As we begin each new year, many people resolve that this is the year they’re going to get organized. It’s a great goal, but it can also be intimidating. How do you begin? The following are seven tips:
Set realistic expectations
No one’s home looks like those featured in glossy magazines. Instead of aiming for that look, set your “organized enough” goals. For example, your goals might include being able to find things when you need them, having room to park your car in your garage, getting rid of the clothes your children have outgrown and the toys they no longer use, etc.
Decide on a schedule that works for you
If you have a major uncluttering/organizing project to do, you could do it short bursts of 15 minutes per day. Or you could decide to at least jump-start the project with a dedicated day where you just focus on your project. There’s no one right answer, so figure out what works best for your personality and what fits with your other time demands.
Unclutter first, then organize
There’s no point in putting things nicely into bins if they are things you don’t really want or need to keep. Do the uncluttering first, and then organize what’s left. If you do things in the reverse order, you may find you’ve bought containers that you don’t need, which then become container clutter.
Don’t get held up by the tough stuff
If you’re sorting through things making keep-or-not decisions and come upon something you’re conflicted about, it’s okay to just keep that item for now and move on. People often unclutter in phases, doing the more obvious things first.
Ask yourself good questions
“Have I used this in the past year?” isn’t always the most helpful question. Some other ones to consider are:
- Would I buy this again today?
- For clothes: Would this ever be my first choice of something to wear?
- For reference books and papers: If I needed to know something about this, would I pull out this book (or these papers) or would I just search online?
Use good tools
You don’t want to be fighting with your frequently used tools. If you’re going to be doing a decent amount of shredding, invest in a good quality shredder. (I wasted a lot of time dealing with paper jams before I got a better shredder.) If you like filing papers in binders and you need to hole-punch papers for that, a good quality hole punch will save you a lot of effort.
Identify places to donate those things you don’t want
If you have items in good condition, there’s probably a place that would be glad to have them. Identify the organizations in your area that take donations, and then be sure you know the hours they accept donations and exactly which items they want. You may also want to consider using the free section of Craigslist or participating in your local freecycle group. (Search for your city name and the word freecycle in your favorite search engine to find one.)