Getting Started on the Organizing Process
Several years ago, while I was working on my graduate degree in Counseling Psychology, I came across an astounding statistic: The average person spends 17 minutes each day looking for something they’ve misplaced. 17 minutes! That adds up to two hours a week, which is more than 9 hours in a month, and a whopping 108 hours in a calendar year. That’s nearly five full days worth of aggravation and loss of productivity.
It was with this in mind that I decided to go into business as a professional organizer. For me, it’s a perfect blend of my education, experience, and natural personality, and I genuinely enjoy the opportunity to help my clients enjoy their homes, offices, and lives more fully. Over the years, I’ve had so many clients say to me, “This is just so overwhelming and I don’t know where to start.” So with that in mind, I’ve come up with the following list of best practices for getting started on your organizing project.
I hope you enjoy them, and that you give myself and wonderful team of “chicks” the opportunity to tackle any problem areas you may have in your home or office.
Organizationally Yours, Amber Taggard, M.S.
Professional Organizer/Owner The Organizer Chicks
- Schedule organizing as an action item. The first step is to make a set-in-stone time to accomplish some organization. Use your phone to schedule the appointment with yourself. Set an audible reminder if need be. When the day comes and that timer goes off, honor the appointment. You wouldn’t just skip out on a meeting scheduled with a business associate, friend, or family member, so give yourself permission to treat this organizing appointment with that same level of respect.
- Remove distractions. That phone that you used to remind you of the organizing appointment? Turn the ringer off during the scheduled time, or leave it in another room all together. Emails and texts can wait, I promise! Also, I highly recommend bringing into the space something that I call the “elsewhere basket.” It’s a basket, bin, or box that you keep in the space and use each time you find something that goes somewhere else in the house. This keeps you from leaving the organizing space with the good intention of putting something away, and then getting distracted along the way.
- Bring in some fun. Turn the radio on to your favorite station and open the blinds and/or windows. Let the natural light into the space and keep some snacks and a drink on hand. Any task will feel like drudgery if you’re doing it in a semi-dark room while hungry, so fuel yourself, enjoy the light of springtime, and whistle (or dance!) while you work!
- Pick a starting point and stay on task. The magical answer to the question, “Where do I begin?” is, “It doesn’t really matter!” Personally, I walk into the space and typically start with the thing on the farthest left. Work in a sweeping motion, touching and dealing with every item you come across as you work to the right, and eventually around the whole room. Use the “elsewhere basket” to keep from leaving the space and before you know it, the room will be complete.
- Celebrate your success! Take a “before” and “after” photo and be proud of yourself! You did good work!
Check back for the 2nd in this 3 part series on getting organized: Purging and Sorting, and be sure to check out our Facebook page for lots of tips and inspiring “before” and “after” photos! www.Facebook.com/TheOrganizerChick.
Organizing Tip: Keep a (single!) “to do” list.
Do you feel thoughts pinging around inside your head all day? “Pick up the dry cleaning!” “Don’t forget to send that birthday card!” “Prep for Tuesday’s meeting.” These mental “to do” lists are a distraction, and often, a time waster, because we have the same thought pop into our heads multiple times throughout the day.
To avoid this problem and really make some head-way on your goals, write the “to do” down – either in a notebook kept for this specific purpose, or on a list in your smartphone. Find ONE place to always keep your tasks.
The act of putting your “to do’s” down on your list will keep them from pinging around inside your head throughout your day, plus, you’ll have the satisfaction of checking the items off your list when the task is complete – an act which research has shown to be a mood booster and stress reducer!
Organizing Tip: Plan tomorrow, tonight.
We all have the same 24 hours in each given day, and it’s up to us to make the most of those hours. By sitting down for a few minutes each evening to map out the day to come, you will feel less stressed and more prepared for the tasks ahead. Don’t get bogged down in planning each millisecond of time, but develop a general game-plan and awareness of the most pressing items on your agenda. Doing so will guarantee a more fruitful, and and a more pleasant, tomorrow.
Happy side effect: You’ll sleep better knowing that you’ve got the day to come under control.
Organizing tip: Assess first, buy second.
Gorgeous bins…pretty baskets…cute boxes…neat looking organizing gadgets… It’s easy to get excited about the prospect of organization when you’re standing in a store filled with these items, but so often, I find that my clients have tons of organizing supplies that just aren’t being used.
