Where to Start with a Messy House

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It’s the #1 question from people who feel like organizing is their next best step.  Where to start when you have a very messy house.  Where’s the BEST place to start?  Today I’m going to answer that, and give you a few tips in finding the motivation get going.  It doesn’t sound like it — but really the rest of the journey will be downhill.

My friend Hilary from Pulling Curls

Hi, I’m Hilary — I’m the curly head behind the website Pulling Curls.  I’m a nurse and a believer that our houses can support us instead of the clutter controlling us.  I’m the creator of The Organized Home where we clear the chaos and put peace in its place.


Starting is hard.  It’s the hardest part of riding a bike, and organizing is no different.  Once you get your momentum under you, you’ll find you’ll be flying through this job in no time.


Where to start organizing?

I don’t know if this is good news, or bad news — but the truth is that there is no best place to start.  With cleaning we often say start top to bottom — because dust will fall on those lower surfaces, and if you clean them first — it will be a problem.  BUT, with Organizing you just start.


And I know, I hate that too.  I much prefer rules and boundaries, so I set some up for myself.  After growing up in a messy house, I understand the impact it can have on a kid growing up.  


When I face a room that I’m considering burning down rather than deal with the mess I created I start with three options.


Where to Start with a Messy Home?  Start With an Easy Win

If I am feeling REALLY overwhelmed, and just so close to not even getting going — I will start with an easy win.  This can mean one of two things:

  • An area that will be quickly organized — and I can feel great about it
  • A CLOSE area — something that won’t require a lot of physical effort.


Where to Start?  Start With a Snag

Do you have area that’s just driving you crazy?  That’s a great place to start.  Yes, it may take a bit more “gas” to get you going (think car analogy there, not digestive tract)  — but you’re going to feel SO good when that snag is gone, you’re going to start with the next one.

Where to Start with a Messy House

Where to Start?  Start In a Corner

When all else fails I start in the upper left corner as I face the room, and I slowly work around it.  I work in zones and I realize that it is a big task that can be tackled a bit at a time.


But, I want you to tell yourself right NOW that there is no best place to start.  The world is your oyster and you really just NEED to begin.


Now, there isn’t a right place to start but there is a right WAY to start, and man oh man do I talk myself out of this method ALL THE TIME.


I follow this in my 5-Word Organization Challenge (come join me, it’s 100% free).  But let me give you a hint on one of the words.  It’s “EMPTY”.


SO, SO often I think to myself, “Hilary — this drawer just needs a little fix, we don’t need to bring everything down.”  And that, my friend is a BIG. FAT. LIE.


Taking everything out of the area is one of the most important steps to organizing.  It not only helps you see what’s there, but it helps you make better choices instead of just moving things around in the space.


That 5 word organization challenge has some other words that are pretty helpful, but I’ll let you join me in the challenge to learn the rest.


I bet if you’re joining me in this article, you’re feeling a little overwhelmed.  Maybe your family hasn’t kept a space organized and you’ve just melted back into the puddle of overwhelm, but one of the the keys is consistent work.


You know my favorite key though — it’s a big ol’ pat on the back.  When you’re a mom with a busy family you can feel like organizing is something you don’t have time for.  But, in reality everything else is SO much easier if you just take those first steps.  And I tell you, every time I look in my pantry I’m proud of how it makes knowing what I have easier, I waste less food and I enjoy teaching my kids how to cook a bit more — just because I took that first step, and I know you can too.


Organizing CAN feel really overwhelming.  Come join me in my course The Organized Home.  Join for just a month (you can cancel at any time), or take the big step to join for the whole year.  We have assignments and challenges that will help you to get started when you really would just prefer to lay on the couch and watch Netflix.  I promise, plenty of Netflix can still be watched, and organizing will make it even better.


Here are some other posts you might enjoy:

4 Tips to Organize Your Messy Craft Room

Declutter ANYTHING using the Post-It Note Method

How to Blow Away Your Paper Clutter FOREVER

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