1. Narrow Your Focus
If you have several organizing projects in mind, it is easy to get overwhelmed. The first thing you need to do is decide on your priorities and narrow your focus. You could choose the area the is most bothersome to you or the area that most people see, perhaps a smaller project so that you can get results sooner. Whatever you decide, choose one spot and stick with it. You might have to narrow your focus even further to smaller projects within that area to prevent overwhelm and to feel more productive.
2. Create An Outline or A Plan
Whether in your head or on paper, think through what your end goal is for the space and what steps you will take to get there. You can create a hand written plan or a digital one. Mindmeister is one of my favorite digital tools for this type of plan. I find it helps me to break down the steps and allows me to brainstorm the whole project before getting started.
3. Sort and Purge
Once your area is chosen and your plan outlined, now is the time to sort and purge. Sort like items together in piles. Again, this can include the whole space or just a small area like a desktop. Once the sort is complete, it is time to decide on a purging criteria. Donate or toss items that are no longer being used / worn as well as any broken items. Space is often one of our most valuable commodities in our homes. Don't use it up with items that are bogging you down.
4. Do an Inventory
Once your area is purged, do an inventory of what is left. Determine what belongs in the space and what should be moved elsewhere. Think about the flow of the room and the purpose of the items to help you decide on where they should be placed. Items should be located where they will be used. Putting in a little extra thought in this stage can save you a lot of time later.
5. Maximize Your Space
If space is at a premium, make sure to consider some less obvious storage spaces. Over doors, under beds, inside benches or even go vertical. For example, if you have a small desk top, you might consider vertical file holders on the wall instead of using up desk space for them.
6. Use Color To Keep Organized
Color can be used to assign items to a person or an action in the space. Using colored containers can make it easier to locate items easily, whether it be files or bins. Color can also be used as a way of dividing up a space.
7. Select Storage Systems
Consider the following when choosing storage containers.
a. Measurements: will the containers fit in the space
b. Visibility: Do your containers need to be seen or hidden to be useful to you?
c. Accessibility: Are the items most often used stored in an easily accessible place?
d. Flexibility: Can the storage systems be adapted as your needs change?
e. Do your items need to be mobile so as to be easily moved from one area to another? (wheeled carts)
Clutter is a big problem for many people. At a lecture once, the audience was asked for a show of hands regarding how many people had problems with clutter and disorganization. I was surprised to find that at least half the people raised their hands.
One client mentioned that she was trying to help her sister get back on her feet after her sister had been laid up with an illness and lost her job. Her sister’s house had always been a mess, and had become so filled with clutter that there was no place to walk or sit. This client offered to buy her sister a car if she would clean up her house. She even offered to help her sister clean up the house. She was shocked when her sister refused the offer, even though she desperately needed the car. Her sister was unwilling to get rid of the clutter.
Why? Why was the “stuff” so important to her?
Underneath all addictions lies fear - of emptiness, helplessness, loneliness and aloneness. Addictions are a way to feel safe from feeling these difficult and painful feelings, and an addiction to clutter is no exception. It’s all about having a sense of control over feeling safe. Clutter, like all addictions, provides a momentary feeling of comfort. However, as with any addiction, the clutterer needs more and more clutter to maintain the illusion of safety and comfort.
When a mother died and her son was cleaning out her house, he discovered huge amounts of clutter. While the mother’s house always looked neat and clean, the cupboards and drawers were filled with clutter. The son said he found 6 broken hair dryers in one cabinet. Why would a mother want to keep six broken hair dryers?
This mother grew up during the depression and always had a fear of not having enough. No matter how much she accumulated materially, she never felt that she had enough. The six hair dryers made her feel safe from her fear, even if they didn’t work.
Another woman has trouble throwing things away, especially magazines with “important’ information in them. She subscribes to many magazines but, being the mother of three small children, doesn’t often have the time to read them. So the magazines pile up and pile up. Carrie hopes at some point to have the time to read them, but that time never seems to come. When asked why she won’t throw them out, her answer is, “Because there might be something important in them and I don’t want to miss it.” She fears missing out on some important piece of information – information that may give her the peace she is seeking. It makes her feel safer and in control to have all the magazines around her with their important information, even if she never gets to read them.
