Organizing has become the next big thing in the design and home improvement world. When I am asked what I do for a living, everyone loves the professional artist part but then are so intrigued by me also being a professional organizer (there are not many organized artists it seems). The discussion inevitably leads to that one big question, after I explain what a professional organizer does: where do you even begin! Getting organized is overwhelming to most people - believe me, I even get overwhelmed at times! Perfect time then to write a blog on the basics of organizing, especially as the summer is coming to an end!
The Basics of Organizing - 5 Tips:
1. SURRENDER: Every single home, office and space I assess before a project usually begins with the client profusely apologizing for the 'mess' or current state of their homes. I always tell them - no apologies needed - I am here to help, not judge! With the rapid pace of our daily lives and the large amount of stuff we Americans seem to accumulate - it is okay to admit that you need to get organized! Nobody is perfect and everyone, including me, needs organization! If you are facing major time constraints then hiring a professional organizer might be the best bet for you. Or if you are the DIY type, time to roll up your sleeves and get to work!
2. MAKE A LIST AND SET GOALS: Grab a pen and paper and take a few minutes to write down the areas of your home and/or the categories that are driving you crazy. Example: kids' closets, his and hers closet, laundry and mud rooms, pantry, kids' toys, winter clothes, home office, kitchen cabinets and drawers, etc. List these spaces in order of priority so that you focus on just that one space or category so that you won't get overwhelmed. Most people want to just tackle their whole home and life - do not try this at home! You will get overwhelmed and give up in the process. As you get each area cleaned and organized, you will feel a tremendous relief and want to keep going! Remember, organizing does take time and money (if you need to buy organization products) but the end result always saves you time and money! You won't waste time in your day looking for things, over spending on things you already have (like clothing, batteries and groceries!), etc. After you have made that list, write down a simple goal to achieve for each. Example: I want to be able to see and find everything in my closet.
3. PURGE: the most important part to getting organized! Once you have chosen the highest priority space or category that you want to tackle, it's time to purge and clean out. This part is SO much fun for me (but most of my clients don't necessarily agree!). The biggest problem I see in people's homes and offices is really just this simple - too much stuff. Too many clothes, too many toys, too many office supplies, magazines and paper everywhere, etc. It is so important to clean out and purge the area because it is always easier (and important) to organize the area with less clutter. Example: you chose your home office to organize. Take a look at the space before you begin ripping out - what do you see too much of? Do you have tons of books you have never read? Do you have bundles and bundles of paper that you will never use to print? Multiple staplers, boxes and boxes of pens and stacks of unopened mail, bills, magazines, etc.? Once you have assessed the situation, grab some trash bags and start the process - trash/recycle, keep, donate. Go through your office and purge by category, such as books, and make quick decisions. Remember - the key is to not get overwhelmed! If you are having a tough time let's say getting rid of books, remember that there are a bunch of needy schools and libraries that would give them a fantastic home! You could tackle the space in a weekend or just set some time aside each day or week to purge. Progress not perfection!
4. ORGANIZATION PRODUCTS: Once you have purged the space, buy organization products to help you in the process. You may already have some in your house that are not being used: clear plastic bins, baskets, etc. Pottery Barn, Target, the Container Store, Amazon Prime, etc. now have a whole division dedicated to home organization and storage. Example: good products to buy for your home office would be drawer organizers for your small office supplies, file folders, wall mounted file holders, nice organizers on top of your desk for your pens, paper clips, etc. Remember - organizing does take time and money but as Ben Franklin said: "Time is money."
5. GET ORGANIZED: This is my favorite part of the project (of course!) and is when the magic happens. Use your organization products to help you and methodically put everything back in the space. Designate a home for everything! Example: if you have drawers in your home office, use them to organize the clutter that accumulates on top of your desk. If you always have a mess of paper stacked on your desk and you have a filing drawer, create files for categories such as bills, kids' activities, investments, etc. And place them in your filing drawer (alphabetically if you want to stay really organized). Try to put these papers directly in that filing system as soon as you have used them instead of piling on your desk. Once you have organized the space, you should feel a tremendous relief and less stressed! Most of my clients say that getting organized is addicting! The benefits help their daily routine tremendously. Now hopefully you will want to cross that space off your priority list and keep going!
I hope this blog has been helpful and has gotten you inspired to get organized! And of course Art & Order can help you with any of these phases in the organizing process or the whole project. Always here to help! Happy organizing!