The year is coming to a close and soon we’ll be making those New Year’s Resolutions all over again! Is it just me or have you noticed that your goals look exactly the same every New Years Day? No, not the one about losing weight and getting to the gym…the one about being MORE ORGANIZED. If you’ve clicked on this post, you likely have that goal (or at least a vague wish) of getting more organized floating around in your head. That’s the problem isn’t it?
Our goals are often floating around, as vague concepts or wishes without any focus, clarity or action plan!
Well, in this post, you’re going to learn 5 strategies for finally putting your goals into action and getting organized at last!
Trust me…it’s worth the effort because you’ll gain time, clarity, and decrease your stress. Sounds good, right?
As a Professional Organizer, I work with women every day that struggle with getting and staying organized. Let me tell you…once they get organized they feel amazing and free to do all the other things in their life that they actually want to do. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but it’s really blinkin’ hard to chase down our dreams when there are piles of crap all over the place. Most of us can’t live in peace with homes in that state because we are constantly distracted by all the ‘undone’ things around us. It’s no way to live. It’s a waste of time, of energy and our our attention.
BUT, before we go any further I want to check in with you.
What is it you want?
Do you actually want to have an organized home or do you FEEL like you should want to have an organized home. There’s a big difference. Some of you can tolerate a higher level of clutter and live quite happily. The only reason you feel compelled to get more organized is from fear of judgement or snide comments made by others (mom, is that you?). Likely the work before you is to learn to let go of fear of judgements and the comparison trap. If you feel happy and at peace in your home (and there’s nothing dangerous or unhygienic about it)… then perhaps you’re better off spending your energy on other goals and letting your home stay just as it is! However, for most of you, you’re clear that having an organized home is important to you and will maintain your sanity! But, you have that vague notion of wanting to get organized but no idea how to make it concrete. First we must make it a priority, then set a clear and specific goal and then create an action plan!
A goal without a plan is just a wish
Here are 5 key strategies that will lead you to the organized home of your dreams.
Strategy 1: Why, Why, Why?
You need to start here. Having a very clear sense of your motives for getting organized will go a long way towards keeping you focused on the outcome of your efforts. Ask yourself: Why do I want to get organized?
- What difference will it make in make life?
- How will having an organized home help me achieve my life goals?
- Is there anything blocking my way to getting organized?
Grab a journal and write down your answers to these questions. Doing this brief check in with yourself will help you define your goal and help you get in touch with your motivation. We only spend the time and effort chasing goals that will bring us an outcome that we need and want in our life. For more tips on creating your organizing vision check out my post “3 Questions to Ask Before Organizing Anything”
Strategy 2: From Brain to Paper
Okay, now you know your ‘why’. It’s time to decide on your what. Here’s where you brainstorm a list of all the areas/rooms in your home that you want to get organized. It might be a big list and that’s okay! The very process of putting these thoughts to paper will take the stress level down a bit. Next, I want you to go back and number each area in order of priority. When setting priorities think about which one, when accomplished, will have the biggest impact on your day to day life! Pick that one! When setting priorities think about which one, when accomplished, will have the biggest impact on your day to day life!
Strategy 3: Meat on the Bones Okay, so now you have a clear sense of your priority…
- Organize the front hall closet
- Organize the kids toys
- Organize my home office.
Great. Now we have to put some meat on the bones of this goal. What are the steps involved in tackling this area?
Let’s assume you’ve chosen the goal of getting the toys organized. Now we have to break it down and get more specific.
For example, this goal might include:
→ Getting rid of old, broken, unused toys
→ Setting up one area in the home where all of the toys will be kept/stored
→ Make sure kids can easily access and put toys away
Don’t forget to set specific time frames for when you’ll complete this goal.
For example: →This goal will be completed by the end of the month
→This goal will be completed this weekend.
Make sure the time you plan to spend on this goal is reflected in your daily calendar (because that’s where all of your high priority tasks are found, right?). It’s a perfect way to bump this vague wish into ‘yes-I-will-finally-do-this’ territory.
Before starting the job, make sure you have everything in place that you’ll need. You’ve come this far, you may as well do it right! Think it terms of supplies and scheduling.
→Purchase large clear plastic bags for donations
→Purchase storage unit for Lego
→Purchase new shelf for books/games
→Arrange for child care on Saturday so I can work without interruption. There, that puts a little more meat on the bones of your goal. Now you’re ready for action.
Strategy 4: ACTION
Here’s where the magic happens. You will be taking action and making big changes in the feel and flow of your home.
Here’s a very brief outline of my DREAM method which will be a great help as you navigate this job.
D – Decision Making Okay, let’s assume you are trying to get the kids toys organized. I’m a momma of 3 so know that those toys are likely spread throughout the home! So, you’ll want to start by gathering these toys…use big bins or bags and get them all together (ideally in the area where you want to actually keep them stored at the end of this project) Now let’s make some decisions. Does this toy belong in the keep, toss, or donate pile? Okay, once each and every toy is in the right category you can properly see how much of each you have. You might find that you have too many colouring books, for instance, and can quickly add a few more to the donate pile.
