How To Organize

Monday, October 22, 2012 by grace

Organizing seems so simple and logical. At least in principle. But it remains that most of us have a huge struggle with getting and staying organized. There are so many factors that contribute to disorganization – not enough time, not enough energy, physical disability, depression and other emotional barriers.

So Overwhelmed

Most of my clients are just so overwhelmed that they don’t know where to start. It’s very difficult to focus on any one thing when the whole project feels like a crushing weight, and it’s practically impossible to muster enough objectivity about what to keep, what not to keep, and what to do with anything.

Break It Down For Me

When you think about how to organize — remember there are only four types of resources you’ll need to consider:

  • Stuff – physical items
  • Data (paper or digital)
  • Time
  • Space

No matter what you are organizing, there are three basic steps:

  1. Sort into types or categories of stuff
  2. Purge what you don’t like, don’t want, don’t use, or don’t need
  3. Arrange what’s remaining so that it’s easy to access, pleasing to look at, and arranged to suit your personal priorities.

Fit Your Stuff to Your Space

A common principle is that you should reduce the amount of stuff you have to match the amount of space you have. Or following the same logic you may want to increase your available space to match the amount of stuff you have.

Where Should I Put Everything?

When all is said and done, you should be able to quickly, safely, and efficiently access everything. For example, you may have boxes of Christmas decorations which of course you only need once per year. Common sense would suggest that you store them in more remote locations such as the garage or on higher closet shelves because you don’t need to access these boxes on a regular basis. It may seem strange to think otherwise but I’ve often seen seldom used items in high traffic areas like hall closets while regularly used cleaning equipment and supplies are stored under the stairwell in a basement.

You should make these decisions based on what the space is being used for. If the space is your home office, remove clothing and shoes, kids toys, sports equipment, and anything else that is unrelated to home office activities. Following the same process you’d then relocate office related furniture and supplies from elsewhere in your home to your office. Along the way you will undoubtedly come across things that you can throw out immediately. Other things with sufficient value you’ll want to donate. You may even come across things you’ve borrowed and you can return them to further reduce clutter.

Please Don’t Should On Me

Then there are the “shoulds”. “I should keep this doll because it belonged to my grandmother – I don’t really like it, but I feel guilty about the thought of getting rid of it.” “I should keep every bit of artwork my children ever made.” “I should keep that dining set because it was expensive.” “I should keep the clothing that doesn’t fit because some day I’m going to lose that extra weight.” “Should” is a very heavy word and it will continue to control your life if you don’t take charge and make decisions based on freedom instead of guilt.

What would happen if you let go of the things that are “should-ing” all over you, insisting that you are a bad person for even thinking you’d get rid of things that don’t serve you, bring you joy, or make your life easier? On the other hand it is OK to keep all your children’s artwork as long as you’re not holding onto it all because of some misplaced sense of guilt or obligation. One way you can avoid keeping it until you die is to give it to them when they move out. Of course, the kids may just roll their eyes, poke fun at you for holding on to stuff that they have long since dismissed as part of their past, and promptly toss it all into the nearest  waste can. Knowing that your kids won’t be hurt if you throw out these kinds of things can be very freeing and can allow you to make decisions without being influenced by guilt.

How To Organize – Simple but Maybe Not So Easy

The basics of how to organize are simple, but don’t be fooled –  ‘simple’ and ‘easy’ are not necessarily the same thing. If you become overwhelmed by just thinking about how to organize your home office, how to organize your garage, how to organize your craft room , how to organize your finances, how to organize your time, or anything else  — and you simply don’t know where to begin, you are not alone. There is help available! My name is Grace –  give me a call at 1-86-ORGANIZE (1-866-742-6493) and I’ll guide down the road from Overwhelmed to Organized.