I have a confession: I am a neat freak. I grew up with a neat freak dad who used to make me redo my chores when my work wasn’t up to his standards, and now that quality has passed onto me. However, I certainly don’t mind it. I’m of the opinion that cleaner is better. Organization, specifically, puts me in a state of bliss. I love when my apartment is orderly and everything has its place, so I’ve devoted tons of time into developing neat freak-approved strategies for meticulously organizing a space.

Whether or not you’re as nuts about cleanliness as I am, you can use my strategies to get your place in shipshape. Here’s what to do:

1. Mercilessly Purge

You read purging tips on every cleaning and organizing list for a reason: Getting rid of stuff is key to maintaining a neat space. However, I’m not just suggesting you purge when you move, or only once in a while. Instead, purge regularly.

It’s amazing how quickly you can accumulate stuff. From papers you thought were important to gifts you no longer use, your apartment is sure to have items you neither need nor use and are just taking up space.

Plan a purge every other month or so in which you do a quick sweep of the apartment and get rid of unnecessary items. I haven’t had the chance to do this recently, but I already have a long list in my head of furniture pieces, bags, shoes, etc., that will soon pass on to the thrift-store afterlife. Really, they’re going to a better place.

You can also use this rule: Whenever you shop or get gifts, you have to get rid of something in your apartment. Doing this prevents you from accumulating too much stuff in the first place. This is, after all, the “meticulous” guide to organizing.

2. Maximize Storage

Storage is a neat freak’s No. 1 tool. Organization is all about keeping only what you use and giving everything you own a home. However, not all apartments are designed with neat freaks in mind (much to our dismay).

My apartment has closets, sure, but none are ideal storage spaces. Two are in bedrooms and there’s only one tiny hall coat closet. As you can see, not my definition of great storage. But closets aren’t the only storage spaces.

Buy furniture and organizational tools that create storage in your apartment. For instance, ottomans make a great alternative to a coffee table, and they have storage. Under-the-bed bins also provide more space to hold your stuff, and they stay out of sight!

I also love shelves. My apartment closet only had one measly shelf when I moved in, so I installed a rod for clothing and added additional shelving – the repairs didn’t even cost much money! A two-by-four piece of wood, some shelf brackets and spray paint go a long way, my friends. Just make sure you watch tutorials for hanging load-bearing storage so you correctly install them – you don’t want your shelves to come crashing down.

3. Get Furniture that Fits Your Space

Oversized or too-small furniture can make your apartment seem cluttered or smaller than it actually is. In either case, that’s not good for making your apartment look and feel organized. So, find pieces that fit your space.

How do you tell if furniture fits? There are a few ways. For starters, measure your spaces. You can ask your landlord if he or she has a floor plan of your unit, which will include measurements if you don’t want to do the legwork yourself. Otherwise, invest in a measuring tape – you’ll need it for hanging shelves anyway.

Often, a furniture piece you see online or in a store looks like it will fit, but when it’s actually in your space, it dwarfs everything! That’s because showrooms are more spacious. If measuring doesn’t give you enough of a visual, put boxes in the area where your furniture will go, and add more boxes until you’ve filled the space to the comfortable amount. Then, measure how much area you’re taking up. That can guide you when picking furniture.

Or, see how large other pieces in the space are. If you have a small coffee table, a smaller sofa will look better. Basically, scale your items to one another.

4. Don’t Over-Decorate

Your apartment doesn’t need as much decoration as you probably think it does. In fact, hanging too many little pictures on the wall, or lining your dresser with a plethora of bric-a-brac will only make your space feel cluttered. Plus, all those things attract dust that no one wants to clean!

Minimize your decor to the items you really like or that pair well together. Most walls only need one large piece of art, and by limiting your shelves to a few candles, they’ll seem more organized.

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