Step 1: Empty.
Whatever you are organizing, empty it completely to gain a full understanding of what you own. “This is true for all storage spaces — kitchen cabinets, medicine cabinets, even refrigerators,” says Sharon Lowenheim, a New York City organizer. “What isn’t seen is forgotten. So it’s important to get everything out in the open.”
Step 2: Sort.
Lowenheim suggests thinking of your life from this moment forward as a trip for which you need to pack. “What items do you need to bring along on this particular journey?” she says. “You don’t need to pack everything you’ve ever accumulated. Are there items that were part of an earlier journey that don’t apply to the upcoming trip?”
Step 3: Shop.
“Too many people shop for containers first, figuring that will make it easy for them to get organized,” Lowenheim says. “But it’s rarely true. All they end up with is more clutter because their empty containers are taking up space.” Instead, decide what you’re keeping, measure it, and determine where it’s going to be stored. Then go shopping for right-size pieces.
Step 4: Reassemble.
“Store things where you use them,” Lowenheim says. “You can also position yourself in front of the drawer, cabinet, or closet you are organizing and reach your arms out in all directions. Any area at eye level you can easily reach is prime real estate. That’s where things you use every day should go.”