4 Steps to Organized

Get Organized MonthDid you know that “get organized” is the 2nd most popular New Year’s resolution (after “lose weight”)? I can certainly see why: being able to find what you need, when you need it is both productive and rewarding. But how exactly does one go about getting organized? Start by embracing these 4 principles:

#1 Live within your space.
Most of us have heard the phrase “Live within your means,” or don’t spend more than you earn. But we often don’t realize that the same idea applies to our possessions. We should only keep what we have space for in our home/office. This is a harsh and somewhat unfair reality. Some may have a closet as big as a living room while others have a tiny shallow nook. Some may have a whole workroom for storing tools while others have only a few hooks on a wall. As tough as it may be to accept, you simply can’t be organized if you have more belongings than you have space to put them. Period.

#2 Keep items for the right reasons.
If you are ready to clear out some clutter (to abide by principle #1), approach the task with the right mindset. We often hold onto things for the wrong reasons.

Wrong reasons to keep an item:

–       Guilt (“Mom will be mad if I get rid of this…”)
–       Fear (“But if I get rid of this I might regret it someday…”)
–       Remote possible future need (“If I lose 40 pounds I might wear this”)
–       Obligation (“Everyone in the family expects me to keep this”)

Remember: simply keeping an item does not honor the item itself or the person from whom it came. In fact, storing belongings that you dislike can create negative associations, so you are sacrificing space and efficiency just to make yourself feel badly.

Right reasons to keep an item:

–       You love it
–       It makes you feel happy
–       It looks good on you
–       It brings back fond memories
–       You use it regularly
–       You need to keep it for legal/security reasons

#3 Everything you own needs a home.
Assuming you’ve culled your belongings to a reasonable amount, you must now designate a “home” for the possessions you keep. Every item in your space doesn’t necessarily need to be in its home at all times, but you need to be able to put it away. If you don’t know where something is supposed to go, you have zero chance of putting it there.

#4 Stop cleaning up and start restoring order.
Ever scurry around the house shoving stuff in drawers before guests come over? That’s cleaning up. The space looks nice, but it is completely disorganized. Perhaps you’ve been to a friend’s house and thought, “wow, they are so organized” because they don’t have anything out on the counters? Chances are if you opened a closet your might find a crowded mess. Organized doesn’t mean tidy, it means having things in the space you have intentionally decided is best for them.

Instead of cleaning up, take time at least once a day to restore order. This simply means walking around and putting items back into the “home” from principle #3. Sure, on any given evening, you may leave a couple of things out because you will still be working on them the following day. But generally speaking, order is a state which you create and then maintain. If you do this daily (or more), the task will never seem daunting or take too much time. I know, if you have others in your space who haven’t agreed to restore order, this can be harder. But at least you can start with the spaces you control.

*     *     *     *     *

Getting organized isn’t a one-time project. It is a life approach that hinges on the belief that belongings are acquired to make our life better, not worse. It is a daily discipline that makes space a sanctuary where you love to be.

Do you have a great tip for getting organized this year?

29 thoughts on “4 Steps to Organized”

  1. These are such great tips! It’s sometimes hard for us to face the fact that we don’t have the right house/closets for certain things. The sooner we accept it, the sooner we’ll be organized and happy with the things that DO fit!

    1. I know it is so hard to accept!! And depending on where we live and how many people share our space, it can be very tough. But its a crazy truth that having less stuff – which we can easily access and enjoy – is more pleasant that having more stuff that is crushed and squished into every corner. thanks for stopping by:)

  2. I definitely know the difference between cleaning up and restoring order! Cleaning up is a short-term solution..sometimes..but it certainly backfires if you don’t eventually restore order.
    And I have kept pre-pregnancy clothes, or even maternity clothes, with the remote chances that I’ll be 104 pounds ever again (would I want to be at 5’6″..no) or that I’ll ever have a third baby.
    VERY remote. I donated them all last week.

    1. I’m totally affirming and applauding you for donating the clothes, Tamara. I remember making that very same decision… it somehow feels like an “end” to get rid of the maternity clothes. But I’ve never regretted it:) Thankful for what I have to meet my needs NOW!

  3. Love this list! I’m a highly organized person…and then life hits and things gets out of order and I SO feel it. I’ve been crazy busy this last year finishing my book… and I can SO feel it (and see it around certain places in my house!). Gonna print this and post it for my mantra for the next month.

