Often I hear people say they are not naturally organised and they sound like they have resolved to just accept a chaotic house and life. Personally, I am naturally organised as my brain is just so insanely logical- and I combine that with an extraordinary passion for stationary and organising supplies that started in primary school. The good news is you can really learn to be more organised even if it is not your natural state. I have seen it time and again in organising books and blogs where the well- known writer shares they were not always organised. In an interview I did with Nicole Avery from Planning with Kids she also stressed this fact in her own story as she has “grown into” being organised. I want to share with you some basic premises that will get you on the road to being organised.
Do not organise your clutter
This is one of the big mistakes people make when they get fired up to “finally get organised”. They start following advice and tackle room by room – putting things in bins, straightening up tables etc. Before a single thing is tidied away or labelled you need to get rid of what you don’t need or no longer love or use.
Why spend three hours organising a closet and putting back on the shelf items that have been sitting in there, buried and unused, for two years? Sort through your stuff first and see what can go – recycle, donate to charity or freecycle type places, give to friends you know would love them, or sell to make some much-needed cash. This also lets you see what you truly need in terms of supplies and space. You might think you don’t have enough storage space, but really you just have too much unneeded stuff.
Find a system that works for you
This is the longer version of my “find your simple” philosophy. Often people who most desperately need guidance and encouragement to get organised are the ones to latch onto cookie cutter advice. You find a site or book telling you step by step how to get your house and life “in order” and then apply like a prescription. Two weeks or two months later you are back where you started. It is similar to detox and restrictive diets where you follow it for 12 weeks, lose the weight, stop, resume regular life and regain it all. Without the constant instruction you cannot sustain it because you have not learned how to think about it for yourself.
I can tell you how to declutter your wardrobe or how to declutter, sort and organise a closet, but how you actually organise things has to come from you after some reflection on your preferences, what resources you have, the spaces unique to your home, etc.
Group “like with like”
This applies whether it is how you sort your clothes in your closet (put all jeans together, short sleeve tops, long sleeve etc) or any other space in your home. The only way you will know what you own and make use of it is if you can see at a glance what you have in any given category of items. This is the way to avoid duplicates (or more) of things you don’t need multiples of. How many of you declutter only to find you actually own 7 pairs of scissors or 25 different tea lights and other candles when just the other day you were sure you had none?
Everything has a home
Following on from keeping things in groups, the biggest way to have an organised home is to assign places for these things to live. If you have a designated spot to store candles you will know when you need to replenish your supply and anyone in your house will be able to find them at a moment’s notice (like when the power suddenly goes out).
Look around your home and see what is always lying around in your “clutter hot spots” and you will find the things in your house that most likely have not been assigned a home. Your hot spots tell you what needs work and a system or storage spot created!
Keep it as simple as possible
While still being organised try to keep it simple. It is often overly complicated systems or inaccessible storage spots that are to blame for lack of follow through. If you need to get a ladder and move two other boxes just to put away something you are more likely to just leave it somewhere – possibly right near the storage spot just taunting you to put it away. If your system is complicated you will leave actioning items until the last possible minute because mentally you are already thinking it is “too hard” and you need to clear a big block of time for the task.
As an example of this I was a classic non-filer. Firstly my husband likes to hang on to paper longer than I think necessary. Second – we were using a binder filing system for years. We had different binders for different groups of bills and paperwork that we were keeping. I had to get out the right binder, possibly punch holes in the papers, put them in the binder and then put it away multiplied by however many things needed my attention. Instead I let the papers pile up in our in-tray and handled them altogether every 3-6 months.
One day I decided to rethink the system my husband had created since I was the one actually doing the filing. I found an accordion file carrier not in use in the house. I labelled the sections according to our needs and made it a drop in filing system with the current page in the front of the section.. It is portable, takes up little room and I have not been behind in filing for the last six months. Simple and easy and I know it will take me less than a minute to do the current batch of filing.
So what are you waiting for? What has been holding you up so far?
If it is sentimental clutter read my tips for dealing with that difficult decluttering.
Find your simple,
Image credits – Entryway shows several simple ideas
IKEA bookcase turned into bench seat
also linking up with