10 Organizing Fundamentals
Want to set yourself up for organizing success? It doesn’t matter what you are organizing or whether the project is big or small, the following 10 fundamentals will apply to every organizing task you undertake. Follow them and you will be well on your way to reaching your organizing goals.
1) Have a specific, concrete goal.
It’s easy to get distracted or overwhelmed when organizing. The goal is to make your space less cluttered and more organized, but usually the mess gets bigger before it gets better. And that can be very discouraging and cause you to lose motivation. If you have a specific goal in mind before you begin, you can use it to keep focused and motivated when you are in the thick of it. But to work, the goal can’t be “I want to get more organized”. It needs to be clear and tied to a specific outcome. For example, if you’re organizing your closet, maybe the goal is to make getting ready easier and faster so your mornings are less rushed and stressful.
2) Start with a small project.
The thought of organizing an entire room or house can be overwhelming. But as with any large project, the key is to break it down into manageable tasks. When organizing, start with a small project like a single drawer that you use every day (cutlery, bathroom, desk etc.). You get the quick satisfaction of finishing and a daily reminder of how an organized space makes your life easier, which both serve as motivation to take on larger projects.
3) Schedule a specific time to organize.
I don’t know about you, but I honestly can’t remember the last time I had “spare time”, there is always something that needs to be done. The reality is “spare time” doesn’t really exist and planning to organize in your “spare time” is not really planning for it at all. But if you specifically set time aside for organizing, just like you would for a get together with friends or a work project, you greatly increase your chances of actually doing it.
4) Begin by pulling EVERYTHING out.
Just shuffling things around in the space and removing one or two items isn’t helpful. When you actually pull everything out you can really see how much you have (and usually rediscover things you forgot you had).
5) Put similar items together.
For example, all hair products together, all makeup brushes together, all face creams together. Keeping similar items together allows you to see how much of any one type of item you have and saves you from having to search in multiple areas when looking for an item when you need it.
Purge duplicates items, items that are broken, items not in wearable or usable condition, items that are rarely used, not needed any longer or that simply need to be relocated. But remember, you aren’t actually relocating the items at this time, you are just sorting and setting them aside. You want to stay focused on completing the space you are working on. Once you are done working on it (for the day or because the project is completed), then deal with the items that need new homes. Click here for free sorting signs and here for a list of questions to ask yourself if you are having trouble letting items go.
7) Assign a “home” to everything.
Knowing where an item’s “home” is means you will always be able to find it when you need it and know where to return it to when done. If something doesn’t have a home, it just becomes clutter.
8) Use containers to corral similar items together.
They don’t have to be pretty (although it is fun when they are), they just have to be functional. Containers ensure similar items stay together and make for easy retrieval. They also provide an easy visual cue of how much of an item you have: when your container is close to empty, it is time to get more, when it is full, you don’t need more.
9) Use labels!
Labels ensure everyone using a space and the things in it can easily locate items. Just as importantly, they ensure everyone knows where to return items to when finished with them. If you have young children who aren’t yet reading, labels with pictures are a great alternative.
10) Take 10 minutes at the end of each day to tidy items not in their assigned homes.
You will be so happy you did this when you wake up in the morning to a tidy space; it just starts the day off on the right foot. Even if you just corral all items into a basket to properly deal with the next day, at least the space is tidy and you only have one basket to carry around to put things away the next day.
And there you have it, 10 organizing fundamentals you can apply to every organizing task: paper, clothes, dishes, pantry, toys and everything in between. For a one-page printable summary of these fundamentals click here. I’d love to hear if any of these fundamentals surprised you or whether there is one you think will really help with your next organizing project? Let me know in the comments below.