If you’re reading this blog post, then most likely you have a desire to get more organized. I can’t say I blame you since studies show that clutter causes anxiety and stress. In addition to peace of mind, there are so many benefits to living an organized life. But, just because you want to get organized, doesn’t mean you know how. While every organizing situation is unique, there are some universal “rules” to follow. Knowing these rules will help you organize any room or space in your home…guaranteed!
There are many reasons why previous organizing attempts have not been successful. You may feel emotionally attached to items and have difficulty purging. Or, you may lack space, supplies, or are unsure where to begin. Perhaps you feel defeated by previous organizing attempts that backslided. Well, you definitely aren’t alone! But, you are unique and one of the first keys to getting motivated to tackle another organizing project is to identify your goals. Identify your “why,” write it down and remind yourself of your “why” every day. Let your “why” speak to you and know that if you imagine it and believe it, you can achieve it.
Pro Tip: You can increase your motivation by breaking a project down into steps and assigning deadlines to each step. Set a timer to get started, review your goals, and reward yourself along the way!
Begin by Sorting and Purging
Now that you’ve identified your goals and feel motivated, start by pulling everything in the space/room out and sorting into categories. Begin with broad categories and create subcategories later on if needed. For example, you might put all holiday décor together, but then subcategorize into individual holidays if necessary. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, if you don’t take the time to sort and purge you are rearranging your stuff, not organizing it. That being said, purging is difficult for many individuals. In fact, I wrote an entire blog post recently with tips to help individuals with purging strategies. You can read that blog post HERE. Once you have identified what you have and the volume in each category that remains after purging, you’ll be able to move on to the next phase of organizing.
Pro Tip: Depending on what you’re organizing, you may need to consolidate the items in the category from several spaces in your home. For example, if you keep holiday décor in several areas of your home, combine ALL the items in the category in one area so you can purge knowing the full volume of the category.
Every Item Needs A Home
After purging, you will have a better idea of the volume of each category and you can now decide where this category will live. Your “stuff” becomes clutter when it doesn’t have a place to live. Therefore, every category should be assigned a “home” within your home. When you are thinking through a strategy of where your “stuff” should live, use appropriate zones. This means that the items you use the most should be front and center in a space and items used less frequently can be located farther away. For example, if you are organizing your closet, in-season clothing should be the easiest to access, while off-season clothing can be in bins on higher shelves. Similarly, you might place china or specialty plates on higher shelves in the kitchen because they are used only a few times per year.
Pro Tip: When you consider zoning, remember that sometimes a category may belong in a far zone such as in the same room in closed storage or perhaps in a different room altogether.
After knowing where your items will live, it’s time to consider how to store these items and categories. There are all different price points available for storage containers and so many styles to consider based on your own personal aesthetic preference. Despite all the options, there are a few universal strategies to incorporate when containing your categories. First, take advantage of vertical storage. Add shelves, rods, door storage, etc. which allows you to make every square inch of your real estate count. Second, adding dividers or small containers within a large container insure that smaller items don’t get mixed together while also letting you further subdivide your categories. This tactic adds layers to your organizing strategy that promotes long-term success.
Have you tried file folding your clothes? File folding is a great way to get more items
into a space while also keeping the items easily accessible. You can file fold more than just clothes…try
this strategy with board games, books, linens and so much more!
Organization is more likely to be maintained when there are rules to follow. For example, the one in one out rule means that for every item you bring into your home, another item must leave. Know this, everything in our home requires maintenance to some extent. We need to store, clean, and repair all items and this requires time, money, and energy from you. If items don’t leave our homes, the result is an abundance of “stuff” that needs to be cared for which requires more and more of your time and energy. Eventually, we run out of time and energy, items don’t get returned to their “home,” and clutter is the result.
Another rule that you can follow is only keeping items that fall into specific parameters. For example, set a rule such as “I’m only keeping magazines that are 30 days old” or “I’m only keeping clothes that I’ve worn in the past 12 months.” Rules such as this one makes it easy to purge items that don’t fit into the guidelines. This requires less decision making on your part.
While backsliding is normal, too much can be self-defeating and lead to a decrease in motivation to keep spaces organized. There are a few ways to combat backsliding.
- Labeling – labeling is a great way for everyone in the household to identify where items go. This means that the items are more likely to return to their homes and not become “guests” where they don’t belong.
- Create habits – long-term organization takes discipline to avoid clutter and put stuff away where it belongs. Try creating a habit such as filing paperwork after your Sunday morning coffee or decluttering objects on the stairs every time you go up. Eventually with enough practice, your habit will become an automatic practice.
- Easy access to the container – for the most part, keep containers simple! The easier it is to return an object to it’s home, the more likely the object will end up there. When possible, avoid bins with lids (unless stacking long term) and consider using pull out drawers or open storage.
Organizing is a journey, not a destination. Get started today on your journey. Don’t let your previous experience with organizing or any feelings of perfectionism get in your way. You can do it and these tips will help!
If you’re new to my blog and you’re looking for a good place to start…here are a few suggestions. For further reading on the benefits of living an organized life, click HERE, and for tips on purging, click HERE.