Start to Organize: Advice from Sally

Have you ever gone to the store to buy something – cinnamon for instance – only to come back and find you already have four in your cupboard? How about making a list of things to organize and adding a few extra items just so you can have the satisfaction of crossing them off the list?

At some point we come to the realization that we need to get going on projects – take a fresh look at things, weed out the old, eliminate clutter and give ourselves space to breath. Many might argue that they have no problem with having a lot of “stuff” around. It makes us feel cozy.

Organizing is not a “one size fits all” proposition. It becomes a matter of personal taste. Whether it is your kitchen, your office or your e-mails, organizing has to be done in a way that makes sense to you. No one else can dictate how it HAS to be done. If they do, and it does not make sense to you it will not last. You will find yourself back to the same situation and circumstances as they were when you started.

Organizing is a Process. It tends to happens over a period of time. You need to think about the end result – what is your goal? The goal can change once you begin, and often does. Don’t be afraid to change as you move forward in your project.

The hardest part is to just get started. Because of this, it may prove easier to do it with someone. Remember, not everything has to be perfect – you just have to get it done.

But be realistic. Most people cannot organize their entire kitchen in a day. Give yourself time, and follow these three steps to start the process:

1. Get rid of the clutter. Clutter includes anything that you are not using or that you do not want. As soon as you have identified the things that can leave your life get them out of the house…The spaces that are opened up will make you feel like you are on the road to success.

2. Put aside things that you absolutely cannot get live without. Things like the red shoes you traipsed through Paris wearing, the children’s blocks that your father made, etc. Use colored stickers to identify each as you are going through the area you are working on. Plan for these items to go in the back of the closet, in the attic or in storage. These are things that you want to keep but you will not likely need access to. However, they do take up space. Get small boxes – these are easy to carry – and label them with the contents, then put them out of sight.

3. Give away what you can. The third and last step is the most difficult one. These are the things that are hard to make decisions about. If you find yourself waffling about keeping an item, put it aside and move on. Better yet, have some larger boxes and put them in plain sight so you can walk by them every day and see what is in them. You will eventually come back and be able to cope with the harder decisions. It may be one thing at a time and that particular item may go into the “I cannot live without it” group or be sent to a new home in the “I really don’t need to keep this anymore group.” With time, it gets easier to decide what to do.

Keep in mind that you will probably not think about the items you send to a new home once they are gone. Think of how much joy your treasures are going to bring to someone else.

Coming up: Part 2. I am ready to get rid of stuff. Where should I take it?