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Baby Steps to Organization::
Step One, Assess the Needs

by | Aug 10, 2010 | Domesticity, Organization

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Baby Steps to Organization:: <br>Step One, Assess the Needs

Dining room – Office from Martha Stewart

Every August here on The Inspired Room, I’ve shared my very basic and simple housekeeping routines. Housekeeping and routines are always some of my most popular topics this time of year! Guess we all struggle with the same issues, huh? These aren’t always the “prettiest” posts or topics, but without the behind the scenes efforts, our homes cannot be really beautiful inside and out.


August is the time I start thinking about getting back into a routine. I start dreaming about reorganizing rooms and closets, knowing that school and fall schedules will be starting right around the corner. I cannot stand the idea of a messy disorganized home during that stressful season of kids going back to school. You know that fall is my absolutely most favorite time of year so I want to be prepared to ENJOY it!

Here are the 4 Simple Housekeeping Routines that I shared last year. Those are the basic daily housekeeping routines I still use to keep my house “Clean Enough.” If you struggle with keeping your home clean, I highly recommend those simple routines.

Baby Steps to Organization:: <br>Step One, Assess the Needs

Daughter’s original room and closet
on its way to turning into a guest room/game, gift and wrapping closet

If you follow me on The Inspired Room’s Facebook page (go ahead an visit my page and hit LIKE so you won’t be out of the loop, lol), you might have read yesterday that my daughter and I have begun an ambitious and complete overhaul of the organization on our second floor, where our bedrooms, laundry room and linen closets are.

This organizational overhaul is hopefully going to end in organizing a new office space for myself as well, once we get the upstairs reorganized. I introduced my new office plan in this post, Rethinking How You Use Your Space. It may take me years to get there, but I’m going to get there!



The first step to getting organized is assessing the needs and issues you currently have!

Taking a good look at the way you use your home, what is working and what is NOT working, will give you clarity on what needs to be tackled and why. It is normal to have to organize and re-organize your life as your family changes, grows and responsibilities evolve. Make your home work for you NOW and expect to let it evolve over time.

Remember how we talked about re-purposing rooms to be more effective for your needs? This is exactly what I am doing right now as I am going through the bedrooms and closets upstairs of our home. This is not a simple process of cleaning out a closet, this is a real top to bottom reorganization! Two rooms will be be given completely new purposes that will better suit our needs, and four closets will be totally re-purposed and reorganized. {faints}

Baby Steps to Organization:: <br>Step One, Assess the Needs

daughter’s current room, soon to be guest room,
as we start the clearing out process

In our house, the reason we need an overhaul on our organization is three fold.

1. Sometimes you only learn what works by living in a space and using it over time. When we moved in, we did our best to determine where things should go. But as the year has passed, we’ve discovered that our first instinct for how we would use our closets and rooms was not necessarily the best solution to space management.

2. Changes in life always bring about different needs for organization.

Since we moved in, we’ve had a lot of changes with how we live in our home.

Our middle daughter moved to a dorm (and back again for the summer, and will be back to school again in the fall!) and her room needs to reflect her current needs as well as our needs while she is away at school. My parents have spent more time up here and my oldest daughter and her husband spend weekends here on occasion, thus we really need a designated guest room. My son spends less time playing with toys and needs less room to play inside. My husband has found he prefers to work at a coffee shop rather than a home office, and I have decided I need my own office for a “command center.” Changes to our needs open up new possibilities for how we use our space!

3. Lastly, this past year has absolutely been the busiest of our life. When you are extremely busy, it means many things get put off because you can only do so much at once. I’ll spare you the long list of things that kept us busy in the past twelve months!

We are READY to get settled here! No more chaos. Or at least a little less chaos.

Baby Steps to Organization:: <br>Step One, Assess the Needs

oh my. somewhere in this mess is the room my daughter is moving to.
heaven help us.

What changes do you need to make to your home to be ready for Fall?

If you need further inspiration for routines and homemaking, my favorite resource is: FLYLADY! Check out her 31 babysteps to get started with routines and have a more organized, well-managed home. You’ll be glad you did!


