1. Get Messy. When you’re ready to get organized, you first have to make a fantastic mess. When working in kitchens, you’ve got to pull everything out. EVERYTHING. It’s impossible to see ALL that you actually have unless you pull it out. The same in your bedroom, office, or garage.
2. Sort Like With Like. As you’re emptying cabinets and drawers, begin sorting into piles of similar items. Pots got with pots. Hammers go with hammers. Scissors with other “cutting tools” and tape with other “adhesives.” Following me so far?
3. Edit Out The Things You No Longer Need, Use, or Love. I hope you’ve got a few extra boxes, trash bags, and recycle bins ready for this step. All the broken and stained items go in the trash. Anything still usable (but not personally useful to you on a regular basis of at least once a year) goes toward donations or resale. Go ahead and list each item that you’re tossing into the donate pile so that you’re ready for your tax-deductible receipt when you drop your donations off. If you’re feeling really ambitious, price the items that you’re tossing into the resale bin so you only have to think about it once.
4. Contain The Rest. This is the step you’re most excited about. It’s the step we often try to skip to without putting in any of the HARD WORK required in steps one through three. Trust me, skipping to this step won’t help you get organized. Seriously. You’ll just end up with lots of extra storage bins around your house that never get used. You know EXACTLY which ones I’m talking about. But that’s in the past! We’re going to put those bins to use AFTER steps 1-3.
5. Enjoy Your Organized Space. This is my favorite step. It should be the step that happens continuously, because good systems and easy to access containers create a system that is easy to maintain.
Now let’s go back to step 4.
Containers might be the most fun and creative part of getting organized. They enable you to make the space what you truly want it to be! Your kitchen, office, outdoor living space, fill in the blank can be just like your inspiration pics from Pinterest…..assuming budget and space restraints don’t interfere ;)
But how do you know WHICH containers to pick?
Always measure the piles that you’re KEEPING. The kept items will determine how much space you’ll need inside cabinets, drawers, bins, and closets to stay organized. Add an extra 25% to your “needed” space so that you’ll have room to grow (by 5% at most, because you should be subtracting each time you add) and space to be messy in the interim.
WHAT?! Messy in the interim?! Yes, it’s true.
We aren’t living in a magazine; we’re living in real life. Some spaces are BOUND to get messy in the interim. Pantries are a prime example of this. While we should keep them organized all the time, there will be a day when you’ve gone to the grocery store but you didn’t have time to put all the pantry items away. They will sit in bags in your extra 25% for a day maybe two while your crazy schedule calms down. But in the interim of that crazy time, the extra 25% space allows you to have a functional pantry. Laundry rooms also require this. As much as I wish everyone could run their clothes through the wash, dry them, fold them, and return them back to their closets on the same day, that’s just not real life. Real life requires that you’ve got a space open to catch that basket of clothes that you just couldn’t finish today. Get my drift? Cabinets that hold mugs should NEVER require any extra space because your mug stash will remain fairly unchanged; however, if you like your cabinets to appear balanced and airy, you’ll need a good amount of negative/unused space (like 25%) to achieve that feeling.
So trust me on that 25% thing, ok?
Now that you know what SIZE containers you need, assess what you’ve already got. In kitchens, you most likely have built-in cabinets and drawers. Use these to your advantage. But remember that zone (or point of use) always trumps size of space available.
Buy what you need based on the size of what you need to contain. For offices, bedrooms, closets, or pantries, you may need to add a few containers like a set of filing cabinets (or a crate that holds hanging files), bins for kids’ toys, baskets for cupcake and brownie mixes, etc. I know all the matching nesting containers at TJMaxx are gorgeous, but only buy that three-pack if you know EXACTLY what going inside the baskets when you get home.
Pay attention to style and functionality. Keep your containers similar in shape and color based on the room so that you can easily swap them if one set of items grows and another shrinks. A great example of a needed swap might be the bin that holds the toys (which will shrink over time) and the bin that contains school-work supplies (which will grow over time). One sure-fire way to help you stay organized is to use containers that you love to look at. An ugly space never helped anyone. Decide what your “beautiful” is and aim for that pattern and texture. My garage has a lot of white bins. My pantry has a lot of tan bins. My girls’ room has pink bins that match the playful patterns on the walls. Don’t settle for a container just because it fits your dimensions. If the dresser you found is the wrong color and one drawer short, pass on the purchase and keep looking.
Getting organized is about living simply. Living simply means eliminating distractions and creating easier solutions to the clutter attacks. Your life should function better and your space feel more welcoming when you’ve finished containing the items that you need, use, and love.