Rather than making purchases first, let your first step be to really assess the area you’re organizing and the specific items in that area. Chevron boxes with clasp lids may be adorable, but if they don’t hold enough, are too wide for your shelf, or have a latch that is difficult to open, they won’t do you much good.
Sort through your items, analyze the different piles of things that need to be contained, and then go shopping for the cute AND functional containers those items need.
I recently had a friend say that, hours after she used it and is no longer home, she has the hardest time remembering whether she’s unplugged/turned off her hair straightener or not. Does that happen to you? Here’s the solution:
Say, “The straightner is unplugged.” aloud. When you do so. It will stand out in your memory better. If simply saying the words starts to lose potency, sing it in a silly voice. Doing so will take the task from mundane, and therefore easily forgettable and move it into the category of something stand-out. Crazy sounding, but it works!
Look at this lovely pantry! A combination of products bring the functionality here to a high level: Clear plastic container with air-tight seals, bins, the Shelf Reliance Cansolidator Cupboard rotation system, some over-sized lazy Susans, and of course, the label maker.
Have a pantry that’s a far cry from this one? Call or message to set up an appointment!
Did you know that The Organizer Chicks can help you have an organized move? We spent just over 9 hours packing a 3500+ square foot home this week, and we were able get the home packed in just a few work days.
The best part? How easy it will be for the family to unpack in their new home. We coded every room and every box so that they can easily see what they have in which box at any given time.
Do you have a move in your future? Contact us today to set up a consultation!
Sometimes the organizing tips that are the simplest are really just the best. Here is a small motto with big potential impact:
“If it takes less than two minutes to do, do it now.”
Letting multiple small tasks pile up to wait for you at the end of the night makes you feel tired and overwhelmed when it’s finally time to handle them, but remembering the “two minute” rule will make sure that you deal with minor jobs as they come up and your late-night pile of things to be done will be all but gone.
Organizing Tip: Think ahead to disposal.
Most good organizing sessions involve getting rid of items that are no longer serving you, and you need a game plan for where to let them go to. These items basically break down into 3 categories:
1 – Items to be given away. Find a favorite charity to gift these items to. I personally love both Oasis, a Women’s Shelter here in NWA; and Big Brothers Big Sisters, a great organization that can be found in most cities around the country.
2 – Items to sell. Be realistic about this. Will you really have your own yard sale? If so, great, but if not, look to local consignment shops or consignment events. You can also sell on eBay or any number of Facebook groups.
3 – Items to throw away/recycle. For most stuff, it’s as simple as throwing it in the trash or recycling bag, but when you have hazardous materials, such as medicines, batteries, paints, etc. be sure to do your homework before getting your organizing project underway. There is a good chance your municipal government will have a safe disposal system in place for these types of items.
Organizing Tip: Buy experiences instead of items, and take home pictures (and memories) instead of souvenirs.
Want to get organized, but unsure of what “tools of the trade” may be needed to get you there? Let The Organizer Chicks come and measure your spaces, then shop for you!
If you get caught up in making purchases because you “…can’t pass up a good deal” consider this: It’s not a good deal if you don’t actually need it and if you let it go to waste. If, a year from now, the 6 plastic trees you stocked up on because they went on a huge sale are now taking up space in your bedroom and covered in dust, it’s not a good deal.
This is an extreme example, of course, but the principle remains: A good deal means getting a good price on something you were going to use anyway. It does not mean purchasing items you don’t need and may not use simply because they were on sale.
Another recent garage makeover courtesy of The Organizer Chicks! Here we see that simple and inexpensive, but effective solutions can create an organized, functional space.
Organizing Tip: The next time you lose something, after you find it, put it in the place you first looked for it when you realized it was lost. This place should be the new (and permanent) HOME for the item, since that’s where your first instinct drew you.
When we think about organizing, we usually think about physical spaces, but one of the most important things to have organized is your time. If you feel like there are never enough hours in the day, or that you can never finish all the things you need to do, contact me about a Time Management package. The investment will pay big dividends in both your productivity and peace of mind!
In life, there are a lot of things that can be stressful: a demanding boss, a busy schedule, the hills and valleys of personal relationships. One thing that you can actively control that will drastically reduce your stress levels is the clutter, or lack thereof, in your physical environment.