  1. anne

    I need to get my husband to sort out HIS office .. and give me back a bedroom.. He is one of the untidiest men I have ever known.. he is a hoarder and he is a procrastinator… and extremely irritating!

  2. cathy

    The best thing I created in my new house was a room dedicated to my office and space dedicated to my husbands. Creativity flows so much better.

    • Melissa

      Agreed, that sounds WONDERFUL!

  3. Lisa

    Melissa I am struggling with how to organize my house since we downsized. Our new living room also houses the home computer; the kid’s games and arts and crafts are still looking for a home. Thanks for some ideas about starting the process and thinking through where things are most used.

    • Melissa

      Me too, downsizing was my downfall. lol. Although I am super excited about having a smaller house, it is taking awhile to figure out how to fit out life into a smaller space. But I’m determined!

  4. Tracy O

    Melissa I love this post and will be following your progress. I am in the same mind frame right now. I love having my little ones home with me over the summer but can’t wait for them to start school at the end of the month so I can clean, organize and end the chaos in my home. We have been here for 6 years and I still have unpacked boxes (yes I know…bad), and rooms that have been decorated by someone else. This is the year (we’ll count the school year as the year) that I take my house back and make it a home I can love and want to come home to.

    • Melissa

      You go girl! I know just how you feel!

  5. Julie

    Great post – it’s got me thinking of ways to organize too! We recently “inherited” boxes and boxes (and more boxes) of photographs, framed photos, etc. from my in-laws home. We need to set aside a few hours each weekend this winter to go through them all & find a way to store them efficiently. I think it’s going to mean clearing out some closets to make room – but it’ll be worth it to rid ourselves of the junk to make room for the family history.

  6. Vee

    Love FlyLady and know from long experience that her methods work and, not only that, they are fun. We are alway re-evaluating here…perhaps it’s never done. All the best with the reorganizing…it’s going to make life so much easier and don’t forget: baby steps!

  7. jane

    melissa, i love your posts! every fall i get the urge to put things in order. even tho’ my house is always neat, i do have a downfall: the paper pit/mountain. i do not know how to keep it from being a huge mental/emotional burden. i want to know what has to be kept and what can safely be shredded and tossed. do you know these things? will you share? and how do you store/ maintain these ever-growing files? my problem isn’t physical space but i don’t want to keep stuff just because i can. please, any help is welcome!

      • Melissa

        Thanks for the link to what paperwork to keep! :-)

  8. Karen


    I too love fall! Thanks for getting me on the road to organization and readiness for my favorite season.


  9. Fiona Sanders

    I love flylady! She’s great! And I have found over the years that she is right. Routine is the one thing that saves me when it comes to the house.

    I’ll jump on the bandwagon here. My house has never recovered from being sick in bed for a year. Right after I was sick I worked several jobs to pay off my medical costs, so here was no time then to catch things up.

    I’m in a better place now to take things on. Let’s do it!

    • Melissa

      Isn’t that just how life is? Something goes amiss in our life and it totally throws off everything else? I wonder what it would feel like to have no chaos happen for like 6 years in a row. I’d feel like a new woman. We seem to be on the “crisis of the year” plan at our house, something is always draining us of our time and energy!

  10. Amanda Eck-TheEckLife

    ok so you totally motivated me to get my “catch all” bedroom cleaned out. I cant even open the door all the way there is so much stuff crammed in there- it truly looks like an episode right out of Hoarders. Thanks for the tips! I can do this! I can do this! I can do this!

  11. Adrienne

    This is right where I am – organizing, cleaning, decluttering, sorting, recycling, tossing, donating! I’m trying to simplify my life and have less to deal with so I can enjoy my home and life with those I love. The hardest part? Letting go of things – I love too much of what I have! And there’s no room for all of it so I have to assess and re-assess and make some tough decisions. I’ve made several – and it feel so good!

  12. the BLAH BLAH BLAHger

    I’ve assessed the needs…and I STILL NEED HELP!

