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The two secrets to finally getting your home organized!

Alright friends.  We are SO going to get our homes organized this year!  I have to be honest and say that since I’ve moved into my new house (with a lot more storage space than past homes and apartments I’ve lived in) I’ve had a harder time staying organized.  You heard that right.  It’s honestly true!  Some of my house (parts I’ve shared on the blog) are organized, but a lot of spaces (cabinets and drawers especially) aren’t.  I’ve finally figured out why!  In our past homes/apartments with little storage space, I was forced to be ruthless about what I brought into our home and kept.  I just didn’t have room for excess.  Every time I bought something new, old items had to go or there just wasn’t enough space to hold everything.  I actually think living in small spaces really taught me how to be organized.  It taught me how to prioritize things we loved and needed and to toss the rest.   I used to always think “if I just had more space.. it would be so much easier to stay organized.”  Have any of you ever thought that?  Now I live in a larger home with cabinets galore and you know what?  A lot of them are a mess and I have struggled to keep them clean.  It has driven me crazy this past year and after doing a lot of soul searching I’ve finally realized why.

I have too much stuff.

The number one biggest secret to staying organized is to LIVE WITH LESS. 

It’s so simple and we’ve all heard it before, but I’ve never believed it more than I do now.  Having a lot of storage space has allowed me to be lazy.  I can toss things in any cabinet or closet and my house appears clean.  I can buy new things without having to give away the old things we aren’t using.  But this is a problem.  When it’s time to find something we need, a lot of times it takes too long.  Whether that’s looking for the video camera in a messy cupboard full of things, or picking out something to wear in a closet with too many clothes.  When it’s time to organize things, I spend way too much time just moving stuff around.  When I open these closets/cupboards/drawers with too many things in them, I don’t feel peace.  I’m ready to feel some peace!  In every area of my home.
small pantry organization
{Cereal dispensersOXO Containers, clear handle baskets, similar wicker baskets, large “Expand-A-Shelf” for cans, chalkboard labels}

The pantry in my previous house is a good example of what I’m talking about.  It wasn’t large, but it was big enough to hold all of our essentials as long as I only kept what we really needed.  Many times I’d make a Costco run and not have room for new food, so I would have to clean out the pantry again to figure out a way to fit everything.  The result?  A constantly clean, organized pantry!

So!  Secret one to getting organized is to GET RID OF THINGS and to LIVE WITH LESS.  While I am organizing my home over the next few months I am going to be ruthless about what I keep and don’t keep.  If it doesn’t make me happy or get used often, it’s going.  Goodwill employees will all know me by name!  Just because I have room to store it, doesn’t mean I should keep it.  If you’re someone who lives in a small space with little storage, getting rid of things is essential!  It will work wonders for making your space more functional and livable.  Only keeping what we truly love/need will help us keep our homes organized and we will all have peace of mind!  Angels might even start singing.  It has happened to me a time or two.  :)

The number two secret to getting and staying organized is to SET GOOD HABITS.  Once we’ve organized a space in our homes we have to work hard to keep it that way.  It sounds easy, but can be difficult, right?  I have a few things to share that have helped me set good habits and will talk more about them in an upcoming post.

With my main goal in mind of getting rid of everything we don’t love or need, I am going to be tackling one space at a time in my home.  Last year when I shared my post on How To Make an Effective Plan to Organize Your Home I talked about how important it is to write everything down.
I like to take a notepad with me through my house and write down every space I want to organize.  Be specific!  I write down every drawer and cupboard I want to clean.  I get a great feeling of accomplishment checking each item off of my list and it motivates me to keep going.

Last year I assigned spaces to a specific month, but because my life is so unpredictable with my kids’ after school schedule constantly changing, this year I am just making a list.  Some months I am able to do more than others.   (Do whatever works best for you!)  Last year I stuck to my list for the most part, but I was terrible about sharing my progress on the blog.  One of my goals is to be better about documenting my organizing this year so I can share it with all of you. :)

Ok!  These are the spaces in my house that either need some minor sprucing up, or are driving me completely crazy and need an overhaul:


  • pantry (label crates)
  • butler’s pantry drawers/cupboards
  • garbage sack drawer
  • island drawers and cupboards (junk drawers)


  • go through all files
  • kids’ school work
  • upper cupboards
  • lower cuboards
  • drop boxes/file folders
  • greeting cards


  • closet
  • kids’ lockers
  • bench drawers
  • extra cabinets


  • upper cabinets
  • emergency drawer


  • tall cabinet (church books)


