We all need to take some time to organise not only the space around us, but also our thoughts, memories, and even worries — we need time to get a clear picture of our lives. Just as you would work in a step-by-step manner to organise your room, so, too, you can use a step-by-step method to organise your mind.
Why a step-by-step method?
We often don’t even realise that we have the thoughts or thought-patterns that we’re struggling with. By using a step-by-step method, you can work through the thought-patterns in a way that is constructive and will keep you from spiralling into unhelpful or even unhealthy thought-patterns.
A step-by-step way of cleaning, decluttering, and organising will also help you to move through your room once and organise everything in one go instead of having to go back again and again to deal with the same clutter.
How do I start if I don’t know where to start?
If you feel that you are overwhelmed by a disorganised space and mind, it’s best to take a few days in which you can work and focus on organising and only organising. The reason for this is that you will then have ample time to work through everything at your own pace. However, it is still important that you put some type of time limit on the organising. For example, decide that you will take two weekends to finish your room’s organisation. Read through the other steps below and take an honest look at your room and decide how much time you’re going to spend on every part of the room during the four days of the two weekends. Be practical though, as you will definitely not work 24 hours a day!
If you want to, you can always get a friend or family member that you trust to help you during the initial stage of organising. This will help you to get through the “easy” part of organisation before you do the (emotionally) difficult part on your own. You can also, before you even start to organise your room, look for those places in your area that will either take second-hand items or that will take donations of second-hand goods for charity. Then you decide beforehand to which of these you want to take anything you decide not to keep and that is still in good condition.
What are the steps you need to take to organise your room?
There are a number of steps that you can take that will make organising your room and your mind easier. And the great thing about it? You can do most of them at the same time! It’s “multitasking” — but in a good way.
Here are the steps you need to organise your room and your mind:
- Set your priorities
- Start with your clothes and move on from there
- End with your sentimental possessions
- Write it out and heal
What do you need to organise your room?
This is the perfect time to decide what you want your room to look like after you’re done organising. However, don’t go and buy a bunch of new décor items, bed linen or even organisational articles like totes, etc. just yet. Wait until you have finished organising and know exactly what it is that you need. Then you know you’ll won’t have new things to declutter just after you’ve organised your whole room!
All you need to organise your room, is:
- Large rubbish bags (include those for recycling and for other rubbish)
- Cardboard boxes (keep delivery boxes or ask one of your local stores if you may have a few of the boxes their deliveries came in.
- Packaging tape and a pen, preferably a marker
- Cleaning supplies (a multipurpose cleaner and some cloths are what you will probably use most, but make sure that your supplies can be used on the surfaces in your room)
- Some sheets of tissue paper (acid-free)
- Comfortable clothes to work in
- Good music to listen to while working
- Either a paper pad on which to make a list, or an app on your phone/tablet to make a list
Step 1: Set your priorities
If you set your priorities before you start, it will help to keep you on track to organise everything in the time that you have set for yourself. Start by dividing your room into different areas that need to be organised. For example,
- Your clothes/wardrobe
- Your dresser
- Your nightstands
- The storage under your bed
- Your meditation corner (or making a meditation corner if you don’t already have one)
- Your bookshelf, etc.
If you have your home office in your bedroom, you should also take time to organise this space as well. Keep in mind that this will probably take a bit longer as you will need to go through paperwork and decide what to keep and what not to keep.
Writing down your priorities, as well as your plan of action for each day will help you to keep track of where you are and how much you still have to do. That, and it just feels really good to be able to tick something off of the list!
Step 2: Start with your clothes and move on from there
Your clothes or wardrobe
Starting with your clothes is the one of the best ways to start organising your room, as this makes up a sizable portion of your bedroom’s content. Once the clothes are sorted, then, you will see how much more space you have available to use to store items in that may be cluttering surfaces in the rest of the room.
How to organise your clothes
- First, remove all the clothes from your wardrobe. You can either place them on the floor or on the bed. But don’t put them in the corner of the room — that makes it too easy to only do half the job and leave it undone when it gets difficult. This will only make organising your room that much more difficult.
- Wipe down the inside of the wardrobe with some diluted all-purpose cleaner (either store-bought or home-made) to make sure that the clothes are hung or folded up in a clean, dust-free environment.
- Now, go through all your clothes. Separate the clothes as follows: clothes that you often wear, clothes that you no longer wear, clothes that no longer fit, clothes that can be mended, and clothes that are beyond mending.
- Next, decide which of the clothes in the first pile (the clothes that you often wear) you want to keep. Make sure that they are all still in good condition and don’t need any mending. If they do (and be honest now), place them in either the “mending” pile or the “beyond mending” pile.
