Updated: Jun 12
Hi there, I’ve been working on simplifying some things around here, and one of them is the way I describe my organizing technique. This post is actually a revision of the recently published post, with a whole new (and much simpler) set of steps to follow.
I have to tell you that there is hardly anything more rewarding than finishing a decluttering or organizing project and seeing the new and sensible way you've managed to tailor your space to your individual life is worth it all. It doesn't have to be hard, or complicated, or even terribly time-consuming. Follow along with my four-step ultra-simple process to make great strides in your home organization. And if you'd like a little more guidance, sign up for access to my resource library to get a totally free printable that will help walk you through the process and help keep you on track.
STEP 1: PLANNING AHEAD
The first thing I do to start an organizing project or job is to plan. Go to this post to read about how to individualize your thought process before starting to declutter or organize.
Simply put, you need to define the purpose of the space you are working on. Some items are best stored in only one place in your home. But others, generally things that will be used frequently in different areas, should be in multiple places. I use the example of postage stamps in my own house. I keep postage stamps in one place and one place only. This way we always know when we are getting low and don't depend on being able to find more in another location.
But, there are other items that are used frequently in multiple areas. Take scissors, for example. I keep scissors in multiple places (actually about 5) in our house. I have a pair of kitchen shears in my knife drawer, a pair on my kitchen desk for opening boxes that have been delivered and for cutting wrapping paper and other miscellaneous cutting tasks, a pair in a drawer in the laundry room for removing tags before washing, sewing shears in my sewing/craft room, and a pair in the office easily at hand whenever I need to cut any paper as I work.
So, in short, your planning needs to help make sense out of what to store in the space that you are looking at, and to make sure that the items you decide on are utilized best in this area.
STEP 2: PULLING EVERYTHING OUT
The space you will be organizing must be emptied completely. I always say the mess will get worse before it gets better. You may want to start small for this reason, but if you’re up for it, go ahead and do the whole room. Once you have gotten it all out, either on a bed, on the floor, or on a table, you will need to categorize. As much as possible, group likes together. I have said this in previous posts, but it is well worth repeating that when we see how many of the same or similar items we possess, it becomes much easier to weed out the keepers and the go-ers.
STEP 3: PURGING
You can start by designating what is trash. Fill a bag or a box, or multiples with all the trash you can quickly spot and pull out. As you go, you can also pull out anything that will not be staying. At this point, it isn’t necessary to know where these things will go or how you will manage to get rid of them. Just simply deciding that they will be leaving is good enough for now.
When I was clearing out our bedroom linen closet, one of the things I came across was an old (and exceedingly hideous) wool twin-size blanket. This blanket had come from my grandmother's house when she passed away and was from a local fair that has quite a history in our area. My grandfather had been on the fair board for years and was well acquainted with most of the vendors. This blanket came from "Jack The Blanket Man", who I can vaguely remember selling his blankets on a particular corner of the fairway. I did some laboring over it, and at this point placed the blanket in the get-rid-of pile, knowing I could change my mind later. I must tell you that even later I still stuck with my decision to throw this blanket away, even though it was warm and real wool, even though it had a history, and even though it had been my grandparents'. When I asked myself if I would ever put it out for use the answer was no. It was quite worn and the colors were (atrocious!) orange and brown, which would match nothing in my house. Ever. It ended up in the garbage, I am sad, but not regretful, to say. The decision was hard but well-thought-out.
STEP 4: PLACING
It is at this point that you will be ready to decide on the right containers for keeping your items in. Baskets, boxes, bins - whatever is the right size and material for what you're working with. You can repurpose containers you already have, or head to the store to purchase new ones. I caution you here to measure well before hauling home containers that won't fit on the shelf or that your items won't fit well into. There are so many choices of type, price range, color, material, etc.....that you may get confused, so try to keep it simple for decision-making purposes. It may be better to buy a few extra and return what you don't need so you won't come up short. But make very sure to return the excess, otherwise, you'll be using up valuable space storing bulky unused containers.
There it is, folks, and I want to tell you that I am so inspired just by writing this, I am headed to go start on a little decluttering binge. See you soon!