How to fall in love with organizing – 11 ways to commit long-term

Falling in love with organizing is one thing, but how do you keep the spark alive? The experts share their secrets to long-term success

header image split 3 ways
(Image credit: Kathy Kuo Home / TR Studio / Marie Flanigan, Julie Soefer)

You love the idea of a well-organized home, but the actual organizing itself, not so much. We get it. The thought of overhauling your belongings can be pretty overwhelming. But what if we told you there were ways to make it not just bearable, or even enjoyable, but actually… loveable

If you don’t believe us, take it from the pros, they do it for a living after all. Below, they divulge their secrets to a successful love affair with home organizing ideas, including decluttering tips (and decluttering mistakes to avoid) as well as advice on how to stay committed through the good times – and the bad. 

How to fall in love with organizing 

To spark your love affair, first know this; a well-organized home comes with benefits far beyond just being able to find things quickly. Feeling calm, happy and generally in control of day-to-day life are all things the most organized families have in common

‘Even the smallest and simplest organizing efforts can have a significant impact on your daily life — things like making your bed in the morning, decluttering your junk drawer, or doing a load of laundry every day. By keeping things organized, you may feel more productive, less stressed, and better able to focus on the things that matter most to you’, says organizing expert Michelle Urban, founder of The Organized House. 

Michelle Urban
Michelle Urban

As a professional home organizer, Michelle Urban knows how hectic life can get. With years of experience as a working mom, wife, and owner of 'The Organized House', she offers advice and guidance on decluttering homes and restoring harmony in living spaces.   

1. Always start with a plan

Roll top bath in neutral bathroom with shiplap paneling and velux window

(Image credit: BC Designs)

Whether you’re organizing a kitchen or just a single kitchen drawer, always start with a plan. Write it down, then tick things off as you go – there’s nothing more satisfying, plus you’ll feel less pressure to get it all done at once; if you start to feel stressed, take a break, then simply pick back up from where you left off. 

2. Make sure you’re in the right mood

Starting with a positive mindset is really important. Keep in mind that it’s ok not to do it all, or get things perfect straight away. ‘Visualizing how you’ll feel after decluttering a room can really help as well. Once you’ve achieved it, give yourself a pat on the back and note that buzz of satisfaction’, says professional life coach Ari Shaffer

3. Create an upbeat atmosphere

A beige-toned living room with a green couch and a fireplace.

(Image credit: Kathy Kuo Home)

Set yourself up for a successful decluttering session by creating a fun setting – keep energy levels up with snacks on hand and your favorite music in the background. 

‘Create a special playlist that gets you moving, and let the music set the pace as you work through the organizing process’, advises cleaning and organizing expert Karina Toner, operations manager at Spekless Cleaning

Karina Toner
Karina Toner

Karina is the Operations Manager at Spekless Cleaning, a trusted maid service based in Washington D.C. She has over five years of experience providing top-quality cleaning services, ensuring that every client gets the same top-notch service and a spotless clean every time.

4. Don’t take on too much at once

One of the biggest organizing mistakes you can make is biting off more than you can chew. Decluttering whilst overwhelmed is certainly not enjoyable, or productive for that matter – you’ll likely find yourself giving up before you’ve even begun. 

‘By focusing on small areas of your home at a time, you can overcome overwhelm and see results quickly. I recommend starting with a junk drawer. Empty everything out, purge won't you don't need, and put things back in an organized way. It doesn’t take long; fifteen minutes or so, and you’ll feel a real sense of accomplishment. Then you can start plotting what to do next!’, says organizing and decluttering coach Nancy Traylor

5. Turn it into a game

nursery with play tent

(Image credit: Future / Matthew Williams)

It can be pretty demoralizing to declutter when your family isn't on board, but turning it into a game is a surefire way to inspire motivation. 

‘Use your clock, set a timer for 15 minutes, and challenge yourself to see how much you can do. Want to really make it into a game? Get your family involved and have a prize for the person who cleans up their room the fastest!’, says professional organizer Lauren Saltman, founder of Living. Simplifed.