Make it a priority to get at least one space cleaned and organized, and when you are feeling a little overwhelmed by the stresses of daily life, go to this place. Notice the impact on your thoughts and feelings, and use that positive energy to tackle another organization project.
You may never be able to fix anyone else’s bad attitude or add more hours to your day, but you can control the degree to which your own environment stresses or calms you.
Organizing tip: Color code within types. By doing so, several goals are accomplished:
1. Finding what you want to wear in the morning is a snap.
2. Re-hanging clean clothes in their proper place is super easy.
3. Your shopping (and often, re-shopping) tendencies are revealed. If you find that you have multiples of the same basic item, pick your favorite and donate the others.
No doubt about it, the shortest route between chaos and organization is a good purge. This linen closet got a serious makeover, in large part due to assessing the contents and getting rid of mismatched sheets, stained or torn towels, and table cloths and bedding that was no longer used or beloved.
Organizing tip: Create a kid-friendly drop zone.
Do backpacks come home from school and get tossed into the bottom of a closet? Are homework assignments and permission slips crumpled and lost?
Designate a space in a central location for an inbox system, with a clearly labeled (or even more fun, color coded) box for each child. Help your kids get into the habit of coming in the door, heading straight to their inbox, and depositing all of that day’s papers.
Set a time for yourself to spend 5-10 minutes looking through these boxes each day. Discuss with each child anything that needs to be talked about and tuck everything that needs to be returned neatly back into the folder/bag.
Creating these systems now is not only good for you, it’s also a great opportunity for your children to have some responsibility and to learn a little about being organized.
Organizing Tip: Don’t forget your vehicle.
The modern life is busy! Commuting to work, driving to school, running errands, getting the kids to practice…we spend a lot of time every day in our automobiles. If yours tends to pile up with trash, files, receipts, tools, or equipment, now is the perfect time to get organized.
From cargo organizers to trunk nets, no-leak litter bags, to compact car organizers, chances are, there’s a decently priced gadget for your problems. Take a sunny afternoon to get your vehicle organized and enjoy all those miles a little more!
Often, when we think of organizing, we think of physical items and spaces, but the organization of your time is one of the most crucial investments you can make. Did you know that The Organizer Chicks specialize in Time Management? Contact us today for more information!
Remember that your “to-be” list is really more important than your “to-do” list. What do you want to be? A super athlete? An amazing Mom? A caring friend?
Make time for what matters most by delegating tasks that don’t require your specific knowledge or skills. Let other household family members pitch in, or hire an outside service.
Organizing tip for Moms: Start a “Ransom Bag.”
Any belongings left out of their homes overnight will be held for ransom. If your kiddo wants his/her stuff back, an extra chore will have to be done. If your child chooses not to do the chore (or if the item in the bag is not asked for!) you will know that it isn’t important enough to keep and that it can be given away without any guilt.
Organizing Tip: Avoid the label “miscellaneous” on bins, boxes, files, etc. If the contents/information isn’t important enough to have its own label, it either belongs in another box or folder, or it’s not important enough to save.
Do you tend to get overwhelmed when thinking of the task of getting organized? Set simple, achievable goals. For example, “Tonight I am going to clean out my sock drawer. I will remove any unmatched, uncomfortable, or worn out socks. I will then put them back in the drawer in an orderly fashion, and then I’m going to stop.”
Deal with one room at a time, one shelf/drawer at a time, one item at a time.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve had the opportunity to work with an amazing company that provides various therapies (Occupational, Speech, Sensory-Motor, Physical Therapy, etc) to children. Their clients range from infants into the early teenage years and, as you might imagine, they have a ton of tools, toys, and games that are used in provided the needed therapies for the children.
This afternoon we completed the organization of their game/toy closet and I am so proud of how everything turned out. We used a simple visual identifier (boldly patterned duck tape!) to aid in organization: the floral pattern is for infants, the zebra is for school-aged, and the Superman is for board games and for adolescents. Using the tape to edge the shelf itself as well as the label for the bin helps the therapists to see at a glance which section to take from and return to.
Upper left – The left hand side of the closet.
Upper right – Shelf dividers and clear labels help board games stay in place.
Center left – The transition in duck tape clearly identifies the age range.
Center right – The back wall of the closet.