When we don’t feel safe on the inner level, then we try to make ourselves feel safe on the outer level, and clutter is one way of doing that. Whether it’s things, such as hair dryers, or information, such as in magazines and newspapers, clutterers do not trust that they will have what they need, when they need it. In addition, clutterers may be resistant people who see messiness and clutter as a way of not being controlled by someone who wants them to be neat.
HEALING THE ADDICTION TO CLUTTER
Clutter is created and maintained by a wounded, frightened part of oneself, the wounded self – the part that operates from the illusion of having control over people, events, and outcomes. As long as this wounded self is in charge of the decisions, the clutterer will continue to accumulate clutter as a way to provide comfort and the illusion of control over feeling safe, or continue to be messy as a way to resist being controlled.
Healing occurs when the individual does the inner work necessary to develop a strong, loving self. Then one can operate from truth rather than from the false beliefs of the wounded self, and knows that the comfort and safety that clutter seems to provide is an illusion – that no matter how much clutter accumulates, the clutterer still feels afraid. The loving self knows that safety and integrity do not lie in resistance and is able to begin to move forward and declutter one day.
Most people don't get organized because they think it's too hard or it takes
too much time. Here are three myths of home organization.
There's a little misinformation about home organization and getting organized I need to clear up. These are the myths of home organization...
Myth #1: You have to be born organized to live organized, right?
Wrong! Some people mistakenly believe if you don't have organization in your blood, it's going to be nearly impossible to make the changes to how you live and enjoy the simplicity of being organized. For instance, many people definitely do not have organization in their blood. But many also become a completely different person today than they were 15 years ago. They come over to the organized side and proven that being organized beats the heck out of living with the nasty side-effects of clutter.
Myth #2: You have to spend a lot of money to have the right kind of storage.
That's definitely not the case. First off, there are so many discount stores fighting for your business some of the latest organizing systems are being practically given away and certainly will get the job done.
Secondly, storage doesn't have to be fancy. In fact I use more items from discount craft stores and yard sales for storage than I do from the big name stores.
Myth #3: It takes a lot of energy and motivation to get your home organized.
This is absolutely false. It's really only a matter of changing the way you do things and thinking differently about the excess of material things people today own. And you certainly don't have to take it all on at once. There are some simple rules you can start to live by that will make disorganization a thing of the past. Even if you are not the cause of the clutter and it's a spouse or kids living with you, you can all learn what it takes and just make a few simple changes to live a better life...being organized.
There are benefits to organizing besides just a neater home. In fact, the entire family can gain from getting organized. Here are some ways that organizing time, stuff, and schedules can benefit everyone.
How many family fights begin with someone unable to find something? For example, the ever-elusive remote control seems to be missing; the family member who wants to watch TV gets frustrated and starts blaming others for losing the remote. The blamed family members get upset and say it's not their fault, and then a big fight ensues.
Here's another scenario: you're trying to get out the door and your kids can't find their shoes, books, whatever. You become frustrated and so do they, and tempers flare.
So being able to find stuff can go a long way toward creating family peace. Designate a place for those "slippery" items that tend to cause controversy: shoes, remotes, adapters, books. Each family member can have his or her basket to keep miscellaneous things in, and you can put a shoe rack or big basket/bucket by the door for shoes. You can also keep a list by your front door of what to check for before you leave: library books, glasses, keys, etc.
Experts point out that children feel much more secure when there's a routine. Establishing routines is part of family organization, and can definitely make for happier family members. Routines give everyone a sense of calm, because you know what's coming next (to an extent, of course). Adults and kids alike benefit from a regular routine and tasks that are made into habits.
Regular Family Meetings
As you establish a routine, work regular family meetings into the schedule. Maybe once a week or once a month works best for your family; whatever makes for a regular time to get together and air concerns, offer solutions, and brainstorm. Maybe tie it in with something fun, like pizza and movie night or serve a special dessert during the meeting (offices use this tactic by offering doughnuts at meetings!).
Meetings are a great time to get everyone's schedule worked out and understood, and for family members to speak up about things that are bothering them. It's also a good time to establish rules and make sure everyone understands what they are.
