Advice on How to Organize Small Spaces

These are some advice on how to organize small spaces in your home. Long but interesting to read!

Let’s start…

The advantage of living in a small space is that small spaces can force you to recognize how much you allow your wants to precede your needs.

The disadvantage to living in a large space is that larger spaces tend to disguise and instigate more materialism.

If you live in a large space naturally you’ll want to fill it up.

This is no different than any size home. However the effort it takes to fill up a large space is lot more difficult than filling up a small space.

So in the end even though a space is large it can end up just as cluttered as a small space. Except the difference is a larger space can take a lot more clutter than a smaller space before it becomes obvious that you have too much stuff.

In simple terms, a large space can hold a larger pile of junk.

So clutter isn’t something people face just in small spaces. It’s just more obvious in a small space. Small spaces don’t allow you to kid yourself about how much stuff you have for too long.

If you’ve got enough of it shows up quick!

Hidden Culprits That May Be Keeping You from Organizing Your Small Space

Most of the reasons why you may be having difficulty organizing your small space are common sense.

Usually, it boils down to at least one of the following…

  • Your home is small
  • You have too much stuff
  • You’re disorganized
  • You’re too busy
  • You have kids

Whatever the case, it still doesn’t stop the fact that you want to organize your small space. Right? Right.

So although those reasons are common sense I’d like to reveal a few hidden culprits that hide behind the more obvious reasons. So let’s get down to business by talking about the major three…

The Organization Culprit

Is it possible to over-organize your way to too much clutter? Well yes and no. I’ve run across some situations in which that happens but it’s an indirect result of another problem.

Almost everything has a proper balance to it. Just about everything can be overdone in a way in which it ends up having the reverse effect intended. Too much of a good thing is not always good, right?

So when you step over the balance boundaries you tend to get imbalanced results. Well, the organization isn’t immune to the same cause and effect.

Some people over-organize to the point at which their home is a mess.

I like to call this sort of situation “The Container Crises” because how it usually starts is the simple desire to use containers or organizers to organize items that don’t really need to be organized.

Like tissue boxes, toilet papers, paper towels…

Bathroom organizers, kitchen organizers, closet organizers, too much Tupperware, drawers full of junk you don’t know what to do with, etc. As a result, the organizers themselves end up taking up valuable space unnecessarily.

The real culprit behind this culprit, however, is really just the simple act of having way too many things. And not knowing what to do with those things you get more things (organizers) to fix the initial problem rather than downsizing.

In my opinion, homes that tend to suffer from this problem are generally homes owned by people who are shopaholics in some form or fashion. Whether the person is indirectly a shopaholic by preparing for the worst too often or they just shop because they love clothes, etc.

Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with using organizers in your home to a certain extent. We all do. But I’m not talking about that.

This is a specific discussion about using too much of a good thing. This just results in organizers serving more as clutter rather than as a strategy of the organization.

They simply collect dust and make it even more difficult to keep a home tidy and in order.

A good way to view this is that if 25-50% of the items in your home are in storage then you’re harboring too many things and it’s time to downgrade. A hypothetical percentage of about 10-20% of the items you possess should be in organizers or shelved (invisible).

And the majority of that percentage should be “shelf-life” items.

Shelf-life items are items that basically live on shelves until needed. They are kept in the home for entertainment purposes or just out of necessity. However, shelf-items are not clutter-free items.

These shelf-life items can be a large culprit behind clutter in your home, among other things. If kept in large quantities. A basic list of shelf-life items are…

  • DVDs, Video Tapes, Video Games
  • CDs
  • Books
  • Kitchen Accessories
  • Bathroom Accessories
  • Office Supplies
  • Clothing, shoes, etc.
  • Toys, Bicycles, etc.

With these shelf-life items, a good way to keep them organized is to have an “allowed amount” you can have at a time in your home. Then when you get sick of them, sell them and buy another item of that kind in its place.

But before we get any more into that takes us to culprit number two…

The Upgrade Culprit

The upgrade process is a big culprit in many of our lives. Generally upgrading itself isn’t the problem. The issue is that once you upgrade you don’t downgrade to keep the balance.

There’s a lot of “quantity in” but not an equal amount of “quantity out” to maintain a steady balance. It’s like constantly filling a balloon up with air and not expecting it to eventually pop.

The problem behind The Upgrade Culprit is the lack of knowledge concerning the need for rules and regulations to help you maintain the flow of the organization.

All in all the mistake is that you haven’t sat yourself down and realized you need to create a set of guidelines in order to organize your home and keep the organization going.

