What You MUST Do Before You Organize Anything!

At this time of year I think we all feel as if we are drowning in stuff.  Maybe it’s having all those holiday decorations up, which makes it harder to clean, and then they all have to be stored which reminds us that we really need to organize the attic/garage…AAAACCCCKK!  The new year seems like the perfect time to organize our homes. Before organizing anything, however, there are several thought provoking questions you need to ask yourself.


What You Must Do Before Organizing Anything


What You MUST Do Before You Organize Anything


And what about those adorable Pinterest organizing ideas?!  All those cute organizing products we could buy! Don’t get me wrong-office supply stores and The Container Store are my meccas.  I get excited about those places like some people get excited about the shoes at Nordstrom’s.  But what if those cute products and projects just make us organize items we shouldn’t be keeping?

But what if those cute products and projects just make us organize items we shouldn't be keeping? Click To Tweet

Then there’s a flurry of “organize your entire house in 30 days” articles and challenges.  Which sounds great, right?  Yet I always think-who could possibly organize their attic in one day and then turn around and do their garage the next?  We still have to go on with our lives, right?

These challenges can be very inspiring and incite us to action.  The problem is, they can be like putting on wrinkle cream every night but never putting on sunscreen.  They don’t get to the root of the issue, which is:



Because that’s the heart of the matter.  Until we take a good look at what we have, what we truly need, and why we keep buying, we’ll NEVER have an organized home.

Until we take a good look at what we have, what we truly need, and why we keep buying, we'll NEVER have an organized home. Click To Tweet

Have you ever heard the saying:



It’s quickly becoming one of my favorite sayings.  Remember, YOU have the decision over what stays in your home and what goes out-and what comes in.   So, walk around your home and look at all your stuff (preferably with a large basket) and ask yourself some important questions:
  • Do I love this item?
  • Does it make me happy?
  • Is it useful?
  • Is it beautiful?

And here’s a big one:

  • Does it make me feel guilty?

Because before you can organize you HAVE to purge.  And I wholeheartedly agree with the famous organizer Marie Kondo on this point:  everything in our homes should bring us joy.  (Or at the very least be useful-I mean useful on a regular basis.)

Quick story:  A year ago I went shopping with a friend who is very supportive, excited about life, and a quick decision maker.  In Forever 21 (read:  inexpensive clothing here, not breaking the bank) she talked me into a flashy skirt for New Year’s Eve.  Yet when New Year’s Eve came, I just couldn’t bring myself to wear it.  It felt too flashy and not me.  Fast forward to this year and I again tried the skirt and decided that the wee bit of extra fabric on the sides made me look REALLY hip-y.  So I texted a picture to my daughter who was at work and she said “love it!  wear it!” So I did.  I was with close friends whom I told the story.  I ended by saying “I’m not sure if I like it or I should just put it in my ‘bad buy’ pile.”

One friend literally gasped.  “You have a bad buy pile?  That’s brilliant!”  To which I responded, “yes, I have a bad buy pile.  We all should have one (which goes directly to charity) because, you know, we’re human and sometimes we make bad buys!”  Why on earth should we let something hang around that:

  • makes us feel bad for buying it, or,
  • makes us look bad

I mean, I’m to the point now where if an item of clothing doesn’t make me look 10 pounds skinnier and 10 years younger I don’t buy it, wear it, or keep it. Also, get rid of things

  • you don’t ever use, or,
  • it wasn’t quite the right gift
So, take that walk around your house and purge.  I PROMISE you you will feel lighter, happier, and perhaps even giddy.  Because after talking with so many people I’ve realized:


That is my mantra now.  Once you’ve purged, THEN you can get all those cute organizing products and tackle those cute Pinterest projects-because you’ll only be organizing what you need, not all the extra.

Don’t worry-I’ll be having plenty of posts on ideas how to organize different areas of your home. I’ll have some cute projects too, I’m sure.

And through the process of purging and organizing, you’ll discover what you REALLY need to add to your home/life.  You can shop with a keen eye to what you love, what you find beautiful, and what will be truly useful to you.

Oh and that skirt?  Into the “bad buy” pile it goes.  Because another dear friend said “I see what you mean about being hip-y, but it’s a really cute skirt.”  Egad.


Interested in reading more about decluttering?

Check out my post “12 Easy Items to Declutter Now” 


I also recommend the books “The Joy of Less” by Francine Jay and “Less is More: 7 Effective Tips to Declutter and Simplify for a More Fulfilling Life” by Kate Jenkins.

I would absolutely LOVE to hear from you.  Leave a comment about the first thing you purged after reading this post.  Thank you!

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Professional Home Organizer

I'm so excited you stopped by my blog! I'm passionate about helping others achieve peaceful lives through organization. I want to help you have less stress and more time for the things you love! Let's get started!

14 Responses

  1. Sabrina Bliss

    Purged old wrapping paper today as I put away the Christmas wrapping “stuff”! Then I organized the wrapping container.

    • Daria Harvey

      Excellent!! You’ll be so happy next Christmas when it’s time to wrap the presents!

  2. zahra

    very well put, thanks for all the tips.

  3. Lauren

    This was a really helpful post. Thank you. Happy New Year!



    • Daria Harvey

      Thank you Lauren! Happy New Year to you too!

  4. Marie Green

    I really like your idea of the bad buy pile. It’s a good way for you to release and let go while helping someone else out as well. Its funny how much we hold on to physical things due to guilt almost as much as we do emotional things. Either way, its isn’t healthy and you’ve given some great tips for tackling this.

    • Daria Harvey

      Keeping items out of guilt is the worst! Our homes should be our havens-not a place where our eyes fall on things that make us feel bad. Thanks for reading the blog!

  5. Heather

    These are great questions to ask. I want to rework our office – it needs some major TLC!!! I think I might need more than a laundry basket for it, though. LOL!

    • Daria Harvey

      Ah, all the paperwork of an office! Best to get some boxes too? Lol! Good luck and enjoy the process!

  6. Erin Lane

    Obsessed with this! I am terrible at cleaning, but ADORE organizing….especially my office area since I work from home. Luckily I’m not super attached to ‘stuff’, so have been doing a lot of pre-organizing purging lately. So helpful to not spend time organizing crap you don’t even really need to have anymore. Great advice babe!


    • Daria Harvey

      Thank you! I do love organizing my office too. I just got some pretty file folders for Christmas! Enjoy your purge and your fancied-up office!

  7. Christina Berger

    Thank you for writing this and giving advice! I need to reorganize my room because even if I did clean it up, it still looks like a mess. I will use your tips the next time I clean up!

    • Daria Harvey

      Best of luck to you! Thanks for reading the blog!

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