Time to get Crack’n!

9 01 2012
So, we are nine days into the New Year and you are knee-deep in your first organizing project of the year. First, good for you! It is a big accomplishment to begin a large task and work toward accomplishing your goal.  Hopefully you read my previous post and have decided to break down your project into mini projects (20 minutes here, 30 minutes there).  This approach works well if you feel your entire home needs an organizing makeover – don’t look at your whole home as one unit that needs to be organized by tomorrow.  Look at each room separately or break it down even farther and look at each pile or drawer as a separate entity.  I would freak out with clients if I looked at the big picture without looking at the smaller picture first.  I’m sure my clients would really love that!

Regardless of what room, object or area you decide to organize all projects can be tackled the same exact way.  You can wipe that sweat of your brow…it’s so easy a Caveman could do it.  Here is a very brief breakdown (I will get into more detail at a later date.

1.     Take Stock

  • Think about what’s not working:  is it that your items have no home, inconvenient storage, confusing system, “out of sight, out of mind” syndrome?
  • Think about what’s working:  no matter what the state of disorder there is always something that is working.  Just take a good look around.
  • Which items are most essential to make this room function smoothly and efficiently?  If this is your office having office supplies and files within arm’s reach are key.
  • Create your action plan:  what is your vision for an organized space?  How do you want this room to look?  Do you need a space for computing, scheduling appointments, writing, etc?

2.    Sort

  • Proceed to this stage only if you created your action plan otherwise it can be a disaster.
  • Go pile by pile, bit by bit.
  • Have a basket or bag for “items that belong here,” “items to donate” “items to throw away” and “items that belong elsewhere.”
  • If you are sorting papers, make piles and label each pile accordingly with a Post-it note [temporarily] until you create/place it in the appropriate file (more about labeling folders and categorizing in an upcoming post…stay tuned).
  • Bring items to their appropriate home about every 30 minutes.  You don’t want to be left with so many homeless items that it will take you hours to put them away.

3.    Purge

  • Be strict here and let go. 
  • The goal is to purge small amounts daily as they come into your home or office so you don’t have to do this big purge too often which can be mentally and physically exhausting.
  • Ask yourself the appropriate questions with each item:  when is the last time I used/needed this item?  Does this item represent something important?  If I didn’t have this item or piece of paper would it be a problem?  Do I have time to do anything with this?  Are there legal/tax reasons to keep this piece of paper or item?
  • A few things to remember and use as your mantra as your sift through your closet and files:  “When in doubt, throw it out,” I am not my stuff, and you can’t take it with you when you die. 
  • Watch Hoarders while you purge – it is very motivating! 

4.   Assigning your Items a Good Home

  • Whether it is the clothing in your closet, the files in your office, the soda in your fridge or the knitting materials in your craft closet the key is to be as lazy as possible when assigning items a home.
  • As you touch each item, think about how that item will be used in that space and where it will be used.  It may not be a bad idea to keep printer cartridges in your office close to your printer.
  • If you refer to certain files on a daily basis, keep with within arm’s reach of your desk.  If it is winter in Chicago keep your sweaters at eye level so you can grab and go.  If you drink soda three times a day keep it close to the front of your fridge.  You get the picture, right?

5.  Last and most fun stage:  Containerizing (term I learned from Julie Morgenstern)

  • Containerizing gives you the opportunity to add your own style and flavor
  • If you spend a lot of time looking at your files, choose file folders in your favorite color and label them (I recommend any of the Brother PTouch label makers).  Look how pretty these folders are (The Container Store): 
Pretty File Folders
  • I love these literature holders from The Container Store to store magazines or smaller publications on a bookshelf.

Literature Holders

  • If you are a Crafter this works great to organize all of your supplies and is small enough it can be kept in a closet (also from The Container Store):

    Scrapbook Cart

  • For those Fashionistas out there who appreciate perfectly organized drawers check out these drawer organizers (The Container Store):

    Drawer Organizer - fun pattern!

Now you have all the tools to get started and complete that organizing project.  It won’t be that bad, I promise.  You can do it!