Organizing: Start Small

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Time to continue our journey of breaking through the clutter to find simplicity.

Last month’s blog was all about evaluating your space.

Did you take a good, hard, honest look?

If so, it’s time to get started.

My best advice…start small!

Organizing doesn’t have to be a daunting, overwhelming task. Break it down into small pieces and do it a bit at a time.

Don’t start by saying, “I need to organize my entire home office.”  Start by saying, “I want to organize my desk drawers.”  Or “I want to organize my files.” 

When you break it down into smaller, more manageable projects, you set yourself up for success.  Once you accomplish one task, you’ll feel so good about yourself and what you did, you’ll be more than ready to tackle the next one. 

I find it most helpful to categorize items – keeping like with like.  For instance, if you’re organizing your pantry, keep breakfast items together, snack items in another area and canned goods somewhere else.

Whether it’s a drawer, cabinet, shelving unit or whole room, you need to take everything out of that space.  Yes, EVERYTHING!  This gives you a blank slate that allows you to put everything away in a more organized way.

Then sort the items.  I use 4 basic categories: 

  • Keep
  • Donate
  • Trash/Recycle
  • Belongs Elsewhere

I find it helpful to have 4 bins or bags so I can toss items into the appropriate bin as I go. 

To keep or not to keep. 

When you make the decision to store something, think of its storage value.  Make a conscious decision that the value you get from storing that item is worth the cost of not being able to use the space for something else.  Working quickly, place each item into the appropriate bins. Don’t take time now to organize or containerize what you’re keeping. 

Donate. 

Ask yourself this question as you sort.  “If I went shopping today, would I buy this again?”  If the answer is “no,” let it go!

Trash and Recycle.

Things that are broken, ripped, or outdated in a way that makes them unusable go in “toss.” Recycle what you can.

Belongs Elsewhere Items.

You will likely run across items that don’t belong in the space you’ve decided to organize. 

You want to concentrate on one area at a time: it’s so easy to get off track in the sorting process.  In the middle of sorting one drawer, you find something that belongs in the kitchen and stop what you’re doing to put that item away.  As soon as you walk away from your space, you split your focus.  Just put everything into a bin and at the end of your big sort, you can take the entire bin and put those items where they belong.

At the end of your sort, take the trash bin out and move the donate bin to your car so you can drop it off on your next trip out of the house.  You can move the elsewhere items into their proper rooms (but don’t worry about organizing those other spaces…just concentrate on the room you’ve already started).

Okay…it’s time to organize!

Once you’re left with items you want in your space, it’s time to put them in their proper place.  There’s no right way or wrong way to organize.  It’s all about what works for you.  The things you use most often should be the most accessible – between neck and knee height and toward the front of a closet or cabinet.  Store things you rarely use up high and down low.

Whew!  How do you feel?  I know that’s a lot of information to process.  Never fear.  If whatever space is stressing you out feels too overwhelming, give me a call!  I love helping people break through the clutter to find simplicity!

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