  • media cabinets
  • baskets
  • go through magazines


  • go through all clothes in closets (donate/organize)
  • create a way to hang jewelry/scarves for girls
  • girls’ nightstands/desk drawers
  • bookshelves
  • label baskets


  • all drawers
  • girls’ linen cabinet
  • Kole’s bath toys


  • Go through all toys and donate things the kids aren’t playing with anymore


  • cupboards and drawers
  • hall linen closet
  • organize jewelry
  • go through ALL clothes
  • organize shoes


  • console/glove box





Some of these spaces I’ve already organized, but they need to be organized again (kids closets, etc.).  Staying organized is maintenance!  I’m going to print this list out and keep it in a spot I see daily so that whenever I have time I can chip away at things.  I’ve started in a few spaces and it feels so good to be getting rid of clutter and only keeping what we need!

Have you written your “to-organize” list for the year?  If not, grab a notepad and get started!  Remember to only keep what you use often or love.  I’ll be sharing lots of pictures of my progress.

Happy organizing friends!

{affiliate links used}

*p.s.  The winner of Toni’s new Home Organization Book is Susan who said “I really need to get my craft room/dumping ground for all homeless things in my house organized. I love all the great ideas online – now to implement them! Thanks for the chance to win this book and for all the wonderful posts.”

Congrats Susan!  You will love the book!  E-mail me your address and Toni will send you a signed copy. :)

Also, I’m sharing my organized medicine cabinet over at 11 Magnolia Lane today as part of their “Operation Organization” series.  Check out all of fun posts they are sharing!  SO many great organizing ideas.

xoxo, Erin
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28 thoughts on “The two secrets to finally getting your home organized!

  1. Wow, Erin, I think you just might have hit the nail on the head with this post! Good luck with your efforts to keep only what you love. You have a pretty impressive list there, but I’ve no doubt that you will accomplish most, if not all, of those items on there throughout the year! I look forward to seeing your progress when you share and to glean insights for applying ideas to my own journey! Congrats to the winner of the book, Susan! :)

    1. Well we’ll see how far I get! It is a crazy list and overwhelms me sometimes with how much I need to tackle, but I just keep reminding myself.. one space/drawer at a time. :) Thanks cutie! xo

  2. Great article! YES, there’s something about January that makes you make to clean, organize & PURGE! I read something on Instagram recently that struck a cord with me ” If it doesn’t make you feel FABULOUS don’t do it, don’t buy it, don’t keep it!” Sometimes de-cluttering is hard because of sentimental attachment, etc. Trying to get over that in 2016! Yes, my list was made out in December for every room/cabinet/drawer in the house. Hope to finish by spring! :-)

    1. You are so on top of it Cindi! Love that! “If it doesn’t make you feel fabulous…” Great to keep in mind while we are all purging this year! Good luck tackling your list! We’re in it together. :) xo

  3. I totally agree with you on less is more. We have five kids and live in a 2100 sq. ft. house. Our girls share a room, our boys share a room and we still have a guest room. I find that I stay pretty organized out of necessity (especially since I homeschool and that brings in a whole new dimension of clutter). I think my husband comes home expecting that I’ve disposed of one of the children! We would love to build someday, but I struggle with how big to go! I love your home and all the spaces, but like you I’d probably fill it up too! I look forward to more organizing posts, because I’m one of those nerds who enjoys organizing my refrigerator…

    1. Laura you are amazing! That’s about the size of our previous house and it often felt tight with three kids who I didn’t homeschool! I’m sure you are an organizing pro! Like you said, you just have to be when you don’t have room. I love having more space but sometimes I do miss being forced to live with less. It brings so much peace and just simplifies everything. Lots of organizing pics to come and you are reminding me to hit the fridge! :) xo

  4. To #1: YES YES YES. I used to be SO good at throwing stuff away or making better choices about what stuff comes in, because we had NO extra room whatsoever. Now that we’re in a larger home with a whole bunch of storage, I’m gathering more “stuff”…and then visually (and mentally) stressing out because it’s there, and usually it’s without an assigned home. The couple times I’ve gone on a purging rampage, I feel much better about things. It just takes me longer to do it now!

    1. So true Julianne! Love what you said about visually and mentally stressing out. Too much stuff really does that to us! Everything runs smoother when we get rid of anything unnecessary. Organizing is slower for me too because I’m so busy with the kids, but I’m determined to purge like crazy this year! We’ll do it together. ;) xo

  5. Erin, I totally agree. More space doesn’t necessarily equate to better organization. Our basement was a product of that. We just recently cleaned out the entire space. Now all that remains are things we need, use or have sentimental value. I just posted about organizing our frig and main staples pantry. It not only saves time, but money in the long run. Now to tackle photos and my girls school papers (yes they are 22 and 26!!!)

