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Friday, October 11, 2013

How To Get Organized

The first step to getting organized is decluttering.  This is easier said than done because we hold onto stuff for various reasons.   Last month I did several posts about the reasons we hold onto clutter and how to overcome them so we can get rid of stuff.  Below is a recap with links to each post.

Generally we hold onto clutter for one of 5 reasons:

1. We just can't resist a freebie or a sale. (Bargain Clutter, find out how to overcome it HERE)

2. We hold onto keepsakes and sentimental items because we're afraid to let them go. (Sentimental Clutter, read more about it HERE)

3. We like to have a lot of stuff around. (Abundance Clutter and what to do about it can be found HERE )

4. We think we "might need it someday." (Aspirational Clutter reducing tips found HERE)

5. We don't know where to start!
(Ideas on How to Start Decluttering HERE)

If Decluttering is half the battle.  Getting organized is the other half.


There is no one way to get organized.  Here are just a few examples of how to do it.  Hopefully you'll be able to find something that works for you and your style. 


1.  A place for everything and everything in its place.  

This is my favorite piece of organizational advice.  If everything has a place, then everything can be put away and later found.  Most things don't get put away because they don't have a home, or they don't have the right home.  The key to getting organized is to find the best possible home for all of your stuff.  If you can't find something in 30 seconds, then it's in the wrong place.

When choosing a home, don't think where should I put this, think where am I most likely to look for this.  Ideally the home you create will be close to where the item gets used and where others would be apt to look for it..
Questions to ask: 
How often do I use it? (store less used stuff higher up on shelves, in the basement/attic, or underneath/behind other things)
Where do I use it?
How accessible is it?
Does it belong in this room?

If you have a place for storing something but that place isn't being used, figure out why.  An example of this is the hamper.  If the kids get undressed in the bedroom but the hamper is in the bathroom, it's no wonder their dirty clothes are always on the bedroom floor.  Solution – put a hamper in their room.
    2.  Work with your clutter.

    Walk through your home and look at what's lying around.  Consider how you use each room.  Ask yourself:
    1. What causes clutter in this room?
    2. What items end up here that should be somewhere else? Why?
    3. What things should be in this room that are not here now?
    Is your dining room table or kitchen counter a dumping ground for anything and everything that comes in the door?  Can you find or create a better place nearby to store these things, perhaps on a shelf or cabinet?  You may not be able to eliminate all the clutter, but you can control it.
    One way to control clutter is to set up work centers for specific activities such as handling mail and bills, sewing, hobbies and laundry.  A workstation that includes all the tools you need close at hand saves you time.  You may also find that it is most efficient to have certain things such as scissors, in more than one location. 

    3.  What have I got?

    Another way you can organize is to look at an area and ask “what have I got?” and then perform these steps:
    1. Eliminate things that don't belong (put them where they do belong whether in another location or the trash).  You don't have to organize them or put them away exactly where they do belong, just getting them in the correct room would be a good start, your main goal is to get them out of where they don't belong so you can organize that spot.
    2. Look at the remaining items and ask again “what have I got?” 
    3. Group the items into categories.  In some cases it is easier to plan your strategy out on paper before beginning to physically sort the items. 
    4. Once you've established the major categories, determine the most convenient place to store each group.
    5. When you have decided on a location, then decide what type of container, hook or shelf will work best.  That brings me to my next topic....

    ORGANIZATIONAL PRODUCTS
    When thinking about organizational products or containers, here are a few tips to remember:

    1.  Use What You Have
    You don't have to buy expensive organizers, you can just use what you have.  Cereal and shoe boxes (whether decorated with cute wrapping paper or not) make great bins and dividers in drawers or cabinets.   Lots of little parts that go together can be easily stored in an empty baby wipes containers.  Empty egg cartons are great for sorting out paper clips and other small office supplies or even jewelry or sewing supplies.  If you feel like you have to buy something, the dollar store has lots of organizational products too.

    2.  Purge, Organize, Measure BEFORE you buy
    Don't buy stuff before you purge and organize that way you know what you need (amount and size).
    And make sure you measure your space so that you buy the right size product.