R – Removal One of the most satisfying parts of decluttering is feeling the ‘space’ in our homes start to grow. It’s best to get all of the donation bags, garbage bags, etc. out of the house asap. You’ll feel the progress and give yourself more room to complete the next steps. Also, make a specific plan for when you’ll deliver the donated items…and yes, put in in your calendar! For now, put everything in the trunk of your car if you can.
E – Establish Categories Now it gets fun. Do your best to group all like items together. Common toy categories might include:
- Craft supplies
- Animal and People Characters
- Musical instruments/toys
- Activity books
- Colouring supplies
Now we have to put our thinking caps on, zoom out a little, and think about your kid’s play habits and patterns. Obviously, anything they use often will need to be very easily accessible. If you have younger kids, you will want to ensure the craft supplies are kept out of reach. It would be great if you could choose just one (or two) areas in your home where all these toys will be kept/stored. Then think of this area as a library. Sure your kids can take the toys to other rooms to use them but, when finished, they are returned to ‘library’. Make sense? What I do with my kids is let them have a small bin in each of their rooms where they keep some of their favourite toys and books. Once they’re bored of those they can simply trade them out for new ones. It’s not a perfect system and of course it can get unruly sometimes…but, for the most part, it’s great!
A – Arrange Here’s where it gets pretty! My favourite part and likely yours too. Now you have your categories sorted. You have a central location for this ‘toy library’. Now it’s time the decide on the best way to store and label each category.
***Cue the angelic choir…this might involve a trip to IKEA! Oh I love IKEA! It could also just be a trip to your local dollar store (or even your basement).
⇒ So grab a pen and paper and write down the categories.
⇒ Look at the volume of each category to help you decide on the size of the bins/boxes/containers needed.
⇒ Consider the style of containers you want? Will the toys be stored within a cupboard or closet? If so, perhaps using simple plastic containers will suffice. If you’re trying to tie it in with your decor, you might prefer wicker or fabric.
⇒ Do you need to purchase any storage furniture?
⇒ What is your budget?
⇒ Before heading to the stores, I recommend you do a little online research first. This will help you get clear on what you need before facing the overwhelming options a store provides.
⇒ Happy Shopping!
⇒ Now arrange all items into proper containers. Use labels where you like. Place containers were they go. Voila! You’re a pro.
M – Maintain As you have likely learned along the way, organization is not a one-stop-shop. Even though it takes lots of effort to get it organized it takes almost no effort to undo all of your hard work. What’s needed now are some NEW HABITS. Sticking with our example in the case of toys, I would show the kids each category and do your best, in a really positive, upbeat way to describe how and why it’s set the way it is. Most kids will love this sense of order…after all, it’s what they’re often exposed to in the school setting. Depending on the age of the kids, you may want to brainstorm the best ways to keep the toys organized (put things away right after using them, a 10 minute clean up ‘blitz’ after supper every day, etc.) Incentive always works well so you may even offer a small prize at the end of the week for a good job using the new system. Habit building in all ages can take a little incentive.
Strategy 5: Build Your Habits
We don’t expect to clean our house and never have to do it again! Same goes for home organizing. Often we have to do a lot of work to get everything back to ‘square one’ by doing a big declutter and setting up new systems. However, in many ways, that’s the easy part! Now we have to change how we function within our homes. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of getting in the habit of putting things away where we found them (because we found them where we want them to live, right?) This can be easier said than done. Another good idea is to spend 10 minutes at the end of each day to do a quick tidy getting things back where they belong. I think the biggest challenge with maintaining order is the constant influx of things coming into our home…from toys, to clothes, to groceries, etc. So be mindful and make sure you let in only the things you love and plan to use. A ‘one in one out’ method might be useful for you. For instance, if you buy a new pair of shoes make sure you donate one of your older pairs. Why not start doing Organizing Blitzes? These can actually be a fun and focused way to get things back to where they belong when the house starts to get unruly. Mark these sessions in your calendar, crank up the tunes and include the whole family. You will be so glad you did and you’ll be amazed at how lovely your home always looks and feels. The last thing you want to do is waste all that effort you spend getting organized in the first place.
- ‘Organizing Blitz’ sessions daily (10-15 minutes)- pick a room or two that are getting unruly and put everything away. Remember it’s so much easier to do it when there are a few things rather than endless piles.
- ‘Organizing Blitz’ sessions weekly (1 hour) – Perhaps pick a closet or a pile of paperwork for these sessions.
- ‘Organizing Blitz’ sessions monthly (3 hours) – Crank up the tunes and go room to room putting things back where they go.
Okay! Have fun smashing your goals. I promise…you’ll be glad you did.
If you’d like a copy of the D.R.E.A.M. Method for getting organized click below. https://pages.convertkit.com/b186f2abf9/641774589c
Allison Moon Professional Organizing www.allisonmoon.org 289-829-3223.