As families organize their time and personal items, communication tends to open up. For one thing, more time is available for spending together as a family - you're not wasting time arguing and looking for stuff. Also, since organizing involves family meetings, you will have more of a chance to talk things out with other family members.
This one quick tip will save you time on the weekend and help clear your house of clutter.
One of the best ways to put more balance in your life is to get rid of clutter. I sincerely believe that a cluttered house or office just creates disorder in your mind, not to mention the guilt you feel about how you should be spending your time straightening up instead of doing what you really want.
Start first with the mail you bring in as you come home at night. Spend a moment right in front of the trash can or recycle bin and sort it. Junk mail should be dumped right then. Pile all magazines in the same place, newest ones on the bottom. This way, when you have time to read them, you are looking at the oldest issue first.
Bills are next- who wants them staring at you in the hallway every time you come home? Open them up immediately, check the due date, and file them in some type of organizer that will remind you to pay them. Check this file weekly and pay them based on when you get paid. This way, you won’t pay them late and you won’t spend your hard-earned money on late fees.
If you spend just five minutes a day going through your mail, this will be one less chore that needs to be done on the weekend.
Organizing Your Home will bring you different benefits than it might for someone else with the same goals, but with completely different outcomes.
First off, you need to know organizing your home is different for you than it is for someone else.
Some folks don't have a lot of clutter and junk but need to know how to maintain organization and have a place for their stuff. On the other hand, some homeowners have piles upon piles...a big mess, and still think it's just a matter of needing storage. When, in fact, storage is the last thing you need. The first step is getting rid of clutter, rather than adding more storage just to keep more stuff. The thing is, once you start organizing your home, you'll see how great and real the benefits are:
-It's reducing stress by having order and discipline.
-It's having more space by keeping clutter out for good.
-It's simplifying the way you live at home by creating useful systems that work for you personally.
-It's a way of being on time, and not feeling the strain of running against the clock.
Quite simply, when you finally start to make the simple changes of organization, it all adds up to give you more room to breath so you can enjoy your family and friends more. Being organized isn't a matter of being rich or poor, young or old. We were never taught organization in school and, in fact, were taught to multi-task and go in too many directions at once. This was how they told us to live.
Personally, I have always gone against the grain and never worried about keeping things we don't need. I make sure if something is not being put to use or it's out-of-date... it's getting sold or thrown out.
We also utilize smart, affordable storage to keep only useful items and starting teaching our kids the value of being organized at a very young age. It makes it easier on them and on us to stay disciplined about organization.
The funny thing is I don't think I was raised to be organized. Nobody knew much about "organization" back then, although I was always a little "neat" as a kid. But somewhere along the way I figured out it made the most sense. I like to be on time and being organized makes that possible. I don't like wasting time looking for things, like tools or ingredients for cooking or paperwork or bills.
Being organized makes it all a lot easier.
It's not going to make you rich, but it will certainly save you money by avoiding duplicate purchases and late bills.
It's not going to make you any younger, but it will certainly give you more time to do things you might think you don't have time to do.
Being organized isn't going to give you a bigger house, but it will clear clutter and open up some space so you'll feel like you have a bigger house because there will be less congestion and "stuff" all over the place.
There may seem like there is a lot to getting organized and over the next while I'm going to share with you even more tips and tricks to getting and staying organized.
We all have excuses for doing some of the negative things we do. Holding onto clutter is common, and having excuses as to why we keep all the "stuff" is par for the course.
You know what the real problem is with getting organized? We have too much stuff! I'm willing to bet you have some things you (or someone you live with) keep without having a good enough reason. So why DO we keep so much stuff?
The thing is, it's easier to find excuses for why you should keep something and delay making a decision rather than making a firm (and sometimes difficult) choice to say goodbye to your "stuff."
Here are four of my favorite excuses...
1. "I might need it someday."
Yes, you might. But the thing is most of the items we keep can easily be found or replaced within a day or two. Lots of men keep every screw and nail created and store it away like a squirrel with his nuts. But what happens is these little tiny items create more and more clutter and it gets to a point where you can't find that little screw anyway because it's like finding a needle in a haystack.
2. "I'm going to lose some weight and start wearing this again."
