make the choice to clear it out!


How do I get rid of clutter in my house?

If you’ve made the choice to tackle the clutter in your home, congratulations! You’ve already made the first and most important step to freeing yourself from clutter.

Now, it’s time to tackle it!

When I clear out clutter, I like to use an easy system that I learned from Kathi Lipp: The Three Boxes, 2 Bags method.

Essentially, when cleaning out a room, you use three boxes and two bags to help sort all the items. The boxes are labeled put back, give away, and other rooms, while the bags are used for garbage and recycling.

Sometimes, if there is obvious garbage lying around, it’s easiest to start with the garbage bag and pick up any garbage that is visible to help you get started. If there isn’t any apparent garbage, then start with any spot in the room and start sorting.

Place any items that need to go into other rooms (or its rightful place) in the other rooms box, place any items that you want to donate in the give away box, and any items that need to stay in the room that you are currently cleaning go into the put back box. Anything that needs to be thrown away or that can be recycled should go into the bags.

This system is so helpful in keeping everything grouped together as you sort a room, and when you’re done, the garbage bag(s) can just be thrown into the trash can, and boxed up items that are for donations can be taken straight to the car for your next run to the donation center. It is also helpful if you have to take a break…you don’t come back wondering what pile was donations or trash.

crumpled pieces of paper inside a waste basket.

>>Check out the FREE printable download at the bottom of this post!

How to decide on what to keep

As you work through clutter, you might have a hard time deciding whether or not to keep certain items.

Sometimes we can feel guilt over the money that was spent on an object that we haven’t used or no longer want, and we feel like we should keep it. Other times, you might not want something that was given to you as a gift, but you feel badly about donating it, because you imagine that you might offend the gift-giver.

These feelings are probably the hardest part of clearing clutter, and why so many of us avoid doing it.

But it’s important to move past those feelings so that you can work your way to a clutter-free home.

A way to change your thinking about these items is to acknowledge that these items could be very useful to another person. Yes, you many have “wasted” money on an item, but that money is already spent, and now you can sell it to recoup some of the money, or better yet, give it to someone who will value it.

If you struggle with guilt and shame over clutter, I recommend that you pick up a copy of Kathi’s book, Clutter Free. In this book, she discusses these feelings in great depth and shows you how to work through them.


A word on donating clutter

If you’ve decided to donate the items that you no longer want or need, take a few minutes to consider the state of those items: are they broken, dirty, or missing pieces? If so, you’ll want to move those things from the donate box to the trash bag.

Donating things that are slightly broken or otherwise not in good shape is a burden to donation centers, not a blessing. They cannot resell those items and so they become a burden, as they have to find a way to dispose of your trash.

There is a Goodwill trailer at a shopping center near my home that takes in donations. Usually there is also a pile of garbage next to the truck of things that people tried to donate, but are broken or torn or not working. I think that people are trying to be helpful, assuming that someone just might be interested in a couch that has a small tear in one cushion, but the truth is, no one wants broken items.

So when sorting items for donation, make sure that those items have no stains, tears, or is broken in some way. Those things should go into the garbage bin.

More ideas on how to get rid of clutter in your home

If you want more ideas on how to clear the clutter in your home, check out my posts on Removing and Organizing Clutter and How to Declutter an Entire Room in One Afternoon.

open shelves lined with books.

>>Check out the FREE printable download at the bottom of this post!

How to organize your home

Once clutter is gone from your home, it’s time to get the rest of it organized!

Each room of your home is unique and has its own purpose, so getting each one organized is going to be a bit different.

I help you organize all the main rooms of your house in my organizing series called How to Organize Your Home.

futon with gray pillows next to a side table with lamp.

How can I organize my house without spending money?

If you think that organizing has to cost a lot of money, think again! You can get every room in your home organized without spending a dime.

Organizing isn’t all about the cute containers…in fact, sometimes the cute containers don’t really work all that well.

The best organizing techniques are about about putting items into place using the storage (closets, drawers, cupboards) that you already have, and making it work for your lifestyle.

For example, I once had a special organizing caddy for my make-up, which I thought would solve all my make-up frustration because I would know where each and every item was. But after a few days, I decided to go back to my old make-up bag because the organizer was driving me crazy…it didn’t fit in the bathroom cabinet and it was a pain getting anything out of the little compartments.

But sometimes, organizing containers or tools can really make a difference, like the lazy Susans that I bought for the corner cabinets in my kitchen; they have helped make an awkward space useable.

There are also some great tutorials out there for making organizing containers out of cereal boxes or diaper boxes, which is a great option, both for your budget and for the environment 😉

You don’t have to buy anything in order to get your home organized.

silverware organized in a kitchen drawer.

>>Check out the FREE printable download at the bottom of this post!

Setting up new systems

After you get your home organized, and find a specific place for each item in your home, you’ll have to set up new systems for keeping the organization in place.

That might mean learning to put all of your mail into a basket on your kitchen counter when you come inside, rather than throwing it down on the kitchen table (to get lost later…).

It might mean a different routine for putting laundry away or groceries away.

Whatever it is, get yourself (and your family!) in the habit of following the new system and putting things back in their places.

Sometimes, however, the way you set up an organizing system might need to change after you’ve used it for a while, You might find that it isn’t working for you the way you thought it would…and that’s OK! Go ahead and tweak it. The goal is to arrange things in a way that works best for you.

Getting your home organized can take a long time to work through and optimize, but the end results are worth it: the surfaces in your house are clear, you and your family can find things right away, you have more money in your bank account, and your anxiety has decreased. Don’t you love being an organized mom?


To help you get started on organizing your home, I’ve created a printable declutter checklist that you can download for free!

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