Be more organized is one of the most common resolutions that individuals jot down on their lists as they ring in the new year. Of course, the timing is perfect as we are coming down from holiday stress and influx of belongings received, however, being too generic with your organizational intentions may do more harm than good.
The idea of having every aspect of our lives tidy and organized is a beautiful thought, but not necessarily realistic. Organizing is an evolving and on-going process. It can’t be achieved over night, it must be sustained over time. So if you are looking to become more organized in 2015, here are my tips for helping you achieve organizational goals.
Being too broad with your organizational goals will only cause a frustration and a lack of direction. You may quickly find yourself feeling overwhelmed and biting off more than you can chew at once. It is important to take a look at your day-to-day routine, and focus on the items that slow you down or cause you to feel the most flustered. Make a list of the items that cause you the biggest headaches, and prioritize them based on what they are costing you financially, emotionally and time wise. For example, if your guest room closet is cluttered but you only access it a few times a month, then that area is less of a priority than your entryway drop zone, which is most likely used on a daily basis. Select the top items to focus on over the course of the year (be realistic about your achievable number of projects), and only take on one project at a time.
PLAN YOUR ATTACK
Now that you know what you are going to tackle, it is time to plan how you are going to tackle it. I like to jot down notes with specifics regarding the project; such as my end goal, a few key steps to get there, project budget, storage needs, etc… This gives me a clear picture of what I am truly attempting to accomplish and allows me to manage my money and time throughout the process. It is really important to think about your habits and problem solve how you can work the new system into your daily routine.
Some people really love to organize! For everyone else, it is important to find something to keep you excited about the upcoming project. To ignite the flame, reach for inspirational magazines (cough, BHG, cough), search ideas on Pinterest or check out your favorite organizing blog. Also, find ways to incorporate something you enjoy into the organizing process. Reach for a hammer and build new storage, paint the interior of the closet, create labels/tags out of craft materials, listen to your favorite book on tape or put in your favorite movie. Finding ways to pass the time and to integrate a little fun is a sure way to stay motivated and get things done.
Now that you know the projects you need to work on, have a plan and have found inspiration, I always recommend completely clearing your space. Empty that drawer, clear out the closet, remove every last item from the pantry. By starting with a blank slate, you will have the opportunity to touch each item and make an assessment whether it should stay or go. Clearing the project area also provides a fresh perspective of how to best utilize the area moving forward.
CREATE A HOLDING CELL
As you are sorting down the contents of your space, each item should be placed within a keep, donate or trash pile. If you are struggling making a decision on a specific item, place it in the donate box and store that box in a temporary holding zone for a month or two. If you forget about the item or don’t find yourself reaching for it while it is tucked away, off it goes for good.
LESS IS MORE
Having fewer items and less clutter typically results in more time, more space, more money and more freedom. That is why we love to organize right? The same idea applies to the storage you are utilizing to organize your items. While problem solving storage solutions for your project, it is best to think simple. The more complex the storage solution, the more challenging it will be to maintain the space once the project is complete. Select solutions that allow you to put things away in a single swift motion. If your solution requires you to go downstairs, open a drawer, open a bin and sift through a pile of folders just to file away a receipt, I would be willing to bet that the receipt would end up in a pile outside of that drawer instead due to the abundance of steps it takes to put away a single item. The goal is not to aim for perfection, it is to aim for simplicity and set yourself up for future success.
SAVE VS. SPLURGE
Now that you know what items require storage, it is time to go shopping! However, don’t head out to your favorite department store just yet. Start by shopping your home. Look for empty shoe boxes, crates, trays, bowls and baskets. There are so many ways to reinvent unused items from around the home as storage, you may be surprised. Once you have used what you already have on hand, create a quick list of what is remaining. While sourcing and shopping, it is a good idea to invest in items that will remain timeless and relevant for years to come. Woven or wire baskets, acrylic drawer dividers and decorative storage boxes will always find a new place to land should your organizational needs change down the road. For bigger projects, lean towards furniture pieces that are also versatile. Dressers, credenzas, bookcases and armoires are my favorite pieces of furniture due to their limitless storage options.
IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEED, TRY, TRY AGAIN
As I mentioned above, organizing is an on-going process. As our routines, lives and family structures change, how we use our homes will also change. It is important to stay open minded and excited that there will always be projects waiting for you down the road. And if one of your first systems doesn’t work out the first time around, it is always OK to revisit it, tweak it and try again. No matter how much you plan, you will never really know how it will go until you use it for a few weeks.
Now that you know my tips for prioritizing your organizing projects throughout the year, below you will find my “go to” organizing products. These are items I find myself reaching for over and over again due to their versatility and reliability.
What one space are you most excited to get organized this coming year?