My husband has the gift of a beautiful solo voice. Yes, he has spent many years working to refine his singing, but without his natural gift, he would not be able to bring joy to others the way he does. I will not in my lifetime have the gift of being a soloist. With organizing, you don’t have to be gifted, you can learn it. However, you do need basic tools. Toward that end, I would like to share with you my favorite basic tips.
1. Choose the size project that you can actually finish. If you try to tackle too large of a project at one time, you will create a larger mess than you had when you started. Aim for working on a small area that you can complete in an afternoon, such as the dining room table, your spare room closet or even just a junk drawer.
2. Eliminate the excess. One of the keys to revamping your space is to reduce the volume of items you have to maintain. The less you have, the easier it is to find things and to keep them neat and clean. Here are some tips for deciding what to get rid of:
- Broken (are you really going to get it fixed?)
- Unusable (frayed extension cords, worn out shoes)
- Outdated (such as electronics, textbooks or clothing)
- Does not fit in with your life right now
- You haven’t used it in a year or more
- You have more than you need of an item (vases, coffee mugs, frames, books)
3. What Not To Keep. I give you official permission to get rid of all of these: a) guilt keepers, such as grandma’s furniture (if it’s not your style) or clothing that “should” fit, b) just-in-case items, or c) you have spent good money on it, but never used it.
4. Store items where you use them. This means that you want to make it easy on yourself. Don’t store something in a place just because it fits; put it where you use it. For example, if you have a collection of movie DVDs, store them near the television, not in an upstairs closet. Otherwise, it is too hard to put them away and they will collect on the coffee table.
5. Set yourself up for success. Think of your natural habits and create a system around them. If you walk in the front door with mail in your hand and dump it on the table in the entryway, how about placing a decorative basket there? Then, schedule a time to sort through the papers every day or two.
6. Maximize your storage. There are many places where you can find volumes of space that are empty. Here are some of my favorites to get your started: go up the wall, look under the bed, under a table, inside a closet (under your short-hanging clothes). Look around your home and see where you can “find” hidden storage.
7. Label your bins, especially opaque ones. If you know where something belongs without having to dig through your bins, it’s quick and easy to put something away. Clear bins make it easy to see what’s inside, but they aren’t as attractive if they are within view. Decorative baskets or boxes can coordinate with your décor, but you can’t see inside, so label them. Both types are useful.
8. Have a specific place for everything you own. If you don’t have a specific place to store something, it will either get in your way, or you will never be able to find it when you need it.
9. Put things away when you’re finished using them. This is a habit that takes practice. Think of it this way. If you have set yourself up for success (see #5), then putting something away just as you’re finished is the same amount of effort and tossing it on the couch. If you’re thoughtful about where you put something, you can change your surroundings.
There you have it, my favorite tips. Do you have a favorite organizing hint you’d like to share? Or, perhaps you have a dilemma that you would like me to address in a future newsletter. Send me an email; I would love to hear from you.