I realize the Internet does not need one more post telling you how to organize your life. However, anyone who knows me will tell you–if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s organizing. Numbers make me cry. Going inside Chik Fil A instead of the drive thru is my idea of exercise. But organization is my thing.
Over the course of my young life I have run across many people who would love to get organized, but don’t really know where to start. I recently had an organizing adventure that was overwhelming for even me and I thought it might make for a good blog post. This was our church’s children’s ministry supply closet when I got to it:
This was the closet when I got done with it:
Here are five fool-proof tips for tackling even the scariest organizing project:
- Start Somewhere: Often what keeps people from organizing is the overwhelming nature of the task. Hear me, friends: YOU CAN DO IT! The key is to just start. It’s easier to shut the door (or drawer) and turn a blind eye to the clutter, but you will never get the most out of your space or stuff that way. Set aside a Saturday, turn up some music, order a pizza, and get to work! Try to think of it as less of a chore and more of an accomplishment. Start out with piles: Keep, trash, and donate. If you’re indecisive about an item, put it in the keep pile at first. They most important part of this step is to not lose your stamina. In the process of decluttering you often have to make a bigger mess before you start seeing results. Don’t let that discourage you! Even if you can’t do it all in one day, keep chipping away and soon you’ll see the light!
- Stop Hoarding: This is the tough one. No one (except me) likes getting rid of stuff. However, I can promise you, as a life-long clutter cleaner, I have NEVER regretted getting rid of something. Even if I felt a little twinge of separation anxiety, I have never truly wanted something back. It’s liberating and stress-relieving to be able to give things away. Think of it less as getting rid of your items and more as giving them a new life with someone else who will really enjoy them. For those of us who are sentimental, really ask yourself why you’re keeping the item. I have a box where I keep cards and letters. When the box starts getting full to overflowing, I toss a few of the least special ones. It’s one thing to have a box of mementos. It’s another thing to keep every article of paper that’s ever been significant to you. Remember you still have the memories without the stuff.
- Think Economically: The most important principles of organizing are economy of space and economy of motion. That means using your space to its fullest potential and using your energy most efficiently. You can’t have more stuff than you have space. It also means that you should store things realistically, according to how often you use them. If you have to stand on your tip-toes to reach your top pantry shelf yet have cabinets full of barely-used kitchenware, do some swapping around. Store the little-used items on the top shelf where you’ll only need to get them down occasionally and store the stuff you do use in the easily accessible cabinets. It’s OK to break the rules as long as you’re doing what works for you and your household. This is the hardest part of organizing to “teach.” If this skill doesn’t come naturally to you, consider enlisting the help of a friend or looking up ideas online.
- Own Your Stuff: Remember, you own your stuff. Your stuff does not own you. What is the point of having a spare bedroom if you can’t even use it because it’s the “junk room?” Why should your stuff dictate your life that way? You would be amazed the relief that comes with tackling this area of your life. Often we don’t even realize the burden it causes to be living surrounded by clutter. For me, organizing is therapeutic.
- It Doesn’t Have to be Pretty: Listen, we’ve all seen the Pinterest pages full of beautiful, pristine organization tactics. If your organization is part of a display or serves as home decor, that’s one thing. But what’s the point of having a perfect pantry if you’re too afraid to mess it up to actually use it? Remember that life is messy. Dollar Tree has bins and baskets that will hold stuff just as well as the fancy ones at home goods stores. Your drawer might not look like it belongs on a fashion blog when you open it, but if things are in their place, what does it matter? Believe me, I’m preaching to myself here. Functionality is more important than fashion. Sometimes the two merge and it’s like seeing a unicorn. But don’t fret if you get your bathroom cabinet all cleaned out and neatly arranged and it looks like…well, a bathroom cabinet. Razor blades and feminine products ain’t chic, ya’ll, but that’s what I need my bathroom cabinet to hold. Remind me I said that if you catch me in the TJ Maxx decorative storage aisle. :)
What are your best organization tips? It’s shaping up to be a rainy weekend here in Lexington so it might be just the time to tackle that project you’ve been putting off. Happy Friday!