How To Start Organizing A Messy House

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Organizing a messy house can be quite an overwhelming challenge. That’s why many people have made fortunes writing books and creating fancy organization systems to help you tackle the problem. But is it really that difficult to start organizing a messy house or even a room?

Organizing a messy house doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Start by breaking the process down into smaller sessions and focusing on one thing at a time. Everything has its rightful place, and all you have to do is put it back there. Be sure to celebrate small wins along the way!

Related: I Discovered the Best Homemade Cleaning Solution, and You Probably Already Have the Ingredients in Your Home Right Now.

In this quick guide, you’ll discover how to organize your messy house without needing any fancy systems or tools to get the job done. First, you’ll discover 4 guiding principles that’ll make the process much more manageable. Then, you’ll even learn the step-by-step process to make your home nice and neat again.

Let’s get started!

4 Home Organization Principles You Need To Know

The biggest question on your mind right now is probably “My house is a mess, where do I start?”.

But before you start attacking the clutter in your house, there are a few broad principles that you need to know. Sticking to these principles will keep you going even when things get a bit overwhelming.

Here’s what you need to know:

#1 Break It Up Into Smaller Sessions

You’re probably reading this guide because you want to organize your messy house, but you feel overwhelmed by the entire process. That’s normal, and it happens to pretty much everybody.

But why?

The idea of organizing your messy house is overwhelming because you’re imagining it as one gigantic task.

When you Clean, put everything in its correct place

Because of that, starting the organizing process becomes incredibly challenging. Anyone faced with that kind of challenge will likely delay or avoid it entirely!

So, instead of approaching cleaning and organizing a messy house as one big task that’ll take you hours to complete, you should see it as a series of smaller, shorter sessions instead. 

There are 2 ways you can break it down:

  • Organize your house in short bursts of time (e.g., do it for 10 minutes, then take a 5-minute break. Then, repeat it again as many times as you need to).
  • Organizing one section or one room at a time (e.g., starting by organizing your bedroom and then doing your kitchen later)

#2 One Thing At A Time

When you begin a cleaning session, remember the golden rule: focus on one thing at a time. That can be pretty tough to do if you’re in a messy place since there are so many things you want to put away at once.

But no, stop for a minute and take a deep breath. Then, pick one thing at random and just focus on that. Then, once that item is put where it belongs, switch your focus onto the next item.

Keep doing that, and your house will be tidy in no time!

Remember: nobody builds a castle all at once. Instead, they do it by laying one brick at a time. You should treat organizing your home the same way.

#3 Everything Has A Place

Next, always remember that every single object in your house has a place of its own.

Yes, even the smallest paperclip should have a place of its own (like the drawer of your work desk, perhaps?). 

When you remember that about everything in your house, 2 things will slowly happen:

  • Firstly, you’ll build the habit of returning everything to its rightful place.
  • Secondly, building that habit prevents your house from getting messy again later.

As you can see, this principle is crucial if you want to keep your house clutter-free long after you’ve finished organizing it.

#4 Celebrate Small Wins

All large tasks, including organizing your messy house, require continuous motivation to complete. Thankfully, you can motivate yourself by celebrating small wins along the way.

For example, if you’ve washed and put away all your dishes, that’s a win!

Cleaned your TV area? That’s another win!

So, instead of focusing on the big triumphant victory at the end, focus on the smaller wins along the way. Those are the ones that’ll keep you going until the job is done.

How Do You Organize An Extremely Messy House?

Now that you’re equipped with the 4 home organization principles above, you’re ready to start conquering the problem and taking control of your home!

Here’s the step-by-step process to get your house back in order:

Step 1: Fresh Air, Direct Sunlight, And Some Good Tunes

Here’s something that most people don’t realize about home organizing: it’s just as much a mental game as it is anything else.

So, to set yourself up for success, your first step must be to “set the stage” and make the organizing process as pleasant as possible.

Open the Windows before cleaning your home.

Start by opening a window (if it’s not too cold out!) and letting fresh air into your house. Then, pull open all of your curtains to allow as much direct sunlight in as possible. 