- Then take a look at the “clothes you no longer wear”. Is there anything in that pile that you want to keep for sentimental/heirloom reasons? For example, a heirloom christening gown is not something that you wear, but something that you want to keep. Put these aside (there should only be two or three such pieces, if any) for later. The rest can then be donated to charity or sold to a second-hand clothes shop. Try to avoid selling the items one by one online, as it will take a long time and you will hang on to the box containing these for longer than necessary.
- Place the clothes that need to be mended (for instance they need buttons) in one of the boxes. On the box, write the date by when you will finish mending the clothes. This will, again, give you structure and a goal to work towards.
- Those clothes that are in the “beyond mending” pile must either be thrown away or, preferably, recycled as there is no use whatsoever in keeping them.
- Put the clothes that you’re keeping back into the wardrobe using whatever method tickles your fancy. For instance, don’t feel forced to use the KonMari method of organising your clothes.
How your mind gets organised while you organise your clothes
Organising your clothes may seem like it’s nothing but a physical job, but you can use it as a way to also clear your mind.
We hold on to so many memories in the form of clothes that we wore on special occasions. And it’s not just wedding dresses or heirloom christening gowns — it can even be that dress you wore to a first date or a top you wore to a concert of your favourite band.
Through organising your clothes and deciding what to let go off and what to keep, you also start to decide which memories you want to — and need to — let go of and which you want to keep. For instance, have a good look at the clothes from the “no longer wearing” pile that you decided to keep and be honest about why you want to keep them. Is it because you hope to lose that last ten pounds this year, or because you want your children christened in the same gown that you were christened in? The first reason is not a very good reason — unless you’re already busy losing weight, in which case you need to set a time-limit on how long you’re going to keep the item — while the latter is a good reason.
As you go through your clothes and are reminded of certain memories (whether good, bad or bittersweet), write them down as you go. You will use this in step four.
Surfaces and drawers — the dresser, night stands, and side tables
It’s so easy for surfaces to get cluttered in the rush to get to work or school, or simply through the knick-knacks that starts out as one item but soon morphs into a dresser covered with a collection that doesn’t really even make sense anymore. (Not to mention the state drawers can get into!)
If this sounds like you, you might want to keep some tissue paper and boxes ready for this step.
Start with one surface, for instance your dresser, and work clockwise around the room, clearing and organising each surface and the furniture item’s drawers — if it has any — as you go. Keep a few smaller boxes handy if your surfaces or drawers are very cluttered with things that need to go to other rooms, cupboards, etc.
What you’d want to do for every surface, is first clear off everything (you can place all the items in one of the boxes) and then dust or otherwise clean the surface. Once that is done, you can broadly follow the same method as you did with your clothes; asking yourself if you are still using the items or not. You can put all your decorative items in one box and photos and sentimental items in another box. This will make it easier to go through everything. Follow the same pattern with each of the drawers.
What to definitely get rid of:
- Expired medication (take it to the pharmacy so they can safely dispose of it)
- Expired or simply old beauty products and makeup, for example mascara older than three months
- Bottles of beauty products that are finished or has very little left — and it’s the little you can’t get out of the bottle
- Dead batteries (just be sure to get rid of them responsibly)
After you have divided the things you are throwing away into those you can recycle and those you can’t, it’s time to go through the boxes and see what you really want to keep and what you can do without.
You most likely want to keep all (or almost all) of your photos. If there are photos that really touch you, make a note of them for step four. This includes photos that you want to get rid of for some reason.
As for décor items, you can either replace some of them on the surface and wrap the rest in tissue paper to put them away to use later, decide to get rid of all of it by giving it to charity or selling the items to a second-hand shop, or simply wrap them all up in tissue paper and keep them until you are going to change the décor of your room again. In this way, you will not have to buy everything all over again.
Again, take note of those items that are most sentimental to you — favourite photos, decorative items, etc. for use in steps three and four.
How to organise your mind while you’re organising surfaces and drawers
The state of the surfaces in our homes are often a reflection of the state of our minds. They can be cluttered, “dusty”, and filled with the brick-a-brack of daily living. So cluttered, in fact, that we can’t even notice what is important anymore.
While you are cleaning the surfaces in your room, therefore, really look at what you’re keeping on them. Is it sentimental things that remind you of your loved ones or your travels? Or is it just dirty coffee cups and unopened mail that you couldn’t really be bothered to get rid of until there’s no other choice?
If it’s the latter, ask yourself why this is — and be honest with yourself. Chances are that there is some underlying thought-process that is actually keeping you from dealing with some problems in your life. It could even be that you are depressed; or falling into depression. If this is the case, and especially if you have been diagnosed before, it is very important to seek help again.
If there are sentimental things that you are holding onto even though you do not have good feelings associated with the items, ask yourself why you are holding onto them, as you have already learned from the experiences you’ve had. You shouldn’t feel forced to hold on to everything. Doing that is, in fact, bad for you spiritually and mentally. It can be likened to the dirty coffee cups that just keep standing around gathering dust and that weird green mould.
