Since we are still in the first week of the New Year, I thought I'd share some organizing tips to make your home a more wonderful place to live. This is by far one of the biggest goals I've heard people talk about so far this week. Organizing your home can feel like a daunting task but it doesn't have to be.
I originally began my design business as a Professional Organizer as I enjoy helping people set up systems so they can be more productive, relaxed and enjoy their home. Here are some tips from an article that I wrote in that are sure to get you headed towards a clutter-free home.
ORGANIZE YOUR HOME WITH 7 SIMPLE SECRETS
Say NO to Clutter!
When was the last time you opened the door to that forbidden room, you know the one that you keep all of your items that you are unsure where else to put? Maybe it's the multi-purpose room that serves as your closet, guest room, office and dumping ground? You can be free and rid your home of clutter once and for all. There are lots of people who feel hopeless in their piles of laundry, papers, and heaps of unused items. Those that have an organized space have simply chosen to live clutter-free, and are not any smarter or luckier than you. They know a few simple secrets that allow their home to be organized and therefore stress free. I want to help you take charge and gain control of your home and life! Let's get started...
1. Out with the OLD, in with the NEW!
To minimize what goes into your house in the first place, remember this simple rule: If you bring a new item in, then one has got to go! For example when I buy new clothes I look at what I have before I go shopping. This way I don't wind up with 4 white v-neck t-shirts. When I come home from my shopping trip with a pair of jeans, 2 blazers and a sweater, I look at what will now go out the door also. That may be the old items I'm replacing or simply just other clothing items, otherwise my closet would become a jam-packed disaster quickly. The same is true for furniture (unless you're filling a new home or simply don't have ANY furniture), as well as other household items like candlestick holders, napkins etc...
2. Keep Out!
One thing I've coach my clients on is keeping a clutter-free home by refusing to bring some items inside the house to begin with. Junk mail, flyers, trash from the car, and unwanted items are just a few that come to mind. In order to avoid these, I sift through my mail and flyers near the garage where the recycling and trash bins are. Then I can immediately get rid of what we don't need. I do the same with any trash in our car. If we pickup some bottled water, or take home bulletins from church, the minute we get out of the car next, be it at a gas station or at home, the garbage goes!
You can simply say no to friends, family or neighbors that want to burden you with junk. If you really don't want the item they give you but they insist you have it, toss it as soon as you get inside or find someone else to give it to that will like it, you can even re-gift it. This may sound cruel but so is the pushiness of some people in our life who have us take what we truly don't want. Email works the same. As soon as I open my email the first thing that I do is highlight all the junk and hit delete. Once trash is out of the way I can focus on the important messages. Also, it frees me up from heaps of junk messages that use up my storage space. Think about what items you could eliminate like this everyday.
3. Don't Keep Things You Don't Like
This probably sounds obvious, but you would be surprised at the amount of clients I have worked with that actually keep items they think are ugly or just don't fit any room in their home! Don't hold onto old furniture or keepsakes that have been handed down to you just because a loved one gave them to you. Simply give the items to someone that you know who will actually like and want them. If that is not an option then donate them or sell them on ebay and make some money while you are at it! It is good to be proactive in this area also.
I myself almost got stuck with a heap of antique furniture while moving down south as my grandmother was getting ready to move to a retirement home at the same time. I had to just say "I would love to, but I simply can't. This eliminated a lot of lifting, transporting and storing of unwanted goods just to appease her. I much preferred that she sell it to an antique dealer and keep the money for herself.
4. Don't Become a Storage Unit for Friends
While we're on the subject of "storing" items, it is never a good idea to store items for friends, relatives or neighbors. They often have the best intention to come back and pick them up but they sometimes don't. This leaves you stuck with someone else's unwanted stuff. If you are currently in this situation, call up these individuals and tell them you are doing an early 'spring cleaning' and simply cannot hold onto their belongings anymore. You can instruct them to come over and get them within a few days, and if they don't, you can let them know that you'll donate them to Salvation Army on their behalf if they would prefer. This is not being rude, after all they left THEIR stuff at YOUR house! This is simply reclaiming your home, life and letting you get free from clutter.
5. Have a Measurable De-cluttering Goal
It is important to have goals set for anything you wish to achieve in life. Organizing and getting rid of clutter in your home are no different. I know that the piles can seem daunting but when you have a set goal you will not only feel in control, but you will have direction and a sense of accomplishment when you are finished. For example if you are looking to clean up your basement or even a closet, have a goal that you want 25% of the items to be gone. Those items need to leave the house for trash or donation unless it is a piece of furniture, or valuable item. If they don't then all you have done is allocated clutter to other areas of your home. Maybe your goal is to get rid of 40 pieces of clothing/shoes. Whether in increments or as an entirety, create a goal as to what you want the end result to look like.
6. Start Small
Most of my clients have called me to help them because the feeling of being overwhelmed by clutter was too much for them, moreso because they had no idea where or how to start. This need not be complicated nor make you overly exhausted. If a full room is too much for one day, spend one hour per day or a particular part of a room such as all of the dresser drawers as day 1, and what is under the bed as part 2 etc. Starting small allows you to feel a sense of relief, but often times you'll find that once you get on a roll, you won't want to stop until the room is done. You'll surprise yourself! Put on some of your favorite music and get started!
7. My step-by-step Secrets to Organize ANY Room
I will let you in on my secrets of organizing because anybody can do this, you need not be a rocket scientist! Firstly, pick one room at a time like the spare/guest bedroom. Make 4 piles in that room. One pile is for trash, another pile is for items you don't want but wish to donate, and the third for items that truly belong elsewhere in the house like oven mitts or CD's, and the forth is for items you wish to sell online or at a garage sale. If you were planning a garage sale anyway you can add the items for donation to this. Then get some garbage bags and take the trash to the curb. This will not only make you feel less overwhelmed but give you more space to work and walk in.
From there you can decide if you want to display certain items, or if they are to be filed or stored away neatly. All of these items can be labeled with a marker and masking tape or label maker (this is a great investment). Then take all of the items that did not belong to their appropriate space and distribute them accordingly. This need not be complicated, just pace yourself and take your time during each step. Most importantly, you need to be brutally honest about what you use and what you don't. You've probably heard this before, but it's so true, if you haven't worn it in a year or you haven't used it in the past 6 months (other than seasonal decor), you should probably get rid of it because you WON'T use it!
Have FUN! I know that the time you put into your home will give you such an amazing sense of accomplishment. It will brighten your spirit and give you the desire to not only tackle other areas of your home, but keep them that way!
What areas of your home have you recently tackled? How did you feel afterwards?