    1. Oh you are doing great Lauren! I need to go check it out! Hats off to you for attempting to tackle your girls school papers. Maybe you should just give them a box and tell them to have at it! Ha! ;) xo

  6. Erin, I just have to tell you that, in my opinion, this is one of the best posts that you have written. I have enjoyed reading it IMMENSELY. You truly know how to captivate an audience :) I agree with your two basic principles for organizing, and honestly can.not.wait to see your progress on your blog (with before-and-after pictures, please!!).
    Thank you for all the time you invest in us. You treat us like you would do to a valued customer, which I guess we are in a way, since reading your blog is a real treat. I live far, far away from you, near Mexico City, yet I’ve found in you a person I respect and admire. Congratulations on an AWESOME blog.

    1. Ximena! Oh my word. I don’t even know what to say! That is one of the sweetest comments I’ve ever received. I can’t begin to tell you how much your sweet words mean to me. THANK YOU. Thank you so much. I think I’ll just go print out your comment and frame it now.. ;) Seriously.. that means the world! xo

  7. I totally needed to read this. I’ve been experiencing the same issue in our new home. Thanks for all the helpful tips, I’m going to try & put some into practice.

  8. I agree Erin…more space is always a challenge! While the extra space is wonderful, it’s tougher to be ruthless because you have the space. I find it’s much easier to do the one in one out rule when space is really tight. I actually find it a little more peaceful when there’s less space than when there is more space within reason of course. Less space challenges you to use every inch and to be better organized in my opinion.

    As for the new year, that is a huge list you made:) I have such limited time that the easiest way for me to do things is to break things down into little baby steps. For example, this weekend I lined my kitchen drawers. I did not label things yet but just lined the drawers. I did five or six other organizing projects as well this weekend. I also went out and bought some things for two other projects that I’m working on. I just try to do a little bit here and there and eventually it all gets done. It takes a little longer to do a cool before and after but every little bit makes a difference and makes the house a little bit nicer. To do things right, takes time.

  9. I love this post! I’ve been feeling the same way recently and even wrote almost the same thing about just having too much stuff and needing to really go through everything. I have my organization list ready to go! I think we may need to do a Container Store shopping trip ;) xo

  10. I have got the organizing bug as well. What is it about January? I can’t wait to see all your organizing posts that will happen this year. Your medicine cabinet post totally helped me get a plan together for my kitchen medicine cabinet and no doubt your future posts will be super helpful as well. And…..boy do I wish I lived near your Goodwill:)

    1. January definitely brings out the organizing bug in people, doesn’t it!? I think it feels so good to have clutter free spaces after the mess of the holidays and to start the New Year on the right track. Thanks for your sweet words Kim! I’m so happy that medicine cabinet post was helpful. I doubt you’d want a lot of what I’m sending to Goodwill! Ha! But very sweet of you to say. :) Happy organizing cutie! xo

  11. I used to always wish for a bigger home but the more I decluttered over the last few years the more I’m glad we didn’t move :) Good luck with your decluttering Erin!

  12. Ahh!!! I love this post! Every single thing you said is me! After we built a much bigger house than we had before I said…oh it will be so easy to keep clean and organized! ?? Wrong! When we moved in I remember having lots of cabinets that sat empty for months! Now 5 years later they are chucked full of crap! I would love to be a part of operation organize your house with you! I thought about doing the whole one room at a time…but I tried that before and I swear once that room is done the rest of my house looks like a train wreck! I like the idea of making the list of what needs to be done. When I think of going through and organizing my office and the bizzlion papers and files and building info we kept…I want to run away and cry! It’s so over whelming! But I will give you my one tip I do for the giant projects like this that seem so overwhelming that I avoid doing them at all costs! I hire a high school or college age kid who needs a few bucks and have them help me! It mentally helps me to want to work and doesn’t feel so daunting when someone is there with me. And for $30 or $40 bucks I get the whole thing banged out and then it’s off my list! Please keep sharing updates on your organizing progress! It will keep me motivated!

    1. Hi cute Amber! Oh my word.. we are so in the same boat! I had so many empty cupboards when I moved in that are now filled with junk! I am determined to get rid of the clutter this year! Smart idea to hire help. I have friends who have done that in the past. For me it’s just about finding the time to actually make it happen! It has to be a priority. We are in it together! And I will for sure share lots of pics along the way! :) xo

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