How to organize just about anything
Updated: Feb 15
It’s been a few (ahem..) months since I’ve written an official organizing post, so duty calls…
Well, actually.. passion calls. I am a passionate person, especially about my “pet” topics.
Organizing is one of those things that waxes and wanes but never fully leaves me. It’s been about 17 years since I’ve had organizing as one of my hobbies/ passions/ obsessions/ addictions (?)..
And I would like to simplify the organizing process down to a few simple rules.
So, without further ado,
How to organize.. anything. 1) Look around at the space that is containing the clutter. Most people look at the stuff that is cluttering up the space, rather than looking at the space. It’s not the stuff that is the problem, is it? In an ideal world, you could have a special box, shelf, compartment, or armoire for every. cotton. pickin. little. thing.
But you don’t. You just don’t.
So, you have to make choices because there is a limited amount of space. So ask yourself, what is it that I want this space to be used for?
STORY (true story, actually) I walked down into my “dungeon” i.e. perfectly chaotic holding tank storage facility for everything from moldly old boots to pristine Christmas decor and decided that I no longer wanted that space to be a “holding tank” for the entire world. And you know what I said?
There needs be a sauna down here. Final word. I NEED a sauna, not a bunch of junk. But guess what? that meant I had to get rid of 2/3 of what I was collecting and really organize what is left.
So, I got the organizing part of that project done, but I haven’t started the sauna project yet.
After you have decided what you want the space to be and loosely what you would like it to look like, the next thing you need to do is….
2) Figure out what is keeping you from making that space what you want it to be.
The most obvious thing you will see is a lot of stuff that has nothing to do with your end-goal. And when you pick up an item and are deciding whether or not you want to allocate the space (and energy) to keep it, ask yourself this question: If this is not the space where I am going to keep this, where is the space? In other words, if you are not willing to give up precious space to house that item, then do you really value it enough to keep it?
I would venture to guess that there are truckloads of things in your house that you really don’t love enough to keep but are too sentimental to actually get rid of. These are psychological quandaries that only you and your therapist have the true answers for, but I do have some ideas that may get you started on your road to emotional freedom from your stuff.
3) Deal with the in-between/ emotional attachment items. When sorting through stuff, there are two types of things that are super-easy to deal with: absolute trash and absolute treasure. You either love it or hate it. Duh. Throw out the trash and containerize/ save the treasure. What is really the stickler is the in-between stuff.
Thoughts like this roll through your mind:
I feel like I should keep it.
Someone special gave it to me, and if they found out, I’d be in trouble.
What do I do with this stuff???
Here’s what I do:
1) Take a picture of it. Put the item in a bag and hide it for a year. Get it far away and label it as “get rid of” but don’t actually get rid of it. See if you can live with the picture of it, instead of the item. I have a “holding tank” of items ready to go that are not actually out the door yet.
2) Realize that the person who gave you this gift never meant to put you in a lifetime of emotional bondage over the item. Some gifts are just for the moment– to enjoy right then and there. Make it a point to “live in the moment” and you’ll see what I mean. Life goes on. We can only take the word of God and the souls of men into heaven. Everything else burns. everything.
3) It’s O.K. to save things. Just make sure those things are special to you and not someone else’s guilt trip on you to keep them.
4) Organize what is truly of value to you in a way that is smart, efficient, clean and attractive.
Once you get rid of everything that you don’t want or need, the rest of this procedure is a cake-walk. In general, keep these things in mind.
The stuff that is used the most frequently needs to be at eye and hand level. In other words, no moving stuff around or using a step-stool for frequently used items. The less frequently moved items require a bend or a hop. And the least frequently used items require a few steps or a shuffle around.
I should call that a do-si-do.. the organizing dance.
And styling and couture are all up to you. And labels make life a lot easier. just sayin.