You may think that all you need to do is go out and buy some new bins or baskets and then you can throw the mess in there and it will all look better. However, going out to buy more stuff is not going to make you more organized. On your organizational journey don’t make being organized your goal. Your goal should be to reduce what you have and use up what you have, before you buy new things and clear up clutter. This will help you from getting back into the mess and make cleaning up in the future easier.
There are two primary reasons that you have clutter:
1. You have too much stuff that you don’t need, want, or use.
2. The things that you do need, want, and use have no designated places.
Why don’t the useful things have designated spaces? Because the useless things you don’t want/need/use are taking up prime real estate in closets, cabinets, and drawers. This means that when you do try to put the essential, useful, necessary things into your closets, cabinets, and drawers there’s simply no room in there!
The only way to fix the problem is to identify which items you don’t actually want, and that don’t fulfill a purpose. Get these unnecessary things out of your life: give them away, recycle them, or trash them. That way, you can make room in your life for the things that you love, value, and utilize.
I know that this can be challenging, so here are some tips to help get you started on your journey.
Start slow and set aside time:
Pick an easy area, perhaps a small place that can be done in under an hour, like the cabinet under the sink or the medicine closet. Pick a time of the day when you can dedicate at least an hour to manage the space and when no one will bother you. Don’t answer your phone, emails, or text messages. Turn on some music if it helps you block out all the extra noise.
Make sure you have a trash can, recycling bin, and donate/sell bin on hand.
Take everything out:
Take every single item out of the area wipe down the area so you have a clean and fresh “canvas”.
Put back only things that are useful or important:
As you pick up each item to put it back, make a quick choice, keep, toss, or donate. If you can’t make a quick choice, put it at the end of the line and go back to it. When you pick it up the second time, toss it, you didn’t put it into the keep pile right away, so you don’t really need it.
Arrange it nicely:
It doesn’t need to look like a magazine photo, but as you put it back, arrange things so they look pleasing to you, this will help you keep it neat. I like to arrange things in order of height, but you could also arrange it by color, or type of item, like all first aid items on one shelf, all creams on the second, and all toothbrushes and toothpaste on the third.
Take pride in your accomplishments:
I bet doing this small area was a challenge, but I also bet that you feel great looking at your clean area. Be proud of yourself.
How do I know what to get rid of? Toss anything that is not useful anymore. Items that have not been used in 6 months, anything that is expired, has changed colors, doesn’t fit, and anything that is broken, ripped or torn.
How much time should I set aside? This depends on how motivated you are, and how quickly you make decisions. In general, most areas take a minimum of four hours but depending on the size of a closet or room, it could take up to eight hours. Basements often take 10-15 hours with two people. I suggest also getting a friend or an organizer to do all the areas with you, as it will speed things up because they will keep you on task and lend a hand.
Do I need to buy baskets, bins, caddies, holders, boxes, bags, and sorters? You may need to buy some, but if you do this should be the last step of organization. First, sort all your things and see what you have, then you can make determinations about your space. For example, if you empty out your closet and you have found that part of what you are having trouble finding a place for are your hats and scarves on your shelf, since you have no drawers, baskets are the best solution. Go around your house, you can probably find some lovely baskets to repurpose before you go out and buy more. Or if you have lots of loose items all related to nail care or first aid, I bet you could find the free makeup bag you got with a makeup purchase to corral all those items, before you go out to buy a bag.
Papers: Papers are always coming into your home, so take a few minutes to go to https://www.catalogchoice.org/ and unsubscribe from your paper junk mail. Scan whatever you can to reduce the actual footprint of paper in your house. Most documents you don’t need to keep as long as you think you do, so get shredding! Go digital, keep your to do list, contact and calendar on your phone or computer through google or evernote. Or invest in one planner that can keep you organized by week, and also leaves a place for you to write your lists and contacts.
I wish you luck on your organizational journey. It really is a journey, I am always sorting my things to see how I can reduce and reorganize. The good news is that over time it gets quicker and easier to clean up and stay organized.
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