Get an Organized Space Back into Shape and Maintain It!

The following is a guest post from regular contributor, Sharon at Mom of 6.

Almost two years ago, I was intrigued by a post I had seen here on Org Junkie announcing the 29 Day Organizational Challenge. 2012 was a Leap Year, so Laura came up with the idea of motivating her readers to declutter and organize an area of their house- in just 29 days. I decided that this was the opportunity and the motivation that I needed to finally conquer my basement!


Because it was bad! We had used it as our personal dumping ground for almost 12 years.

Declutter your life challenge- the basement project- another view

I created a plan of how I could spend just an hour or so a day working on decluttering and then organizing this space (following Laura’s PROCESS method!)…. and truly- I was SO proud of how it turned out:


There was days after the kids left for school that I would just wander downstairs… to look at it!

What lives in my basement now!

I mean heck….. we had a floor again!

And then, as 2 years went by…. this happened:

basement- before

Shameful? Yes. But honestly…. not nearly as bad as it was before.

basement- before

And not so out of control that I couldn’t pull it back together by dedicating one week and just an hour or so a day to get it back to an organized shape again. And while I was a bit mad at myself that I allowed this to happen- I also have to make peace with how this happens. We buy new stuff and fail to get rid of the old stuff we are replacing. We are busy and we fail to put something away in the right place. We purchase supplies for a new hobby (or in our case to help us stay organized on a road trip), and then we fail to create a neat and organized home for these new things. There are reasons, people. We just can’t allow reasons to become excuses… So here’s how to Get an Organized Space Back into Shape- and Maintain It!

Step #1: Schedule Your Donation

Before I started sorting even one item, I went online to schedule my donation pick up (my favorite sites are GoodDonor and PickUpPlease). Boom! The deadline has now been established- and I know they are on their way in just 4 short days! Time to get busy….

Step 2: Identify Easy-Outs!

There were plenty of candidates that I could spy right off the bat that I knew we wanted to donate or even to trash/recycle. Toys and dollhouse that we had outgrown? Donate (we kept them around for a few months after the girls said they were done, just in case they changes their minds!). School science project boards from 2 years ago? Recycled. Shoeboxes we over-saved again)? Recycled. Craft kits that were 95% completed? Trashed. It only took me 2 hours to pull out the obvious items that needed to leave our basement.

Step 3: Re-Work the Space to Fit Your Current Needs

Since I had done the major over-haul to our basement 2 years ago, it still had a good “organizing structure”- a place for storage items, home decor, camping supplies, furniture and pictures not is use upstairs, and off-season shoes and boots. But I needed to do a little re-working to create a home for all of our newly acquired road-tripping bins, as well as re-work the furniture area to fit in some things we had removed from the kids bedrooms. This took another 2 hours.

Step 4: Now Declutter and Organize each Area

Now that you’ve got things mostly in the right place- it’s time to go through each area, touch each item and ask yourself:

“Do I use it, want it, need it, or love it? AND is there room here to store it?”

This will allow you to remove some of those extra items that maybe you really don’t need to keep around anymore- and give you enough working space to organize the things that you do. This step took me about 4 hours to complete.

Step 5: Step Back and Admire Your Work- Again!

basement after

It is gratifying to know that even when you let an organized space “go” for a bit- that you can quickly and fairly painlessly pull it back in order rather quickly.

Basement After- Multi

Which makes it a little easier for you to forgive yourself! If any of you remember that Laura and I also worked together on the Great Garage Challenge in May 2012, I am sharing some photos on Momof6 today of how I recently re-organized and decluttered my garage as well!




Sharon Rowley Head Shot 150 x 150 Thumbnail If you get a chance, I hope you’ll stop by to see me at Momof6 – a place where I write about organizing your home, using a family calendar, creating household routines, hosting at-home birthday parties, and holding a DIY summer camp! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter (@sharonmomof6), and Pinterest!





