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How To Prepare For a Big Organization Project

Updated: Mar 9, 2023

You may have big hopes for organizing a space in your home. Whether you're planning on tackling the garage, a closet, playroom, or pantry - preparation is key to your success. I get wanting to jump right in and start, but when tackling a project, planning makes all the difference. Here are some actionable things you can do to prepare that will make all the projects to come that much more successful.

What to Do BEFORE You Start to Organize

1. Designate a container for donations and other items

This can be a cardboard box, a tote, a trash bag (preferably opaque and preferably a different color than your normal trash bags so it doesn’t get confused), or a bin you already use. Donations are the most important category, but set yourself up so that whatever project you are tackling, you have a place for whatever comes your way. Some categories that come in handy are - trash, food bank donations, returns, recycling, relocation, sell, give to a friend, etc. If you anticipate using all these categories, create a space for all of them. You can write on cardboard boxes or trash bags with a sharpie or find an option that works for you…but plan ahead to avoid piles that don’t make their way to their final destination.

2. Get mentally prepared

Organizing takes time and a lot of mental energy. You really have to evaluate what items are key to keeping in your home. I will never make you feel guilty about the stuff you decide to hold onto and know that we all have a different perspective when it comes to clutter. Think about the most significant pain points in the space your organizing and what areas cause you stress.

Seek out inspiration: look at Pinterest, Instagram, or wherever you feel inspired. While I know we can’t blink and have our home become a Pinterest board, identifying images and spaces that make you feel the way you want to feel can help you to create a clearer objective of what you want your end result to look like.

Create a set of guidelines you feel good about that you can come back to as you tackle new projects. Some guidelines/questions I use with clients are:

  • Do you love it? Do you use it? Do you have multiples of the same thing?

  • Hold on to the best, let go of the rest

  • When was the last time you used it? When do you plan to use it again?

  • Is there someone who could benefit from it more than you?

  • 20/20 rule: can it be replaced in 20 minutes or less for $20 or less? If you don’t know when you are going to use it again and the answer is yes, get rid of it

  • Don’t buy something because it is inexpensive and don’t keep something you don’t love just because it was expensive.

Here's an example of a small space we helped a client visualize. While it was as simple as a nighstand, they told us their pain points and the aesthetic they wanted, and we made it happen.

3. Prepare the rest of your family.

Tell them about your goals for the space you are taking on. Ask them what they are willing to help with, what systems will help them succeed and help them get on board, and get them excited! If the project is your kids' room, have them walk through it with you before the project and visualize the space together. If it's the family room, plan with the whole family. If you want to take on the garage - get everyone's input on what would work best for them.

4. Create a budget.

The right organizing products can add up very quickly, but that shouldn’t ever hold anyone back from getting organized. Some lessons learned on buying organizational products:

  • The right organization products make a difference in your final results, and ease of maintenance. It might take a while before every space in your home has the right product, but I promise it will be worth it to you long term.

  • You CAN completely reset your home using cardboard boxes and dollar store products. I actually think that is preferable to buying random containers that look like a good deal at stores that don’t have reliable inventory (I still love Home Goods, just not for organization supplies). Then when you are ready to invest in your forever products, you won’t feel like you aren’t throwing money down the drain.

  • Over buy and plan to return later. It can be jaw-dropping and hard to overbuy when products are already so expensive, but if you are going to do it right, make sure you have options on hand when placing the product.

For this medicine/overstock/craft closet project, we wanted matching products, but we over bought product so we knew we had enough for the space.

5. Consider buying a labeler.

Make it a good one. I have tried more labelers than I want to admit and my favorite is this one. Labeling is the icing on the cake and the final key to getting the entire household on the same page with your efforts. Don’t underestimate the power of a label - they can be part of the beauty of a space (if you do it right).

Are you feeling ready? No matter how big or small your planned project is, these 5 steps should help you get and feel ready.

Here is a summary of action items:

1. Create designated boxes or bags for donations and any other categories you foresee needing.

2. Mentally prepare by writing down the following:

  • pain points in the area

  • systems you hope to create

3. Prepare the rest of your family.

4. Set a budget.

5. Buy a labeler.

Jen is the founder of Reset Your Nest, a Professional Home Organizing business in Utah (Salt Lake City, Park City, Ogden, Logan, Utah County, and St. George), California (Bay Area, Los Gatos, Hillsborough, Atherton, San Jose), Denver, CO, and Phoenix, AZ. She loves creating order and systems out of chaos. Her specialty is finding a way to continue the aesthetic of any home to every cupboard and drawer. She shares her tips and tricks on Instagram @reset_your_nest.

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