I have to admit that I’ve always been good at organizing spaces.  I must have the organizing “gene” because I can look at a cluttered space and break it down into actionable steps to create a beautiful, functional space.  I didn’t really realize this though until I started organizing for other people and developed a model for best practices within my business.  It was as if a light bulb went on and I noticed that I was methodically following a pattern each time I organized a space or guided clients on their journey.  When I dug in a little deeper, I realized that the numbers one and five were significant numbers in the organizing process.  Let’s delve a little deeper into these numbers so that you too can learn the basics of organizing!

The One In One Out Rule

In organizing, this rule means that every time you bring something into your home, something else leaves.  Disorganization is often the result of too much stuff.  When our closets are packed with black pants or our junk drawer is crammed with pens, clutter abounds and disorganization follows.  Imagine, however, if you bought a new pair of black pants and eliminated the previous pair.  The new pants would immediately have a “home” assigned to it, you’d know where to find it, and the closet would stay tidy. 

The One In One Out Rule can get and keep you organized!

In it’s essence, the one in one out rule encourages us to simplify by purging out the items that we no longer need.  Remember, everything in our homes requires time, energy, and money to maintain.  This rule teaches us to eliminate in order to reduce the time, energy, and money we need to invest to maintain our stuff.

Pro Tip:  Purging out our stuff can be easier said than done.  Try not to touch every single object. Have a friend or family member help you through this phase. Moreover, reframe attachments to items by recognizing your thought process and purposefully viewing the object through a different, nonjudgmental lens.

The Only Handle It Once Rule

If you’ve been reading my blogs, you know I often say that clutter is postponed decisions.  The Only Handle It Once Rule encourages us to move an item forward in some form or fashion instead of it becoming clutter.  It’s easy to apply this rule to the paper clutter in our homes.  Think of that stack of mail sitting on your kitchen counter.  Challenge yourself to act on the item as you open the mail.  Will you delete it (move it into recycling), defer it to another day (paying a bill), delegate it to another family member, or do it (complete the action).  Instead of not making a decision and letting the mail become clutter, use this rule to push yourself to make a decision to act on each item.  I’d argue that following through on this will inevitably save you time and just think of all the ways you can spend that precious time!

Move paper forward by making a decision to do it, delete it, delegate it, or defer it.

The Five Steps of Organizing

I’ve organized a lot of spaces and the one question I get asked most frequently is “how do you organize other people’s stuff?”  I always answer, “it’s easy…I follow the same steps!”  Every organizing project can be broken down into five steps:  sort, purge, assign a home, containerize, and maintain. 

Every organizing project is made up of five steps.

In a nutshell, by following these steps, you will insure that you have categories of items that live together in an appropriate sized, labeled container.  If you skip a step, you aren’t truly organizing, but rather re-arranging your stuff.  Furthermore, by following these steps, you create a system that will last long term with minimal backsliding. 

Pro Tip:  Starting an organizing project can be overwhelming.  Before you embark on these five steps, ask yourself why you want to get organized.  Write down your ‘’why” and your goals and keep this paper handy as you go through your organizing project.

The Five Zones of Organizing

Again, the number five pops up!  This organizing trick helps you assign “homes” to your categories of items by determining if the category should be within arm’s reach, same room open storage, same room closed storage, a different room, or off site.  Ask yourself how often will I use this item and when I do, how easily accessible does it need to be?  For example, in the summer, you can put your hat and mittens in the zone of “same room, closed storage” or perhaps even “a different room.”  In the winter, however, you want to easily access these items and therefore would keep them in a zone that is within arm’s reach or at least the same room (a closet) in open storage (an open bin/basket). 

When determining a “home” for your stuff, think about the five zones of organizing.

Next time you start an organizing project, remember the numbers one and five and you’ll easily recall these organizing “hacks.”  Eventually, for you too, they will become second nature as you organize more spaces in your home.  Before you know it, you’ll be living a simplified, streamlined, organized life!

Get inspired!  July is a great time to get organized!  Check out last year’s blog post “Your Top Five Organizing Projects for July” by clicking HERE.

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