A place for everything and everything in its place

Part of your consciousness rests on the things you own. When you create order in your home, you create order in yourself, which will then be reflected in your life.

Storage cupboard

Clutter clearing is about sorting through your belongings to decide what stays and what goes. By the end of the process you are left with the items you really love and use.

But where to keep all your belongings?

This is where the motto “a place for everything and everything in its place” is so helpful. It can feel very frustrating having to hunt for something you know you own but cannot find. Life works so much better when you know where your things are.

If you grew up in a home where your parents or caregivers kept their belongings in an organized way, it’s likely you will have learned this skill from them. But many people never learn this and it’s not something that’s taught in schools. Here’s my step-by-step guide for how to do it.

Give each item you own a place where it lives

Go through your home, room by room, assigning each item you own a place where it belongs, using the techniques I’m about to explain. Especially target any items that you once put somewhere “just for now” and they’ve been there ever since.

Perfectionists often like to keep things out in the open where they can see them, as a reminder to themselves to do something. But the visual clutter this creates is counterproductive, and the item soon gets lost among piles of other things anyway. A much better way is to put each object in its designated home and use A To Do book instead to help you keep track of tasks (if this is something you need help with, learn my TDZP system, which is part of my Zero Procrastination online course).

Group similar types of items together

Grouping similar types of items makes it much easier to find something and much easier to put it away again when you have finished using it. It also has the advantage of immediately revealing how many of each type of item you have so that you are not tempted to buy more when you already have enough.

This works for most belongings, but there are some exceptions. To give a few examples:

  • It’s not necessary to keep all your books together, but it can be really helpful to have all the books of a certain category in the same place
  • It’s fine to keep the shoes you wear most often in a cabinet near the front door and your other shoes elsewhere
  • It’s useful to keep all your toiletries together, but if this would make your bathroom cluttered, keep the items you use less often somewhere else

You may find other examples in your home as you tidy it.

Store items as close as possible to where you will use them

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how often people don’t do this and how much unnecessary extra work they cause themselves. For example:

  • If you sometimes buy fresh flowers for your home, store your vases close to where you do your flower arranging.
  • If you have a dishwasher, make it easy to unload it by storing your plates and pans in the cabinets or drawers closest to it.
  • If you have a waste paper basket, put it close to where you use it, not on the other side of the room.

Place frequently used items in easy-to-get-to locations

This means intelligently organizing things so that the most frequently used things are at the front of a storage area and at arm height, and the less frequently used things are further back or higher up or lower down. As much as possible also arrange items so that you don’t have to move something else to get to them.

Have the right type of storage for your needs

Arriving in a new home presents many choices about how you will arrange your furniture and where you will put all your belongings. You can greatly reduce the number of decisions that need to be made by clutter clearing your old home before you move to your new one so that the things you arrive with are the things you know you want to keep. This can save you moving costs too.

If you have been living in your current home for a while and still have some boxes that have never been unpacked, this usually means that it is clutter of the “things you do not use or love” variety or perhaps the “too many things in too small a space” type. You will need to face up to the reality of this, sort through the boxes, and throw most of it out.

Another possibility is that you don’t yet have the right furniture to unpack the boxes to. The problem with living like this is that it doesn’t allow you to fully arrive in your home. You will feel adrift in life and not fully landed.

Aim to buy any furniture you need and unpack as much as possible within the first month of arriving in a new place, and everything else as soon after as you can. This goes a long way towards helping your house or apartment to feel like your home.

When you use something, put it back where it belongs

Get into the habit of putting things back where they belong when you have finished using them, and do a 10 minute tidy-up every evening to put your home in order so that you can start the next day fresh.

Regularly review the things you keep

At least once a year, review the things you keep, and let go of any you never use, don’t like, or have too many of.

Stop clutter before it starts

When deciding whether to buy or acquire something new, first ask yourself, where will I keep this? If the answer isn’t clear, walk away. You were just about to purchase clutter!

Copyright © Clear Space Living Ltd 2017, updated 2024

Related articles
I’ll just put it here for now
The art of intercepting clutter before it even starts

How to Clear Your Clutter (free ebook)
Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui (book)
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About Karen Kingston

Karen Kingston is a leading expert in clutter clearing, space clearing, feng shui, and healthy homes. Her two international bestselling books have combined sales of over three million copies in 26 languages and have established themselves as "must-read" classics in their fields. Her best-known title, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, is now in its fifth edition. She is best known for her perspective-changing insights and practical solutions that enable more conscious navigation of 21st-century living.
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