Are you ready to get organized? The number one secret to being organized is having less stuff to keep organized. It sounds simple. And it can be. You just have to be in the right mindset to let go of "stuff" and start on your way to having your very own Clutter-Free Classroom. Over the course of the next few days, I'll guide you with tips and tricks for not only decluttering your space, but I'll explain how it's possible to make money doing it.

Today we are going to cover Step 1: Preparing to be Clutter-Free

Your task is to gather some supplies that will help you tackle the clutter. Feel free to tweak the list in a way that will work for you, but here is what I suggest.
  • trash bags
  • a recycling bin
  • boxes or tubs to take home the things that you plan to sell this summer
  • dishpans or small boxes for sorting smaller items
  • cleaning products and rags
  • signs that read: trash, donate, recycle, keep, and relocate
As you can see in the above photo, I like to color-code my labels. It makes it easier to see at a glance where things are going as I quickly sort through the clutter. I also like to involve my students whenever possible. I think that organization is an important concept for them to learn, but more importantly, it's a great opportunity to spend some time with them outside of the structured school day and makes them feel helpful and important. I usually will ask a couple of friends to come into class 15-20 minutes before school throughout the year to help in the classroom.

Start gathering your supplies and warn the clutter that you are coming for it.

Large Sorting Bins

In preparation for decluttering, you'll need to get some containers for the purging process. These will be used for holding everything that is in transition, as well as the items you are going to be keeping as you sort. Just don't go labeling them yet. I have a FREEBIE planned for you tomorrow that will assist in that very task.

The cheapest option is to snag copy paper boxes. While this isn't an awful choice, it isn't ideal.
  • The benefit is that they are free and easy to come by.
  • They are also sturdy and can be stacked on top of each other (to a point).
  • The reason I don't like these is because they don't fit into each other and therefore take up a larger amount of space when not in use.
  • They don't hold "too much" stuff.
  • Also, you can't see what is inside without opening them.
You're going to want to get some boxes for the items you are donating or giving away so grab some if you can. You just might want to consider other options for your sorting bins.

Organizing is an ongoing process so you want to find bins that can be reused as you continue to purge and even maintain.

I have a set at home and a set at school and I use them fairly regularly. I like to feel like I'm organized when I'm organizing and having the same bins that I can reuse over and over sets the stage for a job that becomes a habit.

I recommend one of the following two options:

They’re great because they stack into each other and don’t take up a lot of space when not in use. They’re designed for carrying things so they are easy to move around. They’re cheap (about $4.00 at Walmart). You can reuse them in other ways when you are done.

I love a clear tub. Here's why:
  • They stack into one another when not in use {stack the lids on top}.
  • You can easily see what is inside.
  • They are sturdy.
  • You'll always have a use for them.
  • You can put the lids on and stack them on top of each other. This is especially handy if you are taking on the act of decluttering while school is in session. You can sort and purge as time allows and when the kids come in for class, they can neatly be closed and stacked out of the way. This let's you pick up where you left off without interfering with your teaching.

Start thinking about your bins. Depending on your intentions, you'll need a bin for each of the following:
  • keep
  • give away (to friends / colleagues)
  • donate (to organizations)
  • sell (if you are inclined to take this on...I'll be posting more about this next week)
  • trash (you'll use a trash can for this)
  • recycle (you'll use a recycling bin for this)
Small Sorting Bins

If you are just joining us, you might want to start here to learn all about The Clutter-Free Classroom Project to get teachers organized.

We've been gathering large sorting bins.
We've been printing and glueing some {free} snazzy sorting labels to make decluttering fancy and fun.
And now it's time to collect some small sorting bins.


I know what you're thinking.

"If I already have big bins all the little stuff will fit into it."

I know, but these will be handy.

Trust me.

Small sorting bins are great because you can set them on counters and desktops to make sorting more compact areas like the teacher's desk, drawers, and manipulatives much easier.

My vote goes to clear plastic shoe boxes. I dig them for all the same reasons I dug the large, clear tubs.

Other ideas for small sorting bins include:
  • dishpans
  • good old cardboard shoeboxes
  • small baskets from the Dollar Store
  • baby wipe containers

If you are just joining us, you may want to start here to learn all about the Clutter-Free Classroom Project for getting teachers organized.
I promised you a FREEBIE yesterday and I am here to deliver.

The two key ideas in the Clutter-Free Classroom Guide is that you can't organize clutter and the less you have the less you need to manage.

Simple enough.

Except it's not.

Purging is challenging. We get attached to our stuff. We think we might need it. I get it.

To make the process a bit more enjoyable (not to mention fancy), I've made you a gift.

I created labels reading, "keep, give away, recycle, and trash."

Sure you can write those words on bins and boxes.

But this is way more fun.

Plus they can be attached to a bunch of different containers and reused over and over.

I got even fancier by attaching a little scrap of patterned paper to my clothespins.

And then I glued the tags onto the clip.

It looks all fancy pants, but it literally took me about 10 minutes total to print, mount, and trim the labels and then to add the scrapbook paper and label to the clip.

Here's why I like them:
  • Your eyes get used to seeing the different colors on the tags which makes sorting faster.
  • They'll make you take your task more serious which means you'll get rid of more clutter.
  • They allow you to reuse your storage containers and makes them more flexible.
  • You can clip them onto a variety of containers.

Like copy paper boxes.

And milk crates.

And plastic shoeboxes.

Oh and laundry baskets. We can't forget laundry baskets.

By the way, if you are not already subscribed to The Clutter-Free Classroom newsletter I encourage you sign up. Subscribers receive weekly tips for organizing and managing a classroom as well as exclusive free printables. You can sign up here.