Bottom left – The right hand wall of the closet.
Bottom right – A simple drawer system with duck tape to identify age range for games.
This quote is giggle-worthy, but it also just so happens to reveal a true tenant of organization: Think lazy.
If putting something away involves opening a closet, pulling out a drawer, and putting an item in a box…that’s a 3 step process. That’s fine for rarely used items, but be sure that the things you use on a daily basis are a 1, maaaaybe 2 step process at most.
It’s just not realistic to put something away frequently if the process is an ordeal, so, think lazy!
Organizing Tip: One of the great secrets of organization is to make things easy on yourself. If, to put something you often use away, you have to open a closet, pull out a drawer, and then open a box to put it away, chances are it’s just not going to happen. Take inventory of the things you use often and make sure they’re readily available to you. Make sure it’s no more than a 2-step process to touch it.
Organizing Tip of the Week: Get iOrganized. Use an app (I like Cozi – it’s free!) to organize your family. Everyone sets up on the same account, and each person’s smartphone will show family calendars (with color-coding for each member) as well as a to-do list and a shopping list, so that no matter who has time to run to the store, they’re grabbing the right stuff. Note: this is a non-paid endorsement, just based on my own reviews. There are several good organizing services out there, just find one that works for you and your family and use that phone for more than just Facebook and Candy Crush.
Organizing Tip: Don’t get “…a case of the Mondays.”
How often have you told yourself that a needed life-change will start…Monday? A new diet? A running program? Getting organized? How many times has your Monday become a Tuesday without the change being made?
Don’t fall into the trap of feeling like only one day of the week (Monday) or month (the 1st) or year (New Year’s Day) can be a changing day for you. Too much pressure on yourself to make Monday “perfect” will suck the wind out of your sails. You can institute new behaviors, patterns, and thought processes on any day of any week!
Organizing Tip: Don’t over do it.
Sometimes, the urge to get organized hits and you find yourself zooming into action – whizzing around frantically declaring that THIS time you WILL get organized! I often see the after-math of such tirades of organization, and I find that people tend to fall into the trap of over-doing it.
If, for instance, your child is a huge crafter, there may be a need for differentiated containers for beads, paints, glues, elastic, etc; but if your kiddo is only struck by the desire to get crafty every once in a while, give yourself permission to have one kid-friendly container for crafts. Nicely labeled, of course.
This organizing tip comes compliments of one of my favorite clients!
Use ice cube trays to organize small pieces of jewelry – the trays are small enough to fit (probably even double-stacked) in any drawer and the tiny compartments are great for keeping earrings, rings, and easily tangled necklaces separate. Plus, they’re so cheap! Yay!
The student has become the master today!
Looking for some storage solutions? Think vertical. An over-the-door shoe organizer and a wall-mounted broom/mop organizer make otherwise wasted space super functional. Plus, both are very inexpensive – $8/9 for the shoe organizer and $5 for the mop/broom hanger.
Organizing Tip: Get motivated, not deflated.
Do you find yourself spending lots of time on websties and in magazines, looking at the awesome projects and beautiful “after” photos? Do you stockpile these images, digitally or in hard-copy, in the hopes that “one of these days” you will find the time/money/energy/help to tackle your own projects?
If these heaps of good intnetions are bringing you down instead of lifting you up and into action, let them go! Recycle those old magazines or print-outs, delete the electronic files of possibilities, and instead of spending your time looking at potential future projects, put that energy into creating your own “afters” with the space and time that you do have available.
Organizing Tip: Make the switch! It seems that Spring has finally “sprung” and this is a great time of year to think about swapping out your fall/winter clothes for spring/summer items. I like to use clear plastic bins with tight-snapping lids, or great compression bags like the “Clever Cache” linked below. Launder your items before you put them away so that stains don’t set in, then put them in the attic/garage/unused closet so that the space you do have in your closet can be give to the clothes you are actually going to wear this season.
Organizing Tip: Don’t be an April Fool – or a fool in any month for that matter – when it comes to expiring deals, gift cards, or gift certificates! Invest in a handy, portable an inexpensive coupon organizer. When you get a gift card/certificate, or purchase a deal from Groupon, Deal Piggy, Living Social, etc. immediately print it out and put it in your organizer. At the beginning of every month, do a quick sort through your organizer and designate which deals are set to expire soon with a simple visual cue, like a paper clip or a yellow post-it over the edge where it can be seen easily. Keep the organizer in your purse or car so that it’s always available and never let your deals expire before you can use them again!
