Whenever I talk to someone who struggles with organization there are 3 things I hear them say.
1. I have too much stuff and I am overwhelmed with where to start.
2. I don’t want to spend more to organize my space.
3. I am afraid to let go of my possessions.
I definitely understand these concerns. Many times we become attached to possessions because they have a memory attached to them. Luckily there are simple steps you can take to overcome these challenges and still keep some of the keepsakes you own.
Some questions you should ask yourself before starting are:
1. Do you already have a system in place that creates a sense of organization?
2. What is the end goal of this project?
3. Are you willing to part with some possessions?
Ready to get organized?
Start small: Organization can happen over time. It does not have to happen overnight. Many times there are emotions tied to why we keep certain things we own. If you have a mental list of things you will not get rid of think about the why. Remember, that just because you think you should get rid of it does not mean you have to. This is a process. You may feel very strongly about not throwing out that lamp now, but you may change your mind later. Give yourself the flexibility to change your mind. If you have doubts you can always set it aside and come back to it later.
Create 4 piles: The first pile will be your “trash pile.” The second pile will be your “donate pile,” your third pile will be your “keep pile” and your fourth pile will be your “shred pile.” Do this for each room you want to organize. When you find something that belongs in a different room take it to that room until you are done in the room you are working in. This step can cause you to get distracted. Stay focused by remembering that you cannot move on to the other room until you are done with the room you are presently working on. Once you are done you can condense your piles to one per category instead of one per room.
By now, your house probably looks like a complete disaster. It means you are making progress. Don’t get discouraged. Take a break! Order a pizza, sit down to eat and open some windows. If you need a break go outside. Come back and put some upbeat music on.
Re-purposing old containers for storage: Set these aside. You will most likely need these for closet storage or random trinkets you don’t want to toss or don’t want to display.
If you have no organizational system for items in your closet, think about limiting each item to only one drawer. For example: socks and undergarments. Go through your socks and make sure each have their pair. Are they still usable or are they worn out? Only keep what you will wear or what is wearable and only use one drawer. You will be surprised at how much more room you have after just going through your undergarments.
Moving furniture: don’t be afraid to move that armoire in your bedroom into the living room! Sometimes just moving furniture can give your space a fresh face lift and the best part is that you already own it!
Finally, go back to your “keep pile” and “donate pile.” Look through these piles. Is there anything that you can re-purpose now that you have cleared out your space? Does that lamp still fit in the space you have created?
Whatever you cannot find a purpose for place in your “toss pile” or in the “donate pile.”
Final steps: Clean up after yourself! Take out those trash bags, take your donations to a donation center and spruce up your space by dusting and vacuuming. You will have lifted a lot of dust by now so cleaning will give you a sense of pride in what you have accomplished!
Maintenance: This is one of the most challenging aspects of this process. Now that you’ve come down from this organization high you will be faced with small every day challenges like leaving your stuff everywhere and letting your old habits settle back in. So how do you maintain your space without becoming obsessive?
Start with making your bed every day. Don’t go to bed without accomplishing one task like washing your dishes. Even if you don’t get to picking up your clothes off of the floor at least you did your dishes. Also, don’t just shove things in your closet. Shutting the door will not make your mess go away, it will just get bigger and messier. Need a motivator or distraction to help you clean up after yourself? Turn on your favorite T.V show and for every commercial break get up and pick up around your house. By the time your hour long show ends you will have spent approximately 15 minutes picking up, and that pile of clothes on the floor will be gone.