Organizing your home is more than filling boxes and bins with stuff. Some things must be close at hand – but not everything. The three tier system of organizing changes the way you think about the stuff in your home or home office.

For many, organizing is a process of trial and error. You place labels on things. You buy storage bins and materials. And yet, after all that hard work and effort, you still feel disorganized. If this sounds familiar, consider trying the three tier system of organization and decluttering.

As a note, if you're here looking for information on alcohol distribution in the United States, or how large companies are organized, you're in the wrong place. Same search terms, same words, totally different meanings. Sorry. I hope you'll stick around anyway, though, because this is still useful stuff!

What is The Three Tier System for Organizing and Decluttering?

This is a system that many organization experts use as the foundation for any organizing task or client they have. The three tier system helps you prioritize your items and organize them in a way that supports optimal efficiency and organization.

Tier One

The first tier items are items that you use on a daily basis. In your entry way it may be everything from your keys to your shoes and coat. In your home office the daily items might be your computer, pencils and paper, and your phone charger. In your kitchen it’s your daily dishes and cookware.

These first tier items need to be handy.

They need to be easily accessible.

Each of these first tier items needs to have its own place so that you can reach for it with your eyes closed. It always goes back into that place, and everyone knows where it goes.

For us, as an example, this means a key holder inside the front door, with a specific hook for each set of keys. We can tell at a glance if a set of keys is missing.

Tier Two

The second tier items are items that you use less often. Maybe you use them weekly or even monthly.

In the entry way that might be something like an umbrella.

In your home office it might be something like your printer, your business plan or your bank statements.

In your kitchen your popcorn popper, fryer, blender and other mid-sized appliances would likely be tier two items. Of course, depending on your lifestyle, your breadmaker or slow cooker might be first tier. For the longest time, EJ was putting the breadmachine away after each use – but we make bread every single day! That space was better used by the toaster.

Tier two items are items that don’t need to be out and readily available. However, you also shouldn’t have to go looking for them.

For example, an umbrella in your entry way could be stored in a bin for raingear or in your hall closet. In your home office you might keep your bank statements in a file cabinet right next to your desk. In your kitchen mid-sized appliances like a popcorn popper or waffle iron might be kept in a pantry or out of the way cupboard.

Tier Three

The third tier items are items that you use occasionally. We’re talking about items you pull out once, twice, three times a year.

In your entry way that might be a wreath or special door decoration.

In your home office it might be something like your income taxes or family will. In your kitchen it might be your fine dishes, special holiday table cloth or a cake stand.

These three tier items don’t need to be nearby at all.

In fact, if you only use them a few times a year they can be stored away in closets, bins and other storage areas. The key to keeping your third tier items is to place them in logical and easy to access storage areas with proper labelling.

The third tier system sets the foundation for organizing any space. It means you have the items you need all the time handy and quickly available and aren't overwhelmed by the clutter of items you need rarely.

When taking a look at your own organization systems and processes, do they embrace the three tier system? Try this system out and improve your organization today.


Author of A Cabin Full of Food and Going Herbal, mom to a large family, and a survivor of brain cancer, Marie believes that life should be simple, food should be homemade, and the best way to enjoy tomorrow is to prepare for it today.

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