    3.  Containerize
    Using containers is a great way to organize and keep like items together.  Containers make it easy to find what you are looking for even if you never get around to organizing what's in the container itself.

    Containers can also help you eliminate clutter because you only have so much space to store something.  If it doesn't fit, it's time to purge.  Remember the one in one out rule.

    Clear plastic bins with lids are great so you can see what's in them and stack them.  Plus they are air and water tight so you don't have to worry about bugs or water getting in them. 


    Woven baskets can contain clutter while looking pretty.  You can have these on the floor in the living room to store blankets, magazines or even toys.

    Square maximizes you space better than round, especially on shelves and in drawers. 

    4.  Think Vertical
    To maximize existing space think vertical.  What can you hang on walls, from the ceiling, or the backs of doors.  Same size storage containers that stack are a great use of space at the top of closets.  Don't forget about the insides of cabinet doors.  There are products you can mount there to add additional storage for pot lids, or spices, or kids plastic plates….

    A magnetic knife holder can be mounted inside a bathroom cabinet or medicine cabinet to store nail clippers, tweezers and scissors. 

    5.  Label
    To help yourself and others stay organized - label everything.  This helps you and others in your house, know where things belong so they can easily put them back.


    We've talked about how to get organized, but the real test is staying organized.  All the cute containers in the world won't keep you organized if you don't have a system that works.


    MAINTENANCE 

    Staying organized is even more challenging than getting organized because you have to train yourself to do things differently. 

    Once you have uncluttered your home, staying organized involves picking up, putting away and discarding excess stuff on a regular basis.  This is where getting into a routine will help.
    The more you do these things, the more they will become routine and before you know it, you'll be on autopilot in maintaining order in your home.

    -Put things back in their proper place when you are done using them. 
    -Don't put it down, put it away.
    -Go through the house each night before bed and return things where they belong. 
    -Set up some rules like no toys in the dining room, or if you carry it into a room, you must carry it out when you leave.
    -Every time you leave a room take something that doesn't belong in there and put it where it does belong. 
    -Handle things once.  
    -Take care of today's things today.   Don't procrastinate.   Procrastinating makes more work later which can take more time, possibly creating more stress.   Remember, it's easier to keep up than to catch up. 
    -Have an inbox to deal with things later such as paying bills or phone calls to make.  Set aside some time each day or week to deal with those things


    REAL LIFE EXAMPLES

    Here is one organizational problem with 2 different solutions:

    The problem:
    You have notes and piles of papers out so you don't forget to do something.   You are afraid if you put it away, that you'll forget something important to do or where you put it.

    Solution 1:  Is that really the reason you are leaving things out, or is it because you don't have a home for them.  Give everything a home and make sure you put it back there when you are done.  Then you'll get in the habit of putting it back in its home.  When you give something a home you can always find it.

    Solution 2:  When you leave things out where you can see them, you end of not seeing them.  They become part of the background or blend into the wallpaper.  A more efficient system is to keep a notepad available.  Once you have written something down, you no longer need the item itself as a reminder and you can put it away.

    GETTING KIDS INVOLVED

    Here are a few different ways to get your kids involved. 

    1.  You need to train them.  Show them what you expect and help them do it the first few times.  This does take more time and effort but will be worth because you're kids will do the cleaning/organizing and not you.

    2.  Make it a game.  You could see who can put away the most things in a certain amount of time.  Or who can clean up a certain area before the timer goes off.  Make it easy for them to win at first so they'll want to keep playing.

    3.  If helping them and making a game out of it doesn't work, sometimes you just have to lay down the law.  Be firm and say anything left out will go in the garbage or a bin where they have to earn it back.  If they don't want to do what it takes to earn it back, then get rid of it.  This might work better for older kids.

    Why Get Organized?
    The whole point of getting organized is to create more time, space, and energy in your life for the people and things that matter most to you.  Because when it comes down to it, none of the things in our lives really matter; we can't take them with us.   I  hope you've enjoyed this organizational series of posts and that you'll be motivated to de-clutter, and get organized.  In case you missed anything, you can read the rest of the series here:

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