The basement is one of those black marks on most people's to-do list. Everyone knows they need to do it, but nobody wants to take the time to do anything about it. There are really two ways to approach it.
1. Take a large Chunk
2. Baby steps.
Most things can be approached with the same two options. For the most part I tend to like taking baby steps. Especially because once something is in order, it only takes a few small steps to keep it that way. There will be no need to come back and put large chunks of time into the same thing over and over, unless you don't take those few baby steps.
Remember when you were a kid and you hated to clean your room? Everyone hated to clean his room. I hated to clean mine. But I learned a long time ago, that if I picked up each thing as I finished with it, then I was never picking up for more than 3 or 4 minutes. I constantly had a clean room and never felt like I had to work at it. Dishes and laundry are the same way now. I can either spend 5-10 minutes a day doing dishes, or I can let them pile up for a few days and spend close to an hour to get through them all. I can spend 10 minutes a day folding and putting away a load of laundry, or I can wait and waste my entire Saturday trying to catch up on a week of not doing. Just those few minutes a day make a huge difference in how hard something looks.
My basement however got to the point that I couldn't get it under control with just baby steps. Erin and I scheduled a time with ourselves. We planned for over a month to make sure the kids were somewhere out of the way, I took time off of work, and we attacked the basement.
It was great that we set aside 3 days for this. Because life happened, not everything went according to plan, we didn't even finish in the 3 days. However, we did all of the hard work during that time. We went through all of the boxes and totes of stored items and decided what we no longer need. I could feel the stress of stuff washing away as we got rid of more and more. tonight when I finished up, all I had left to do was put the totes back away into an organized stack. Now the basement looks uncluttered, we can find anything we need to, and if we have something else that needs put away, we'll know right where it belongs.
Take baby steps as often as you can in keeping yourself organized and clean, but when something gets really out of whack, be sure to give it the time it deserves. You'll feel better about it afterwards.