How to Start Organizing when you are 1000% overwhelmed

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Let me start by painting a picture for you.

My husband and I got married young. And by young I don't mean like we were married off at 14 and 15 as was custom in the so called olden days. But I mean, we got married young by the ever changing standards of today.

And when the two beautiful, smiling, smooth faced children below embarked on one of life's greatest adventures together, we had not one flipping clue what we were doing. 

And ain't that just the beauty of it?

So anyway, being the optimistic young folks that we were, we decided- SURE!

Let's move into a 500 square foot apartment together that has no dishwasher, no washer or dryer, and for sure no space. 

You may be wondering, "Courtney, why would anyone willingly make this decission to move into what i can only imagine is an apartment shaped portal to hell?"

What an intriguing question!

We did this because of money. More specifically, the lack of money.

My dad would have said something along the lines of, "We didn't have a pot to piss in..." I think that about sums it up. He would have been embarrassed that he said "piss" and would immediately apologize and do a little "dad joke giggle." 

I digress. 

But let me say this, that tiny little apartment held some of our dearest memories. It was our very first place that was all ours! It still holds a special place in our hearts.I mean, it holds a distant special place, but special none the less. 

My husband and I are lovers of all things antique, which in many cases includes furniture. My husband had acquired a number of pieces of LARGE antique furniture to fill our already over stuffed apartment. Being as charmed as I was in my newly married life- I welcomed the countless pieces of bulky furniture and accepted my fate to side shuffle around my new apartment.

In addition to the never ending toe stubbing on furniture, our one tiny bathroom was, you guessed it, a WRECK. Every time we would go into our bathroom we would knock over each other’s products. We would trip over towels, dirty clothes, and bottles of shampoo. This was a fate we, like many of you, have come to accept.

We got comfortable in the mess.

We accept the lies we have convinced ourselves to believe. A few of my favorites were-

 “ I will keep things cleaner when we have a bigger space”

“I will keep up with the dishes when we have a dishwasher!"

"I will put the clothes away when our closet isn't such a disaster!"

Are these lines valid? Sure! Trust me, loves, I have been in the tiny living trenches. I will never forget loading up my compact sedan with bags full of clothes and driving in the snow to get to my laundry mat. I will also never forget dumping those freshly washed clothes in the snow as I was trying to get them back into my apartment. God. Bless. It. 

This is my favorite picture of Grams. She is holding a dachshund and wearing a giant fuzzy hat. I could make a tiny home in that hat and live forever in happiness. Take a look behind the star of the show, Gram Bam. Notice the chaos. Piles of junk all over. A freezer in our living room covered by a blanket Y'all, it was a time. 

This is my favorite picture of Grams. She is holding a dachshund and wearing a giant fuzzy hat. I could make a tiny home in that hat and live forever in happiness. Take a look behind the star of the show, Gram Bam. Notice the chaos. Piles of junk all over. A freezer in our living room covered by a blanket Y'all, it was a time. 

I was convinced that my “if only” statements would soon come true. But we were only  6 months into our 12 month lease. Things weren’t changing drastically any time soon.

It was clear that making things work in our small space was the ONLY way my sanity would remain somewhat in tact.

Enter…our guardian angel.

In comes Grandma, armed with disinfectant wipes and a trunk full of storage boxes.

She came in and completely blew our minds with how a few small changes could make our space much more liveable and even kind of cute. I am forever grateful for the way she stepped in and taught us how to organize ourselves sane. I want to share with you the steps she used and the steps I still use today.


I also have a handy dandy free checklist that helps you organize every room in your house, just click below!

 Evaluate- get a lay of the land, lady! This means doing what I refer to as “bulk organizing.” This means taking all of the dirty socks strewn throughout your apartment and putting them all in one space. Keep in mind, this is not a permanent space. What you are doing is simply clearing room to be able to see what your options are. Another example is collecting all of the dishes throughout your house. I was known primarily for leaving half empty coffee cups throughout each room. Coffee is a staple. Apparently I needed to feel as if it was never out of reach.

Divide and conquer- one of my best tips is to do your best to get help if you are overwhelmed by organization. Call your friend, your mom, your husband and put a TV show you love on in the background. Give each person a simple task and cut your work time in half!

Throw it out- seriously. Get rid of it. You don’t need it. You haven’t used it in six months. Its gone. Grab a garbage bag and shove that thing full of things you haven't touched in months. As soon as it is full take it to your car and pop it in the trunk. If you are like me, it may sit in your trunk for three months waiting to be delivered to its final Goodwill resting place but hey, its out of your house. 

Give a little, get a little- be willing to put the work in!  I mentioned before that money was TIGHT when we first got married. I was still in school and Alex was in the beginning stages of his career. We did not have money to spend on totes and bins.

Fortunately, Grandma gifted these to us. We were (and still are!) extremely receptive to hand- me- downs. Take what you can get when you first start out, you can always upgrade later. If you don’t have someone as generous as our Grandma, look for deals! Ask your parents or friends if they have any bins they aren’t using. Go to Goodwill! Hunt down the clearance section of Walmart!

I found these adorable bins on Amazon for a fantastic deal.

Grab yours here!

And this rolling storage cart gave us a ton of space by utilizing our vertical storage space. And they are a fantastic deal.

Do what you can to make your life more livable. Begin to prioritize organization. Most of us don't even think about organization until something is unorganized. Make a conscious effort to put a little aside at a time in your budget to make things in your household easier for you. 

Baby Steps- this means, don’t expect to organize your whole house in one day. That’s insane. You will burn out and come to hate organizing! Start with one room. If that seems too daunting start with one closet or one cabinet. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to making your space better for you!

A good place to start is to think about that one spot in your house that makes you roll your eyes all the way to the back of your head. The one that causes an audible sigh to be released when its name is mentioned. At this moment, mine is my pantry. It used to be my solace. My happy place. The pride of my literal life. Now it is embarrassing. This makes me sigh- therefore I will start there. 

Are you with me? Is there a place in your house that you dread? Or do you have little organizing fairies that keep your house perfect? If you do, send them my way.

Products Mentioned

Cute Bins

Rolling Storage Cart

If you want even more free goodies join the community of ladies getting their ish together. Jump on over to my Facebook Group filled with questions and answers and resources that will help you calm down.