Thursday, July 26, 2012

10 Steps to Easily Organize and Declutter Your Spaces

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I've always been a bit of a clutterbug and a piler - a sure sign you're a creative (:  Seeing inspires the soul.  If it's out of sight, I don't know it's there. But as the years have passed, the appreciation for an organized environment has taken over...a place for everything and everything in its place. I love neat spaces and thrive in them, but it has to be a visually pleasing one that offers function and style with easy access. If I have to work too hard to put something away, there's a chance it'll end up on the nearest table or desk.

Several years ago that orderly chi went out the window.  My Mother, Grandmother and I moved in together so we could provide the 24/hr care Grandmother needed.  That meant three households under one roof and the problem of too much stuff. We were in boxes for longer than I'd like to admit, we had very little storage and I never could quite reclaim that designed, ordered space I so cherished.

For the new transition, we purged more than I thought possible, hired an organizer to help get us out of those boxes and then combined features in the design to showcase the style appreciation of each person. It wasn't a quick or easy process due to the fact that we were three strong-willed women with our own definite ideas just trying to get used to the new living situation, but it did come over time.

Since then I've really enjoyed the process of ordering my surroundings, figuring out how to truly live in a space and finding neat ways to accentuate the positive no matter how small or large the home. I've been very blessed to be able to help others create havens to reflect their style/spirit and the first step is usually organization. So when a close friend was in much need of an overhaul for her closets, I jumped at the chance to lend a helping hand.

TIP: Organize with a friend if you can.  Emotional attachments to things always pop up and having another set of eyes can help provide perspective. Begin with smaller projects first so the excitement of one completed task will inspire the process to continue.

To start our closet overhaul, we established four piles (KEEP, DONATE, TRASH and MAYBE) and started with the smallest closet first. Remove everything out of the space you're trying to organize because once those items are placed in one of the four piles, the progress is immediately evident.

TIP: If you're working in a larger space, you might not have the room to move things to another location. The same affect can be achieved by shifting everything in that room to one side with the KEEP, DONATE, TRASH and MAYBE piles on the other.

Once the smallest closet was cleared out, we began asking the 3 Question Rule for everything...
     • Do I really love it? (is it a treasure)
     • Do I really use it? (has it been used within the last year)
     • Do I really need it? (sometimes we think we need something when we really don't)

I didn't let my organizing buddy think too much about each item...this was a 30-45 minute quick sort to categorize things, which is why I include a MAYBE pile. Once she began to see the space cleared, she felt really good about the progress. After the first sort, we revisited the KEEP and MAYBE piles again to challenge the idea of holding onto these things. Something kicked in (as it usually does) and she was thrilled to let go of even more! Yay!! I've been there and it's such a great feeling (:

After the sort was completed, she was able to evaluate what she had and then purchased plastic storage boxes accordingly. Chalkboard labels add a versatile finishing touch for at-a-glance organization. If the contents of your container change, simply wipe and relabel!

TIP: Wait to purchase supplies until after the sorting process. There's always a temptation to gather supplies first before the organizing process begins. This usually leads to not having exactly what's needed for the job which in turn, pushes the task to be completed yet another day. Translation = everything gets shoved back in the closet or junk room.

My friend then grouped like pieces together and placed them in their corresponding bins and baskets. She even found out-of-place items in other parts of her home and was able to add those to their new prepared for space! Once things have a place, the order grows (:   By the end of the day she...

  • cleared out one closet and part of another
  • had a huge giveaway pile for charity
  • now has a place for items that were being stored in other parts of the home, therefore clearing out other areas too
  • was able to move two vacuum cleaners into the closet so they're out of sight - they were previously relegated to the bay window area for all to see
  • is able to see stored items at-a-glance for easy access
  • is only using half of the closet that was previously full

The organizing session was such a success, we decluttered two more huge walk-in closets the next weekend! She was able to let go of even more "stuff" and found a few things that had been missing for years (: She says she still opens the closet doors just to look at the open, orderly space. It really is amazing how a clean and organized closet can make you feel (:

If you're ready to organize, here are the 10 steps to get you started:
  1. Ask a friend for their eyes of perspective
  2. Choose a small area to tackle first
  3. Create four sorting piles...KEEP, DONATE, TRASH, MAYBE
  4. Unload the spot you're going to organize and take everything to another location, even if it's just to the other side of the room
  5. Do a quick sort (usually 30-45 minutes) and place items in the four piles
  6. Revisit the MAYBE and KEEP piles
  7. Evaluate your KEEP pile to determine what storage containers will be needed
  8. Group like objects together and place into storage containers
  9. Add labels to bins and baskets for at-a-glance organization
  10. Relocate items from other areas of the home to their new organized spot
Do you have a passion for organizing? What are some tips you've learned along the way?

With Gratitude,

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