The New Year is perceived to be the “perfect time” to get your space or home in order. It’s the time to really stop procrastinating and start doing. Maybe you have been putting off organizing your basement which is overflowing with items that haven’t been used in years. Or how about finally mustering up the strength to face the clutter in your home office? The New Year is also synonymous for new beginnings and while I don’t believe in making New Year’s Resolutions; I will admit that there is something about the New Year which equates to a fresh start. For many people, a fresh start requires taking an honest look at your space and being intentional on letting go of items that you no longer find fulfilling and getting organized so that you continue to move forward and onward!
Now that you have committed to getting organized, where do you begin? Do you run out to the store and purchase the trendiest organizing product like a bunch of baskets and containers? Nope – not yet! Before you purchase the appropriate organizing products, you must first assess and take inventory of your belongings within your space. You will have to determine their value and purpose before the start of any organizing project. Would you go grocery shopping without a list of items you need? Probably not. The same theory applies to organizing and reviewing your space to determine how it should be organized.
In early January, I had the opportunity to speak with a group of individuals at the Miller Branch Library in Ellicott City, MD. The participants were eager and enthusiastic to hear me speak about simple, affordable organizing tips. There was so much engagement between myself and the participants that many of them felt comfortable sharing their own personal systems they had implemented within their own home. The session went so well that I had to be reminded about the allotted speaking time. But that's a true testament to my passion for organization!
Here are three tips to help you get organized in the new year that I shared with the participants!
The first tip that I shared with the participants is that assessing your items can save you time and money. Now, you're probably wondering how that can be possible. Well, I’m going to break it down for you. Let’s use the closet as an example, where clothes are randomly hung throughout the closet and stored on top of shelves in no particular order. When there is no order within your closet then that prevents you from identifying exactly what you own. So, when you go shopping you’re more than likely to purchase an item that’s similar to what's in your closet. This is a clear example of wasting time and money because if you assessed your wardrobe then making a duplicate purchase would not have occurred. This is why it’s best to take inventory of items within your space and determine if those items should be kept or discarded.
When you conduct an assessment, you must be realistic and honest because the goal is to prepare your space for items that you truly enjoy having around.
Here are questions to ask yourself when assessing your items:
Assessing your items can save you time and money.
When you ask these particular questions, you will be sure to feel different emotions that you should as a guide during the decision-making process. For example, you come across a shirt with a hole that’s beyond repair and you cringe which means you will most likely discard it. On the other hand, you assess a purse that you own and you feel excited to put it to use which is a clear indicator that it will be kept. When we surround ourselves by items we enjoy then we take pride in our space and become conscious about not allowing it to become cluttered.
So, now that you have completed an assessment and determined what’s being kept and what’s being discarded, then you should create systems that must be established to maintain order. I define systems as specific solutions that you implement into your lifestyle or home to make things a little easier. An example of a system, is placing three bins in your space labeled ‘keep’, ‘donate’ and ‘discard’ which will serve as a reminder to let go of items that are no longer purposeful. This system allows you to place an item in the appropriate bin and keep going on about your day. Once the bin becomes full then that is a clear indicator that action is required.
Implementing systems can ensure efficiency and order.
Now don't stress over establishing systems because they aren't designed to be complicated and you can customize them based off of your lifestyle. Remember these systems are meant to enhance your lifestyle and save time. What systems can you create that will make life easier for you? Get creative.
Here are simple systems to implement into your lifestyle:
Lastly, every item you own should have its own storage place. I repeat – everything you own should have a designated storage place. When you dedicate a space to store an item you are taking a stand against clutter forming. Can you recall a time when you left the mail out on the counter? Did the pile of mail continue to grow? More than likely, if the mail wasn't sorted through immediately. Find a place to store the mail which will prompt you to always place the mail there and keep it contained.
Be mindful that items like a stapler, tape and scissors are considered office supplies and should be kept in your office or a space where you conduct work. It is also common for entryways to become a magnet for shoes. Who wants a pile of shoes to be the first sight that their guests see when entering the home? I'm pretty sure no one. Be sure to store shoes neatly by using a stand-alone shoe rack.
When you store items in their proper place then you are being proactive about creating a space that has order.
Getting organized requires work but implementing these three tips will ensure that you only have to organize once. Yes – once! The systems you put into place will do the work for you but its your responsibility to follow them. It is absolutely possible to live with less but you have to be intentional on letting go of items that aren't fulfilling and are non-essential.
After you identify the items that you want to be surrounded by then establish systems to promote order. Lastly, you want to have a designated storage space for all of your possessions. As I shared with the participants, you still have to maintain your space a few times throughout the week but that doesn't mean organizing all over again. Fortunately, the great thing about organizing is that you don't have to wait until the New Year to organize but you can start at anytime.