top of page

5 R's of Organizing

Let's walk through the next level of organizing continuing with a nightstand as our example.

(See the overall Organizing Cycle)

A nightstand is a fun challenge because it is a set amount of space. It may have one to three drawers or an open shelf. It may or may not hold a lamp or decor. Some people are readers and keep books or magazines. Some people prefer to keep their devices charging here. There is so much fun variety!

Always start with Identifying the Need and Building a Plan from the Organizing Cycle. These are rooted in purpose: what do you want to use your night stand for? It is a small space that can perform many functions - what do YOU want it to provide? Look at the nightstand as a stand alone piece and then as a part of the whole bedroom.

How do you go about organizing? Using the 5 R's is the process I go through with any project.

Remove Everything

I do mean everything.

This is absolutely my key to success.

Caution that it will cause a bit of a mess, but this is absolutely where you will make the biggest impact to getting organized. When you see that clean open space, you will want to maintain as much of that as possible.

For a nightstand you need to empty every drawer, clear everything off the top and remove everything from the shelves.

This accomplishes two important things:

  1. The ability to clean a space and remove any dust or trash that would normally not get clean and

  2. Provides a clear slate for you to consider what and how you really want in this space.

Go ahead and clean and wipe it all down.

Remove unnecessary items - this is the sorting and decluttering! Remove any trash, old pens, memorabilia that belongs in a save box, loose change, etc. Only keep the "right things" that add to your purpose.

Sometimes I sort while I remove items from the space, and sometimes afterwards so I can get a full picture of what items there are.

Sort means both into piles of Keep Here, Keep Elsewhere, Donate, & Trash, and also sorting like items together. For example the lotions may have been in three places on the nightstand, but I will group them together as I empty it out. I will end this step of the process with deciding which one lotion to keep in the top drawer, which extras I want to store in a designated storage area, and which lotions are old and should be thrown away.

Since we removed everything, you have to very consciously decide what you want to go back into that space.

For a nightstand, remember it is a small space and start simple with what you want to keep.

Replace with Order

You now have the right things, let's put them in the right place!

Put things back with the intention and purpose you started with. You want to make sure things are as simple to access as possible.

Things that are used most often should be the most accessible. For example, I want my chapstick within arms reach so I can quickly access it while laying in bed.

For the top

Accessibility balanced with aesthetics. Be sure you won't knock over things if you add decor or taller items. Think about what really needs to be on the top and where. Think about how you expect to use each item you place on top. If you have books, try to keep one of each "genre" - for example I keep one fiction, one business book and one personal development, so I can have something for each of my interests and moods.

For a drawer

Dividers are key so everything stays in place. Get creative with containers you may already have on hand. Apple containers are handy, or some toy containers are great too.

For a shelf

Consider a basket or trinket box to store a specific bedside essential. Baskets can end up as a holding space for miscellaneous items, so be very intentional about what you store in them.


Now it is time to step back and consider your efforts.

How does it feel? Does the space realize its purpose? Are you doing too much or too little with the space?

I literally leave the room or space and then re-enter to get a feel for the impact of the changes, however big or small.

This is where before and after photos make a difference. I have found new adjustments to make from looking at both the before and the after. “Before” shows how things were being used and allows you to think about how far you have come, but can also help realize some likely downfalls that may occur again. “After” photos can still call attention to inefficiencies or allow you to ask new questions now that things are different.


Keep things in order by establishing a regular routine of putting things where they belong.

Organizing doesn't maintain itself automatically. A well organized home or space enables good habits to stay in place, but it is not a one and done process.


Step back periodically and review the use of space. Is something missing? Do you have a new hobby you want to keep nearby? Sometimes the routine doesn't stick and you may need to start back at Remove. Or maybe you have a life change and need to rethink how you use the nightstand.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page