You probably know you need to get organized but maybe you put it off because it can seem so overwhelming, especially when you see a pile like this one here. It's easy for things to get out of control. There's a reason that the job of "professional organizer" came into being. Some people are born to organize while others look at a pile of stuff and have no idea how to do it. Well if you're one of the people who wasn't born with the organizing gene, we have some tips to help you get started and then tomorrow we'll talk about staying organized.
Use the one by one method to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed. Concentrate on one room at a time and in that room focus on one space at a time. Don't hop from cabinet to cupboard to drawer to closet and back around again. Open a cupboard or drawer and address what is there until that one cupboard is complete then move on to the next spot. Once a room is done, move on to the next room.
When you're organizing sort things into piles. You should have a box for trash, donate, relocate, gift, and wait. The relocate box is for items that should be moved to a more appropriate room or storage area. The gift box is for items that you don't want to keep but are special enough to give them to someone specific. The wait box is for items that you think you want but you haven't used them in awhile. Put these items in a box, close it up and put an expiration date on the side for one year from now. If after a year you haven't needed, used or thought about any of the items in that box, then donate it.
Set rules for yourself on what you're going to keep and what you're discarding. For instance you could decide not to keep clothing that is stained or worn out or doesn't fit. You might decide that you are going to get rid of all spices that are more than a year old. Decide on the parameters you want to use and then stick to them.
Don't run out and buy storage containers before you start organizing because they'll only add to your clutter when they aren't the right size or shape. Plus they'll encourage you to keep and store more stuff than you should. Your primary goal should be to get rid of the clutter first then if you need special storage containers you'll have a better idea of what kind and how many. You'll probably find that you have adequate storage already and don't really need to buy any containers, which saves you money!
Don't waste time selling your items at a garage sale or on eBay. It's more work and will just delay your organizing project. Donate your items to a charity and get a receipt then use it as a tax write off. You probably aren't going to get much for them if you sell them anyway so put your effort to better use.
Do you have things stored in your attic or basement or even a storage unit that you're holding onto for sentimental reasons? If those things were really important to you then you'd have them on display. These are things that belong in the gift or donate pile. If they've been ruined by moisture, mold or insects then they should be discarded.
Tackle your paper pile last. We end up having so much paper in our homes from magazine and newspapers to receipts and bills. Sort through all of that paper can be a daunting task in itself. If you save it for last though, you'll feel better already having the rest of your organizing done and you'll be better prepared to create a system for organizing the paper you really need to keep. Some tips on dealing with paper:
- You don't need to keep every receipt you've ever gotten. Keep receipts for important purchases or anything that is tax deductible and get rid of the rest. Online services like Evernote let you take a photo of a receipt their smartphone app and it's automatically uploaded to your own private cloud storage. You could also scan them and keep them on your own computer storage.
- Decrease the size of your magazine pile by tearing out the articles you want to keep and putting them in a notebook or binder. Recycle the rest of the magazines.
- It's not so important to keep bank statements or monthly bills anymore since they are all available online and printable 24/7 whenever you need them. Most companies will also be happy to send you reprints if absolute need them for some reason.
- Keep important tax documents together by putting all documents for a filing year together in a large envelope and put them in a lidded plastic container in an area that is cool and dry. You may never need to look at them again but it's better to be safe than sorry if you ever get audited. You can also get shred tax documents that are more than seven years old.
These should help you get started and you'll be surprised at how fast it will go. Tomorrow we'll talk about storage solutions and other tips to help you stay organized. Thanks for visiting our blog today!