How to Organize Without a Professional Organizer

With a Professional Organizer's guidance and plan, clients can do the heavy lifting and create a space that fits the needs of their family.

Recently, a client booked an assessment appointment with me. This assessment allowed me to walk though the home with her and her husband in various rooms that they felt needed to be organized. During our time together we spoke in depth about their goals, challenges and upcoming deadlines. With a church garage sale quickly approaching, I formulated a plan to to help them organized and declutter.

I recommend this style of organizing for clients who have the time to do the work, a steady commitment to purge items with little sentimental attachment and who need a budget friendly option. This is with a knowing that they always have me to turn to if they ever get stuck.

Some Reasons You Might Not Want to Hire an Organizer:

  • Cost

  • Time

  • Uncertainty

  • Shame/Embarrassment to invite someone into your home. *I will say that whatever you think is "bad" is almost not as bad as you think. Professional Organizers have seen it all!

Benefits of Not Hiring an Organizer:

You are advancing your skills on your own! That is something to be applauded because you are moving forward on your education, creating autonomy for yourself, family and business.

Whatever the reason may be that you don’t want to hire a Professional Organizer, I am going to show you how you can still get the organized space you desire.

If you fall into one of these categories I’m going to recommend not trying to do the work on your own. At a minimum, get a PO in the home for an assessment, to help you get started, or only schedule them a few times a month.

  1. Limited Mobility ie Safety - If you have things that are up high that need to come down or some items that need to go up high you will want an Organizer to be there to help make sure you are staying safe

*Remember, don’t put anything heavy up high. For example in a linen closet toilet paper, linens and other lightweight items would go up high before you'd put your back stock of shampoo and conditioner

2. If you have limited connections in your community - a Professional Organizer will be able to help you find the right vendors and companies to fix problems in your home

3. Limited motivation/endurance - people can get discouraged bc they don’t have the correct steps or don’t know how; they don’t have motivation to continue, started it and stopped

4. Confusion - around organizing. Don’t know what to start with, tried it before but it didn’t work

5. New phase in life - Anyone entering a new chapter or time in their life, is going to experience some level of disorganization. But a Professional Organizer is going to help you navigate that and keep the process as smooth as possible

6. Brain based conditions - yet to have their home organized for them and their specific needs

So if NONE of those apply to you and you still want to get organized without a PO these are the things you will need to do:

Remember, this model works for some but not everyone needs the same cookie cutter approach, and that is okay! Spaces Organized & Styled, LLC works along side our clients to determine what works well for them!

4 Steps to Organize Without a Professional Organizer

  1. Narrow down what area you need to organize

a. Sit down and create a list of all the areas you feel disorganized. You will probably feel overwhelemd and that's okay! List out all the areas of your home, home admin, work, relationships, family, etc.

b. Find the one thing you want to tackle first. This could be the easiest item aka the low hanging fruit. Or you could tackle the hardest and would have the biggest impact.

2. Overlap

a. There will be overlap between the area you have decided to organize first and the other spaces. Don't stress! This is common and pretty much unavoidable. Items from one area will need to go someplace else. Don’t get overwhelmed with moving things out. Tackle this at a later time.

For example if you have decided to organize your home office but have tools in that room, those will need to be moved out and put into the garage or basement. Maybe the garage is the next space you organize but you will never be able to complete the home office with the tools in there.

3. Research

a. You will need to know if you are organizing because you need to declutter or are you organizing because you have the wrong process/system in place to stay organized and your organizing had previously failed? It could be both!

For example, mail you receive. This is so common. Why? Because mail always comes! Day after day. So one thing to think about is if you have the correct system or process in place to accommodate this. When you receive mail do you take it to the front door, kitchen, home office? Do you look at it the morning, evening, once a week? Are there other people in the home that need to get taken into account?

You have probably been processing mail all this one way and you may be able to change the process to make it an easier task for you and your family.

One point on this: If you are someone who identifies as a "hoarder" (which I would never call a client!) You are not a "hoarder" you could be someone with hoarding tendencies. I am going to recommend right now that you seek the help of a licensed professional who can help you with organizing. Hoarding tendencies are linked emotionally and mentally and without the proper help, you won't be able to accomplish the work completely.

4. Define your style - I don't mean modern or traditional. What style of organizing do you prefer?

a. Stuff-away vs. Stuff-out method. Most clients are in one of those two things categories and in order to stay organized, it is going to be critical that you know which one you are.

The best example I can give for this is kitchen cabinets. If you are someone who has glass cabinets and likes to see on display your cups/plates, you are a stuff-out. If you are someone who panics thinking about that, you are a stuff-away. Don't be fooled, stuff-away still know where everything is. They just don't want to see everything.

Often clients will say they’ve tried to organize and it didn’t work. They even bought all these containers or bins. 50% of the time, that’s because they might not have gotten the correct product. Did they get clear bins or plastic/woven?


You have the steps to help get you started but you need more information. Here are a list of places for you to flush out more of the organizing methods:

  • Decluttering books/organizing books - Don’t get overwhelmed with all the books on the market. Your goal is to just get organized and stay organized.

Marie Kondo teaches a "Spark Joy" technique. This doesn’t fit everyone and that's okay. Some of her tools might not work but her organizing paperwork system is really great! Take what works from her books and leave the rest.

Julie Morgenstern is an Organizing legend. Again, take what works from her style and implement it into your work.

  • Podcast

  • YouTube