Should you find that there are sentimental things that are dusty and uncared for, or even items that you are keeping clean but don’t even think about anymore (they have basically become part of the furniture) also ask yourself why this is.
Ridding yourself of those sentimental things that you no longer need or want can be extremely liberating. Not only are you freeing yourself of possessions which may be holding you back, you are also working through memories and thought-processes that are holding you back from living your best life.
Let go of these negative thoughts when you let go of the once-sentimental things you don’t need in your life any longer.
If you have a bookshelf in your room, it probably also needs some organising along with the rest of the room. Leave the books until last — if you don’t have your home office in the room — or to just before you start your home office’s organisation.
To organise your bookshelf, decide what type of system you want to store your books in; for instance, will it be alphabetised, according to author, according to subject or genre, etc.
Then remove all the books from the shelves and give everything a good dusting. Give the shelves a wash as well while you’re at it. While you wait to make sure that the shelves are completely dry, you can start organising books into those that you want to keep and those that you are going to let go. Pay it forward by donating these books to your library, a local school, etc.
For the books you are keeping, make sure that you ask for each:
- Why am I keeping this book?
- Do I love this book?
- If I don’t love it, does it hold sentimental value?
- If I don’t love it, what is keeping me from getting rid of it — and getting a book that I love to replace it?
If there are books that you find especially difficult to deal with? For example, you dislike the book, but can’t get rid of it? Make a note of these for steps three and four.
All that’s left to do then, is to replace all the books you are keeping on the shelf!
How to organise your mind while you’re organising your books
Sometimes we hold on to bad memories like we hang on to bad books — we hang onto them because they’re there and not because you need them or need to revisit them. Maybe you don’t even want to revisit them. They are simply bad memories — not even events or memories that you can keep on learning from.
If this is the case; dust those memories off, have a good look at them (along with a trusted loved one or counsellor/psychologist if you need to) and then let them go in the same way as you let a bad book go. You may still have a feint memory of the plotline, but you don’t let it influence you any longer; you make yourself free from these thoughts that are holding you back and only gathering dust and taking up space. Make space for new, dust-free, memories!
The home office
Is your home office overflowing with papers that you need to sort through? Now is the time! Take these piles of “organised chaos” and put them in a box/boxes. This will give you a chance to organise the rest of the office and make space for the papers you need to keep.
Steps to easily organise your home office
- Place all paperwork that’s lying around in a box or boxes to clear space to work.
- Start with your desk’s surface. A clean desk may not necessarily mean a clean mind, but it’s a step in the right direction! Clean it like you would the other surfaces in your room, remembering to keep the layout of your desk practical for the work you do there. However, it doesn’t need to be clinical. Let your personality show through photos, keepsakes, or simply by using your favourite colours.
- Next, move on the the desk drawers, filing cabinets, etc. Do one drawer or shelf at a time and use different boxes for the paperwork you need to keep, the paperwork you need to shred, etc. Just remember to mark them clearly! Put on some music while doing this to keep your spirits up as sorting paperwork can be quite draining.
- Once you know how much paperwork you have to keep and file you will be able to tell if you need more files and organisational tools. When you have your files, go through your paperwork methodically to file it. Remember — if you keep up this filing system, it will be a lot easier to keep everything organised in your office.
- Once again, make a note of any sentimental possessions that are in this part of the room for step three and four.
Now that you have scaled down your office space, you may even be able to move your home office out of your bedroom into another room and rather create a meditation, journaling, or reading corner in your room.
Step 3: End with your most sentimental possessions
Now that you have a list of your most sentimental possessions have a good look through it. If you aren’t sure whether you should keep something or not, ask yourself what the memories are that you associate with the item. Also ask yourself if you’re hanging onto something because of its monetary value more than the actual sentimental value of the item. If this is the case — and you actually don’t want the item — rather sell it or give it to someone who will appreciate it.
After going through the items one by one, decide which ones it is that have the biggest influence on you and that may be holding you back from living life to the fullest. If this is the case; take these items and move on to step four.
Step 4: Write it out and heal
Those items that are holding you back holds memories and emotions that must be worked through. One of the best ways of doing this — if not through talking to someone — is through writing or journaling about it. This is where a meditation or journaling corner is so helpful, as well.
Remember that no one is going to read what you have written. Therefore you can spill your heart and emotions on the page and work through the difficult times and emotions.
By working through them, you will be able to not only see where you could learn from it, but also start to heal. Once you are done you will not only have a great, organised room, but also a mind that is clear from clutter and thoughts that are holding you back.
How to keep everything in its place
The best way to keep everything in its place is to have a regular cleaning schedule. If you need to, keep this schedule on your calender for the first few weeks until you’ve gotten used to it. You can also take “before” and “after” photos to remind yourself just how great your room looks all neat and tidy. (Not to mention your “clean and tidy” mind!