It might seem logical to tackle one shelf, closet or room at a time. But tidying this way will doom you to a life of clutter. In order to tidy up completely – and change your life forever – you must tidy by category, not by location.
People often store the same type of item in more than one place. When you tidy each place separately, you’re repeating the same work in many locations. You can never grasp the overall volume of each type of thing you own – you’re more likely to keep the paperclips in your office if you don’t take into account the stockpile in the attic. The result is that you become locked in a never-ending cycle of tidying.
Tidy by category – clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items) and then sentimental items – and you’re on the path to success.