Organize + Energize: 6 Things to do Before You Get Organized
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Kristin MacRae, GoLocalWorcester Organizing Expert
You’re overwhelmed, stressed, anxious and don’t know where to begin. Stop for a moment. Before you read the next 6 tips, I want you to do a brain dump. Grab a pen and paper and write down the projects you want to tackle. After you do that, I want you to write down the vision you have for each space. How do you see yourself functioning in that space? Get rid of all the mental clutter you’ve had about these projects and get it written on paper. Releasing the mental clutter and seeing your projects on paper is the first step to getting organized. It’s not just about getting organized. There’s so much more that goes into getting organized.
Here are 6 things to remember before you begin your project.
Focus and limit your distractions. You have to limit all of your distractions before you begin your project. You also have to be aware of what distracts you, and then you can limit them. Staying in the room you’re working in will keep you focused. Place a bin outside of the room you’re in and place anything there that needs to go to another room. Disburse the items in the bin once you’ve completed your project.
Break down your projects into small tasks. Your project is to tackle your entire office. You can’t go full steam ahead and start randomly tearing apart the entire office. Break your office into sections and tackle one category at a time. Tackle your desk, then the paper piles, and then the bookshelves. This will help you to stay focused on one category at a time. You won’t get overwhelmed if you focus on one area.
You have to empty the entire space. You won’t know what’s hiding in the back of the closet if you don’t empty everything out of the space. You can’t get a clear vision of a space until it’s empty. You want to be able to maximize your space and you can’t do that if you just shift items around.
Categorize and itemize. I’ve been in homes and offices where the same items are stored all over the place. How does one find anything? Do you realize the money you are wasting because you are probably buying duplicate items? Imagine the time you are wasting searching all over for these items.
Every item should have a home. This is how you create your systems. Every item in your home has a place to be stored. It’s not just stuffed into a closet or a desk drawer.
Maintain your systems by creating routines. You have your systems set up, now what? You have to maintain those systems or you will end up in the same mess. From those systems, create a daily routine. Just like brushing your teeth and putting your socks on, create a routine to maintain your organization. It’s as simple as taking something out and putting it back where it belongs. Habits will form from your routines and it will become an everyday way of life.
You may be saying, this is all great, but I just don’t have the eye for organizing. You are not alone. Many people never developed their organizational skill set. They may have grown up in a disorganized home where both parents were disorganized and they were never taught the skill set or they grew up in an organized home where their parents did everything for them. If you are stuck, enlist a professional to help you with your disorganization.
Kristin Carcieri-MacRae, is an organizing & efficiency expert and owner of Organizing in RI. Kristin teaches her clients that living an organized lifestyle will save them time and money, decrease their stress levels and help them become more efficient and productive. Her articles have been published in local and national magazines. She has also given over 70 presentations throughout the state. Watch Kristin LIVE every Thursday at 3pm here on GoLocal LIVE.
Paper in any form
This was the most challenging space! 91% of people surveyed stated paper was their biggest headache. Just because we are in this digital age, people think paper is going to disappear. As long as we have mail, and paper at work, kid’s school papers, etc., paper is going to be around for a very long time. We need to develop systems to organize and maintain our paper clutter.
To stay on top of an organized closet, you should be emptying your closet twice a year. Switch your closets in the spring and fall. This will force you to take inventory of the contents of the closet. You’ll never know what’s hiding in the back corners of your closet unless you take everything out.
When was the last time you emptied your entire food closet down to bare shelves? I asked this question at my last presentation and not one person could remember. Some said the last time their food pantry was empty was when they first moved in and others stated it had been years. Have garbage bags on hand. In every kitchen I organize, we throw out at least three garbage bags of expired food.
This is the black hole of the house. If an item doesn’t have a home, it usually gets thrown in the basement on a shelf. You’ll walk into the basement one day and wonder how did it get so bad? The first thing you need to do in the basement is declutter, then categorize items and then decide how you want to function going forward. Measure your space and choose shelving units that will fit what you need to hold. Block off 3 hours and don’t leave the basement during that time. Staying in the room will keep you focused.
The garage is an area similar to the basement. The garage tends to be a drop spot for outdoor items and usually there isn’t any organization. Most tend to regret not organizing the garage when they find they can’t park their cars in the garage in the winter months when it’s snowing. Put this project on your to-do list this fall.
Office at work
Most will say they don’t have time to tackle this area, but think about the time you are wasting by not being organized. The office can be challenging for some because you have paper, closet space, desk space and bookshelves. Most get overwhelmed and stressed just thinking about tackling this space. They think it’s easier to function this way than to actually tackle the project.
If your kids are over the age of 6, incorporate them in this process. If you don’t have the skill set to help them get organized, call in a professional to work one-on-one with them. If your kids are craving structure, it’s time for them to get organized.
Another one of those black holes like the basement. You rarely venture into the attic and you continue to toss items in there that don’t have a home. The garage, basement and attic are really challenging areas because you don’t spend much time in them. Think about how you want to function in these spaces. Streamline and maximize this space. This room should have a purpose.
When items are just thrown into this closet without being contained, chaos will ensue. Empty the entire closet, categorize, itemize and then measure the space. Purchase containers to match the space and what you have to hold. It’s all about maximizing space in this closet and being able to put your hand on something without moving five other items out of the way.
This is a tough project even for people who are organized. Memorabilia items and photos are a challenge because as you go through them, you tend to reminisce. Save this for the last project on your list of areas to organize. Once you begin, just focus on tossing and keeping and then reminisce when the decluttering process is completed.