Q: My Get Up and Go, Got Up and Went. How do I get started organizing?
—Lost in Little Harbour
A: Dear Lost,
Finding the energy to begin organizing can feel like an insurmountable task. Our stuff
impacts our mental health. It’s scientifically proven that unorganized and cluttered
spaces can lead to higher levels of cortisol resulting in anxiety. In short, our mess
I’ve found that the best way to accomplish tasks is by breaking things down into smaller steps. In my experience, bite-sized accomplishments are more manageable. There is no “right” way to start organizing. Some people work better with help while others prefer to go solo. A “just do it” method may not work for you. You might need plenty of support with clear goals.
That said, here are a few tips that you can use to get those organizing projects started. Dress for Success – Putting on comfortable shoes and clothing helps signal that you mean business. Decluttering and organizing can be very strenuous. Prepare to get physical.
Set the Mood – Put on your favourite playlist and crank some tunes to boost your energy and start off with a positive outlook. Podcasts are another option to keep you engaged.
Prepare a Toolkit – Garbage and recycling bags are good to have close by. A few empty boxes are great for donations or storage. An empty bin or laundry basket is handy for misplaced items that belong in other rooms. Just be sure to return the misplaced items to their appropriate homes.
Clean Sweep – If you are dealing with a covered floor, think of a broom as an extra set of hands. Sweep everything into one or two piles in each room. You have created workable space; it’s a lot easier to sort things into groups to be put away with an
accessible pile right in front of you.
Rock Around the Clock – Visualize the room as a big clock. Consider the worst area at 12:00. Begin there and organize in a clockwise pattern. If you happen to get pulled away or distracted, then you can clearly see where you need to pick back up.
Set Timers – A timer is useful if you have limited time or require a concise beginning and end for tasks. Don’t forget to reward your hard work with breaks!
Embrace Drop Zones – Designate a spot for everyday items that tend to accumulate. It prevents your home from filling with out of place objects.
Consider the 80/20 Rule – We tend to use only 20% of the things we own on a regular basis. For example, 80% of the time we wear the same 20% of our clothing. It’s easy to get stuck thinking about the sunk cost of stuff. That money is gone, the only value that remains is the benefit the objects provide currently.
Attack the Flat – Arrow in on flat surfaces like counter tops and tables. Cleared flat surfaces give an instant cleaner visual appearance to spaces.
Make Snap Decisions – Try not to spend a lot of time making decisions on what to do with items. If you are struggling with certain objects, then ask yourself if you truly need the item. If necessary, sleep on the decision.
Dust if You Must – Don’t worry too much about deep cleaning as you go. Clean any obvious messes. Focus on dealing with the bulk of stuff and making your space comfortable and livable.
So, Lost, try a few of these strategies to help you get started. The disorganization didn’t happen overnight; organizing will take time too. Be gentle with yourself.