Given that I’m stuck at home for 6 weeks post-surgery, I thought this would be a great time to start on my blog series on ‘Getting Organized at Home’.
This is such a big topic and I could go on and on about it forever – (yes, I’m a nerd) – so that’s why I’m breaking it down into several parts.
Today, I’m focusing on ‘where do I start?’
My whole philosophy regarding getting organized is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Never. Everyone is an individual. We all have different needs, different priorities, different requirements, beliefs etc.
That being said, there are definitely some generalized steps that everyone can take so as they start ‘getting to the bottom’ of their own individual needs, priorities, requirements and beliefs.
Here is my 15 step process to start getting you organized at home.
1. Identify reasons for the disorganization. Do you have issues with physical clutter? Life’s clutter? Emotional clutter? Mental and time management clutter? If you’re unsure – go and take my Organization Personality type quiz – it’s FREE and a great place to get started in identifying where your issues lie.
If you’ve got issues with Physical Clutter, then these next 14 steps will definitely help you get organized at home!
2. Identify your goals for each and every room. What is the goal for your living room? Perhaps your goal is for it to be a relaxing haven in which you can read, knit, watch tv, listen to music and take a nap. What’s the goal for your bedroom? Perhaps it’s that it feel like a resort, a sanctuary. What’s the goal for your home office? Perhaps it’s that it’s a place where you want to feel like you can breathe, be productive, achieve your goals, run your life?
For every room you feel like there’s clutter, identify the goals for that room. Document these. Keep them handy.
3. Use my CRAVE formula to decide what to do with each and every item in the room. Every organization specialist has their own ‘formula’ for getting things organized. I love how the acronym for mine is CRAVE because you’re craving a better life, a better space, a better schedule.
At a high level – here’s what we’re doing with CRAVE. We’re categorizing things, deciding what to keep and what to toss, working out where to put everything, working out how we’re going to store it, and constantly re-evaluating our efforts. Here we go!
4. C = Categorize. Put all items into categories. For example, if you’re working on your bedroom, put all tshirts together, all pants together, all jewellery together, all linen together etc, etc. You get the picture.
5. R = Rubbish, recycle, regift, resell. Go through every items in each of the categories you’ve made. For each item, decide if it fits with the goals you identified in #2 above. If it fits with the goals for that room, keep it. If it does not fit with the goals for the room, decide what to do with it by using one of the ‘R’ words below.
- Rubbish. Throw it into the garbage. Do you really need that pamphlet for the Paris Hyatt hotel? Have you ever been to Paris? Are you planning on going? What good is that pamphlet doing you? If you decide to go there – look at their website – you’ll find everything you need! If you do go – and you then REALLY need a pamphlet to keep in your travel wallet – grab one when you get there! Ask them to send you one if you MUST have it before you leave! But until then – what good is this piece of paper really doing you?
- Recycle. Give it to charity. There are many needy people in the world who could get great value from items that no longer serve you and your goals.
- Regift. Is this something you could give to a loved one? Note that I’m not talking about dumping your rubbish onto other people, I’m talking about giving it to someone who’d genuinely want it.
- Resell. Is this something that you think someone else would buy? Put it on ebay or have a garage sale!
6. A = ‘Assign’ items a home. For everything you’ve decided to keep, you need a ‘home’ for it. You should not have ANYTHING in your house that doesn’t have a designated home. Sometimes clutter piles up because you don’t put things away into their designated home. Other times, clutter piles up because you simply haven’t given it a place to ‘live’. If it’s got nowhere to live, of course it’s going to sit around in annoying piles! Find a place for it to live, or else go back to ‘R’ at step #5!
7. V = ‘Vessels’. I LOVE baskets, containers, labels, draw dividers, shoe holders etc. The problem a lot of people make is that when they decide ‘they want to get organized’, they go out and buy a bunch of vessels without going through the initial steps I’ve detailed above. This is a recipe for disaster. You need to go through these steps in the order identified so that when you go out and buy your vessels, you’ve already categorized everything. You’ve already decided what to keep and what to get rid of. You’ve already decided where everything is going to be located. NOW you can go out and have fun getting your vessels sorted out. This need not cost money if you don’t have it, either. Be crafty! Be creative! Don’t go against your natural tendencies – go WITH them.