I hope if you have a goal to lose some weight, you do everything in your power to make it happen. And when you do, I give you permission to go out and find a sale and buy some brand new clothes. You should be proud and it's the perfect time to reward yourself.
3. "So-and-So Gave Me This."
I'm all for keeping memories and items that remind us of people we love. But the truth is, memories are not in the clutter, the knick-knacks and "stuff" you have shoved in a box.
I won't say get rid of everything and it's not always an easy decision. But try and just keep the special things you cherish. And get them out in the open, on display - where you can enjoy them and have a story to tell when someone comments or asks a question about the item.
4. I paid good money for this..."thing!"
I'm sure you did. But the thing is, what has more value...this "item" you no longer have any use for or the way you enjoy your house? The item...or your happiness? The item... or your space?
5. Oh, I'm just trying to figure out what to do with it...
Okay, so maybe it's not worth holding onto. See, if it takes that much mental work to figure out what to do with something, you can take a pretty good guess that it may not be worth as much to you as you think.
If you can't figure out what to do with something...it's a safe bet you won't miss it too much.
There is a lot more value in enjoying your home, your friends and your family than the "stuff" you paid for.
What are the best times in your life when it’s sensible to clean house and get rid of stuff you don’t use? Take advantage of these opportunities to clean out your home and downsize your belongings.
When you move from one house to another is the best time to get rid of things you no longer need. Why move stuff you haven’t used from one place to another where you won’t use it either? Think kitchen gadgets and closets as your best place to start.
Do you have a wok but can’t remember the last time you cooked anything stir-fried? If you rarely entertain, do you really need all those wine glasses and extra sets of dishes? How many plastic containers are in the cupboard and how many do you really use on a weekly basis? Get rid of the sizes you never use. Spend a little time to consider how much of your stuff you really use and make up your mind to let go of what is just taking up space.
Of course, when I say here to get rid of something, I mean donate it- don’t throw it away unless it doesn’t work or it’s broken. There are plenty of charitable organizations happy to have your stuff as long as it’s usable.
Look at your linen closet- how many of those sets of sheets to you really use? If you have towels that have lost their fluff, out they go. Old makeup and medical supplies should be tossed, especially if it’s now past the expiration date.
If there is stuff in the basement or garage still in boxes from the last move, it’s safe to say you won’t use it again. Test your courage by just tossing the boxes without even looking in them. If you can’t manage this without your palms starting to sweat, then check to make sure there wasn’t a hidden treasure in one of them.
When your kids grow up and move out, it’s time to clean out the stuff they didn’t take with them. Don’t feel you should keep your kids’ room as a shrine to them. While I understand you want to keep your memories, you don’t need to keep sports equipment from high school or every trophy they ever won. If it’s not important enough for your kids to take with them to their new place, you shouldn’t hold onto it either. Offer them the chance to keep what they want, but set a deadline for them to move out their things.
If you’ve always wanted a reading room or a place to work on your crafts, now you’ll have it. Or, make this into the fancy room your guests will be thrilled to spend the night in. Redecorate, renovate and make that room your own!
At some point as you get older, you may decide your house is too much to keep up and you’ll move to a smaller place such as a condo. Now you will absolutely need to decide what to get rid of since storage space will be limited. Once again, your kitchen and closets are the best areas that can be downsized. At this point, your lifestyle may also change- you may dine out more often than at home, causing you to need less kitchen gizmos. Consider your new routine and decide what you will no longer need.
Take advantage of these major life events to sift through your stuff, get rid of what you will no longer need in your new life, and donate it to someone else who could use it to start their new life.
There are simple rules to home organization and getting rid of clutter everyone should live by to eliminate the clutter and stuff piling up around your house.
Let's be honest. Nobody likes rules. But the thing is, if you're serious about home organization, then there are some specific rules you'll want to follow. You'll see how much easier organization will be by taking the following simple steps...
Home Organizing Rule #1:
Touch it Once!
This doesn't work for every situation but it is a form of procrastination and it causes piles because something is being put off until later. It could be a little laziness, but more often it's due to lack of time. The thing is, this rule will save you time. For everything you put off until later, you're touching it twice when it should be just once. You (or someone you live with) is procrastinating and putting things off until later. Why?
