In every process, there are a series of steps to follow to be successful. Hopefully, you took a moment to read my previous blog, Getting Organized. If so, you are aware there are four basic steps for this process. We start with SORTING.

The old show “Clean Sweep” on TLC best personified the sorting process. On the show, a team helped homeowners clear two rooms of clutter in a two-day process. In each episode, the production crew moved the entire contents of the two rooms outdoors. The homeowners then had 30 minutes to perform their initial sort into three areas: Keep, Sell, and Toss. Usually, the “keep” pile was limited to one 10×10’ tarp and only items which fit on the tarp were allowed to be kept, no stacking.

Basically, you need to pull everything from the space and sort it into three very basic, very broad categories:

KEEP. This is only for items you wish to return to this space.

RE-HOME. This is for items you wish to keep but are not appropriate in this space. For example, you may wish to “re home” your seasonal clothing to somewhere other than your closet or hosting items like punch bowls and cake stands out of your immediate kitchen space.

GOODBYE. This is for all items with which you are willing to part. During the purge phase, we will further sort these items. This is to ensure they leave your home in the most appropriate manner.

By far, this should be the easiest and least time consuming step. You have to clean out your belongings before you think about organizing them; it simply does not make sense to spend time or money organizing stuff you do not need or are not planning on keeping long term. By removing all items from the area, you can more accurately determine how much physical space you have for your things. If you need more space for your belongings, you may consider renting a self storage unit.


You should not be micro-sorting (sorting things into more narrow categories). Remember, making progress is better than achieving perfection. If you realize you’re rationalizing keeping 95% of the items you touch, you may not really be mentally ready to declutter.

sorting bins: keep, toss, donate