8. E = ‘Evaluate’. Constantly re-assess what you’re doing with each item. Is this CRAVE process working for you? Are you keeping it up on a daily basis? Is it starting to feel natural for you? If not, what’s going wrong? How can you make it more ‘you’? Perhaps you’re using a label maker but you hate plain black/white labels. Ditch the label maker! Regift it or resell it! Buy some colored labels and a packet of colored pens instead! Bought plain black/white folders but really hate them? Love yourself some color? Resell the black and whites and go get some color! Make it your own.
9. De-duplicate. You should be doing this as part of step #5 above, but if you’re not – get right onto it! Do you really need two slow cookers? Do you need those 5 toasters or coffee makers you got as wedding presents? Identify any duplicates (or triplicates – etc) and go back to ‘R’ at step #5. Rubbish, recycle, regift or resell!
10. Habits. Create habits at home. For example, always put your handbag in the same spot when you get home. Without exception. Always put your keys, wallet etc back into your handbag. Without exception. Guess what? When you walk out the door from now on, you know exactly where your bag is, and that your keys and wallet are inside it. No more stress of finding lost items, and no more time wasted looking for them!
11. Small daily actions. Identify small daily actions you can take that can ensure you maintain the hard work you’ve done in getting organized. For example, always clear your desk at night so that when you start work the next day, you’re starting afresh. Always wash, dry and put away the dishes at night. When you come to the kitchen the next morning, it’s clean, fresh, tidy and sanitary!
12. One in, one out. Now that you’ve gone through this process, you really don’t want to ruin it by bringing in a bunch more stuff. Use the ‘one in, one out’ rule. One new pair of shoes means I need to take one ‘old’ pair of shoes and ‘R’ them. This automatically gives the new pair a ‘home’ (step #6) and ensures clutter doesn’t build up again.
13. Create a schedule for home organization. Actually – you don’t need to create one as I will certainly create one as part of a future blog post. Identify a regular ‘time’ to do each thing. For example, steam clean the carpets once a year. Vacuum the floors weekly. Change sheets weekly. Discard past-date food in the freezer monthly. Flush drains with white vinegar/bicarb monthly*. You get the picture. I can’t wait to create these checklists for you!
* I use as many natural solutions as possible at home – I’ve got heaps of recipes to make your own drain cleaner, shower cleaner, clothes washing detergent, household cleaner etc. Not only are they inexpensive, but they’re healthy! (No, I don’t mean you can eat them – I mean that they do not clog up your house – and body – with strong chemicals!) I’ll be sharing these recipes with you!
14. Boxes of ‘stuff’. So you’ve got 27 boxes of old toys under the house or in the garage…. When was the last time you used those toys? When was the last time you even opened those boxes? Start being ruthless with stuff like this. If you don’t know what’s in the boxes, they’re obviously not serving you! As a matter of fact, by having those boxes around, and having them take up space in your house, your garage, your life – you are serving them! Identify if you’ve got any of these, and go back to ‘R’ at step #5 !!
15. Make room for your future. Remember we created out goals for each room at step #2? It’s easy to ‘forget’ our goals when it comes to sentimentality, and memories of the past. This is a really complicated subject and I won’t get into it here – my one on one programs can help you identify and ‘work through’ this further. At a high level, though, you need to remember your goals and you need to decide whether hanging onto sentimental ‘stuff’ helps you create room for your future, or whether it just ensures you remain ‘stuck’ in the past.
Mind you, that doesn’t just mean you need to go around, willy-nilly, ‘getting rid’ of all sentimental items!
How about displaying them in a way that brings you happiness? I inherited some of my grandma’s Carnival Glass. I love it and an now a ‘colored glass’ collector myself. BUT – I have a place for it all. (My display cabinet). Every piece is displayed with love and brings me joy.
If I’d have hated colored glass – I could have perhaps taken lovely photos of it and kept those photos as a keepsake of my grandma, and gone back to ‘R’ and sold the glass to someone who does love it. I could then have used the money from the sale to buy myself something in memory of my grandma.
I could have gifted the glass to another family member.
There are always options.
Think through this stuff and make a choice.
I really hope that this helps you get organized at home. If you have any questions, comments, or stories to tell, me leave me a comment below. I read every comment personally and would love to hear from you!
Until next time