I presented a seminar at this year’s Home Show entitled, “6 Simple Steps to Start “Living Organized” Today. We discussed why it’s not always about color-coding and label-making, but a lifestyle that might just be pretty simple to adopt. Meaning, you could start doing these things right this minute with minimal effort. It’s a mind-set shift and not a major organizing project undertaking of epic proportions. Baby steps…just baby steps.
1. Define the Use & Look of your space
This is the fun part, so why not start here. Envision your space – whatever cluttered, less-than-ideal space you might have at home or at work. How would you like it to look and feel? What do you want to be able to do in the space – think verbs, what actions take place here. Let’s get inspired with how wonderful the outcome could be! Hit Pinterest, Houzz.com or the like for some imagery and resources. This is an exercise – not a cue to go on a shopping spree – not yet anyway…
2. Focus on Frequents & Favorites
If the house were sinking into the ground and you had 15 minutes to grab your most important possessions, what would they be? Assuming everyone were out of harms way of course, what belongings or treasures come to mind? These things – whatever they are – need to be used, stored properly, displayed or otherwise celebrated. If they are buried, it’s time to unearth them.
Also, what items do you use most frequently? Think, toothbrush, hairbrush, cell phone, etc. These items rarely get misplaced (for long anyway). Let these items come to the forefront of your focus.
Shed as much of the rest of the “stuff” as humanely possible. Purge, purge, purge!
3. Facilitate the Purge
This doesn’t have to be a huge, overwhelming undertaking. We can make it simple. We’ll just interrupt our own current cycle and habits – just a little bit. In closets or offices, gift bags work fantastic – they are unobtrusive, sit upright on their own, and easy to set up. Place one in each clothing closet or other area of the home (where you fold laundry maybe) where you frequently come across items that you no longer need or want. This way, when the decision is made that the item needs to go – in that very moment – you can put it in a place that designates it’s outgoing status. It’s the first step of organizing. Make the decision. Take the action. We’ll make things easier by putting the tools in place. I also love using bankers boxes. More on why here.
4. Reconsider Purchases and Acquisitions
Before you jump at that next bargain, think twice…do you really, really need/want it? Second guess every single purchase or acquisition. Here are some mini-tips:
- Out shopping? Leave the wallet in the car – if it’s worth retrieving the wallet, the item is worth purchasing.
- Price out what you’re going to Target to buy and bring close to the exact change – leave the rest in the car.
- Let friends and family know you’re on a quest to decrease clutter and that you’ll no longer be accepting hand-me-down furniture, accessories or clothing.
- During gift-giving and receiving seasons – make a pact with friends and family to only do consumable gifts like gift cards, bottles of wine or food. Perhaps agree to have a re-gifting holiday – how interesting could that be and only gift items you already own.
5. Accommodate Existing Habits
Hate putting your clothes away each night on the way to pajamas? Do you detest mail sorting but once a week? Are you a fan of “collecting?” IT IS OK! Just acknowledge that habit or preference and accommodate it. Get a pretty inbox for mail, or throw clean-to-be-put-away clothes in their own designated laundry basket or hamper (my husband had adopted the bedroom chair for this purpose…how lovely… #goodthingwereallreadyhitched). If you are a fan of collecting, make sure they are stored appropriately or displayed prominently.
Team up! Know a friend or neighbor embarking on the same organizational quest? Set a weekly or monthly check-in via phone to mark each other’s progress and to serve as encouragement for one another. Hiring a professional organizer is a great way to be not only accountable for executing project goals, but also to help keep the project super-dee-duper efficient and on track (especially if said organizer has had a latte). Organizers like yours truly have sorted countless items and assisted clients purge in effective, environmentally friendly ways for years. We know it’s hard to part with things, but staying focused on the goals of the space envisioned in step #1, and serving as an encouraging factor in the process is exactly what some people need!
“We’re not losing stuff, we’re gaining peace of mind.”
Follow these Six simple tips and you too will feel the efficiency and flow of living organized!
I’d love to hear about your organizing challenges or how you’ll adopt any of these steps. Comment below.
Also, consider joining our group of organizing enthusiasts over at “Organize Me 2015.” This group is over on facebook, moderated by yours truly and full of helpful information, before and afters by people just like you, and tips and tricks. Search: Organize Me 2015 in your facebook search field. See you there!