What is your goal for decluttering and organizing your space? You want your space to align with your needs, that’s your starting point. Then you can begin the decluttering process and remove what is not needed in that space. Clear surfaces look nice but they also need to be functional. Identify what you will want to use a specific space or surface for…serving food? Working on arts and crafts? Once you determine that, you can gather what you will need to organize and store in or near that space. Go ahead, use the space! After you use it, get into the habit of clearing it. Store the materials and supplies where you created specific “homes” for those items. Grow your space to create and live an abundant life!
Here are 3 guiding principles that you can post in a visible place and use to help you get out of feeling overwhelmed from the clutter in your life: A little bit of organizing is better than none. Set yourself up for success. Expect that you will go off course. A little bit of organizing helps you to see success more quickly and feel less overwhelmed. Doesn’t it feel great to start and finish a project? Don’t try to tackle an entire room. That can create a feeling of being overwhelmed and keep you from starting. Instead, clear out a specific space like an all purpose (aka junk) drawer. Set yourself up for success means that you want to learn to accurately estimate how much time something will take you. If you cannot complete a project or task in one sitting, it’s better to break it up into smaller increments. Rather than think you can reorganize an entire room in 3 hours, schedule an hour to work in one part of the room and see how much you accomplish in that time. Off course? Of course! Life is always changing. The key to effective organizing is to first have a system in place. When something unexpected happens to derail you from optimal organizing habits it’s easier to get back on track if you know where it all belongs. If you share the space, it allows everyone to put things back as well.
At Outside In Organizer and Makeovers one of my organizing mantras is, “love it and use it”. There is nothing “wrong” with keeping the things that you love, use or wear. When organizing and decluttering you want to set some reasonable ground rules and avoid the pitfall of making excuses for why you “can’t” let go of items. Use means current use, not “I might need it someday”. Unless of course “someday” happens within the year! If you are keeping an item that is stained, broken, or missing a part, try to set a date to take it to be “fixed” so that you can use it. If you don’t do this within that time frame, let it go. Consider how long you’ve been “planning to fix it!” These are more effective ways for you to get rid of and prevent clutter: First,take stock of everything that you have and keep it visible. Does seeing it all feel overwhelming? When you gather everything from a category into one place and see how much you have it makes deciding what to keep and what to let go of easier. Second, you can create a display of items so that you remember to use or wear all of them over time. If after a couple of months you see that you are not using them, you can let go. Third, rotate items from the back of a deep shelf or cupboard to the front so that you can remember that you have them to use, consume, or wear. When in doubt, remember your goal is to be organized and clutter-free.
Rotate your hangers: Turn all of the hangers in your closet to face the other way…every time you wear an item and return it to the hanger, put the hanger back the correct way. At the end of a month look at what you haven’t work, and wear it! At the end of the season, look at what you haven’t worn, and let it go. Contain it: Gather all of the magazines, newspapers, circulars, articles and catalogs you want to read and put them into a single container. Make yourself a promise that the container will never be more than 3/4 full. Each time you add an item, act on the bottom item (read it, discard it if you can find the information somewhere else in the future, scan it if you need the information within the next 3 months). Put it where you need & use it: Gather all of your unexpired store coupons, sort them into a plastic slotted envelope, put them in your car. Create a mail station in 1 convenient, centralized location. Gather all related supplies for your station – letter opener, paper clips, stapler, stamps, return address envelopes, highlighter, shredder, recycling container. No piles!
As your San Diego Organizer I love to look at all of the places that we can utilize for storage after we declutter. For instance, think vertical and add movable shelves on legs. These are great for under the kitchen and bathroom sinks. Think about stick-on hooks for the back of a closet or bedroom door. Of course, there may be space under your bed for off season items in storage bins. Recently I worked with a client and we created more drawer space by hanging the belts that she stored in the drawer on a belt hanger, instead. Here are some more ways to maximize your storage space: 1. Utilize vacuum seal bags for off season clothing as well as excess linens. 2. Stop stockpiling plastic grocery bags and recycle them in drop offs bins at the grocer store. Commit to using the reusable grocery bags instead and store them in your car where they are handy. 3. Clear out your junk drawer; discard expired coupons and gift cards, limit the number and type of items you store there, use drawer organizers to keep things sorted and accessible. 4. Make space in your file cabinet. Shred or recycle items that are no longer useful or current in content. 5. Store less used items such as camping gear and off season clothing in empty suitcases.