To save a couple of seconds today, you're wasting five minutes tomorrow. For example...
You come home, throw the shirt on the bed because you're going to hang it up or throw it in the laundry basket later. Or you shove it on a shelf in the closet and will hang it later. No good.
This is two steps when it should be one. Common sense? Of course. But few practice this simple rule of home organizing. Touch it once. The coffee cup goes in the dishwasher, not on the counter and into the dishwasher later.
The mail coming in the house should be dealt with immediately...not added to a pile where you touch it more than once for no reason at all other than procrastination.
Home Organizing Rule #2:
Keep things together that belong together. Sweaters with sweaters. Shirts with shirts. One shelf for snacks and a shelf for cans. Take a look around a fancy clothing store. They're designed to help you (the customer) find exactly what you need. Wouldn't it be nice to find whatever it is you're looking for in a matter of seconds?
Same goes for a grocery store. If these shelves weren't organized, these stores would go broke because nobody would be able to find a thing.
Home Organizing Rule #3
Organize ONLY one space at a time.
Work on one small space at a time in set increments and try and do it every single day. It might only be for fifteen or twenty minutes, but the key is to get something organized everyday and make it consistent.
If you try and tackle too much at once, you won't get done because of an already hectic schedule.
Incomplete tasks are discouraging and you might just give up. The smaller the task, the easier to complete
And the better you'll feel.
Often organizing something as small as a junk drawer or even your wallet can give you the boost in motivation to "step it up" into a bigger project. If you have to do the junk drawer over a two day period, big deal?
Take two days to do it. Getting it done is the key.
One small step at a time.
One of the best ways to get started organizing your home is to begin with each room. Each room has specific organizational needs. That's why it helps to break things down. Here are some room-by-room tips to help you get your home organized.
One of the keys to successful bathroom sharing is organizing the space so that everyone's stuff is protected and itemized. Here are some ideas. For family members sharing a bathroom, assign a clear bin for everyone's basic toiletries, such as make-up, hair brushes, razors, and hair clips. (Some family members might need two bins.) These bins can be stored under the sink or stacked neatly on shelves near the vanity. Family member's names should be on each bin. In the shower, everyone can have his or her own hanging basket to store special soaps and personal shampoos. Wash cloths and towels can be color-coordinated per family member, or each family member can have his or her own special hook/rack to hang wash cloths and towels. Bath toys for the kids can be stored in a plastic bin - just make sure it's uncovered so the toys can dry. A plastic dish pan works well.
The kitchen can be one of the more daunting of the rooms to organize, but it's one of the most essential rooms to get organized. It really can save time if your kitchen is laid out in a way that makes sense, and if you know what you have on hand.
If you're not using an appliance more than once a year, give it away or recycle it. Consider the usefulness of various kitchen appliances before you take up precious space storing them - do you really need a citrus juicer, meat grinder, or iced tea maker? If you do, by all means keep them (more on organizing appliances in a moment). But if you don't, get rid of them.
Appliances can be placed in cabinets or on countertops; some homeowners like appliance "garages." These are basically sections of countertop with sliding/closing doors behind which the appliances sit, hidden, when not in use. It's a variation on the old television cabinet.
Things you use often like salt and pepper should be nearby and have their own spaces. Few things are more frustrating than trying to cook, wanting to find the salt, and not being able to!
For kids, getting stuff up off the floor can be challenging - especially since you want to make sure small people can reach these items to get them down again.
Over-the-door hangers are great for all kinds of items; they don't have to be for shoes. Fill them with your child's favorite small toys.
Stack clear plastic bins on shelves and organize them according to the type of toys in them.
A large, flat, plastic bin can hold all kinds of toys and be slipped under the bed for storage.
Adults' bedrooms can also benefit from organization. For under-bed storage, use the same method as for your kids; just make sure you don't have a pile of clutter under there.
Dresser tops can be organized with baskets, trays, and decorative boxes.
Living Room / Family Room
Get DVDs, videos, and books organized in labeled boxes or on shelves (organized by type).
Magazines and catalogues can go into magazine racks; clean these out weekly or monthly so they don't accumulate. Check with local businesses such as doctor's offices to see if they are interested in taking your back issues for their waiting rooms.