An example of setting guidelines would be…

Disciplining yourself by allowing only a certain amount of items to enter your home. It doesn’t have to be strict to the point where you feel like you can’t breathe. It’s a matter creating a “quantity-in” and “quantity-out” flow based around your own individual needs.

Because let’s face it, the organization doesn’t happen on its own… Behind every organized home lies a set of invisible guidelines that help maintain that organized flow on a continuous basis.

Like parents say to their children “clean up behind yourself.”

That’s a guideline. Usually a time-specific one at that. Many parents will not let their children do anything else, such as go out and play until they clean up the mess they made.

Maybe you’re one of them?

If so. Kudos! I think it’s a perfect formula for the upkeep of organization.

So along with the same lines. Your home needs a set of guidelines so that the items in your home will not take over…

To do that. Try asking yourself a few simple questions…

  • What will I and won’t I allow in my home?
  • How many items of a specific item are allowed in my home (quantity-in) before it’s time to replace that allotment (quantity-out)?

I spoke a little on this above but to make this clearer let’s use my lifestyle as an example. I like to watch movies. But I don’t like too many movies in my home at once.

So in order to keep that balance, I only allow myself to have about 5-7 DVDs in my home at once. My maximum allotment, however, is 10 (which I’ve never reached).

Once I reach my 5-7 quantity-in limit and I’ve grown bored with watching the same movies over and over again, I sell them and buy new titles in place of the old movies. I may sell one at a time as I grow bored with it or all of them at once. Depends.

So I never end up with too many movies that sit their unnecessarily. To keep myself happy out of that allotment of movies I generally purchase…

  • one cartoon
  • one suspense movie
  • one adventure
  • one sci-fi
  • one comedy

…to fulfill my taste for variety.

Let me also mention that I rarely ever purchase a movie I haven’t seen before. The reason why is because out of a good portion of movies I’ve seen I rarely want to see most of them again.

If I’m in the mood for anything new or some other variety I’ll make it a point to check them out from the library first. Or rent them from a local video store as my second option.

This buy-then-recycle phase keeps me happy while keeping clutter and expenses down to a minimum. In the process, it helps me indirectly keep my tv viewing time down too (since I don’t have cable either but just a few broadcast channels through my antenna).

Another example is books. I use a different but simple method for books since counting how many books I have isn’t necessarily the best strategy for keeping them organized.

So instead I use a “box” method.

The box method is simply using one medium sized box to take count of how many books I will allow in my home. I will allow as many books that fit into one medium-sized box. This has worked out wonderfully for me and I’ve had no problems exceeding those expectations (and I’m a book lover).

This has been simplified also because I use the local libraries to check out and return books frequently. These days when I’m considering a book I also make it a point to ask myself if I actually plan to make use of the book I want to buy in the immediate future.

Because a large culprit behind book overflow (for me) was simply that I purchased a lot of books I wanted at the time but didn’t end up using them.

They just sat on the shelf collecting dust because I wanted them and had “idealized” that I would use them.

These guidelines may sound a bit intense to you but the point is that you don’t have to live by the rules I’ve created for myself.

These guidelines and examples were brought up to show you how I use them to create an organized quantity-in and quantity-out plan for myself.

You can simply use the initial set of guidelines to create a plan for yourself around your own desires and needs and adjust it accordingly.

The Activity Culprit

The Activity Culprit deals with you on an emotional level and how you live your life on a daily basis. The “quality” of your life and how you effectively manage your time.

Earlier we were speaking about quantity which had to do with the external part of your life. How much you allowed in your home versus how much you took out.

Now we’re going to talk about quality which deals with the internal part of your life. The activity culprits that may be behind some of the disorganizations in your home. All of which are emotional triggers.

What you do from day to day is very important in terms of how much you achieve in your lifetime. And what activities you invest in, on a daily basis that lead you up to achieving or not achieving your goals.

So an unhealthy lifestyle can also be a vital reason behind why your home is disorganized. If you are spending too much time doing the wrong things you won’t have time to do much of the right ones…

So examining what you do from day to day is just as important as incorporating some guidelines in your life that lead to organization.

Though it may be difficult for some to believe how you are spiritually (“the spiritual man”) affects how you live and the environment you create around yourself in your home.

It doesn’t mean the issue doesn’t exist though. If you’re not taking care of your spirit the results often come out in other ways.

Take watching too many movies or too much tv for example.

The avid couch potato may also love collecting movies on DVD and watching movies every day. Indirectly this can not only lead to having an excessive amount of movies in your home but it can also lead to disorganization due to poor time management.

