The Organizing Process: More than Just Throwing Things Away

Have you ever tried to get organized simply by throwing things away? 

Many people get fed up with the clutter in their homes and start chucking things, thinking that by having some space back they are more organized.  But in a few months, the clutter has returned.  It’s not that their organization system failed; it’s just that they were never organized in the first place.

Yes, getting organized includes weeding your belongings, but that is just one step in a whole process.  Each step is key to establishing a functional and lasting system.

The Organizing Process

Step #1 – Sort an area into different categories.  For example, sort the medicine cabinet into toiletries, first aid items, medicines, etc.

Step #2 – Weed each category.  So, you would look at all the medicine and discard the ones that have expired.  If any of the toiletries haven’t been used in over six months, you probably don’t use them – or need them – anymore.

Step #3 – Assign homes for each category.  Decide where the first aid items are going to live.  If they don’t all fit in the medicine cabinet, where else could they be stored?

Step #4 – Buy (or locate) appropriate containers.  If the first aid items are going to live in the hall closet instead, putting them all in one container will keep them in order and more accessible.  But before you buy a container, you need to know how big it needs to be (based on what is going to fit in it) and where it is going to go.  If the shelf is only 10″ wide, you don’t want to buy a container that is 12″ wide.

Step #5 – Label everything.  Labeling not only reinforces the decision that you’ve made about what is going to live where, but it also communicates that decision to the other people using that space.  If a box is labeled “First Aid Items,” chances are much less likely that the toiletries overstock will end up in there.

Step #6 – Re-Evaluate often.  Even the best organizing system will need to be tweeked, maybe even overhauled, as life changes.  Organizing is an ongoing process.  At some point, you may find that you need the first aid items closer to back door where the children often come in from playing outside.  As you assign a new home for the first aid kit, this is also a good time to re-weed, re-evaluate the container, and possibly re-label the container. And you now also have some more space in that hall closet…


Image: ericortner

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