I spoke at a workshop for women over the weekend. Knowing that most of the audience had probably never worked with a Professional Organizer, let alone hear one speak directly to them, I figured I would just give them some simple information.I take a personal approach when it comes to organizing. Not every solution fits every person, but there are some basics that I suggest to almost everyone.
- First, start with your goals – what are they? And I don’t just mean for organizing. What do you want to accomplish that you feel like you’ve been held back from achieving? Work on that list.
- Second, make a list of your priorities. Take the goal list, or other things you know really need to get done. Put them in order from most important to least important.
Once that’s completed, you (should) have a good sense of what you want to achieve overall. At that point, you can probably get started on your project with a clearer head. For example – if you really need to get your dishwasher fixed – maybe you should clear the clutter in your kitchen. If you are looking for a new job in a different field and it might require a different wardrobe, maybe you should do some purging in your closet and dresser. Clothing might be a good place to start if you have lost or gained a significant amount of weight.
The stages are basic.
- Sort – start sorting things into like groups. Remove everything from the area that doesn’t belong there – take the dishes out of the office, or the kids toys out of the dining room.
- Purge – get rid of things you no longer need to keep. Make various piles – trash, sell, donate, give back to original owner, keep – whatever is applicable to your situation. For example, I had a client who knew she’d never have a yard sale or put things on eBay, so our piles were trash, donate, original owner, and keep. It was good that she knew herself well enough to know that that “sell” pile would have remained just that – a pile. She would have continued holding on to items she already decided she didn’t want.
- Assess/Plan -once you see what you have left, what you are working with, you can start to put a plan into action. How much paper do you have? One banker box is practically equivalent to one file cabinet drawer. How much filing space will you need? Did you get rid of a ton of clothes? Maybe you don’t need the closet installation now. Or maybe you can downsize from the humongous dresser that is overwhelming your bedroom. Plan out the best layout for the room you are working on and how you can maximize your space.
- Organize! Now is when you put your plan into action. If you’ve gone through the steps I’ve outlined, this part is pretty easy – the hard work is over! You’ve already decided where to store your shoes, how to set up your filing system, and how to store the tools in your garage.
Remember, your organizing project is only as difficult as you make it. If you find that you can’t accomplish the project yourself, consider asking a trusted friend or family together (but make sure they aren’t the kind who will pressure you into throwing things out when you really aren’t ready OR if they talk you into keeping everything). If the friends and family option doesn’t work for you – consider hiring a Professional Organizer to help you out.