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Filed under: Guest Bloggers, Organizing Basics


13 Responses to Get an Organized Space Back into Shape and Maintain It!

  1. 1
    Terri @ that's some good cookin' says

    I found your site through Pinterest (yay pinterest!). You are brave woman to share pictures of your cluttered basement. I have one, too, but would never have the courage to fess up and definitely would never, ever have the courage to post pictures of it. My clutter has been 15 years in the making and is absolutely overwhelming. Thanks for letting me see that I am not the only person with a cluttered basement problem, and thank you so much for giving me hope to be able to conquer the clutter. 🙂

    • 1.1
      Terri @ that's some good cookin' says

      oops, I just saw that I didn’t finish one of my sentences. I meant, “but would never have the courage to fess up to my neighbors…”

    • 1.2
      Sharon at Momof6 says

      Mine was 12 years in the making (my clutter build up)…. so I am telling you- you CAN do it. But you have to be realistic about how long it’s going to take. 29 days was totally do-able, as long as I spent an hour or so at it each and every day. But tackling it that way made it seem a lot less overwhelming… and helped to stay focused when I have to decide what to do with every single item! You really can do this- I promise!

  2. 2
    Deana Ward | Your Happy Stuff says

    Sharon! I LOVE this post:) Nothing “shameful” about it. I think it’s so refreshing…so real. You have shown us that organizing isn’t a “forever” thing. It’s a practice – that needs to move and adjust with our lives. I think we women stress ourselves out and beat ourselves up because we can’t seem to stay organized…but really…no-body can (so we can just quit trying to be perfect and relax). Wonderful, wonderful post Sharon:) Thanks so much!

    • 2.1
      Sharon at Momof6 says

      Thanks Deana! Nothing ever stays perfectly organized- it’s something that you have to keep up with (at some point anyway). It’s kind of like making your bed once and hoping that it stays that way!

  3. 3
    Laura Beth @ says

    Thank you for the inspiration! My basement, much like yours, seems to ebb and flow in terms of its level of clutter. Right now, it’s definitely flowing! Time to buckle down and put it back in shape. Thank you for reminding me that it won’t take me as long now as it did when we first dealt with this terrible problem area!

  4. 4
    Jenny Lynn says

    My basement is a hoard mess right now thanks impart to my adult children. One came, dug through some of his boxes. Then left the mess all over. Other children decided to dig around the mess. It seem to also become the dumping ground for un-wanted things.

    I have not wanted to tackle it because it is over whelming. But, I really feel inspired by this post. I could spare 30 min a day. Took some notes from your advice and am ready to start tomorrow on my basement. 🙂

  5. 5
    Joan McCreary says

    Sharon I am so pleased to find your post! I think that maintenance is the most under appreciated element of being organized! Well done

  6. 6
    Laura Miles says

    For me the most difficult part is mentally preparing to undergo an organizing makeover like you did. I am way too intimidated to even begin and that’s why my mess keeps piling up and piling on. My garage is cluttered and i don’t even know where to start, so instead of starting, i keep adding more to it 🙁

  7. 7
    Jennifer says

    I know this is an older post, by I just stumbled upon it now! And it has given me hope that I can get my attic organized! (We have a basement, but we live in a over 100 year old home, and its a whole other monster!) But I have wanted to make our attic into a playroom for the kids, since the toys have spilled over from their rooms, and my house is now one giant playroom! The attic is my husbands old bedroom, so its years of his stuff (and furniture!), my stuff when I moved in, and now baby stuff, birthday and Christmas stuff, and everything else there wasn’t a place for, etc. I usually go up there, look at it all, get discouraged, and head right back downstairs! But if you can do it, then so can I! Any tips on how to get the hubby to help out? 😉

    • 7.1
      Jules Mc says

      Don’t worry about the hubby just get started. He can be motivated by your actions. But even if he doesn t lift a finger so what 1 of your kids just might. It doesn’t really matter who helps just be happy if somebody does. 1 person can inspire another intentionally or not intentionally. Good luck. U will be so relieved that you did


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