The beginning of a new year provides chance for a fresh start towards our life and business goals. For many, one of these goals may be to become better organized – as a clutter-free space is crucial to having a comfortable and well designed home.
To answer the question of how exactly one becomes more organized, we enlisted the help of professional organizer Stephanie Eyster of Remedy.
Pull everything out of the area to be organized and sort into categories. If you’re organizing a closet, for instance, start with “like item” piles of clothes, accessories, bed linens, shoes, and so on.
Next, go through those items and make smaller “to do” piles so each item is associated with an action.
For the closet, additional piles should be made for “donate,” “recycle,” “tailor” or “consign.” Adapt these actions to the part
of the home you’re organizing (for instance, organizing a garage might call for a “fix” instead of a “tailor” pile).
When you go through each item in the “like item” piles, either keep or purge by way of donating or recycling. Keep in mind that if the item isn’t donated or recycled, it will go to
the landfill. Goodwill recycles all electronics, cotton and wool, so even if a shirt has holes in it, it can be recycled.
Can’t decide if something should be kept or purged or having a hard time letting go of things? Here is a simple test. Either an item is useful, has a function and adds value to your life, or it doesn’t. If you can’t come up with an answer to how it makes your life easier, toss it.
On valuable items assign a number (1-10) to how much value it has to you, and keep only those that score at least a six. Take care of the “donate” and “recycle” piles right away. Put each pile in its own trash bag, and then label and place the bags in your car.
After you’ve sorted everything and purged those you don’t want to keep, categorize even further.
The more everything is sub-categorized, the easier it will be to organize and find items later. Sort by like item and then by function.
For example, when it’s time to sub-categorize shoes, make a shoe pile and further sort it into piles of ballet flats, wedges, heels, boots, and so on.
It’s time to put everything into place.
Store items where you use them; the items you use the most should be placed in areas where they can be reached the easiest, at eye level and within arm height. Items used the least should be placed in high or low areas.
For larger organization projects, it might help to make a drawing that shows where items will be placed. Make the drawing to scale, for small spaces like a closet a 1”=1’ scale is easiest.
This is a very important step. You can sort and purge ‘til the world ends, but if you don’t have the right container, the newly organized area will end up being a mess all over again.
Don’t purchase containers until the “visualize” step has been completed. In order to purchase the correct sized container, you have to measure the space and determine how many items will be stored together.
One way to decide on the size and type of the container is to determine what is going in them. If you have a lot of scarves, you might want to use multiple open lid medium containers so you can easily find and get to them when they’re needed.
Some questions to ask yourself when you’re shopping for containers are: Do you want to use a large container or a small one? Clear or opaque? Open lid or closed? Stackable or not?
Appropriately labeling storage areas will go a long way towards ensuring the newly organized space stays that way.
It will help hold everyone in the house accountable for putting things back where they should go.
Keep up with the newly organized space by planning time in your schedule to
maintain it – and realize that bringing more items into your home may require you to reorganize.
There are many benefits to keeping an organized home, including maximizing personal efficiency, having a more spacious and orderly home, and feeling comfortable when a visitor drops by unannounced.
Even though there are benefits, organizing a space can certainly be a daunting task. Luckily, these steps will help you feel less overwhelmed the next time you do.
Tell us: how do you plan to organize your home this year?
This article originally published in The Renew Issue of Citygram Austin Magazine [January 2014].
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