It is January! Which in the organizing world January means “Get Organizing” month. The National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals [NAPO] chose January because people view a new year as a new beginning and a time to start fresh.
Some people choose to jump on the bandwagon and start cleaning out the closets – removing items that no longer are used, loved or needed. Where there are others who are paralyzed by the thought of beginning such an overwhelming task as cleaning out a closet. Perhaps it hasn’t been touched in years or too many emotional items live in the closet so it makes it difficult to approach.
As a Professional Organizer I help people get started on their organizing projects, work alongside them as little or as much as needed and support them in reaching their goals.
Here are some tips that I hope will help you get started:
1) Before going out to buy bins, baskets, and boxes consider your GOAL first. What do you want? Write it down. Post your goals somewhere that you will see them daily.
2) Take a moment to jot down what you will gain by starting and/or accomplishing this project.
3) Gather a few supplies: trash bag, donation bag or box, “lives somewhere else” box, sharpie, painter’s tape or post-its for labeling and timer (most likely on your phone).
4) Start SMALL. If you are working on a big project like your basement or kitchen, then pick one area, task or category. For example an “area” may be one shelf in the basement or one drawer in the kitchen. Or if you go with one “task”, then that may be pick out all of the things that can definitely go (trash or donate). Or if you are more into approaching things by “category,” then tackle the holiday bins in the basement or the mugs first in the kitchen.
5) Where do you start? If you are a linear thinker, then start at one end of the space and work around. If you are a global thinker then look at the whole area and start treasure hunting for all things that are trash, donate or definitely stay. Create staging areas for the items.
6) The most important part is that you START. Newton’s Law – an object in motion stays in motion. Commit to just getting started. Start by setting a timer for 20 minutes. Say, “I am going to work on the basement for 20 minutes.” Pick your method of starting from what we discussed above. When the timer goes off, you decide- are you going to keep going or stop. If you stop. Commit to taking the things to the trash, put items found in the area that don’t belong back in their homes, and look at your calendar to schedule another time to work on this project.
7) Invite a non-judgmental friend over to help (organizing is a social activity!)
8) Don’t leave the area where you are committing to work (you may get distracted or pulled into something else!)
9) Once you have figured out all the items you are going to keep in a particular area, now it is time to purchase bins, baskets or other items to help organize the space.
10) During the process remember to drink water and get fresh air when getting sluggish.
Do you feel more ready to start that project? Don’t worry you aren’t going to do this organizing thing wrong. Just get started!
Lynne Poulton is a Certified Professional Organizer (CPO®), Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization (CPO-CD®), Level II Hoarding Specialist and Owner of Wholly Organized!® LLC. Lynne partners with people of all ages to address the physical and emotional clutter in their lives to make room for what matters most.