Sure, those two things will raise your spirits and prepare you to tackle the challenge ahead. But more importantly, making the space bright will help you see everything you need to organize much more clearly.

Lastly, if you find working in silence boring, you can turn on some music or listen to a podcast. Doing that will help prevent boredom and keep you moving.

Step 2: Collect The Trash And Take It Out

The quickest way to see and feel progress is to start with the easy stuff. With that in mind, there’s nothing easier than collecting and taking out the trash!

If your house is extremely messy, there’s a good chance that you have trash in places where they do not belong.

So, your first task is to grab every little bit you can find and throw it in the bin. Then, tie your trash bags up and take them out.

Taking out the trash might not seem like a big deal, even though it is. However, doing that will help you in 2 ways:

  • Firstly, the simple act of removing things that don’t belong in your house (i.e., trash) will make it look and feel more organized.
  • Secondly, it’s a quick and easy win in the battle against disorganization. Remember: celebrate small victories, and that’ll keep you going until your whole house is organized!

Step 3: Put Things In The Correct Space

At this stage in the process, you’ll want to recall the 4 home organization principles you saw at the beginning of this guide.

Those principles were:

  • #1: Break it up into smaller sessions
  • #2: One thing at a time
  • #3: Everything has a place
  • #4: Celebrate small wins

With those 4 principles in mind, here’s what you need to do.

Firstly, choose a small space in your house to focus on first. A perfect place to begin is your TV area since it’s a shared space that probably has lots of clutter.

For the next 10-15 minutes, you’re only going to focus on this space and no other part of your house. So you’re going to use that period to focus on one thing at a time and return it to where it belongs.

So, if you have plates and cups in the TV area, you’re going to collect all of them and put them in the kitchen where they belong. The same goes for anything else that doesn’t belong there, like your children’s toys, magazines, clothes, or anything else.

Related: Should Your Family Get a Dog? Here are the Pros and Cons

As you gradually return one item after the other to its rightful place, you’ll soon find that the space becomes increasingly free from clutter.

That’s another win that you should celebrate.

After that, you’ll repeat the same process again with another part of your house until all sections are completely organized.

Step 4: Prepare A “Donate Or Sell” Box

You can repeat Step three as many times as you need to. However, you’ll soon find that some items simply do not have a place of their own.

Well, that’s when you pull out the “donate or sell” box. This box is where you’ll put the items you have no room or need anymore.

If you’re struggling to decide what to give away or sell, ask yourself this crucial question: “Will I need this item within the next 6 months?”

Let’s suppose your answer is ‘No.’ In that case, that item is not worth keeping around anymore. Instead, you should give it away or sell it to someone who can make use of it.

Step 5: Wipe, Vacuum, And Mop

Yes, you read that right! You should only clean your home (by wiping, vacuuming, and mopping) only as the final step.

Many people make the mistake of cleaning before organizing or doing both at the same time. That’s a mistake, and here’s why:

Listening to Music before cleaning your home.

The process of organizing a messy house involves moving lots of objects around and returning them to their rightful place. Unfortunately, that also means that you’re going to be sending dust flying everywhere as you do that.

As a result, cleaning too soon is a waste of energy since the place will get dusty again as you organize the space. Besides that, cleaning steals your focus away from organizing the space when you’re doing both simultaneously.

For the best results, separate organizing from cleaning. That way, you’ll have the emotional and physical energy to get both done correctly.

Final Thoughts

Organizing a messy house can seem overwhelming, which is why most people put it off even as the problem gets worse. Still, no matter how bad it gets, always remember that it didn’t get messy in one day. Instead, the mess built up one item at a time over an extended period.

That’s a good thing because it also means that you can undo the mess one item at a time as well! So, start by organizing one small section of your house, celebrate small wins, and keep repeating until your whole house is tidy again.


April is a writer and reviewer at Better Home Living. She joined the BHL family in 2019 and has been a vital part of researching and reviewing products since that time. April also loves writing how-to and informational articles that help people through her own experience. She loves playing the piano, camping with her family, and taking her dog for a walk.

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