I’m about to “keep it real” as I write this pre-post note. I have to admit I struggled writing this post because I felt hypocritical the entire time. In fact, I have been tweaking and re-writing it several times throughout the day, trying to get my thoughts right. Here’s the thing: though I’ve been working hard to get organized, I’m far from perfect. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t have a magic formula. I didn’t always follow the advice I’m about to give you. So part of me feels like a fool even daring to post it and say, “hey! Here’s something to help!” But I’m ignoring that little voice and I’m hoping that by posting this anyway it will be exactly what someone needs to hear, because regardless of how I feel right now, all of this is coming straight from personal experience and the heart. So here goes …
Has this ever happened to you or someone you know–you feel overwhelmed by the scope of your organizational needs and don’t know where to start? Here’s a hint: don’t start with your jewelry box or your baseball card collection. Those things being tidy, while nice, won’t help your daily existence too much. Today’s organizational step continues the themes from days 1 and 2 of this series, in that I’ve learned that being intentional with the process includes making specific goals for the areas I use the most. You want to get the most bang for your buck, so to speak.
Step 3: Sort the Major Areas You Use FIRST
It’s a good thing to have an organized bathroom drawer. (I know I liked mine when I had it at our old house and I first organized it; I liked it even better when it had a snazzy organizer in it.) However, if the major areas in your home are a disaster area, you’ll still feel like you’re not under control. Because you aren’t. The thing is … you can be. I promise.
You just have to be willing to go the slow route and tackle them systematically so you can feel more relaxed in your environment.
Carefully consider how you use your home on a daily basis. Where do you eat, work, relax, and congregate as a family? What cupboards do you access each day? Is there a piece of furniture on which you tend to set things down? What’s your favorite chair? Where do you fold your laundry? But mostly, which rooms do you use the most? There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. They just help you create an inventory to focus your organizational efforts in the most effective way.
Don’t be afraid to create an organizational structure that is non-traditional. Forget the name of the room. Focus on how you use it, not what it was called by your real estate agent or general contractor. The goal here is to simply determine how you actually use your home’s areas. Once you know this, you’ll have a much easier time sorting, cleaning, and organizing them. Simply remove the items that don’t belong with the function of an area and move them to one where they make sense, instead.
It’s a snowball effect in reverse. Instead of starting small and getting bigger, you start big and go smaller. (My mother used to tell me this all the time when I was younger and I didn’t listen to her. I thought it was waaayyyyy better to, say, alphabetize my cassette tape collection by artist than to pick all the clothes up off the floor and do the laundry first.)
Here’s why this is a good method: it makes you feel good. It inspires you. It provides a nice, tidy atmosphere for you to then take out those drawers and sort them, one by one, without being overwhelmed. It is much easier to focus on the harder small sorting when the easier big sorting is already done.
If you are ahead of the curve and you’ve already got the big spaces fairly under control (nobody has a perfectly kept home , except maybe June Cleaver) then progress right to tackling the cupboard or sideboard or linen closet you use on a daily basis.
Bottom line? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Sort the areas you use the most FIRST. Progress gradually to the areas you use only once in awhile (like that jewelry box, or the closet in the bedroom you never use, or the toolbox in your garage.) Voila! You’re on your way to being an organizing dynamo!