Can’t find a place for your stuff? Can’t find your stuff? If you feel like the room is shrinking as it’s filling up with more things, then it’s time to get a grip on the situation.
There are five easy steps you can take that will make you look like an “organizing genius” to those around you! They’ll wonder how ever do you do it.
Before the steps, though, let’s recognize a fundamental truth: clutter cannot be organized. You may try to control it but clutter will take over every time! Changing its location doesn’t help, either. Why? Because clutter is still clutter no matter where it’s kept. So don’t wear yourself out! Just make up your mind that you’re done with harboring excess stuff forever!
Step 1: Clear a Space. Make a bold statement by clearing a “hot spot” first. This is the location where clutter is king! It builds up, defying you to do anything about it. In the home, in may be the kitchen counter or a table that gets all the stuff. In an office, your desktop will be the likely place to begin. Clearing it will declare “I’m not putting up with this anymore. Things have changed.”
How to do it: Collect all the stuff in a laundry basket or box and take it to the various locations where it belongs. If some of it needs to just go away, you know where the garbage can is. Don’t think about letting it lie around. Throw it out, now!
After the table, desk or counter is cleared, shine it up real nice and put something on it that defies others to add anything new. A vase of flowers, basket of fruit or a nice new picture frame will do. No one will want to be the first one to mess it up! (more—How To Declutter Your House and Keep It Organized)
Step 2: Use a timer! Decluttering — and organizing — can become an endless process if you don’t draw a line. The most effective way to do this is to use a kitchen timer. The goal here is to pace yourself for the long haul. You are organizing more than your surroundings–you are embarking on a new organized-life. To do that, establish a habit of doing a little bit every day. Using a timer will help you to stick with the plan.
How to do it: Set your timer for 15-20 minutes. Clean that room with a box, a bag and a plan.
- The Box: The box is for items that will go straight to your car: destination Good Will or the Salvation Army.
- The Bag: The bag is a trash bag. Everything being thrown away goes into the bag and out to the garbage can.
- The Plan: Plan on not keeping much but do know where you’ll put the items that you are keeping. When the timer sounds, STOP. Pick up the project where you left off again tomorrow.
Step 3: DECLUTTER! You have to declutter before organizing can take place. So, put it away, give it away or TOSS IT. But don’t keep moving it around.
Your new motto should be: “One in, two out!” What does that mean? For every new thing that comes in the door, two existing items have to leave.
You can give them away or throw them away but never allow more to come in than what goes out. That’s how clutter got there in the first place.
Step 4: Start a Routine. Some of the chaos of your life is due to not planning ahead. Preparation can make a big difference in living an organized life. You’ll need an evening routine, a morning routine and even a weekend routine.
If this is foreign to you, just start with an evening routine. This should be more than just brushing your teeth and going to bed. Get tomorrow ready, today. Until it becomes a habit, make a list of what you will prepare before retiring for the night.:
- Clothes selected, clean, pressed and gathered into one convenient location.
- Lunches made?
- Car keys, eye glasses, wallet or purse. No more hunting around trying to find them.
- Have pets? Get their food set up for tomorrow. If you walk the dog, get the leash, poop bags and your outdoor clothes together tonight.
- Special stops on the way? What will you need? Bank deposit prepared. Child’s homework in the book bag. Do you have enough gas in the car? Allow extra time if you’re going to have to stop. Don’t let details slow you up. Preparing the night before will keep things stress free and on time!
Step 5: Make a List. Relying on your memory to get everything done on time will only go so far. Busy people have a lot on their minds. Soon things will start falling through the cracks.
Whether you use a planner, electronic organizing app, calendar or a piece of paper, lists will keep you on time, in order and efficient!
To sum it up, being a brilliant organizer does not require that you become obsessive about it – just be aware and determined! Your new mindset is to steadily dig out from under the mess and come up smiling!
If your home is a hoarding nightmare, do not be embarrassed, ask for help. Ask a trusted friend who knows how to organize or contact a professional organizer to help you through. The National Association of Professional Organizers can help. Give them a call.