Small spaces can often mean big challenges when it comes to organizing, but changing the way you approach organizing and tidying your small space can have a huge impact. It isn’t about the pretty baskets, cool hacks, or finding a way to fit it all in. Those band-aid solutions aren’t getting to the root of the problem- and they aren’t maintainable. The secret to success with organizing is all about actively choosing the way you want to live and making the necessary lifestyle changes to get there. Addressing the underlying issues of why all your belongings can’t stay organized if the best way to begin.
Here are a few things to consider.
1. Most people don’t have an organizing problem, they have a too much stuff problem!
Have you recently moved? Cleaned out a room for painting? Gone through a renovation and had to put some things in storage? If so, then you have probably thought to yourself “I had NO idea I had this much stuff!” Or “Why do I have this much stuff?” And if you have ever had to temporarily store some of your belongings…chances are, you didn’t miss the stuff when it was gone! In fact, you probably felt lighter! All this extra stuff we hold onto weighs us down. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. It sucks our time, our resources, and our energy.
Now close your eyes and picture your dream home. Is it filled with clutter? Most likely, the answer is no. You can have the item, or you can have the space, but you can’t have both!
2. Clutter is nothing more than postponed decision making.
When all of the items in your home do not have a designated storage space, clutter is created! It happens when you do not immediately know what to do with an item you want to put away, and it all just starts to pile up. Tidiness is about making decisions and following through and not leaving them for later.
It is most important to create a specific spot for every category of item in your home and label that spot for all family members to see. Follow the KonMari method! Start with clothing, then move to books, papers, miscellaneous, then lastly, sentimental items.
3. Store things by category where you are most likely to put them away.
When you need to use something, you will go to wherever it is stored to retrieve it. When it is time to put it away….if it isn’t easy or convenient or from a designated spot…it probably isn’t going to happen! Store items where they are best suited to be stored and most easily put away.
4. Allocate most frequently used items to your “prime real estate.”
Have a great cabinet space that is central and easily accessible? Store your most frequently used items there. Items that aren’t frequently used should be stored on the high shelves, or in the awkward corner cabinets, or in the basement. Get them out of your daily routine. They do not need to be there. Only keep out the items you use on a daily basis. Incorporate this technique, and chances are you will really see that you do not need all that extra stuff!
5. Create a seasonal closet.
I urge many clients with small closets and limited space to create a seasonal closet. In fact, I incorporate one too! I personally only like to have the clothing out that I can actually wear. Switching out your clothing twice a year forces you to touch every garment each season. As you are storing them away, it is a great opportunity to get rid of anything you didn’t end up wearing. I also store away all of my shoes that I can’t wear each season. Clothing and shoes can be put into bins and stored under the bed, in the basement, or anywhere else you have the space.
6. Keep the back stock at the store.
It can be practical to stock up when there is a sale and there are many reasons why some families have to, or choose to, buy in bulk. But for many items, having one or two extra is plenty! More often than not, because all like items are not stored together in my client’s homes, I find dozens and dozens of the same item spread throughout the home. When items don’t have a designated storage spot, no-one knows how much they actually have, so too much extra stuff is taking up valuable space all over the place. Consolidate like items and keep a reasonable amount. When they are all stored together, you can easily see when you need to restock.
7. Be cognizant of the constant flow of material items into your home.
Often we don’t really want things, we just want the feelings we think those things will give us. Addressing why you are buying so much excess can help you to find alternative outlets for those feelings. This in turn will help your clutter situation. (And save you lots of money!) It isn’t just about the goods either. It is the mountains and mountains of packaging and the waste that is created when you eventually just throw it all away. Cheap can turn out expensive in the end.
8. Keep it simple.
Any system that is complicated will not last. Simplifying your life is the end goal. Anything that isn’t simple, isn’t maintainable.
9. Do not bring junk mail into your home!
Paper clutter is a huge issue for many people. Junk mail should immediately be thrown into the recycling. Do not set it down anywhere in your home. Keep a recycle bin right by the door where you enter into your house. If this isn’t possible, keep it as close to the entry point as you can. Don’t wait for later. And better yet, take your name off mailing lists and go paperless for everything you can. Any remaining mail should be sorted into a simple file system with a “to do” section and a “to file” section.
10. Never feel pressured to keep something just because someone gave it to you.
Bottom line, they wouldn’t want their gift to be stressing you out, right? It’s your life, and you have the right to decide what you surround yourself with and what you don’t. If they take issue, that’s on them!
There are no gimmicks or systems or products you have to buy to live an organized life. Professional Organizers deal with the same issues day in and day out and EVERY one of us will tell you, it’s about having less. Less to store. Less to maintain. Less to clean. Less to weigh you down and stress you out.
Hiring a professional organizer is a great place to start- and sometimes all you need is a start! But if you are going it alone and still having trouble parting with all that stuff- remember this. Purging excess stuff now isn’t being wasteful. You wasted your money when you bought all that stuff and now you are simply acknowledging it. Clean up these past bad decisions and start fresh. Use this way of thinking to help you make better decisions for the future. Organization is a game changer for sure- but having less to organize is a life changer!