Few things elicit a groaning “ughhhh” quite like Mondays, filing your taxes and finally getting organized. We can’t help you with the first two, but Gilat Tunit of The Project Neat has made a career out of that last one—despite being a “pretty hot mess” in her earlier years. So, naturally, we had to find out what made her enjoy decluttering so much that she’d make it her full-time job—and what hard-won wisdom we could borrow to get our lives in order too.
1. Zone Out
“Envisioning the process of decluttering is overwhelming when you assume that it’s all or nothing,” Tunit says. “The fear of starting and not seeing an end in sight is hard to battle.” Just like completing any task, it’s worth starting small, targeting an area that’s really driving you crazy—say, your kitchen countertops—then breaking that area up into “zones” based on how you use the space, like having a utensil holder next to the stove for whisks, ladles and tongs; a canister for snacks; and a charging station where you can corral all of your cables (because nobody wants their phone to die while they’re halfway through Ina Garten’s chicken piccata recipe).
2. Create a “Backstock Bin”
Tunit is a big believer in giving items a little breathing room and spacing them out, because if you can see everything on your pantry or closet shelves at a glance, you’re more likely to actually use them. Plus, that sense of order can be visually soothing, making you feel a little more like you’ve got your life together, even if you’re standing over the sink inhaling instant ramen.
But if you’ve ever scrolled Instagram and wondered what people do with all of their stuff (surely they own more than three bottles of Perrier and a dozen single spice jars, right?!), Tunit’s answer is the backstock bin. It’s a tub that holds the extra boxes of pasta you bought in bulk or those three containers of cinnamon you bought because you thought you were out (twice). As you go through your neatly displayed supply, you pull from the bin and “restock,” just like a store would.
3. Make Better Use of Your Garage Walls
“The garage is a great place for wall organization, for all the things that never seem to have a home,” Tunit says. A wall-mount organizer (like this model on Amazon, which boasts more than 4,700 five-star reviews) can keep mops, brooms, rakes and dusters from becoming tripping hazards, and Tunit suggests hanging up sports gear and outdoor toys so they don’t take over your yard.
4. Decluttering Is a Journey, Not a Checklist
Decluttering often winds up as an item on our to-do list, but just like eating healthy or finally adopting a skin care routine, it’s not something you check off once and you’re good for life. That’s one of the biggest pieces of hard-won wisdom Tunit has gained over the years: adjusting her mindset to view organizing as a continual practice. It requires a little patience, but it pays off when it comes to feeling happier and more relaxed at home. “Decluttering can have a major impact on your overall well-being,” she explains. “Clearing your space and starting that journey is a great mental health practice.”