When you set out to declutter and organize, it can simple at first—but if you don’t have a plan in place, things can get overwhelming and go off the rails pretty quickly. Structure goes a long way toward helping you stay on track, see results, and maintain motivation. That’s why there are so many techniques and methods out there. Try this easy one called the “SPACE” formula if you want one that is straightforward and simple to follow. 

What is the SPACE method of decluttering?

The SPACE formula comes from organizing pro Julie Morgenstern, whose book Organizing from the Inside Out has been a hit for years. It’s a acronym that you follow while you work:

Sort by grouping similar items

Purge by getting rid of what you don’t need

Assign by giving everything you keep a home

Containerize by putting those items into containers

Equalize by maintaining your system

How to use SPACE to declutter and organize

Start by picking an area to work on, like your office, your bedroom, or your kitchen. From there, you can even break it down into smaller areas, like the desk before the filing cabinet, the closet before the night stand, or the silverware drawer before the cabinet under the sink. Once you’ve isolated a spot, think of the acronym and get to sorting. Pull everything out and sort it. So, if you’re in your office, try sorting writing tools in a pile, then paper products like sticky notes or mini flags, then charging cords, etc. 

Next up is purging, so think critically about everything in front of you. Don’t agonize over this; use the five-second rule or 20/20 rule to make quick decisions about what stays and what goes. If you don’t use it often, get rid of it. You don’t have to get sentimental or waste time on it, which is where declutterers usually get hung up. If you come across anything in good shape that might be useful for someone, feel free to sort it into a donation pile instead of the trash, but make sure you have a plan in place to get that pile to the donation center ASAP so it doesn’t become clutter. 

From there, assign everything a home. This can be done at the same time as containerizing. Those writing tools should all go in an easily accessible cup. The paper goods should be placed in a drawer. Charging cords can go into a small box. Place the containers in a spot that you’ll remember to look for them and where you can easily put things back when you’re done using them. 

Finally, equalize by maintaining your system. Once the area is decluttered, you need to keep it that way; that’s the most important part. No matter what kinds of containers you’re using to store all your different things, make sure you always put those things back where they belong when you’re done using them. Keep the containers where they belong, too, so you’re not searching for them when you need them. Every few weeks, do a pared-down version of SPACE, purging and reorganizing anything you haven’t used or that has gotten out of place.