How to Organize a Messy Room

posted in: Organizing 4

Do you have a messy room at home or at the office?How to Organize a Messy Room

Wondering what’s the best way to go about putting things in order?

In this post I offer a step-by-step process to help you organize and tidy things up.

Clean up trash.

If you’re going to spend time organizing a messy room, you might as well take the time to make sure you’re working in a clean environment.

Grab a garbage bag or trash bin, and take a walk around the room.

Pick up any empty or used wrappers, containers, bottles, boxes, scraps of paper, lids, stained or soiled items.

Now’s a good time to round-up any dirty plates, glass, cups, mugs and utensils, and place them in the kitchen sink for a soak, or run them through the dishwasher.       

Set up a workstation.

Sometimes it can be difficult to organize a messy room because there’s no clean, flat surface to sort and organize materials.

If things are really messy, you can temporarily set up a folding tray or card table inside of or directly outside of the room. If things are a bit more manageable, you can make use of a clear counter, desk or freshly made bed on which to place and go through items.

Choose an organization method.

Now that you’ve got a proper work space set up, it’s time to get things organized.

Choose from either one of the below organizing methods:

Organize a specific area.

Choose a small, contained area of the room. You might decide to clear off the top of a desk or other flat surface first, work in a corner of the room, deal with things on the floor near a closet, or any other area you can think of. The idea is that once you’ve gotten this area cleaned up, you can then proceed to other areas of the room.

Select specific materials to organize.

You can’t go wrong when you choose to organize the most common item in a room. If your bedroom is a bit messy with clothes, for example, you could focus on picking up all the clothes first, followed by picking up all the other items in the room in succession. Work on one set of materials first before switching over to the next set.


Follow the rules of organization.

Select items.

Choose the items you’re going to organize. The good news is you did this already by selecting one of the organizing methods above and then refining your choice down to a specific area or materials (see above). Be sure to place materials at your workstation for the next rule…

Sort items.

This step is quite simple. You’re going to match like items with like. You can go as broad or as narrow as you need to here: pens with pens, office supplies with office supplies, papers with papers, bedding with bedding, you get the picture. Separate out any items that belong in another area of the home or need to be disposed of completely.

Store everything.

You probably have a good idea as to where items belong, clothes in a closet, books in a bookcase and so on. If so, go ahead and put things back where they belong. Don’t have a specific area for materials in a room? Consider taking a moment to group materials by function and then storing them in specific locations in a room.You could store office materials on or inside a desk, clothes and toiletries in a wardrobe or on a dresser, placing bedding in a linen closet or drawers, and so forth.   

Here are a few additional pointers to keep in mind:

Try clearing the floor first.

Safety comes first, no matter what it is you’re organizing. If the floor is covered with materials, you’d probably do well by clearing up these items first so you don’t trip, slip or fall on any items that are underfoot. Clear a pathway from the entrance of the room to your work station so you have easy ingress and egress.   

Start with top layers.

Avoid reaching under and dislodging large piles or stacks of items. It’s best to remove items from the top of a pile first, and then work your way down to the flat surface. You don’t want to accidentally trigger an avalanche of materials!

Complete one task at a time.

Once you’ve decided on your organizing method and what items you’re going to work on, stick with it until the job is done. Don’t abandon one task for another midway; you’ll see progress faster (i.e. a cleaner and more organized room) if you stick with one thing at a time.

Do a final clean-up.

Lastly, end your organizing session with a quick room clean up. Put away your folding tray or card table and return any other furniture that has been moved back to its original location. Do some light dusting, spot clean or wipe down surfaces, mop, vacuum and/or sweep the floor and you’re done!

How about you? How do you approach organizing a messy room? Do you dive in right away to clean up a particular area or are you more inclined to focus on organizing similar materials first? Join in the conversation and leave a comment below!

Follow Rashelle:
Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.

4 Responses

  1. Christian

    Olá Rashelle, tudo em paz?
    Muito bom artigo e que bom que você gosta de ajudar as pessoas.
    Muita saúde e paz.

    • Rashelle

      Thank you very much for your kind words, Christian! It is very much appreciated.

  2. page turner

    There’s the problem.
    No trash, no dirty dishes.
    Just stuff I use or need to use and can’t find.
    Work/creative supplies and equipment.
    Not just your average household stuff but that too.
    I organize one set of things as you suggest
    then I’m too pooped to move on to the rest.
    I’m in a live/work space of 300 sq feet.
    I don’t know where the stuff should go as you say I do.
    There isn’t’ much room to put it.
    So it piles up again, right on the part I organized.
    I’m cool when I have some company to do this.
    It’s just too defeating alone.

    • Rashelle

      Thanks for your comment, Page. Given your unique situation, I would suggest looking into hiring a local professional organizer for some hands-on organization help. They can evaluate your living space and help you find appropriate storage solutions for your needs. Try doing an online web search for “professional organizer” and your location.