If you watch a lot of tv it means you have less time to apply yourself toward more productive things. Whether it’s spending quality time with your family, volunteering, or cleaning up around your home.

Important things get neglected.

Other similar distracting habits that may lead to a consumption of items in the home and/or wasted time include…

  • Playing too many games
  • Shopping addiction
  • Internet surfing
  • and more.

So disorganization isn’t always just an outward factor. Many times people live emotionally imbalanced lives and it starts with their “quality in” and “quality out” lifestyle.

They spend too much time in front of the tv, playing games, or surfing the web and not enough time at the park, exercising at the gym, or just going out with friends.

The home gets neglected, friends get neglected, and even you get neglected!

Believe me. I know. I have been guilty of many of the above-mentioned things too. But the good news is that it’s never too late to change.

Spend time taking care of you. The quality of your life affects how much you achieve. From big goals like winning a marathon to small goals like keeping your home organized and cleaned.

The more emotional junk you get rid of, the more time you’ll to put toward getting rid of the “real” junk in your home. Clean up your insides to clean up your home.

The Benefits of Organizing Small Spaces

If you’re harboring things in your home that you don’t use or need…

You’re simply wasting money. Not only that you’re wasting valuable space in your home that you could use for other things. Or to just simply create a better atmosphere for yourself.

So understanding the benefits of organizing your small space isn’t hard to see when you think in terms of “losing out” by holding on.

How so? Because…

  • You could be making extra money in your spare time for one thing.
  • You’re losing out on free space that could be used for better purposes.
  • You’re wasting your valuable time cleaning your home or working around these things simply because your home isn’t organized.

It’s easy enough to get lost in the “quick-fix” of the moment but in the long run that wastes a lot more of your time.

And that’s the major problem with disorganization.

Let me repeat myself, in other words, to make it clear.

Disorganization is a “right now” short-term solution.

It deals with your life at the very moment you are dealing with it, but in the long run, it wastes a lot of your valuable time because you have to deal with it repeatedly.

Organization is a long-term solution.

It deals with your life in the present and future. It takes some time, in the beginning, to work out the kinks but in the long run, it saves you a lot of valuable time because you deal with it once and after that, it’s just simply a matter of upkeep and consistency.

Ways to Begin Organizing Small Spaces

As I said in the Decorating Guide, “think of the items in your home as a way to make extra money in your spare time. Do a major clean up about every 3-6 months.”

Once you do your major clean up it’s a matter of upkeep every 3 or so months.

But let’s go over what you need to do from start to finish…

1) The first thing you’ll want to do is sit down and assess which culprits may be affecting your home (and life). Whether it’s a culprit mentioned here today or another culprit that is individually your own.

2) Create an outline for quality-in and quality-out flow. That is… spend some time thinking about how your emotional life can be better improved. Whether that’s by spending less time watching tv, surfing the web, or something else altogether. Create a goal list for the things you want to achieve on a daily basis. A simple Sunday through Saturday outline. Excel is a wonderful program to do this in. Mind you, you won’t always achieve each daily goal but trying is what counts. Move it over to the next day until you get it done.

Maybe you want to include a small portion of time for tv viewing each day? If you watch 2 hours a day maybe you’ll want to challenge yourself and reduce it to an hour a day? And as time goes by you may want to reduce it even more and replace it with an activity that’s equally satifying to you.

Also pick a specific day for the day you want to house clean, do laundry, grocery shop, etc and stick to it. And lastly, consider cleaning the dishes as you use them (if you don’t use a dish washer).

3) Create an outline for quantity-in and quantity-out flow. This will be the outline you live by on a day to day basis. Ask yourself what items you would like to allow in your home and how much of each item.

When you’re ready to buy a new item for your home it’s time to consider your quantity-in and quantity-out flow. Have you reached your maximum allotment? Are you ready to sell another item before you buy this item so you can use some of that money to pay for your new item?

4) Do a major clean up (quantity-out) every 3-6 months. Once you do your first major clean up, a routine clean up is recommended at least every 2-3 months.

Earn Money by Getting Rid of Unnecessary Items

You have some options on how to make a few bucks on the things you decide to get rid of. Some options may be obvious to you and others may be not so obvious.

So let’s go over the list now…

Have a Yardsale

The yardsale is the most obvious option for getting rid of things you don’t want. Yet although it may be the most obvious option, many times it’s the most inconvenient. It’s a wonderful idea only if you have a lot of stuff and actually live in a house or know someone that does.

The wonderful thing is that it’s easy to get customers but the downside is that sometimes you can get more money for some items through other venues.