Lauren Saltman
Lauren Saltman

As a Professional Organizer and Founder of Living. Simplified., Lauren Saltman is an expert on decluttering and organizing. Whether she is organizing her home, a friend’s office, or a client’s garage, her resourceful approach yields happy clients.

6. Involve friends and family

Our busy schedules can prevent us from spending time with friends and family as it is, let alone when you factor in organization stints, too. Whether they’re there to help out or to spur you on from the sidelines, use it as an opportunity to socialize and have fun. 

7. Establish end goals...

modern rustic kitchen with marble countertops

(Image credit: Marie Flanigan, Photography Julie Soefer)

Regardless of whether you enjoy organizing or not, it’s pretty tiring, and there will be times when your motivation starts to dwindle. Establishing end goals ahead of time gives you something to focus on in those moments and renew please in the process. 

Search apps like Pinterest for images of how you wish your home looked, or cut pictures from a magazine and create a vision board. Sit down together with your household and make a list of all the ways day-to-day life could be made better by completing the process. 

8. … and reward yourself when you achieve them

‘At the end of each week, if you've accomplished your goals, treat yourself to something consumable...a manicure, a lunch date with a friend. Just be sure not to go shopping and bring items into your home that need to be organized,' says Lauren Saltman.

9. Get creative with storage solutions

Pacifica Square Arm Upholstered Trundle Sleeper Sofa with Storage Chaise

(Image credit: Pottery Barn)

Whilst practicality is a priority, that’s not to say you can’t have a little fun with your organizing projects, so give yourself permission to get creative with your storage ideas – it’s far more fun that way, and has the added benefit of aesthetic appeal, too. 

‘There’s so much joy to be had in stylish organization’, says Amanda Wiss, founder of NYC-based home organizing firm, Urban Clarity and home staging company, Urban Staging. ‘Elevate your bookshelf organization by storing toys in linen document boxes or spend a day searching vintage stores and thrift shops for book ends, trinket bowls, and other decor – just make sure usefulness takes precedence’.  

10. Track your progress

When you’re in the midst of an organizing project, it’s easy to lose sight of how far you’ve come. Experts recommend taking ‘before’ photos, so you’ve got something to refer to when you feel like you’re not making progress. 

Highlight your achievements by taking ‘after’ photos, too. There’s something so satisfying about seeing a transformation (even if it's small). Sharing the results with your loved ones will bring you even more joy, plus you’ll have something to refer back to when things start to feel cluttered again’, says professional organizer Britnee Tanner

11. Donate to a good cause

Small guest bedroom with sheepskin rug TR Studio

(Image credit: TR Studio)

Work out what do with items you’re decluttering ahead of time. Whether you’re decluttering clothes, toys or a garage packed with childhood memories, it makes it a lot easier to declutter sentimental items when it feels hard to let go if you know they’re going to a good home. To avoid declutter regret, be sure to donate sentimental items to places you’re familiar with, such as friends, family or a charity that resonates.  


How do I get motivated to organize?

Getting started is often the biggest hurdle, but losing motivation half way through organizing is also common. Establishing an end goal (and focusing on the benefits it’ll bring to your life) ahead of time gives you something to focus on when times get tough. 

‘Perhaps you want to free up some space, or make your home easier to keep clean and tidy? Or maybe you’re ready to let go of sentimental items, in readiness for a fresh start? Whatever your motivations, a clear goal can drive you through the process, setting you up for success from the very start’, says Jennifer Ebert, digital editor, at Homes & Gardens. 

It’s one thing falling in love with organizing, but like in any good relationship, commitment is key. Don’t give up when things get a little challenging; stay motivated and you’ll soon reap the many benefits of a well-organized home. 

Contributing Editor

For 10 years, Tara King worked as a Content Editor in the magazine industry, before leaving to become freelance, covering interior design, wellbeing, craft and homemaking. As well as writing for Ideal Home, Style at Home, Country Homes & Interiors, Tara’s keen eye for styling combined with a passion for creating a happy – and functional – family home has led to a series of organization and cleaning features for H&G.