6 Tips for Tackling the Organizing Process
There’s no doubt that organizing is all the rage right now, but did you know that it’s more than just the latest “it” thing to do? As we found out in Organizing for Your Health and Wellbeing, Part I, it’s not only good for your state of mind, it’s important for your overall health too. As we know, what affects one, affects the other.
Jenna Fischer with The Arranged Abode has already shared why getting and staying organized is good for our health as well as some budget-friendly tips to help get us started. If you missed that part, be sure and check out her valuable advice. Next though, is figuring out how to tackle the organizing process. Fortunately, Jenna’s here to guide us again and to help us make our organizing dream a reality while potentially helping to tame those stress hormones in the process.
With the popularity of Marie Kondo’s “Tidying Up” concepts right now, you may be thinking that you have to follow her method to a “T,” or that a friend’s system of organizing is what you’re supposed to do. Maybe or maybe not. Jenna says that every family is different, and it’s never one size fits all. “There are some people who are super aesthetically on point, meaning everything needs to look exactly the same. And then there are other people who just want very broad categories as far as how things are displayed.” The key is figuring out what works best for you and what the best way is to get there. We’ve already heard from Jenna on where to start. Now she gives us her top six tips for tackling the organizing process.
- Compartmentalize by room. Jenna’s system of organizing is based on the idea that each room and possibly closets and specific spaces within rooms are their own projects. Kitchens and garages are two separate things, so many people may find it easier to tackle them as such. Organizing a kitchen requires a completely different mindset and different amounts of time than organizing a garage, and organizing a garage is very different than organizing a bedroom. Even when it comes to a master bedroom, that may be something entirely separate from organizing a master closet, depending on how much stuff is being stored.
- Determine how you work in a space. Whether it’s a kitchen, kids’ room or office, you need to figure out what the room’s purpose is for whomever is using it and what type of workflow or system feels the most natural in that space. In a kitchen, for example, Jenna thinks plates should usually be in one of two different places – very close to the stove or close to the dishwasher. That way, they’re either easy to get or they’re easy to put away. But, if your family doesn’t have or use a dishwasher that much, then that’s something to take into consideration too. Same thing with your closet. Jenna says some people are very particular in the way their work clothes versus their play clothes are laid out. She says in that situation, maybe the work clothes need to be closer to the front of the closet if the person is working most of the time. The main thing is to figure out what you need that space to do in coordination with how you live your life.
- Figure out how to make your space work for you. Jenna says that for her, organizing is all about “spacial efficiency” and figuring out where we want to put things and what we want to put them in. It’s a combination of design and optimizing space because “We only have so much prime real estate in our home.” That’s the space that’s easy to get to and easy to work with. Jenna says we tend to try to stuff everything into that prime real estate and forget to use or don’t know how to make the most of other space in our homes. For that space, she says, we need to think creatively. For example, by using bins, you can turn one top shelf in your closet into vertical storage space. Then buy a step ladder and have a place to store it close by so that you’ll actually use it and the things that you’ve now stored.
- Understand that there really is a finite amount of space. Jenna acknowledges that not everyone wants to purge their stuff when they start organizing, they simply want to store it in a way that’s more efficient and pleasing to look at. That’s perfectly fine, she says. But, we do have to recognize that very few houses are ever going to be big enough if we don’t get rid of some of our things when they’re no longer serving us or when we’ve simply run out of room. So, when you start the organizing process, determine from the beginning whether you’re simply rearranging or whether you’re truly decluttering.
- Set a timer. For really overwhelming or daunting projects, Jenna suggests setting a timer for 15, 20 or 30 minutes. Something that seems manageable.
- Find ways to make the task enjoyable. If it’s going through papers or sorting things, sit down in front of the TV and watch or at least listen to a show while you work. Jenna says that’s one way to make a seemingly mundane or tough task more enjoyable.
When to Call in Outside Help
Jenna is a full supporter of Do-It-Yourself and loves it when people can figure out how to do that. But, she says, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help. For some people, organizing comes naturally. For others, the idea of an organizing project is completely overwhelming. For those people, outside help may be needed. That doesn’t have to mean that someone swoops in and does everything for you. While that can certainly happen if that’s what you want, having the help of a professional organizer or even just a good friend can turn what feels like an overwhelming task into a manageable undertaking. It may just be that you need an outside perspective to help think about your space differently or that you may need extra arms to help lighten the load.
Jenna says that for some of her clients who have years of paper clutter to go through, it sometimes helps just to have someone going through it with them and discussing what should be kept and what doesn’t need to be. Another time when Jenna is called in is when couples are having disagreements about what should go and what should stay and where it should stay. In those cases, she says, most people find she’s much cheaper than therapy when all that’s really needed is a little organizing mediation.
At the end of the day, any organizing you can do will help to make your life run more smoothly. And that, is a valuable investment in your mental wellbeing and your health.