If you’re like us, when everyone is out of school, the house is full of stuff! Getting organized well in advance of a job change or work + life change can help clear your mind to focus.

To help us get there, we turned to professional organizer Laurie Palau of simplyBorganized for some summer time organization strategies. She recommends this 6-week plan at the beginning of each year or during the summer. We like this systematic weekly approach because it isn’t overwhelming and you might be able to enlist the kids to help, too.

Good luck!

Week 1: The Kitchen

  • Clean out your pantry. Dispose of any food that is expired. Remember, spices are only good for one year!
  • Organize your pots and pans. Throw out anything that has scratches and donate any that you no longer use.
  • Clean out Tupperware storage. Get rid of anything that doesn’t have matching lid or that is worn out.
  • De-clutter your gadget drawer. Donate any gadgets/tools that you don’t use. Pare down multiples to no more than 3 (spatulas, wooden spoons, peelers, etc.)
  • Clear out the junk drawer. Group “like” items together; throw out old receipts, pens that don’t work and anything else that doesn’t belong. We all have a catchall drawer but it can still be organized.

Week 2: The Bedroom

  • Remove all dry cleaning bags from clothes and transfer to regular hangers. Dry cleaning bags hold onto chemicals and make your closet appear more cluttered.
  • Group your clothes together by category or color making it easier to “shop your closet”.
  • Purge all socks, underwear, and bras that have seen better days. It’s amazing how much real estate undergarments take up.
  • Sort through footwear. Donate/thredup anything you will never wear again. Organize remaining by type (ie: athletic, dressy, casual).
  • Assess belts, purses, scarves, and other accessories. Donate whatever is outdated or that you no longer use. Organizing the remaining contents accordingly.

Week 3: The Bathroom

  • De-clutter medicine cabinet and underneath sink. Get rid of anything expired.
  • Go through your make up drawer and toss anything that is over 1 year old.
  • Donate sheets/towels that are not part of a set or is worn out. Keep no more than 2 sets of regular sheets + 1 set of flannel sheets per bed.  (*note: animal shelters are always looking for old blankets and towels for the animals and will happily take them!)

Week 4: Paper Clutter

  • Define a “command center” for mail. Designate an “action” (to do) and a “reference (to file) category. This keeps important documents from getting lost in the shuffle.
  • Open all unopened mail, shred/recycle any papers you can access online. (*80% of the papers we keep never get looked at again.)
  • De-clutter magazines and catalogs that are more than 2 months old. If there is a specific article you want to keep, tear it out and save it in a binder to reference later.
  • Set up online bill pay through your bank.Request statements to arrive electronically and establish recurring payment options to avoid late fees.
  • Put together a memorabilia box for keepsakes like cards, pictures, and letters.

Week 5: Photos, Books and Media

  • Gather loose pictures into a photo box. If you can, group by year, otherwise don’t stress it!
  • Choose one site to house all of your digital photos (ie: iphoto, shutterfly, dropbox). Create albums by year for easy sorting.
  • Donate any VHS tapes, DVD’s or CD’s that you no longer use. Set aside anything that you want to have converted digitally.
  • Sort through your books and donate any you no longer want. (*ORGANIZING TIP: keep classics and favorites, but donate books that you don’t ever plan to read again.)

Week 6: Household Clutter

  • Toss old pillows. Pillows should be replaced every year since they are a breeding ground for bacteria, allergy triggers, and dust mites.
  • Sort batteries by type and store in “an easy to find location. This way you can easily find what you’re looking for as well as know when you are running low.
  • Keep flashlights in common areas like the kitchen, bedroom, or hall closet. Be sure to check batteries. You want to make sure that they are accessible and working if you need them!
  • Purge all chargers for old devices. If you have old phones and electronics you can see how much it’s worth at usell.com

I always say, “your clutter didn’t accumulate overnight, so don’t expect it to disappear in an instant.” Dedicating a little time each day to de-clutter something makes a huge impact. Once you begin to see results you’ll be motivated to keep going.


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A version of this post appeared originally on simplyBorganized.