Organizing Tip: Mark your calendar!
So many of our good intentions can get pushed aside by the hecticness of our schedules. School, work, soccer practice, playdates…when our lives are busy with important things, it’s easy to put off until tomorrow those things that can be pushed aside. Unfortunately, if you stay so busy, that “tomorrow” keeps getting pushed back and you’ve got a month’s (or more!) worth of clutter and disorganization to deal with.
Give organization priority status by setting a date with yourself and marking it on your calendar. Treat this as an appointment that gets the same respect that any other calendar item would and stick to it. Be specific in your appointment: “Purge closet into keep, donate, and sell.” “Check expiration dates on medicines and makeup.” “Sort kids toys – donate items no longer being played with.”
By setting, and honoring these appointments for organization, you are prioritiziing function and order in your life, and your home, family, and sense of peace will thank you for it!
Organizing Tip: Enjoy the process! If you’re less-than-organized, chances are that the idea of doing the sorting/purging/structuring required to whip your cluttered spaces into shape doesn’t sound like a fun way to spend an afternoon. Help yourself out by bringing in lively elements to make the work more enjoyable. Turn up your favorite tunes (and let yourself dance around while you work if you want to!), open the curtains/blinds on the windows to let extra natural light in, and consider inviting a friend or professional (like The Organizer Chicks!) over to provide some company and conversation. You’ll be amazed to see that time can fly when you’re organizing!
Organizing Tip: Stay on task with the help of the “elsewhere basket.” When you’re organizing, it’s common to find something that belongs in another room, and all too often, people will leave the organizing space to go put something away in another area of the house, and then get distracted along the way, never fully completing the original job. To avoid this, find a distinct beginning spot (say, the far corner of the room) and work clock-wise, clearing and organizing every single thing in your path, until you’ve come 360 degrees around the room. If you’re highly distractable and you know it, don’t let yourself leave the room – close the door even to remind yourself. Just take a basket (I call it the “elsewhere basket”) and fill it with things that belong elsewhere, and when the space you’re working on is finished, you can start the task of emptying your basket.
Organizing Tip: Be like Santa…Make a list and check it twice! List-makers are not only more successful in completing the tasks that are important to them, they also get more enjoyment out of doing them. Having a daily “To do” list will help you to organize one of your most important commodities: your time. Plus, the feeling of checking off those chores is like a little Christmas present unto itself! Happy list-making!
Organizing Tip: Date it! The first time you crack open a product in your fridge or pantry, write the month and year on a small sticker and place it on the bottom of the jar or bottle. This is also useful for makeup products, as they tend to change colors and even separate over time. Next time you reach for it, you’ll know just how fresh it really is.
Organizing Tip: Don’t get “Black Friday Syndrome!” Remember, just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean you have to have it. Sometimes good deals are hard to pass up, but ask yourself A) Will I (or the intended recipient) truly use this B) Do I (or they) already have something very similar and C) Where will I store this item. Starting your shopping with a list in hand is a great way to take advantage of the amazing deals, but avoid splurges on things that will later clutter your life. Happy shopping!
Organizing Tip: Invest in the right tools to maintain organization. In this picture notice a) The personalized rack dividers and b) the plastic shoe boxes. The rack dividers will make keeping your clothes organized so much easier and the shoe boxes will keep your shoes from getting scuffed, dusty, and misshapen by being thrown on your closet floor or in a shoe box. (And at $0.98 each, you have to ask yourself: “Wouldn’t I have send another dollar on these shoes?” If the answer is no, it’s time to get rid of the shoes. If the answer is yes, make the investment in protecting them.
Organizing Tip: Use the unused spaces. Ever notice how much wasted space there is in our homes – especially behind doors? Think about using the inside of your closet door as a place to hang a peg board for accessories or jewelry; use the inside of your kitchen cabinets to install an inexpensive basket to hold cleaning supplies or spices; and the insides of pantry and hall closet doors are great places for narrow shelving, designed to allow you to still completely shut and use your pantry or closet.
