Friday, January 4, 2013

Let's get started!

Walk into the room you want to start with.  Have you neatened it up yet?  If not, start there.  Line the boxes up, create space, and make the room "appear" as neat and organized as possible.  If there are things strewn about, box them.  The point is to start from a clean perspective.  The neater it looks while you are working, the less demoralizing and discouraging it feels.  Also, if everything is boxed up you can quantify your work.  Here's what I mean...

It takes about 1 hour per box to go through and empty them.  If you have 15 boxes, you are looking at about 15 hours worth of work.  Remember... the boxes are supposed to be temporary.

Okay, assuming the room is neat, the first thing we will do is handle the things that are not in boxes, so all you have left to do is boxes.

Surfaces.  One major goal of  organizing is to clear surfaces.  Look around the room.  Select the first surface and go from left to right.  One at a time, remove everything that does not belong on that surface and put it in the room or area where it belongs.  Caution... do not try and organize the area where you are putting the things... just get them off of the surface you are organizing and into the right area, and come right back to your surface.

Let's run through some examples... Organizing a sofa you find socks, jackets, homework, a novel, game pieces, used wrapping paper, and a piece to a game.

Socks - Clean or dirty?  If clean, think - where do socks belong? Put them there.  If dirty, put them in the dirty clothes.

Jackets - Where do jackets ultimately belong?  In the owner's closet?  In a common jacket closet?  Put it there.

A novel - Is it still being read?  Where does it belong?  On the reader's night stand?  On the bookshelf?  Finished - is it a give-away or a keeper?

Game pieces - do you still have the game?  Is it still useful?  Where do you keep games?  If everything were perfect and your house was set up exactly like you wanted, where would all of the games live?  Start putting all games there, and the pieces will meet up with the game boards in the correct space.

Wrapping paper - used? trash.  Unused? Is it big enough to use again?


Notice that I didn't immediately tell you where things belong; I immediately asked you questions.  The reason is because organizing is about asking... not telling.

"Clutter is simply postponed decisions" (+Barbara Hemphill) Everything that is laying around, not in the right place, is there because we have not made a decision about where it should go, how we want to handle it, or what we want to call it.


Okay... but what about the things that have no home?

"I have that don't belong anywhere... like the grandfather clock that I acquired from my uncle Henry.  I don't have room for it, but it has memories for me.  Maybe I might want to pass it down to my children... but in the meantime it is just collecting dust in the middle of my living room floor. What should I do with it until I decide?"


Everything "is" somewhere.  It's either in the right place or the wrong place. If you have a grandfather clock sitting in the middle of your living room, it's in the wrong place.  You have a choice.  Either create space for it, or let it go.  It's that simple.

Creating space may mean emptying a closet so you have room for it, or re-thinking the way things are configured in your garage, or hanging it on a wall, or building a shelf.

Letting it go will mean donating it to someone who will appreciate it, The local grandfather-clock association, or an  organization that will appreciate your donations.

Developing your organizing muscles - You'll hear me say this a lot.

When you first go into a gym after a long hiatus of being sedentary, it's hard to do the exercises; they hurt.  Organizing is the same way.  If you haven't organized in a long while, expect to be rusty.  Expect it to be unpleasant.  Expect it to hurt.  And... don't expect to be good at it.

Take one step at a time; one item at a time, and make a decision.

Visual Bang - Always go for neatness.  It makes you feel better, makes the people around you feel better, and makes the work less taxing.  Start there, and move towards organization; not the other way around.

Is that surface cleaned off yet?

If yes - Congratulate yourself!  You've done a great job!
If no - Get started!  If you have questions about where to put things, write a comment and if I can find your comment (I'm new at this!) I will respond!

Thanks for reading!

Marsha Sims

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