This is the one to start with. If you really want to know how I approach any organization project, this is the one for you. There will be some helpful tips and tricks along the way.
The first thing to remember is that you are not alone. You are not the only person who has been overwhelmed with the thought of organizing something. Even if you are not sitting in a mountain of clutter, organizing can be an enormous task. I have been overwhelmed by the thought of a project many times myself.
After you have decided to truly start organizing your desired space, the next thing is to clean out wherever you are organizing. Take everything out. Unless something cannot be moved because of safety, or because it won’t be changing. Obviously if you are organizing an entire room, the movement of furniture is not completely necessary unless you are trying to reform the entire space. The purpose of taking everything out is to give you a better idea of the space you have. This is the space that you are actually working with. You can decide if you want or need to purge items as you are taking them out or once it is out. I usually recommend that you do this as you are going along because, you can see the reduction of items as you are pulling them, instead of looking at one overwhelming pile.
Okay, so now you have a huge pile of things and maybe some that you are going to get rid of. What next? The next part will depend on how you want to work, but you will need a way to sort everything. You can use bins or boxes to sort. You can just make smaller piles. It is up to you. (I will say that if this project is going to take multiple days, you will want bins to move things out of your way, so that you can function.) You need to designate a pile of what you are going to keep, donate, and toss. Three simple categories. This can vary a bit, but these are the essentials. I have also been asked, “Can I have a maybe pile?” You can have items that you need to put a bit more thought in to, but in general I do not think that a maybe pile is a good idea. This is only going to make things harder for you, because you are giving yourself a way to get out of getting rid of anything. Do you have to get rid of items? No, but it is never a bad idea to look at what you are organizing and really ask yourself “Do I need this?”.
There are many different methods of asking yourself whether or not your should keep something. I like to keep this part as simple as possible. Do I need this? If you truly ask yourself this question, it can help you make some of the decisions. You can ask yourself if it makes you happy. You can ask yourself if you use it. You can ask yourself if you have more than one of this item. The list continues, but you need to have questions for yourself to help you sort it all out. If you keep everything, are you truly using the space as best as you can?
So now you have your smaller piles designated by category, now what? You are going to have to put it all back. I know that this sounds overwhelming, but creating categories will help. You don’t want to just throw everything back in the space however it lands. When you are creating categories, there is something that organizers live by. Like with like. This works. Make yourself categories that make sense to you. This is another big moment. Don’t organize something using a method you found because it looks pretty. You need to find something that works with how you live. When I organize, I think about how something will best serve me in the future. If I organized how I wanted it to photograph, my Instagram followers would be through the roof, but my house would be a disaster. Let’s all remember magazine cover are not real life. I have needed to say this to myself more than once. My life is not a magazine cover, or a perfectly posed picture on Pinterest. (Yes alliteration!) I want it to work for my family and for myself. Will it always be pretty? Yes. I say this, because of the pride that you can have in what you have accomplished.
If you have created categories and everything is put away, what next? Maintaining it. Once you have your space created, the next thing to remember is “Put it away, don’t put it down.” This is one of the most influential things that I have learned. I have repeated this phrase so often to myself when I am going through my day. It’s a wonderful way to remind yourself that you put the effort in to do this right. If you put something down instead of away, you are setting yourself up to be back where you started. I have seen this phrase with the “don’t” as the start. I am not a fan of this personally, because of the fact that starting with a negative effects my thinking. What I mean is that if I start something with a negative connotation, it feels like I did something bad, instead of just having a way to remind myself to change my behavior. So I switched it. “Put it away”, says to me that I know where the item goes I just need to get it there. “Don’t put it down”, simply reminds me that I am trying to practice better habits.
Maintaining your efforts is one of the hardest parts. You need to continually remind yourself that you know where it goes. This is the part that requires the most change from you. Make the maintenance a habit. If you fall behind, it’s okay. Just keep moving forward. You can read more about me and how this has become my mantra here. You can set a schedule for yourself to help you. I use the calendar in my phone for everything from social media reminders to cleaning schedules. There are many ways that you can remind yourself and your family. If you have other people in your house, get them involved. If they don’t know your system, they can’t help you. You can label everything in your house like a classroom, or you can simply put up sticky notes until everyone knows the system. You could also create an index of items in your space and keep the list posted so everyone can figure it out until they know it. There are lots of different methods for maintenance, but the biggest thing to remember is to find what works for you and your family. If it doesn’t work, change it. Don’t live with frustration if you don’t have to.
I hope this has given you some insight into the basics, but if you have questions, please ask. Thank you.
Keep Moving Forward.