Organizing Tip: Re-shop…in your closet! Grab a full length mirror, set it up in a well-lit area of your home, and then go through your clothing pieces one-by-one. If you still love the fit, style, and color and would buy the item all over again, you know it’s a keeper. If you don’t love it, donate or consign it. Now, when you go to your closet each morning, you’re sure to have only items that you truly enjoy waiting for you
Organizing Tip: Institute the 5-minute clean-up each night. If you find that once a week or so, you are overwhelmed with the amount of clutter around you, it’s likely because it’s slowly piling up each day. Time to institute the 5-minute clean-up…and have each member of your family pitch in! It’s important to realize that the time doesn’t have to be EXACTLY 5 minutes – you can clean up for the length of a favorite song (a great motivator to get – and keep – moving!) or you can go longer if you need to, but the important thing is that you get in a daily or nightly routine of putting things back where they belong. Not only will the amount of pile-up on a weekly basis be hugely diminished, but you’ll likely find you fall asleep better too – there’s just something about knowing your home is in order!
Organizing Tip: Keep the memory, not the item. Sometimes we hold onto bulky hoodies, old chairs, jewelry that we know we’ll never wear, etc. and we do it because of the memory attached to the item. In order to free yourself from the burden of holding on to things that you know you’ll never use, take some great photographs of the item and then take the time to save those pictures in a quality acid-free scrapbook. You’ll find that the wonderful memory associated with the item is still just as strong as ever, and you’ll free up the space it was taking up for things that you actually do use. Take it a step further and donate the item and feel extra good about knowing that someone else is getting to enjoy it, too!
Organizing Tip: Take it all out. Whether you’re trying to organize your closet, your pantry, or your bathroom cabinets, the best way to really get a good look at what you have and the space you have to put it in is to take every single item out of the space. Use a clean floor space or a (made) bed to organize the items into like piles. For instance, if you’re doing your bathroom cabinets, you may have piles of medicines that you’ll want to separate (allergy medicines, pain killers, upset stomach) as well as toiletries (separate into toilet paper, soaps and shampoos, lotions, etc.) While separating things, be sure to ask yourself a) is this item expired (most have dates stamped on them) and b) am I really going to use it? Take advantage of the empty cabinets (or closet, etc.) to clean it/them out before putting things back in, and then re-fill your space with your items in their organized types. Consider a set of clear plastic drawers and label each drawer with a type of medicine so that in the event of a tummy emergency, you can easily find the medicine you need. Be sure to measure before purchasing any organizers to make sure they fit in your cabinet, and don’t get discouraged when your floor or bed is covered with your bathroom items for a brief time. In organizing, things usually have to get worse before they get better!
Organizing Tip: Start small. If the thought of revamping every cluttered space in your house is utterly overwhelming, take a step back and start with a very small space. It can be a hall closet, a guest bathroom, or a junk drawer – starting small lets you gain a sense of accomplishment and the joy of seeing a job completed, and it will spur you on to tackle a larger area!
Organizing tip: Invest in a good label maker. For less than $30 you can find a quality one and the label tape to go with it – I suggest the plastic label tape instead of paper simply because they’re more easily removable over time. Label your clear plastic bins with specific, precise names. For example: “Cleaning supplies” is too general, separate them out into “Bathroom/tile cleaners” etc. for truly usable organization.
Organizing tip: If in doubt, get it out. When you are going through your items – whether they be clothes, pots and pans, sports equipment, etc. – if you come across something that you forgot you owned, make sure you are thrilled about seeing it again before deciding to keep it. If you’ve had and it and haven’t used or missed it, you really don’t need it. And while some things are truly trash, many things can be donated to someone who will love, appreciate, and most importantly, use them.
Organizational tip: When possible, go digital. Are receipts, business cards, photos, and addresses taking over your space? It’s time to invest in a scanner or download a scanning app on your smartphone and get busy. While you’re at it, weed through those items and make sure you’re throwing away outdated information, and be sure to get those receipts and pictures in chronological order and those addresses and business cards in alphabetical order. An investment in an external hard drive can store tons and tons of information and memorabilia and take up so little space that you’ll be amazed!
Organizing tip: If you’re truly overwhelmed with your disorganization, call in a professional. Chances are, you paid a pretty penny for every square foot of your home, and there’s no sense in insuring, heating, and cooling space in your home/office that’s unusable or unpleasant because of clutter. You deserve to be able to enjoy and use every room in your house. Let The Organizer Chicks help you out of your organizing slump!
