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Making a list is a great way to chunk out what needs to get done. Sometimes lists are for groceries, house projects or in my house, kids to-do lists. Yes, my hubby has a honey-do-list. Everyone can have a list. I have a list. I love getting my list done.

For this article, let’s talk about how to make the main list and then the sublist. For example, you need to organize the garage.

Well, we all know cleaning out the garage won’t happen overnight. How about breaking it into bite-size pieces?

Let’s take a look at what’s involved in making a list.

Make the main list

The first step in making lists is the main list. This involved the general area you want to tackle. Some examples:

  • Pantry
  • Garage
  • Dining Room
  • Office
  • Pantry
  • Car
  • For my corporate friends: Budgets, Inventory, AP, AR…

Make the sub-lists

The main item may be a garage, but under you can have subheaders. For example under Garage, maybe holiday boxes, sports equipment, etc.

Figure out what sub-lists are in those spaces. If needed, go into those spaces and think about each area. Yes, go into your garage.

Take a piece of paper and pen with you. Sit and look at each area. Write down the main levels you think are a part of your main garage.

If it was my garage, I would start with Garage, followed areas we have accumulated stuff to use such as camping gear, lawn care, kid’s toys, husband tools, mama’s bikes, boat gear, pantry storage, etc.

It’s almost like the main box with sub-boxes. This will help take that overwhelming feeling away knowing there are smaller boxes in the bigger box. Trust me. I have boxes from moved years ago. Those boxes sit in a corner of boxes from past moves.

shelves organized

Here’s an example:

  • Garage Cleanout:
    • Holiday storage boxes
    • Bikes, kids toys
    • Lawn tools
    • Tool chest
    • Pantry shelves
    • Old storage boxes
  • Kitchen Organizing:
    • Pantry
    • Spice shelves
    • Baking supplies
    • Cooking Pans
    • Knife drawer
    • Tools etc drawer

Above are a few sample lists of ways to break down lists into bite-size chunks. Now for the good part. How to clean them!

Tackling the areas on the list

There is truly no one way to clean anything out. What I have learned in the past is sometimes you have to make a mess in order to get organized. Here are a few steps I recommend when organizing a space:

  1. Make room/space so you can work in an area. For example, if you plan to clean out a drawer, have open clean space on your counter. Or if cleaning out a section of the garage, have an open space to sort items, and an empty trash can ready to go.
  2. Take all items out of the said area. Let’s use the kitchen cooking tool drawer as an example. Take all the items out and place them on the counter.
  3. Clean out space you just emptied. You can use either household cleaners or simple water/vinegar mixture. (Remember a capful of bleach goes a long way with a little lemon essential oils)
  4. Go through drawer items and sort like kinds on the counter. If there are items you have not used in a year, I highly recommend throwing out or creating a drawer for similar items.
  5. Now time to put the items back. Arrange neatly for easy access. I use drawer sorters and old shoe boxes to keep similar items together.
  6. Celebrate, you got it done. Now on to the next drawer.
picture messy drawer

Our experience

I have SO many experiences to share with you. I thought this one was sweet and to the point. My daughter recently helped me clean out the pantry. We actually had fun working on it. Now, to preface it was April of 2020, and as you know, most of us were quarantined. I had to give my kids something to do. And when I asked my oldest to help me, she jumped on the idea. Yes, you and your kids can do this. Just make a list!


We made a list. Then decided to clean our pantry.

Trust me, it needed cleaning. I had onions in a box on the floor, random boxes for kids school snacks, dog food, and so much more. It was time for a clean!

Our first step was to look really hard at what we had. Well, I did. And my daughter helped look at the space that needed organizing. She saw what I saw. A mess.

Next, she pulled out each area. We found space on the floor and countertops to host the pantry items. She put like items with like items. And if we had too much she would take inventory of those items. Yes, I had 12 cans of kidney beans!!! They moved to the garage shelves.

Like items with like. Rice with rice. Beans with beans, soups with soups.

We use airtight storage containers I buy from Amazon. They are great considering we live in Houston and have a ton of humidity. We use for cereal, pasta, beans, and rice.

Then we put them back into the pantry space accordingly. And now it’s clean and organized. It took a good half a day but was worth it.

Now it’s your turn

Time for you to pick a space and get to it. I know, I know. It is so hard. Especially if that space had not been worked on in some time. Just break it down into bites sizes. You can do it. I believe in you.

We would love to hear from you. Did you clean out a space with any luck? Or is the there a mess on your floor?

For those that love to organize, please leave us a comment below with your tips and tricks for organizing spaces.

organizemama
organizemama

Julie is the founder of Organizemama. Her passion for organizing comes from her Lean Six Sigma Project Management training. She also holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Management. She believes in the saying “a place for everything and everything in its place.”

If Julie is not organizing, she is enjoying the outdoors with her two girls and her husband.

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