Basic Organizing for Lazy People

Do you dream of a simple, uncluttered home where everything has a place? Do you lust after the beauty of instagram or magazine homes? Do you look around your own home and see random piles, overstuffed drawers, and projects you never got around to finishing? 

If you have things falling out of closets when you try to put something away or are constantly losing things in your own home, you might need some help getting organized.  

There are plenty of systems out there to help you but there’s one problem: if you’re here it may be because you are a person who is not able to just go out and implement those systems. Personally I identify as lazy about home tasks, but there could be many reasons why someone struggles with keeping an organized home, from stress and mental health issues to lack of time and motivation.

Regardless of the reason, if you want to start getting organized in your home, you’ll need a different approach – one that works with you instead of against you. 

You do not have to all of the sudden summon monumental heaps of discipline and motivation to get your home organized. You do not have to suddenly become a high strung type-A person to improve the clutter in your home. And you do not have to implement some complicated or expensive system.

What you can do is follow my super easy steps to organize anything. 

Rules for Organizing

  1. Do things in small bits
  2. If anything feels overwhelming or you don’t want to do it, break the task down into smaller steps. 
  3. You don’t have to do it all at one time. Do one small thing and walk away. Come back later and do another. 

Small actions consistently taken over time add up to significant progress and change.

I’m going to walk you through, step-by-step, the process of organizing some aspect of your home, the easy way. For each step I’ll show one of my own projects, organizing a drawer in my bathroom vanity.

White floating bathroom vanity with 2 large drawers in bathroom
Bathroom vanity with a drawer that desperately needs organizing

Organizing Your Home, Step-by-Step, the Easy Way (aka the Lazy Way)

1. Choose what you are going to organize

If your entire house is a mess, I recommend starting small for a first project. Choose something that makes sense to you.  It can be a particular space or a group of items in your home. For example, a closet, a drawer, or a cabinet are existing spaces you could choose. Alternatively you might choose a group of items like a collection, kids toys, or kitchen spices.

I suggest choosing your first project based on one of the following:

  • The impact it will have on your daily life
  • How easy it is to complete (you don’t want to start out overwhelmed)

Trick your brain

This first step is easy because you aren’t physically doing anything, you’re just making a choice. And whatever you choose is fine.  

My example 

For my personal example I am going to clean out a drawer in my bathroom vanity. It was once beautifully organized but as you can see, time has taken a toll. 

messy drawer with containers overflowing with makeup and skin care products
This cluttered drawer does not feel good

I use this drawer multiple times every single day so I feel the pain of how disorganized it has become. My toothbrushes are in a disgusting tray, my glasses fall down, and the makeup I barely use is overflowing every container.

2. Get everything out 

For this step, you are going to just get everything out.  That’s it.  Empty the drawer or cabinet. Collect all the toys in one place. Get every spice in your home out and put it on the table. 

There is no work here, no decision making. You’re just getting things out. 

Trick your brain

You aren’t actually doing any work, you’re just getting things out. If you think about it you’re making a mess and that’s not work. 

If it’s too much, just get a few things out every time you walk by the location in question. If that’s too much, just open the drawer as a first step. I’m serious. Then the next time you walk by, take one thing out of the drawer. Every step forward is progress, no matter how small.

My Example

Here’s my entire bathroom vanity drawer, strewn out on the floor. This took me less than 5 minutes.

bathroom vanity drawer emptied onto floor
Bathroom vanity drawer emptied onto floor

In hindsight it would have been easier for me to unload everything in a room with more space, but c’est la vie.

3. Sort your stuff: decide what stays and goes

Group every item you emptied out or collected into one of 3 categories:

  • Throw away
  • Keep
  • Sell/Donate

To be efficient, you can bring out a trash can for the “throw away” pile. Put out a box that’s going to go straight to a donation center for the “donate” items.

If you are going to sell some things, I suggest setting them aside and out of the way because that can be an entire project on its own.

Trick your brain

This doesn’t have to be some kind of enormous undertaking, you can do a little here and a little there.  You can do one or two things each time you walk by the space. 

Does it take longer this way? Sure, but you weren’t doing the job anyway so doing it slowly is still better than your previous situation. Plus, doing it slowly fatigues your brain less.

My Example

For my project, I’ve decided to get rid of a bunch of makeup and skin products I never use. I’ve also set aside a pile of things that I’ll keep but store elsewhere.

piles of items to rehome and throw away
Items to be thrown away or rehomed

4. Group like items

Step 4 is to group your like items.  Items you are keeping should be grouped in a way that makes sense for you and how you use and access them.

If you are grouping kids toys you might group them by the child they belong to or by type of toy. If you’re working on a junk drawer you might gather all the batteries together in one pile, papers in another pile, and small tools in another etc.