    1. Sounds like you have already embraced these ideas Kerith, but I agree the having something hanging up in a visible place can keep me motivated. Life events are the #1 reason for becoming disorganized, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Completing a book is such a major accomplishment, so be sure to celebrate what important:)

  4. How about – convince your relatives that you have to live within your space! It drives me crazy that my parents keep buying my kids toys that are completely impossible for us to store! I know they’re doing it because they got similar things for my sister’s kids, but they have a HUGE house and we do not!

    1. Oh I hear you Sarah. I remember begging my parents “please, no more stuffed animals”! I finally asked them to help me out with some things the kids wanted to do (e.g. $$ for lessons) and then give the kids candy or something disposable. They are giving out of love, but I totally hear you!!

  5. Oh, yes, I have my places where I stash stuff before guests arrive! But I also do try to put things away every morning in the kitchen/family room My office is another story -yikes! I can’t get control of the paper. I’m looking forward to more inspiring posts!

    1. Thanks for the nice comment, Amy. I would definitely say that paperwork is my clients’ #1 problem… hands down! Paperwork typically requires some time to process, so that is why it piles up. I commend you for doing a morning clean-up… sets the room to be enjoyed each day:)

    1. I’m feeling very good about you and getting organized this year, Michelle!! Purge away… I affirm, encourage and commend you!

  6. Oh I ALWAYS love your tips Seana!! I especially love #1. We taught our kids the same thing while growing up…toys stay in the playroom! 😀 Clutter gets on my nerves, lol! I say if you can’t find a home for it, then perhaps you may not need it. 🙂 Thanks as always for helping us declutter our lives! Hope you had a wonderful Christmas my friend and blessings to you for 2014!

    1. Thanks for these sweet words, Michell. I think we have a mutual admiration society here:) I love your line about not “needing it”… we sure do keep more than we need so much of the time. Have a wonderful first full week of 2014!

  7. These are some really simple and straight forward tips! But oh how I struggle with number 1. I love things and want to have everything just in case but the reality is that I end up frustrated because I don’t have the space to keep it organized and it becomes lost or misplaced and then just drives me crazy!

    1. You make such a good point, Kimber. So often when we keep something for a “just in case” need, when the need actually arises, we can’t find it! It is a struggle, so don’t berate yourself, just consider making a few different choices. Even a small step helps! Thanks for your comment:)

  8. Before I discovered the joys of being organized, I had to do the quick clean-up before company sometimes. One day I noticed that a particular kitchen utensil was missing and I couldn’t understand how that could happen. Some time later, I opened the oven and there it was, along with everything else I’d stashed in there before my guests arrived! Good thing I checked the oven BEFORE preheating! :O

    1. That’s so funny, Janet. Same thing happened to me with my warming drawer, which is way too convenient a “stash” place!!

  9. love these tips…so true and practical. Seriously my hubby holds onto items that he NO LONGER NEEDS…it drives me mad. so things start to disappear mysteriously, hee hee

    1. Hey Karen, if you can make the disappearing magic happen without any repercussions, I say good for you! It’s so common for one spouse to be a “pitcher” and another a “keeper”… keeps life interesting for sure:)

  10. I love this blog now! Thank you for taking time to comment on my blog and affirm that I’m on the right track with organizing. I love organizing and these tips are just spot on. Exactly what I need to remind me everyday that clean doesn’t equate to order. I love that you emphasized how things should have their home too and as for me, labels are my obsession. LOL. I love my chalk tags that I got from a local thrift store. 🙂

    1. I totally get the labeling obsession, Rea. My family laughs, but they are MUCH more likely to put things back in the right place if there is a label staring at them!! Those chalk tags really are so cute – would be perfect for a playroom with bins on a shelf because you could just draw a picture for little ones who don’t read yet:)

      1. Oh I love that idea!! Thank you!! Although we don’t really have our own space for a playroom just yet. Hehe. My kid usually just plays in the bedroom and sometimes the living room.

    1. It is so hard when you downsize to fit possessions from a larger home into a smaller space, isn’t it Jessica? Sounds like you’ve made good progress, and it takes a long time when you move to resettle your belongings into a new home. I always say “moving” is one of the life events that can result in feeling disorganized. Good luck!!!

    1. Thanks Chris… what a nice comment! I just love order… it makes me relaxed. That and a big dose of sunshine and warm weather:) Have a great day!

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