We’re busy. It can be hard to find time to tackle an organizing project. So, I have another suggestion, similar to my previous post. Take a look at your shelves while you’re doing something else.
- While you’re brushing your teeth, take a glance at your medicine cabinet. Do you need everything that’s in there? Are there bottles of expired medicine / lotions / etc.? Get rid of what you don’t need.
- While you’re doing the laundry, take a look at clothes you’re putting away and the clothes already in the closet. Does the item still fit you (or the appropriate family member)? When was the last time it was worn? Is it the right season (should it be stored with the other off-season clothes)?
- While you’re putting away the groceries, take a look at your fridge and pantry. Better yet, take a look at them while you’re making your grocery list. What is expired or about to expire? What can you work with to make a meal out of this week?
- While you’re dusting or putting other household items away, take a look at what you have and where it is located. Do you still need it? Is this the best location for it? If not, where else could it go?
You get the picture. As you’re taking care of one task, take a few minutes to see if there’s anything you can get rid of or find a better home for. You may be surprised at what you find.
Maybe the thought of getting organized is just too daunting. Maybe you just don’t know where to start.
So don’t get organized. Start getting rid of stuff. Simply pick a pile or a corner of a room or a shelf. And clean stuff out. Do you need that piece of paper, knick knack, memento, book, cd, or whatever it is? If not, off to the donation pile, trash or shredder it goes.
There’s no need to spend hours perfectly organizing your house so it looks like it belongs in some home magazine. But by starting to clear the clutter, item by item, you can make a dent in organizing your stuff.
Maybe the title of this post should be constant vigilance. Because once you’ve purged items in your house and organized your stuff, you have to be on constant watch that it stays that way. Otherwise, you’re back where you started.
While taking a car load of items to Goodwill (or wherever you donate items) can feel great, as can having an organized pantry, it’s important to identify what is coming into your house and why. If you’re often out shopping and bringing home clothes you don’t need or buying kitchen gadgets you rarely use, or picking up all the free items at a conference, you’re just inviting clutter into your home. Identify why you’re buying these items or if you really need them.
Ask yourself the following questions before letting anything come through the doors of your house.
- Do you really need it?
- Do you have a place to put it?
- Do you already have something similar that will serve the same purpose?
If you answer yes to the first two questions, it’s probably ok to bring it home, as long as you know it has a home. If you answer yes to the third, then you don’t need it.
Keep these questions in mind every time you bring something into your house. This helps you keep the clutter under control in your home.
As I write this, I have an infant at home. My days are busy taking care of her. This means that some days I spend more time staring at my clutter than dealing with it. It also makes me thankful that we purged our house of anything we didn’t need or love before she came along. Some days we’re lucky if we get the dishwasher emptied or the laundry taken out of the dryer. I consider other days successful if I get the laundry dried and we just pull the towels out of the dryer as we need them.
But then I think to myself, I’m a professional organizer, I should be able to maintain an organized home, even with an infant. I also live in the real world and know that people are busy, we’re tired, we’re overwhelmed and some days we’d rather watch the latest DVR’d show or read the newspaper than put away the laundry.
So what would I recommend to someone in my position? To identify what’s important. Each day I figure out what important or key tasks I need to accomplish each day. Our kitchen is tiny so if we haven’t emptied the dishwasher, it’s probably a priority or making dinner will be difficult. If I can’t find a clean onesie for my infant, I’d better put away her clothes so I can get her dressed.
I also try to stay on top of the piles. Deal with the mail as soon as it comes in the house, put dishes in the dishwasher on a regular basis, put away the laundry with each load. This keeps the piles at a minimum and allows me to spend more time playing with my little one.
So what’s important for you to accomplish today?
Just one thing is how I get through a week when I’m feeling overwhelmed. When I add 3 tasks to my to-do list for every 1 task I cross off. I just pick 1 task to accomplish each day. I know I can send an email, pay a few bills, or put away the clothes in the laundry basket. If that’s all I get done from my to-do list in any given day, I’m ok with that. And sometimes, just one thing is all we need to get us moving forward in what we want to accomplish.
January is Get Organized or GO month for the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO). Maybe you’ve been thinking about all the piles you have in your house that you’ve been meaning to deal with if you just had the time. Or just thinking of what you’re going to do with all the gifts and decorations you accumulated over the holidays.
Now is the time to start figuring out what is important to you and what you want to organize. What is the most critical project or the most irksome? What would make your day-to-day life a little easier if you would just take care of it?
This doesn’t mean you need to tackle it all in one weekend. 10 minutes a day, 1 hour a week or a Saturday afternoon is sufficient enough to make progress. The key is just getting started, taking that first step. Often, we’re so overwhelmed by all the stuff to deal with that we just don’t know where to start or it seems like too much work.
So pick a corner, a shelf, or a pile, set a timer for 10 minutes and just GO!