As we start on our first collective organizing challenge, I thought it was important to share how I start my projects – with the goal of decluttering.  Or uncluttering, if you like.

Declutter is not a word, let’s be clear on that.  Unclutter is a word.  No matter which one you use, they have the same goal in mind:

Get all that extra stuff you don’t need out of your house.

When I moved from Madison to DC in March, I had to do this on a pretty big scale.  I went through each room, each closet, each nook in the house and evaluate whether or not we should move it.  This was a bit of a daunting task for me.  I get pretty attached to my “stuff” and I really dislike throwing perfectly usable products,  so I really needed to exercise a lot of rational thinking while going through each room.  This was both physically and mentally tiring, but in the end the whole process was worth it.

We were able to donate, give away or toss a lot of things I had been holding onto since college (for no good reason in a lot of cases), which not only made our move a little bit easier, but also gave us a feeling of starting over with a clean slate once we arrived on the East Coast.

As you start your next organizing project, here’s a few tips for how to get started:

  1. Set a goal and keep this goal in mind while working
    • What should the purpose of this space be? What do you want this space to look like when you’re done?  How do you want this space to make you feel?
    • Maybe you need to set smaller goals – so for this first day you’re really just trying to get all that extra stuff that you don’t need out of your house.  And that’s it.  While moving, that was a really powerful idea to keep in my head as I worked.
  2. Put on some music! Make this a fun time for you.
  3. Clear everything out of the space
    • Take all the spices off the shelf; take all your clothes out of the closet; remove everything from the bookcase.
    • This allows you to:
      • actually see how MUCH stuff you’ve accumulated (and how this is unnecessary in most cases).
      • resets how you view your belongings, since you’re seeing them in a new environment.
  4. Sort First – Like with the Like
    • Put all your black cardigans in one pile (OMG that was scary for me); put all your sock yarns together; group all the kitchen utensils together.
    • By putting all similar items in one group, it’s easy to identify duplicates as well as areas you might be lacking.
  5. Sort again – Donate, Toss, Keep
    • Set up three distinct piles or boxes: one for donations, one for the trash, and one for things to keep.
    • Go through each and every item and decide if this will be donated, tossed, or kept.
    • Donated clothes and goods must be in decent shape in order to be accepted.  Any clothes that are too worn out should be tossed or turned into rags (but only if you actually use rags and don’t have a huge pile already.  even your rag pile should be decluttered).
    • Everything you want to keep should be things you actually use/wear and are happy to keep in your home.  You could go as far to say that you need to love everything that you own or everything you keep brings your some amount of joy.  Just keep this goal in mind as you sort!

Hopefully this gives you the push to go and get started! I’m starting on my spice shelf today and will share the full results next week.

Happy organizing!

As I mentioned in my first post, organizing is something I’ve always loved to do.  I love figuring out how to maximize a space’s potential.  The space is transformed physically, but my feeling about the space is also changed – I’m actually happier being in the space itself.

You may be thinking, that’s great for you Elizabeth, but what about me, your faithful reader (who may not love love love organizing like you do)?

Although I’m on team organizing, I don’t organize just for organizing’s sake.  I have TONS of other things I’d like to be doing with my life.  I’m not alone on this.  These days, everyone seems so busy.  Not only do people have work, family and other responsibilities like keeping the house clean, people also want to live a rich life — being social, learning new hobbies, traveling, reading…

By keeping my space organized, I help to minimize the time I spend on those “boring responsibilities,” which in turn, helps to maximize the time I have to do the other things I love.  I’ve been working on a mantra when it comes to organizing; its current form is:

Make room to live your life.

When a space is organized, your things are where they need to be and can be easily found.  This way, you are more efficient at finding whatever tools you need to get those boring tasks done.  Also, I feel a sense of accomplishment and calmness from being in an organized space.  I feel better and happier with myself and my life!

Talking about organizing is all well and good, but I think it’s time to do something! It’s time to get bo-rganized!

Let’s start with a small, manageable project.  Has something been staring you in the face for weeks (months) maybe?  That pile of “important” papers you “need” to look at or that ridiculously cluttered shelf in your kitchen (not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything). Make the commitment to cleaning up that space.

Now, choose a timeline for your project.  Can you do it this weekend? Or next? Or maybe tomorrow night?  Pick a date to start and finish the project and stick to it.

If you need help picking a project I read a great post about this problem this week.  Check it out here.

spicesbefore1I’m committing to fixing my mess of a spice shelf. When we moved into our new apartment, I just put all of the spice I moved into a corner cabinet.  And left them there for me to shuffle through every time I cook.  They are a mess.  I will have this project complete by EOD August 4th.  Thanks to Annie for the inspiration to push me to finally tackle this project!

Add your project and your timeline in the comments!  It’s like the buddy system. It’ll help, I promise.

Happy bo-rganizing!!