How to Organize Like a Pro

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

I know that the thought of cleaning out can feel overwhelming... which is why a lot of people put it off and put it off. Sometimes the act of dragging EVERYTHING out makes you look around and say, "oh, [insert expletive here]! What was I thinking?" Sometimes you have to get messy to really dive in there and do some good.

But, really organizing doesn't have to be an all day thing. I promise. (I know you don't believe me, but it's true!) Here are some of my top tips for getting yourself organized…

*Start with 3 Groupings - We've all heard this sage piece of advice. Use 3 piles (or boxes) labeled: keep, donate & toss. When you touch an item it should go immediately to whatever pile it belongs in. If you are on the fence, throw it in the Keep pile. In your "Keep" pile start grouping items together that fall into the same category (ie. sweaters, socks, long sleeve shirts, etc). This will help you later when you do your second round of purging. It's easier to let go of a white tee shirt if you see that you actually own 5 others.

*Tackle a little bit each day - I use a method for organizing myself where I go around the room; I start in one corner and I work my way around the room. I give myself an allotted time to work (depending on my day, it could be anywhere from 10 minutes to 4 hours). 

I bring my 3 boxes and I start on one piece of furniture or drawer. Once I'm through with that piece, I move to the next drawer (or piece of furniture). Eventually I'll make it all the way around the room. It may take a few days to tackle each room, but the idea here is to pace yourself and not wear yourself out. {read: overwhelm yourself}

The key here, is that I'm not deep cleaning at the same time. I might wipe out the drawer once it's emptied, but I'm not mopping or deep cleaning. I'm organizing. Don't get bogged down in trying to make the space perfect. You may have to assess what you have in each box before you can put it back away. (we'll get to that in a later post) 

*Think of the Value of Each Item - You may fall under the trap of "what if one day I NEED this item." Yes, someday you may need to reuse that old hairdryer from 1993... but think of how much it will cost you to store it and have it lying about rather than the cost of replacing it later on. Give it to someone else who needs it now or sell it on Craigslist. Plus will you be able to find it when the time arises that you need it? Probably not and you're going to have to go buy another one anyway.

*Let Go of Sentimental Items - Do you really need that mix tape your 10th grade boyfriend gave you? Or are you just holding on to it because it used to mean something to you. If you have something that you are truly emotionally tied to - it should be in a place in your home where you can honor it and see it. Not in a box in the garage. This is where a friend or husband has to sometimes take the reigns and make you put it in the giveaway pile. Seriously. walk. away

*Think of Others - Really when you are having a hard time letting go of certain items (ahem, that horrible crystal candy dish you got for your wedding 10 years ago...) think of how someone else can benefit if you just gave it away. Find a cause close to your heart - animal shelters, battered women's home, children's hospital, whatever. Each time you place an item in that donate box, you are helping yourself to feel free of the clutter and you are helping out someone who REALLY needs it.

Images from here, here, here, and here

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