As promised, I wanted to share my thoughts on how to begin the seemingly overwhelming task of organizing on your own. Whether you are tackling one room or the entire house, the process is the same.
1. Empty the space
I always let my clients know that my first step is to completely empty the space that we will be working on. A straight forward enough task, albeit time consuming, it is almost always the best place to start. Why? Because you truly cannot fathom how much stuff you actually have until it is removed from all the nooks and crannies of the space. And you also need to see everything all at once for the next step.
2. Consolidate like items.
Place all like items together- i.e. put all your short sleeved shirts in one pile, all your underwear in another, etc. This step is imperative and to really do the job correctly, you need to pull all like items from the ENTIRE house out and put them in those piles. For example if doing a bedroom closet- all of your clothes much be considered. Get all the laundry done, check the attic, look in the front hall closet, and pick up from the dry cleaners! Consolidating like items is the foundation on which an organized home is built.
There are very few people that have an organizational problem that don’t need to get rid of stuff. Once all like items are piled together you can really see just how much excess you have. Be honest with yourself during this process. If you don’t love it, get rid of it. This is where an organizer can be very beneficial as we do not have sentimental attachments to your belongings. We are experienced in helping you cope with guilt over gifts and family heirlooms and can help you with other common feelings that come up during the process.
Honestly, this is the most important step. This is the key to feeling at peace in your own home. It can’t be skipped. Acquiring too much stuff is what got you to this point in the first place.
4. Thoroughly clean the empty space.
This is the best chance to start fresh! Scrub that space until is shines. Magic Erasers will become your new BFF.
5. Organzine your items back into the space.
Here comes the fun part! Now is a great time to inventory your remaining items and measure for storage containers. It is not necessary to purchase any new items however. I have organized entire homes using just what they had in it- cardboard boxes, ziplock bags, trash bags, etc. Keep things simple and maintainable. I always like to store things where they are easiest to put away. Think about it- when you need an item, you will go to wherever it is stored to find it. Having an easy and convenient place to put the item back ensures that it will indeed get put away after use!
And that is the process! No gimmicks. No shortcuts. It will take time and handwork, but your efforts will be well worth it!
Here are a few tips of the trade-
Trying to decide where to begin on a whole house clean out? Begin with the bathrooms. Less sentimental!
Choose a container or storage spot that perfectly fits the item(s) you are going to store. If the space or container is too big, you are more likely just to let it fill up with excess stuff again.
Give your kids a “junk drawer” in the kitchen. This a great for all those little treasures and small toys that you constantly find all over the house. When I find such items, I put them in the drawer. When the drawer is full, I dump it on the floor and have the kids sort through it. They properly put away what they want to keep, and we throw away, recycle, or donate the rest. A great spot for this drawer is near the laundry room- it's a big help for when you are emptying pockets!
When purchasing new storage items consider their durability and functionality. For instance: Will there be enough room to open the lid? Is the shelf deep enough to keep the unit balanced when fully opening the drawer? Is there enough clearance to close the cabinet door? Is it washable? Will it show fingerprints? Is it too heavy to be safely removed from a high shelf?
Create a drop zone where each member of the family has specific spots for keys, handbags, mail, backpacks, lunch boxes, and frequently worn shoes, and coats. This is great spot for a charging station as well. Work with your family to make the drop zone a requirement in the daily routine.
For families with young kids, have an art box. All art projects can be placed into the box and when it is full, go through it to decide what to save. Some can be placed into memory boxes, framed, or photographed. It is not practical to keep every single drawing your child creates! Self evaluation of art work is critical for growth and a wonderful way to teach your child about only retaining what is truly moving or important to them.
Going through children's clothes each season and size change is a time consuming task! Keep a box in your child’s closet where they can put clothes they have outgrown. If they try something on that is too small, they can simply toss it in!
Have a donation spot. Anytime you come across an item in your home you no longer need or want, put it in that location. When it is full, time to donate!
Take before and after photos to see just how big of an improvement you have made!
Keep in mind that less is more and simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.