As a Professional Organizer I get great satisfaction from 2 things…helping clients to make decisions that enable them to clear clutter, and the reactions and comments that they offer afterwards! “Wow, I didn’t realize how spacious this could be, it looks so much bigger now!” Often, the client wants to clean the space, first. The use of touch and motion when dusting, polishing or vacuuming is comparable to a loving hug for the space or area. Decorating the space or area with aesthetically and emotionally pleasing items is another way to honor the space. Placing just a few special things in the cleared space is so attractive now that the client is more likely to maintain their new organizing habits to keep the space clear. Putting out items that have been stored is another creative way of celebrating the open area; it’s like shopping in your own home! Every couple of months you can rotate items from storage to keep it fresh. During the process of sorting, de-cluttering, and deciding what to keep you identify what is useful and what you still love. Using or displaying the item you keep is the ultimate way to honor and celebrate cleared space. Enjoy!
It’s not uncommon when someone calls me and says that they spent a lot of time organizing and clearing out their space and within a short amount of time, the sense of being disorganized returns. I call that “yo-yo organizing”! How frustrating when you set aside time, sort things, purge items, buy bins and containers, and then wonder what did you do wrong? Okay, take a deep breath and realize that you probably didn’t do anything wrong. Maybe it’s time to put away the yo-yo, and try something different. Here are 3 strategies to consider today: Create a systems approach – a regular schedule of organizing tasks to keep you maintained. This is more realistic than binge organizing! Hire a Professional Organizer, and Time Management Coach to be your Accountability Partner. Reward yourself for a task well done!
How to declutter spaces How to declutter spaces? As a Personal Professional Organizer my job is two-fold: First, to ask the “right” questions so that you can make the decisions. Second, is to help you to clarify your vision for the space. Every space needs to reflect how you will use it (function, supplies, storage) so that you can enjoy it (people). Save the aesthetics and decorating for after you declutter and organize the space. How to declutter spaces – Questions to ask yourself: Whenever you get started with organizing a specific area ask yourself declutter questions: Function – What is this space to be used for? What specific function(s) do you want the space to satisfy? For example, is your kitchen for entertaining, cooking and dining? Do you also want the kitchen to be your home office? Now, look around you to see if the space reflects that purpose(s)? Purge anything in the space that does not serve it’s function. Supplies – What do I need to have readily available in this space? List the items that you will need for efficient use of the space including furniture, equipment, or supplies. Find another location for anything that doesn’t belong there. Here are some great ideas in a video that you can use for organizing your makeup in the bathroom: Video People – Who else beside yourself, will use this space? Is the space shared by others? Do you have visitors or clients who will be in this space? You want to be sure to have all parties feel comfortable and have what they need in the space. Storage – Where do items need to be used, and how frequently? What the best types of storage containers that you will need for specific items. The answers will guide you in… read more →
Steven Covey, the author of “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” tells us to begin with the end in mind. That principle applies to organizing as well. At Outside In Organizer and Makeovers I want others to make being organized a way of life rather than just a single project. Here’s how: Know what your goal looks like. If it’s meeting deadlines, that means your schedule includes time to work on the item before its due date. If it is organizing your kitchen, it means that each storage space will be designated for specific items. If your goal is organizing your wardrobe, you will identify your style before you begin the process to help you know what is aligned with that style (keep it) and what is not (let it go). Create “optimal habits” for organizing on a daily basis. Organizing is an ongoing process, a series of behaviors. In order to create any habit it takes motivation, practice, and positive reinforcement over a sustained period of time. Try to organize something small each day to get into that mind and action set. We all have off days, if you find that happens, just start again but you don’t have to give up. Starting small and being consistent means greater success. Recruit or hire an accountability partner. Organizing is similar to other processes involving changed behavior. That’s why we hire therapists, personal trainers, and professional organizers! No one ever said you had to do it yourself. Asking for help getting started is empowering. Checking in with a trusted friend or professional keeps us on track and highly motivated. If you want to succeed, build your team!
One of the things I love about my work is that there is always a new “problem” to solve! When you come across a stash of batteries and aren’t sure if they’re good anymore, here is a great way to check: Another tip: Take the dead batteries to a recycling center that accepts them. Locally, I suggest the public library where they have a container.