    When are you coming to So Cal? : )

  13. Jessica

    FABULOUS POST. I literally walked around the house re-assessing after reading this. I think we really need to visit our cupboards and closets. Since they are closed off to the world I never rarely worry about them. But that’s not true. They stress me out every time I do HAVE to open them. Sometimes I re-stand up the hair products under my sink… does that count as organizing! HAHA

  14. Judy

    I am sooo excited about this series! I need this. I’ll be reading…

  15. Annelise

    I have been taking the summer to assess and as we moved my third son into his own room I was able to better tackle organization. I have given each of my sons cubbys (sweater shelves) that hang in their closets and have an outfit a day for them. No more whining about what to wear. They are in charge and it stays organized. Now my closets look really good. All I need are fun hampers!

  16. gretchen

    All my things are currently packed into two pods and a garage while i’m waiting to get into a new/old house…
    so, this topic of assigning purpose and use to each room/closet/space is what keeps my head whirling far into the night instead of sleeping!
    reading this, makes it easier to remember i can change what doesn’t work and know it’s not ALL going to work the first time.

  17. Kasey

    Great steps!

    As far as what changes need to be made to my home? -Everything-

    I’m trying to find a balance between work [I only get 6 days off a month between my regular 40-45hr a week job and I am also in the Air Force Reserves so that eats up one weekend a month also…and not to mention cooking dinner, normal household chores, the husband, our 2yr old son and working out 5 days a week]. It’s been hard but I know… no I will do it. We moved into our first house [the one we are in now] at the very end of February and since then we are trying to balance everything out and I totally agree with your statement about how Fall is your most favorite of all and you want to be able to sit back and enjoy it. Same here and I need to seriously find my balance and quick!

  18. Sally

    We did a downsize back in May…so far most things are working fine, but we have the 3rd bedroom that is the multi-purpose room (tv/computer/craft/guest room) which we are still working on…we just purchased a futon for the room and got rid of my son’s mates bed as the bed took up lots of space and we had no where to sit when watching tv, and for the amount of time he is home or we have guests it will suffice for sleeping on…I am in the process of working on the closet as it is still stuffed with things that need to find a home in the house, and I am trying to organize where to keep the craft supplies and also organize the computer area so that they work better…I have lot of wall space that I am thinking of putting shelves on as that will take things off the floor that are currently using up valuable space…So this is my project for the fall, and I hopefully will have it done by Xmas!! :)

  19. mary b

    I get the same Fall organizing bug!
    Our oldest just graduated college and is working FT in NYC so we are going to repurpose his room. My DH stores some of his art there, so we are torn between guest room/art storage or relocating our preteen son to that room.
    Can’t wait to see your progress as you redo your spaces. I always get such good ideas.

  20. pkzcass

    I love your thoughts on how our needs for rooms change. I’m in a quandry right now. My two boys (ages 14 and 11) still share a bedroom (after 8 years). My 14yo has no desire for his own room, so once again, for the second time since we’ve lived in our house, the extra bedroom (we have 3) has become a catch-all for STUFF. Old toys, old shoes, my husband’s workout clothes, etc. I hate to see that room go to waste and would like to convert it into maybe a study room for my older son since he’s going into high school and will have more homework. Am I the only one who has an extra room in a fairly small 3-bedroom house that I don’t know what to do with?

  21. Heather

    Every morning my husband would do laps of the house looking for wallet, keys, watch so he now has a cupboard that has his bits, jacket, shoes, bag etc.

    Also seeing as our 2 kids don’t dress themselves yet and we have a spare room right next to the family shared bathroom, we made this room a family dressing room. Everyones clothes are in there so it makes it very easy to put the laundry away.

  22. Mari

    I am working on organizing my home office and I’m loving your tips! I adore the paper organizer on the top right corner of your daughter’s desk. I am having trouble finding one, but it’s amazing how one 3- or 4- shelf unit will cut down on the clutter. Any suggestions?



  1. Baby Steps to Organization:: Step Three: Embrace the 5 Minutes or Less Rule - [...] with Step One, move on to Step Two, and then you’ll be caught up with this [...]
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