One of my big goals this year is organization…it was one of my three words for my New Year’s Resolutions. I can help you organize your photos and your social media, but I need help organizing just about everything else! I asked friend and professional organizer Seana Turner to walk us through how to organize rooms and spaces in honor of GO Month, which is the entire month of January. The picture below is my office! See, I told you I needed help!
Do you ever pick up a magazine with a flashy title such as “How to Get Organized This Weekend” and then look through the beautiful, color-coordinated rooms with perfect spaces for every item and think “I can never do that”? My advice is, don’t even try. Most of the magazines “stage” the results, often without including the items that were originally in the space. Furthermore, many of them are more focused on selling products than they are on giving practical instruction for how to get organized.
If you really want to get organized, follow these simple steps. They work for all rooms and spaces.
EMPTY THE SPACE
Yes, this makes a mess. But it will always get worse before it gets better. It is absolutely necessary to get your belongings out where you can see them. It is wise to try and identify a location where these items can stay throughout the duration of the project. It is also helpful to have a table (such as a card table) to use as your reviewing table for the next step.
SORT YOUR STUFF
Items need to be brought to your sorting table for review. Items need to be sorted into the following categories, which fit the acrostic R.E.D.D.S. It is a good idea to have at least one box or bag for each category. Empty laundry baskets, cardboard banker boxes and bags with handles are all good tools. Label each container – it can get confusing as you start sorting!
- RETURN. These are the items you wish to keep and which you would like to return to the space from which they have been removed. (You may need more than one box to hold these items if you are organizing a large space. If this is the case, designate a holding area).
- ELSEWHERE. These are items that have ended up in the wrong part of your home or office. For example, the hammer you brought in from the garage three months ago which got stashed in the kitchen drawer before a party. At the end of each sorting session, carry the elsewhere box around your space and put things back.
- DONATE. These are items you are willing to part with which can still be of use to someone else. Put them in your car to drop off at a local charity, or if you have a lot to donate, schedule online for a pick-up from either the Vietnam Veterans (PickUpPlease.org) or the Salvation Army (satruck.org/donate-goods)
- DISPOSE. These are items that neither you nor anyone else want. Some might be simple garbage that you can pitch in the trash can, while others might require special disposal. For example, batteries and printer cartridges can be recycled. Hazardous materials such as used paint and old medications need special handling. Paperwork with personal information should be shredded.
- STORE. Many times we want to keep items but we don’t need to access them on a daily basis. Perhaps we have an old shirt that has sentimental value, but is out of fashion. Or we have a stack of paperwork we need to keep for tax purposes, but which we don’t need cluttering our prime storage drawers. These items can be moved into boxes, labeled, and moved to remote locations such as basements, attics, crawl spaces, high closet shelves, or under beds.
RELOAD THE SPACE
Here is where you may find it helpful to do some shopping for bins, boxes, shelving, etc. to help you maximize the space and get organized. If it is a public space, such as a desk in your kitchen, you may also consider adding decorative elements such as paint or artwork.
But remember, do not begin with shopping. Make shopping the last step. You should wait until you see what you actually have left to organize before spending money on products.
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It is always a good idea to start small when learning a new technique. Perhaps begin with an overstuffed drawer. As you practice, this approach will become easier, and you will be empowered to tackle organizing all of your spaces with success!
Other posts you may find helpful:
- How to Tame the Paperwork Pile-Up
- How to Love and Live with Your Disorganized Partner
- 5 Digital Photo Organizing Tips to Help You Take Control of Your Digital Life
Linking up with Do Tell Tuesdays
Born and raised outside Philadelphia, Seana attended The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania where she earned a BSE. She moved to CT in 1989 where she worked in Marketing Consulting until deciding to leave full time employment to be home with her children. During this time, she often found herself being tapped by friends and family members to help them “get organized,” and consequently realized this could be something valuable to offer the marketplace.
Over time, Seana developed The Seana Method, and since her launch has found great joy in helping others realize the freedom that organization can bring to life. Her specialties include:
- Listening… and customizing strategies for each unique situation.
- Helping clients discern what is necessary and beneficial in their lives vs. what is burdensome and wasteful.
- Keeping clients motivated and on task, seeing their projects through to completion.
- Designing floor plans and layouts to maximize the efficient use of space.
- Speaking to groups about simple strategies for bringing organization into any setting.
Seana lives in the New York metro area with her husband and two daughters.