Organization Skills | How To Get Started

Organization Skills

photo collage of office organizing

Step by step organizing (image: DeniseLevine)

You have the organization skills that you need, everyone does. So how do you get started organizing? Plan, prepare, schedule time to organize, and employ my “1-at-a-time rule”. Looking at the before and after photos of the office that I worked in recently you can immediately see the big and little differences that organizing creates. As your San Diego Professional Organizer my goal is always to teach and empower, not just do the organizing for you. That’s no fun!

First, we scheduled a date and time to work together. During that first session we confirmed our plan. In a 3-4 hour block of time you can’t do it all so I needed to know what the client’s goals and priorities were. To prepare we needed a large space to gather items that were alike (we used the floor in the adjacent room). We also needed containers for recycling, shredding, discards and donations. Preparation also includes adequate ventilation and hydration (we work up a sweat).

Once we get to work it’s my job as the professional to ask the right questions. These questions enable you to decide what to keep and what to let go of. Since I don’t own the items and am not emotionally attached to them in any way I can remain calm and neutral for the client. A trained Personal/Professional Organizer knows how to guide you through questioning, gathering information, and offering options for the client. After some time it becomes easier and quicker for the client to make those decisions.

When you use my 1-at-a-time rule you are able to see results quickly because you are not scattered, you are focused. Always get rid of the clutter in your space first because you do not want to store and organize items that are no longer useful or meaningful. Begin with the visible space such as desk tops, counters, shelves and especially the floor first. Seeing those spaces clear of clutter is impactful. Don’t be tempted by what’s inside drawers and bins, just keep decluttering the visible spaces. Group the items that you plan to keep together in general categories such as small office supplies, paper, books, etc. You will get to the hidden, smaller spaces later.

After downsizing your inventory and most of the clutter is gone it’s time to sort. ORGANIZING TIP: If you find things that don’t belong in the room that you are working in set them aside in a pile of things that belong elsewhere. Avoid taking them to the other rooms and you will avoid distractions, trust me. Once you have a realistic idea of how much inventory you have and it is sorted into useful categories you will be better able to take the next step in organizing…contain. Determine what type of containers are needed taking into account not just quantity but also the weight of what you are storing and where the container will be stored and accessed. How often will you need to go get something from that basket or bin? Is it near where you are going to need what is in it? Storage containers are just ways to make things look neat or pretty, they need to be functional.

Finally, decide whether or not the containers need to be labeled for easy identification. If you live or work with others that need to know what is in those containers labeling will make it easier. Clear containers solve a lot of those problems. Color-coding is also an option but not a requirement. Identifying what is stored in the container and where it belongs make maintenance easier as well. The benefit of organizing skills is to do it in a major way, then make maintenance a habit because your system is in place.