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Re-Post: My Top 7 Organizing Tips

on November 9, 2014

As  I shared last week, this month I am tackling a few other writing projects, so in order to keep the momentum going, I am re-posting some of my favorite posts here and there.  Any time I organize these tips go through my head to help me stay on the right track.

Want to start getting organized–or want to become more organized?  After reading a ton of organization books over the last year, attending an organization seminar this summer, and living through my own organization journey, I have come up with these Top 7 Tips.

1) PURGE–be realistic.  What do you actually need/use.  Donate what you can (though you may not be able to with some products), throw away what is broken or damaged, and put misplaced items where they truly belong (especially if it is in another room).  For sentimental items, figure out why they are sentimental.  Can you take a picture of the it and hold onto that memory just as well, would someone else love it more than you, are you keeping it out of obligation?  A yes to any of these questions means let it go.  Do you or someone in your house use it frequently or love it dearly?  If yes, keep it, but find a way to organize it better so it doesn’t cause you stress.  Some people call this de-cluttering.  I like the word purge–because it helps you eliminate and cleanse your space opening it up to new possibilities.  (Eliminate and cleanse are both synonyms for purge…)

2) Think about where you are most likely to reach for/use items…and put them there.  Seems logical, but that’s not always what we do.  We put it where it might look best, but not where it would work best.  If you find yourself constantly looking for things, you are losing valuable time every day.  Place items where they make the most sense and make sure they get back there each and every time.

3)  Use storage containers that make sense and fit your space.  Do not buy everything you think you need right away.  Chances are you’ll end up returning something (or in my case reusing it somewhere else).  For that matter, before you run out and buy something, look around your house to see what you already own that you could possibly re-purpose.  If you do need to buy something, do some research to check out the possibilities first–buying on a whim can create more clutter and stress.  And be sure to measure!  You want containers that will fit.

4)  Use labels when you can.  This helps you (and your family) get things back to their home location (which you established in step 2).  If you don’t have a laminator or label maker–no problem.  Print out or hand write your label and use clear box tape as your laminate.  Or buy sticky labels from the store to write on or run through your printer.

5)  Make it visually appealing for you.  Having a pretty space can help relax you and lower stress.  It is much more pleasant to cook, get ready in the morning, or do paper work in a pretty space than a drab one–and an organized, uncluttered one for that matter.  At least I think so.

6)  Do not get overwhelmed.  You will not be able to organize your whole life in one day, week, or month.  Organization is a process that takes time, but does not have to be time consuming.  Many people don’t have an entire day to devote to organizing a room of their house, but they might be able to find 15 minutes each day to tackle one part of one room.  For example, break your kitchen up into sections (pantry, lower cabinets, upper cabinets, drawers, fridge, etc.) or your bedroom into sections (dresser, closet top, closet bottom, night stand, under bed, etc.).  Once you’ve finished everything in one room, move onto another.  I’ve heard tackling the most annoying problem area first is best, but I’ve also heard getting easier tasks out of the way is better, both for the same reason.  They give you a sense of accomplishment.  Pick which one you think would be best for YOU and go with it.  Once you have finished a room or space, move on to the next.  But, have a plan.  Decide what order to do things in and when–schedule it in your calendar if you need to.  By having a plan, you are more likely to finish your project, because you know exactly what you want to accomplish in that space and will not wander around from room to room only partially starting/finishing things.

7)  Realize that you will probably make changes.  It can take multiple tries to get something the way it will work best.  Chances are you may still make small changes as you get older and your life changes.  Be open to that possibility.  And, if something isn’t working the way you thought it would, change it.  So the organizational tool/system you thought would work best didn’t.  Big deal.  Do not think of this as a failure.  You’re just implementing system 2.0.  Don’t be afraid to try again!  You know more now than you did the first time and chances are you’ll get it closer to right this next time.  Plus, I’ve found that organization is fluid process that is never truly “done,” because our lives are changing all the time and our systems should therefore change too.



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