Organizing Mission #39: Declutter Your Surfaces

Declutter Your Surfaces

Welcome to Mission #39 of our 52 Get Organized Missions.

Do you feel stressed just looking around your home or office?

If you’ve forgotten what your coffee table, countertop or desk looks like, then this organizing mission is for you.

I bet you’re feeling good about completing the previous missions Get Organized Mission #37: Get Organized For Nutrition and Get Organized Mission #38: Get Organized For Fitness.  Now you’re refreshed let’s get your home or office looking better.

Remember: you only need 30 minutes for the basic mission. Extended Options are below.
If you’re new, you might like to start here -> 52 Organizing Missions.

Get Organized Mission #39:
Declutter Your Surfaces

Step 1: Clear The Surfaces (5 minutes)

Let’s start by choosing an area to target.

In 30 minutes you could tackle one or more of these surfaces:

  • Desk
  • Kitchen counters
  • Bathroom counters
  • Coffee table
  • Dining table
  • Spare room floor.

Once you’ve picked your zone, remove everything from the surfaces and place all the items on the floor.

Step 2: Lose What You Don’t Need (5 minutes)

You knew this step would appear somewhere, didn’t you!

Scan your pile of items and put aside anything you can discard or donate.

Be ruthless. Your rewards for ruthlessness are clutter-free surfaces, visual calm and mental clarity. That’s a pretty good trade off, don’t you think?

Step 3: Put Things Away (5 minutes)

Of the remaining items, gather those that have a home, but have somehow migrated onto your surfaces and taken up residence there.

It’s time to send them back where they belong, so quickly return everything to its proper place.

Step 4: House The Homeless (15 minutes)

This is the hardest step – finding a home for things you do need, but don’t have a place for.

Here are some tips:

  • Do these things end up on your surfaces because you need them in a handy location?
    --> Then give them a home in a nearby drawer or cupboard.
  • Do they need you to take some action – perhaps a repair?
    --> Then put the action on your to-do list.
  • Do they relate to a reminder – like a book to return?
    --> Then create a special zone for such items, perhaps in a cupboard or on a table by the door.
  • Do they not fit in the proper place – say clothes that won’t squish into an overflowing closet?
    --> Then schedule another 30 minutes to revisit the relevant organizing mission (office? bedroom? closet? kitchen? bathroom?). Get rid of stuff you don’t love and make room for stuff you do.

Once you’ve found a home for those remaining items, you’ll be able to savor your surfaces. 🙂

Dos & Don’ts

  • Do notice how good it feels to look around and see surfaces. Let that feeling motivate you to get rid of what you don’t need and put away what you do.
  • Do keep select items – like photos or plants – to decorate the room or make you feel happy.
  • Don’t let clutter pile up. Make a habit of tidying away surface clutter at the end of each day.

Extended Organizing Mission Options

Want to go beyond this 30-minute organizing mission?

  • Include the family. Assign a surface to each family member, so you can clear the house together.
  • Do the mission as a group. Get together several friends with clutter concerns and spend an afternoon going from house to house as a team of clutter-killers.

Ready, Set, Go!

Remember – move quickly, act fast, don’t overthink.

Start The 30-Minute Timer

Before You Go: Check In!

Please add a comment to say you’ve completed this week’s Get Organized Mission and you’re keeping your commitment.

And see you back here next week!


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10 thoughts on “Organizing Mission #39: Declutter Your Surfaces

  1. Kari Lønning says:

    I love a clear work surface and need more SPACE in general. I don’t have Lisa’s commitment, but I need to start by getting off the computer and tackle the paper piles, then maybe a closet. LOL. This is a good way to tackle areas in steps. Thanks.

  2. EC (Lisa) Stewart says:

    I realized that in order to control the monster of chaos to declutter my work surface, I had to go deeper and reach into the belly of the beast. My business procedures were evolving and the way I treat my studio/office was becoming a by-product of old meets new.

    Since I operate out of my mid-century ranch home, the closets are no bigger than a shoe box. While I love organizing my books, mag, art supplies, I realize that many times they take a back seat to immediate projects for clients. Looking around my beautiful cock-pit office my husband built for me, I was literally up to my elbows in magazines!!

    In order to return my studio to it’s maximum efficiency and include a new jeweler’s workbench had to:

    Get Organized Mission #25: Bust Your Procrastination Demons
    -This was addressed when I could no longer operate efficiently.

    Get Organized Mission #19: Organize Your Office
    -Addressed the evolution of my business procedures. Cleared out one chrome rack used for books, mags, & miscellany, replace with jewelers’ bench.

    -Archive client jobs from clear project envelopes (love those!) to manila clip envelopes, box, store in attic. All projects were already burned to disk and stored in safe deposit box.

    Organizing Mission #40: Conquer Your Storage Space Demons
    -Removed my closet door, retro fitted my closet with the 48″ chrome shelving unit to house important books & supplies.
    -Reassessed the 2nd chrome shelf unit and remove any ‘want to donate art supply items’ from prime location shelves

    Get Organized Mission #36: Organize Your Paperwork
    -Have an open box of multi-color filing folders that I can easily reach for when designing new projects.
    -Reclaimed the paper magazine storage surface top boxes for current/new projects (I love those)

    Get Organized Mission #39: Declutter Your Surfaces
    -Clear the industry, business, & trendspotting publications from 5 years ago and keep only 12 months worth of pubs.

    Get Organized Mission #8: Declutter 50 Items
    -Removed many things from my cockpit surface and reassessed my most immediate daily needs

    Get Organized Mission #10: Clear Out Your Closet
    -Removed the closet door permanently, completely removed all piled up contents from closet, reinstalled chrome shelving unit inside closet.
    -Toss outdated software & boxes, outdated industry manuals, boxes of bills that had reached their 7 year limit.

    Get Organized Mission #16: Streamline Your Books, CDs, & DVDs
    -Many outdated software applications & manuals were tossed. My MAC laptop & iMAC have implemented a music system that frees me to collect without shame.

    Get Organized Mission #1: Fill a Hu-u-uge Trash Bag
    -Only one? Oy!

    Get Organized Mission #34: Donate 50 Things
    My donations are a 2-part phase.

    1- I’ve scheduled a rummage party that include Stacks of magazine donations that friends will choose for themselves
    2- Take unwanted magazines to the library (if there are any remaining!)
    3- Take unwanted supplies to the goodwill

    At this point, I’m a bit stymied as to how I should use the overhead cabinets I have sitting empty…

    Thanks for this challenge! I didn’t know I was up for it, but I feel so much better eschewing old habits and embracing new opportunity!

    In Orderly Fashion,

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