You are going to eventually store the items based on how they are grouped.

Trick your brain 

You’re just making some piles, no big deal. Again, you don’t have to do this all at once, it can be in small bits when you’re walking by anyway.  

Even though you don’t have to do this step all in one go, this is generally the stage of a project where I start to get excited about the end result and get a lot of momentum to keep going. If that happens to you, absolutely roll with it!

My Example

For my bathroom vanity drawer, I made various piles of makeup and things for teeth, eyes, and skin.

bathroom vanity items organized and grouped in neat piles on the floor
Vanity items organized into groups by function

5. Make a plan for putting things away

Once you have your groupings, decide how you will put things away. 

Consider the following:

  • Things you use most often should be the most easily accessible
  • Things should be stored in a way that makes sense for how you use them. You don’t need to put everything back in the same location you started with.
  • It should be easy to put your things away (or you won’t do it)
  • Do you need room for this pile of items to expand?
  • What containers will you need?

Choosing containers

Choosing containers does not need to be an expensive task. Old boxes, jars, or things you can find around the house work great to start with.  If you find that you love how your cheap containers are working you can always purchase something nicer later. 

Containers should both fit well in the space you are organizing AND fit the items you are putting away in that space. If you are going to buy something, make sure to measure your space before you buy. 

Example

For my bathroom drawer, I already knew my toothbrush situation was not working. Tooth brushing remnants keep building up in the bottom of the storage tray and I’m constantly afraid of the toothbrush rolling over and touching it. Gross. I also can’t stand them up straight because there isn’t enough vertical space.

I decided to keep the tray but make a little foil toothbrush holder to see if I like that setup better. That wasn’t doing it for me so I found a small jar in the kitchen where I could stand the brushes upright but not completely vertical. Wallah, they fit!

I also found a round container that previously held canning jar lids to store my glasses. Completely free, works great.

organizing part of bathroom drawer with toothbrushes and toothpaste in different trays
First try organizing toothbrushes
Final organized drawer with toothbrushes in a jar and toothpaste in separate container
Final toothbrush organization

For the rest of the the drawer I’m going to re-use containers I already have to keep the cost of this project at $0.

bathroom organizer trays and baskets sitting on top of vanity
I will reuse these containers to save money.

6. Clean Your Space/Items

It would be depressing to put your nicely organized things back into a dirty space, so clean it out beforehand. Clean both the space itself (vacuum, dust, wipe, etc) and any organizers you might be using or reusing.

Trick your brain

First, get out the cleaning supplies and leave them in your space, no big deal.  Next time you walk by, use them to do something, like wipe out a drawer. Also no big deal.

My Example

I need this to be as easy as humanly possible so I made use of my washing machine and dishwasher.

My existing containers were a mix of cloth and plastic.  I put the cloth organizers into the washing machine on the “hand wash” cycle and air dried them. I put all the plastic containers in the dishwasher on delicate. Everything came out fine.

dirty organizer trays sitting next to sink
Dirty organizer trays ready for the dishwasher

7. Put things away

Time for the fun part!  You’ve done all the work already and now it’s time to put everything away and enjoy your new space.  

Remember to put things away based on how you use them. The most used things should be the most easily accessible. Everything should be easy to put away.

If you aren’t sure how everything will go back to the drawer or closet or space, do some experimenting. Move things around.

My Example

Here’s my drawer with everything put away. I wound up doing a lot of experimenting and tetris to make all the containers fit nicely. I put my makeup on the far right side, skincare in the middle, and eye/teeth/deoderant on the left.

organized bathroom vanity drawer
Newly organized drawer where everything has a home

So far this new drawer is working perfectly for me, and it’s a joy every time I open it.

8. Construct a maintenance plan

Over time spaces tend towards chaos.  Mine certainly do, often because more and more things get added to the space that I didn’t account for originally.  

A maintenance plan can help you maintain this clean and organized space for a longer period of time, and it doesn’t need to be a big deal.  You can write it down or just do it in your head.

My Example

My maintenance plan is:

  • I’m going to see how I like the new toothbrush set up in a month. If it’s going well, I’ll keep it or perhaps even replace the jar with something nicer.
  • On occasion I will look for things I’m not using and get rid of them
  • Once a year I will clean all the containers

Conclusion

Organizing your home does not have to be a huge, time consuming ordeal.  By breaking the job into small steps and following a plan, you can organize spaces and items in your home without feeling overwhelmed.  

Follow these steps to easily organize any space:

  1. Choose what you will organize
  2. Get everything out
  3. Sort your stuff: decide what stays and what goes
  4. Group like items
  5. Make a plan for putting things away
  6. Clean your space and items
  7. Put things away 
  8. Create a low-key maintenance plan

Leave a Comment