Before and after photos showing a cluttered craft table and clean today craft space.

Organize Your Craft Room: 2 Step Method to Beat Overwhelm

Inside: Discover how to overcome overwhelm so you can organize your craft room. This straightforward two-step process will help you get and stay organized easily.

When my grandma passed away, the other family members wanted to give all her sewing and craft supplies to the thrift store. There was no way I could let that happen!

I felt an obligation to my grandmother. She got me into crafting, taught me how to sew, and taught me how to stay organized.

As her health failed in her later years of life, and other family members started using her sewing room for their pursuits, things got chaotic. It didn't get that way overnight. It happened over a couple of years until the job was too big for one person to handle.

I could hear her guidance in my head, and I can only imagine what she would say if she had seen it the way it was.

So when I said I would take this on and I walked into the room and saw how much of a mess it was, I was immediately overwhelmed. Where was I going to store it? Where was I going to start? How would I move all of this from her house to my house?

We loaded one tub at a time into the truck and filled my three-car garage. The overwhelm hit. And then I remembered that old saying, about eating an elephant.

Why Does Craft Room Overwhelm Happen?

Overwhelm happens when everything is the same priority. Doing everything all at once is too much to take on.

When we try to take on organizing all at once, we trigger what I call the Domino Effect.

Here's the Domino Effect: to clean one area, you have to do another area first. And to clean that, another area needs to be cleaned. And so on and so on. You never start because now you have to clean everything to clean one thing.

Before and after photos showing a cluttered craft table and clean today craft space.

What to Do To Beat Craft Organizing Overwhelm

Purge first. Move out the excess. Remove things you no longer use or won't use; there's no need to sort and store unwanted or unneeded items.

Reframe purging in your mind. View purging as a part of the organizing process rather than a separate task.

Removing items so there are fewer to organize is a way to organize. You're organizing when you toss, donate, or sell unwanted or unnecessary items!

Focusing on what needs to go removes this as a distraction so you can focus on organizing.

Make purging your top priority until the space is more manageable and feelings of overwhelm are at bay.

What to Purge or Get Rid Of

I know, the last thing you want to do is get rid of things and when there is too much stuff in your craft space, you first have to move things out in order to have the space to organize.

Purge, or get rid of, anything you:

  • Won't use
  • Don't have a plan for
  • Have had longer than a certain amount of time

Only you can know what you do not need and will not use. Some organizing gurus will tell you to eliminate anything you haven't touched in ____ years. I don't think this one-size-fits-all approach works.

Instead, get honest with yourself. Ask these questions:

  • Am I keeping this out of obligation or because I love it?
  • For what purpose or intention do I want this?
  • What has prevented me from using it up to now?

The answers may loosen your attachment to the item enough that you can let it go.

What Prevents Your Space From Staying Clean

No one likes cleaning. The difference between the people whose craft spaces are always clean and yours is that you have different end-points.

The “end-point” is where you've finished a project or task. This applies to all of life, not just crafts and organizing.

Anyone who has teenagers in the house is familiar with their end-points differing from mom's when it comes to the dishes and dishwasher.

Let's say a teenager makes a snack, a sandwich on a plate. Mom's end-point for the sandwich snack is when the plate is rinsed and put in the dishwasher. The teenager's end-point is when they finish eating the sandwich; the plate stays wherever they took the last bite, probably on the table or in their bedroom.

Define a new end-point for your craft projects. Rather than stopping when the craft or art piece is done, “finish” when the supplies are put away. Finish before starting a new project.

What if I'm working on a project and it's not done?

“I want to leave it on my craft table. Is that okay?”

The problem arises when the project left on your table is incomplete and pushed aside to start a new project.

This should not be an issue if the current project and associated supplies are completely removed before starting a new project.

Do I have to purge?

“I love all my supplies and don't want to get rid of anything.”

You're here because your space is messy and you're seeking help. The #1 reason spaces get messy is because there's too much stuff in them.

If you absolutely won't get rid of things, then consider putting a time limit on them. If you have so many items in your space that you can't move, they have to come out of the space so you can organize. Stow them in a closet or storage spot with a label with a date or time limit on it. This date is your deadline to make a decision on if you want to keep the item or not.

You may find that you want to keep these less-often used items stored outside of your space, in a closet or even rented storage unit. Consider the energetics of this decision and whether it's really serving you and honoring the supplies.

What If I feel obligated to keep supplies I don't want?

This is a natural feeling, especially if the items were gifted to you, for a special occasion, or have some familial tie.

The root of this is the feeling of obligation.

What's the purpose of the obligation? Wouldn't it be better to donate or sell the supplies to somebody who will honor them by using them?

This is really about reframing your view of the supplies. If you don't want them, they're not serving you by staying in your space and continuing to remind you of your feelings.

How to Beat Organizing Overwhelm

The steps are easy; there are just two:

  1. Purge items before you try to organize anything
  2. Define a new end-point for projects that includes putting away all supplies and tools

After these two steps, you're ready to organize your craft room. Check out my post on Ikea Craft Rooms for the top craft room organizing ideas.

What Questions Do You Have?

I'd love to know what challenges you're facing regarding craft supply overwhelm.

If you have any questions, please drop them below in the comments section or join the community in our craft organizing group, Best Craft Rooms, on Facebook.

What Happened With My Grandmother's Stash I Inherited?

Years later, I'm down to one ArtBin and one Rubbermaid tub of stuff from my grandma's sewing room and office.

It was a lot of work to go through everything. I started one tub at a time and, in that process, gained massive learnings. I knew other people must deal with the same thing at some point, so I created a list of 17 places to sell or donate your craft stash.

If you've ever had this experience, I would love to hear from you in the comments about how you dealt with it. Whether it was your craft supply overwhelm or because of craft supplies you inherited. Looking forward to what you have to share.

About the Author

Author Profile

Jennifer Priest is a 20+ year designer in the arts & crafts industry and home DIYer with a passion for creativity. An Army veteran raised on a ranch, from her experience, she shares smart DIY projects that save money and fun craft ideas that anyone can make. Besides blogging, Jennifer is a Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP, Hypnosis, and MER, and coaches other online entrepreneurs on money mindset, business, and living an intentional life. When not blogging, Jennifer is having adventures in the wilderness, on road trips, playing with her cats, and making paleo food.

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