Hello SOTGC community,
Last month’s blog talked about de-cluttering your life. I outlined the basic process that I use to de-clutter and re-organize. I start with a small area or section so that I don’t get overwhelmed; eliminate what I can; evaluate my storage space and the items that need to be stored; and then begin to implement a main organizational strategy. Sometimes subcategories are helpful after you pick your main organizational strategy. Last month I used the example of organizing my sweaters by light, medium, and heavy weight as my main organizational system and then I organized those three stacks by color. This month’s blog digs a little deeper into developing an organizational system.
How on earth did things get this out of control? I thought I was fairly organized? In most cases it is probably because the organizational system you had before is no longer working. In life, we are constantly changing and evolving, so it is logical that our organizational systems must eventually change too in order to continue to accommodate us.
Evaluating why your old system isn’t working will be key in adapting a system that will work.
For example, the sweaters in my closet were no longer organized for a variety of reasons. First, it doesn’t get that cold in Southern California so I don’t wear sweaters very often. In fact, my heavy sweaters are only worn if I visit my mom in Colorado or take a winter trip to another cold climate. Since I only wear sweaters a few months out of the year, I needed to try most of them on since I had changed sizes since last year. I also needed to evaluate which ones were still in style. Additionally, I no longer work in an office, so my previous system of organizing sweaters by “work sweaters” versus “weekend sweaters” was no longer very relevant. Another reason the shelves had become chaotic was because I had bought additional sweaters without throwing out old ones and the space became too crowded.
It looks important, but I’m not sure what it is? Ever come across a nut, bolt, screw, cord or plug that looks like it is a pertinent piece to something you own but you just can’t put your finger on what it belongs to? My rule of thumb is to keep the miscellaneous item until I’ve finished cleaning out the entire room where I found the item.
If I’ve finished de-cluttering the room and still don’t know what it is, I typically throw it out. Chances are if I do come across the item that is missing the screw, cord, or plug in adapter sometime in the future it will be much easier to simply replace the missing item then to go back through every nut, bolt and pin that I’ve found over the years while cleaning. Not to mention, these items take up valuable storage space where you could put items that you actually use.
This isn’t my stuff …. My husband has several piles of things throughout our house and I don’t even know what half of it is! If the item doesn’t belong to you and you aren’t sure what it is, then please do yourself a favor and don’t follow my previous advice about throwing it out! Only throw out items that are yours. In a perfect world, our spouses and children would happily participate in creating and utilizing organizational systems, but this is probably unlikely.
When I de-clutter an area where there are lots of items that don’t belong to me, I box them according to the person in my house that the do belong to. Kids’ shoes, magazines, and toys go in a box and are returned to the appropriate child’s room. My husband’s clutter goes into a box and I ask him to schedule a time to go through it together. While it may be hard to find a time to pin him down to sort through the box, he usually complies because he likes having a tidy home (he just doesn’t like doing the organizing himself).
You uncover an even bigger royal mess!!! Have you ever gone to organize a bathroom drawer only to realize that the cough syrup spilled and leaked all over your other toiletries? Now, instead of just organizing you need to wipe down every bottle, can, and bag and clean out the drawer and replace the shelving paper. Or you go to move one box in the basement and realize that a leaky pipe has saturated half of the boxes you have stored there?
Unexpected situations like these illustrate another great reason to only work on de-cluttering one small section of space at a time. When a situation like this side tracks your organizational efforts, shift your focus to resolving the unexpected mess before continuing to organize, even if this means delaying your plans to de-clutter. Leaving spilled cough syrup and a leaky pipe will only lead to ants in your bathroom and mold in your basement. Hire a professional if necessary, but make sure that the items you are organizing are clean! After all, you wouldn’t hang dirty clothes in your closet, so make sure that drawers, shelves and closets are clean before re-storing your items.