The Secret to Getting Organized for Real: Taking Action

Ready to get started establishing Zero in the messiest space in your home?  Here are the first three steps!

Ditched perfectionism


Called out those seven bold-faced organizing lies on their crap?


Bought in to a solid organizing philosophy

Sure have.

Chosen an appropriate space in which to start and figured out a realistic Zero

You know it. 

(Don’t freak out if you’re still figuring out exactly what Zero will look like.  We’ll come back to that later!)

Well, guess what time it is, ladies and gentlemen?


It’s time to implement Zero in your own home!


It’s about dang time, right?  I mean information is great and all, but it’s time to DO.  And do, you shall!

There are SIX action steps when it comes to establishing Zero in your space.  

1. Empty it

2. Clean it

3. Sort the items that used to live in it

4. Evaluate and purge the items that used to live in it

5. Evaluate and figure out how to store the items that made the cut

6. Make it cute

I’m gonna be super up front with you.  If we hit all six right now, you’d be on complete information OVERLOAD.  And you’d hate me.  Since nobody wants that, we’re only going to focus on the first three steps.   

I wanna let you in on a little secret before we get started though.

Those first three steps are the absolute easiest of the six.  Well, maybe easy isn’t the right term.  Okay, it’s actually the perfectly WRONG term because, when it comes to grunt work, steps one through three are ONLY grunt work. They are LABOR. INTENSIVE.  

But, and I think you’ll like this but, you don’t have to do much else besides the labor.  Pretty much, you don’t hardly have to think AT ALL to empty, clean, and sort.  

Your brain can go on autopilot.  Your brain SHOULD go on autopilot.  PLEASE MAKE YOUR BRAIN GO ON AUTOPILOT.

I’m not even going to try to be subtle, okay?  PLEASE DON’T OVER THINK THESE FIRST THREE STEPS.  

Don’t sit there and act like you don’t know what I’m talking about.  You and I BOTH know that you’ve struggled with organizing in the past because you think too much.  You get too caught up in making decisions.  You get in your own way.  Emotions kick in.  We’re gonna get to all that hard stuff but right now?  Right now, don’t overthink. Capisce?  

The First Three Steps To Establish Zero In Your Space

1. Empty it.

Yup.  It’s that simple. You’re going to empty the space in which you’re working.  Empty it right on out.  

(If you’re having heart palpitations because you think there’s no way on God’s green earth you can empty out your entire house at one time, take another glance back through this blog post on choosing an appropriate space!)

Let’s say you’ve decided you want to get your bedroom closet to Zero.  Since that’s too big of a space, you’ve already broken it down into multiple small sections (That blog post up there has a great graphic organizer to help ya’ do that!) that probably look something like this-

Bedroom Closet:

o Floor

o Upper Hanging Area

o Lower Hanging Area

o Upper Shelving

o Lower Shelving

Start with the floor and empty it.  EMPTY. IT. 

Don’t think.  Don’t overanalyze.  Just pull it all out.  Drag it out into your bedroom.  Make a big pile.  

Step 1?  Complete.

(Note #1:  The great thing about breaking down the Zero process into bite size chunks is that you can work in small bursts.  You can start, complete, and cross something off your list in a relatively short amount of time.  You can absolutely call it a day after this step.  You’re gonna have a big pile of stuff on your bedroom floor, but that’s totally fine. Absolutely legit.  As long as you actually do come back to that pile and complete the remaining five steps!)

Maybe instead of your closet, you’ve decided to start in your kitchen.  You’ve broken that space down further into bite size chunks and decided to start with your pantry.  

Pull every single thing out of your pantry.  Empty it on out.  

Yup, you’re gonna make a huge mess outside of the pantry but that’s absolutely fine.  It always gets worse before it gets better.  Don’t overthink.  Don’t get overwhelmed.  You’ve got a plan.  You can do this. 

 Empty. The. Pantry. 

Step 1? Finished.

Perhaps you’re starting in your bedroom.  You’ve broken it down into smaller chunks, so you’re going to work on your nightstand.  

You know what comes next, right? 


Dump everything that was on the top of your nightstand and in each drawer onto the floor or your bed.  (If you’re working in your bedroom, regardless of the specific area, ALWAYS make up your bed before you get started.  It automatically gives you a clean surface on which to work!)

Step 1? Done.

2. Clean it.

I cannot, in good conscience, allow you to organize a dirty space.  You don’t have to pull out the autoclave, but if you just emptied your closet floor, vacuum it.  Or at least sweep out the bigger dust bunnies.

If your pantry is standing empty, wipe off the shelves.  We both know there’s a fine layer of flour or some mysterious brown sticky stuff on a shelf or two.  (What IS that brown stuff?  It’s in EVERY pantry I’ve ever organized!) 

Working on your night stand?  Grab the Pledge and revitalize that hard surface!  And at least dump out the drawers.  

Step 2?  Finito. 

(Note #2:  This is another opportunity to rest, fold a load of laundry, change a diaper, pee...  You can absolutely call it a day after this step too.    You’re still gonna have a big pile of crap somewhere, but this is the beauty of working in small chunks.  As long as you actually do come back to that pile and complete the remaining four steps!)

3. Sort the items that used to live in/on it

Warning:  You’re going to want to start to think now.  DON’T DO IT.  Don’t worry about what you wanna keep.  Don’t stress about what to do with all the stuff you don’t want, that your sister gave it you, and how it’ll just crush her soul if you get rid of it.  Do not-- I repeat-- DO NOT think.  Just group like items together.  

If you want a little bit more detail about how and why to sort, check out this blog post.  It explains EVERYTHING.  

(Note #3:  This is the absolute BEST time to take a break!  And not just because we haven’t talked about the final three steps yet!  After your items are sorted, you’ve accomplished a few different things.  First, the messy space you started with is a blank canvas.  Second, that big pile of crap is gone, and all of your items are sorted into like categories.  Because you’ve sorted into labeled boxes, you can find anything you might need--probably easier than you could before--and everything is contained, so you don’t have to worry about messing up your categories while you live in the space.)

So there you have it!  The first three steps to establishing Zero in your space!  Three actions you can do whenever you’re ready to get started.  A little bit of time, a little bit of elbow grease, and you’re halfway through establishing Zero in your space!  

Up next?  The home stretch.  You’ll need your brain, and maybe some dependable emotional support, for the final three steps!