Also, yardsales are mainly seasonal so if it’s winter time. Then you’re out of luck. Customers are also often cheap and even if you price an item at a more than fair amount some of them still want to barter.

So if you have plenty of items to sell, a house to live in, it’s a nice season, and want to do a yardsale, it’s a great way to get some money for the things you want to get rid of.

But I recommend a yardsale be the last step. Consider using the other approaches below first and then sell what is left locally through a yardsale. That way you aren’t getting stiffed in the process.

Sell Your Items on eBay

eBay is the next obvious option. It has many of the same pros and cons as a yardsale with the exception that it’s convenient and you can sell items anytime. The seasons don’t get in your way. Large items such as couches, however, are best still sold locally (through eBay) because shipping will be too high. But the exposure you get is much more massive.

The customers may be cheap because it’s a price-oriented site.

But just because the customers want a deal doesn’t mean the item will sell for a cheap price. Also even if the item is a couch it doesn’t mean someone won’t travel a fair amount of distance to pick it up. eBay is like having an internet yardsale for those who want to avoid the real thing.
Go to

Sell Your Items on Amazon

A great place to sell many used items. They offer auctions too. But for myself, I consider Amazon the perfect place to sell the books, DVDs, and even CDs that I don’t want anymore. It’s where I also buy them.

Used items like software, etc. can also be sold but I won’t pretend to know too much about selling those things there since media items are the only things I’ve sold on Amazon.

If you want to get rid of used books and similar media, Amazon is one of the places to go. A simple way to do it is…

  • Go to
  • Type the title or the ISBN of the item you want to sell in the search box (above) to find it.
  • Check out the sales rank traffic (for books).
  • If it’s under 100,000 it will probably take awhile to sell it.
  • Then check out how much the items are selling at used.
  • Then select “Sell Yours Here.” You may also need to set up your bank account in order to receive your money once an item sells.

I list my books slightly lower than the lowest priced book on the list so it’s at the top. So if the item is selling for less than $5.00 at the lowest price I don’t generally sell it at Amazon since it’s nearly a waste of money to sell them when you include Amazon’s commission in the equation.

When that happens I lay it to the side and consider the other options below.

Sell Your Items through

When I choose not to list a book (or other media) on Amazon I sometimes check at or compare the prices for what the item is selling for on each site. Yet most of the time Amazon is the best place to list concerning how much you can sell the book for. is just another option if you want to consider it.
Go to

Half Priced Books (or similarly used bookstore that buys used books, music, and movies)

When I choose not to list a book or other item on Amazon I put it in my “Half Priced Books” box. When I collect enough of them I take them to the bookstore and sell the books to them. I don’t get much if it’s not a lot of books but I don’t expect much.

They take them off of my hands and I don’t have to make the effort to ship them. To me, the deal is more than fair. I get a couple of bucks in return. For gas or joy money.

Half Priced Books also takes software off my hands that won’t sell for much online. I got rid of my voice recognition software because I no longer needed it (MS Word offers it). So I included it with a couple of books I no longer wanted and got $15 in return.

That was good for me. I no longer had to stare at that annoying red box in my closet and I got money in return.

Sell Your Items to (or through) Consignment Shops, Pawn Shops

Sell your furniture to consignment shops or take it to a consignment shop that will let it sit in their store for a good portion of time and take a percentage of the sale if it sells.

Sell your clothing or your children’s clothing.

Consigment shops like “Plato’s Closet” takes teen clothing and “New Uses General Store” takes furniture and other appliances.

They’re just a few of the many. If you live in the Columbus, Ohio area and you’re interested in these stores check out their site at If you live in another location check out Plato’s Closet.

Remember, if one consignment shop won’t except an item it doesn’t mean another one won’t. Sometimes it’s also a matter of season or time.

If something won’t sell hold on to it for a bit and try selling it to a few shops again a little later on in the year or the year after.

Sometimes patience pays off in the end.

Sell Your Items through Classifieds

In case you haven’t heard of it Craigslist is a popular classified ads website. Just about anything is listed there. From jobs to wanted furniture. This site offers great free exposure for all to see. Consider posting to the site and selling your furniture there. Go to Craigslist.

Donate Your Items to Thrift Stores

The obvious give away option when you’ve gone through all the above steps and you can’t sell the stuff you have. Take it to the Goodwill or Salvation Army and give it to them. Hopefully, they’ll take it. If they don’t�it’s official� it’s junk and it’s time for it to hit the dumpster.

Think of everything you own as a way to possibly get back some of the money you put into the things you bought.

As they say at…

“Recycling makes cents.”

There’s no reason why you shouldn’t get paid a little money in return for doing your recycling duties.

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