Getting Organized: As Easy as A-B-C…and D

When spring cleaning, you may be taking the opportunity to streamline your accumulation of housewares, clothing, shoes and books. How do you decide what goes and what stays?

Getting organized is all about decisions. My definition of clutter is โ€œdelayed decisions and delayed actions.โ€ Everything you see sitting around on your countertops is a decision that hasnโ€™t been made (whether to keep it, where to put it, etc.) or an action that hasnโ€™t been taken (need to return it to the store, need to take it to the garage, etc.).
Our favorite way to help you make decisions is by using our A-B-C-D prioritization tool.

Think of each item and any potential storage places as A, B, C or D, according to the definitions below:

โ€œAโ€ things are used frequently, even daily or multiple times per day, like your toothbrush or your paper towels. โ€œAโ€ spaces are your countertops and other flat surfaces; the most eye-level, easy-to-reach shelves; the handiest drawers; and the other most easily accessible spaces in your home.

โ€œBโ€ things are used often but just not as frequently as the โ€œAโ€ things, like a blender or maybe a large salad bowl. They need to be put in โ€œBโ€ spaces, meaning behind โ€œAโ€ things, above or below โ€œAโ€ things, inside a cabinet or in otherwise less accessible spots.

โ€œCโ€ things are used, but they are used infrequently or seasonally, such as holiday decorations. They need to be in โ€œCโ€ places that are less accessible and completely out of the way of the daily flow of living in your home.

โ€œDโ€ things are items you actually do not use, but you feel you have to keep them anyway, like old tax records or spare furniture. Categorizing something as โ€œDโ€ does not automatically mean itโ€™s bad and should be discarded, but โ€œDโ€ things need to be in โ€œDโ€ places, as out of the way as possible. Of course, we encourage you to think carefully about donating โ€œDโ€ things, since by definition you are not using them, and, well, D is for Donate, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰

The goal is to get the โ€œAโ€ things in the โ€œAโ€ places, and the โ€œDโ€ things in the โ€œDโ€ places. We often see โ€œCโ€ things in โ€œAโ€ places, and so on, taking up valuable real estate in your space.

Ideally, your home would have mostly โ€œAโ€ and โ€œBโ€ things you really use and love, and very few โ€œCโ€ and โ€œDโ€ items.
During this phase of reviewing and deciding, itโ€™s helpful to ask yourself some questions when you are unsure about an item. Here are some of our favorites:

  • When is the last time you used this item?
  • What does it cost (in both time and money) to replace this item? And how hard would it be to find and purchase this item again?
  • What is the worst-case scenario if you did donate this item? The answer to this question might not be so bad, and just the act of considering it makes decision making easier.

What would your home feel like if you only had things you intentionally wanted and needed โ€” things you use and love? Be choosy about what surrounds you, and donate what you no longer need to Goodwillยฎ so it can find a good home and help people in your own community with job training and placement and other services and opportunities. Find your nearest donation center, or download the Goodwill app for iOS and Android devices!

For a list of โ€œ20 Questions to Ask About Keeping Anything,โ€ visit to get a FREE PDF printable.