Organizing tip: Clear plastic bins are your best friends. Ever noticed how a shelf can become so crowded and messy that you can barely tell what’s on it anymore? Open shelving creates one of those dreaded flat surfaces that all too often beckon clutter, but a simple solution is to group your items, find out how many of X and how many of Y items need a home, and go buy clear plastic containers for them. Add a nice, neat label and you’re set. Now you have organized containment of your items, and as a bonus, you’ll be better able to resist over-buying on these items in the future because you’ll overflow your container!
Organizing tip: A new year is upon us and another Christmas season is behind us. If Santa was good to you this year, this is the perfect time to find room for your new items by purging the old. Honestly ask yourself, “Have I worn/used this item in the last year?” “Do I have a specific future use in mind for it?” If the answer to either question is, “No.” consider donating (don’t forget your tax receipt!)/giving away/regifting the item you’re not using. Somebody else will be grateful for it and you’ll have the free space for your new goodies!
Organizing tip: Before you begin an organizing project, take a “before” picture. Don’t tidy things up and make it look better, take the picture as the space really is, in all its messy glory. Then, as you are halfway through and feeling like you’ve accomplished nothing, take a good look back at that “before” shot and realize how far you’ve come. And don’t forget to take that glorious “after” picture as well – compare the two and vow to never let your newly organized space become cluttered again!
Organizing tip: For so many of my clients who are moms, a big source of clutter is the hand-made art of their little ones. Some of this stuff (especially the stuff with handprints!) needs to be saved for sentimental value…even though I’m a left-brained leaning organizer, I’m a mom, too, so I understand this. One thing I like to tell my clients is: “The learning is in the doing and not in the keeping.” Children learn color wheels, fine motor skills, perspective and so much more from art classes. Tossing an art project will not take this away. So keep the pieces that are truly priceless and personal – maybe even frame them and put them in your kids’ rooms – but don’t feel like you have to be the warden of every finger painting that comes home in a backpack.
Organizing tip of the week: Identify what is truly important . As Americans, we tend to have way too much “stuff.” If everything is important, then really nothing is. Decide what is truly important in your life and that will help you focus on what to keep and honor. Find a home for those functional and often used items, and proudly dispaly and honor those items that are beloved, valued, and…important!
Organizing tip: Watch out for clutter hot-spots. Flat surfaces like your dining room table, entryway table and kitchen counters tend to accumulate piles faster than any other spots in the house. Make clearing all flat surfaces part of your nightly routine—right along with washing your face and brushing your teeth. If that doesn’t work, physically block any surface that has become a clutter haven. For instance, if you put a flower arrangement in the middle of the dining room table and set it with placemats, you’re sending the message that the space is no longer a dumping zone.
Organizing tip of the week: Remember the mantra, “Touch once.” Instead of setting the mail down on the counter with the intention to carry it to your desk later, take it to the desk right away. When taking your clothes off, don’t throw them on the floor – “touch once” by placing them stright into the hamper, or directly back in the closet if they’re still clean. Psychologists say it takes 21 days to form a new habit, so begin today to de-clutter your life (and save yourself time in the long-run!)…touch once!
Here’s a quick tip to make your bedroom feel like a sanctuary: Make your bed every day.
Remember when Mom used to force you to make your bed each morning? She was practicing the basic tenet of staying organized. According to Julie Morgenstern, “Don’t think of [organization] as ‘putting things away,’ but think of it as positioning [something] for its next use.” Treat your bed as the sanctuary it is by positioning it for use every day. If you spend three minutes each morning to tuck and fold, you’ll develop a habit of keeping order in the room, which may translate into motivation for picking up the pile of clothes on the floor.
Thinking about what to do with the weekend ahead? Take it from Florence Kennedy: “Don’t agonize. Organize.”
Are your spaces over-run with the “stuff” you accumulate? Here are some suggestions that you may want to consider when it comes to future purchases:
•Don’t buy stuff just because it’s on sale.
•Don’t buy in bulk unless you’re sure that you have a place to put it all.
•Don’t buy anything without considering where you’re going to put it.
Keeping your “stuff” to a minimum is the quickest key to getting- and staying! – organized!