One of the most common questions I get as a professional organizer is “where do I start?” You know you need to establish some order and create new systems in your space, so the desire and motivation are there, but the skills may not be. Have no fear! It’s quite simple, though at times a bit messy, but at the end of the process you’ll have a good idea of what it takes to tackle any space in your home.
Step #0.5- Define Your Space
If you’re just starting out, pick a small space like a junk drawer, cabinet, box, or shelf. Just one! Starting small will ensure you don’t get overwhelmed and can stay on task. If you’re up for a challenge, pick a closet or section of a room.
Step #1 - Reveal
Take. Everything. Out. Yes, I said everything. Lay it all out on a flat surface so you can see all the items. I know, I know, this will look like more of a mess and quite possibly could overwhelm you, but trust me, it looks worse before it gets better! I promise.
Step #2 - Categorize
Start grouping items with similar items. Have 20 paper clips? Gather them all and put them in a single pile. Have 4 bags of brown sugar? In the same pile. Notice you have 8 containers of sunscreen? In a pile!
Step #3 - Edit
Now that you have your piles of similar items, begin to “edit.” Look at each category and decide if you need to (1) keep, (2) toss, or (3) donate the items. If you’re going to keep the items, do you need ALL of them? Maybe you just need 10 paper clips instead of 20. If you decide to toss - trash or recycling? If you decide to donate, there are multiple options available for a wide variety of stuff, from electronics to gently used serving dishes! Don’t rush your decisions but also don’t dwell on every item/category.
I will also add that if you need to, create a “not sure” pile to review with other household members, friends, or interested parties. It’s also completely ok to have a pile to review later yourself, once you’ve had some distance and clarity in what you’d like to keep.
For a deep dive on how to decide what to keep, check out the next blog post, coming soon.
Step #4 - Contain + Label
Now that you have the items you’re going to keep, you need to contain them. This simply means to place them in containers (I know, rocket science). The containers can be old bins or boxes you have lying around, it could be a fun trip to the Container Store, or it could be a combination. For now, we just need things contained. Then, put labels on the containers! Again, you can go basic with paper and pen or fancy metal label holders and calligraphy type. These options will depend on your budget, timeline, and design aesthetic.
Congratulations! You did it! You conquered a space! I hope the peace and sense of accomplishment you now have will give you momentum to tackle the next one.