Most people who are struggling to get organized simply don’t know where to start, because they have clutter in multiple areas and it is hard to establish priorities, let alone take action. Typically, there is a fear that they will not be successful on their own. I like to start any organizing project by producing an action plan that has my client’s goals in mind.
You’re overwhelmed. You work full-time. You have a family at home. All you seem to do is work-work-work (for everyone else). There is absolutely no time for vacations (or even weekend getaways). Not to mention, you can’t even rest when you are sick, so the ability to maintain a clutter-free home is nearly impossible.
It’s obvious there is too much on your plate. There are too many emails coming in, too much stuff surrounding you, and too many people vying for your attention.
It’s no wonder you are overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin to get organized!!
HOW DO I GET ORGANIZED WHEN CLUTTER IS EVERYWHERE?
SUPPORT YOURSELF FIRST AND THEN SET A VISION
No one will support you if you don’t support yourself. Really think about what you want to accomplish. What is your situation now and what will it look like when you are done? Before you can determine how to get where you want to be, you must figure out where you are going.
Is your vision to have zero clutter around you? To have more time to focus on the things that are important to you? Define your vision and exactly what you want for your life.
WRITE DOWN YOUR GOALS
You’ll need to set clear goals before you can devise a plan. Don’t just keep these goals in your mind – write them down and place them in an easy-to-access location.
Have them visible to you AND the people who live with you. Imagine a white marker board in the room where you are focusing first (ideally the location that will make the most impact in your life.)
If not on the wall, you can place it on an easel in a corner of the room. Make your goals, your family’s goals!
KNOW “WHY” YOU ARE WORKING TOWARDS BETTER ORGANIZATION
Before you start, know your motivation for doing all of this.
Is there a new year right around the corner and do you want to do it differently?
Are you facing a move and downsize soon and need to get a handle on your current home?
Have the kids all grown and moved out and do you want to recreate your space?
Whatever your inspiration, it will help to keep you focused as you move through this challenging process.
INVOLVE OTHERS FOR ACCOUNTABILITY AND TO SHARE THE WEIGHT
Involving the others in your household, or even those you trust outside of your house, will help you to be accountable and stay on track.
When you know someone is watching you, you are more likely to feel that fire under your rear to get it done!
Give them permission to check in on your progress. Even better if those in your household share in your goal and will physically help you to get it done.
Let’s be honest…burnout is real! When you make the decision to make such a drastic change in your life, you will be faced with roadblocks. Life moves quickly and there is always something getting in the way – that is, if you let it.
This is a physically and emotionally challenging process. Tiring yourself and pushing yourself through this journey may lead to less effective decision-making in letting go.
Pace yourself in terms of the time you spend. Use a timer if you must and work in pockets of time. Take quick breaks to eat, drink, and get fresh air and stay energized.
ASK YOURSELF TOUGH QUESTIONS
As you touch every item, you’ll find that you’ll try to talk yourself into keeping things even if they don’t have a purpose in your life. So, ask really tough questions of yourself and remember your goals and your “why.”
“Do I have a really good reason for keeping this?” Be honest with yourself in response.
A more comprehensive listing of questions to ask yourself is in my post, “Downsizing the Sentimentals: The Memories Remain.”
You’d be surprised at what you might consider sentimental during your first go-round and then shake your head at when re-considering after getting the hang of this process!
HAVE THE RIGHT TOOLS
Starting a project without preparing the tools you need first is like cooking a meal in which you have no ingredients. Think about what you might need ahead of time to properly declutter and organize a room:
- Sticky notes, markers, and labels
- Tables and flat surface areas for sorting
- Bags and boxes for sorting and discarding
Gathering your tools before you begin will set you up for success, helping you avoid distractions when you need them later. Distractions like this are a recipe for an incompletion. The dessert is staying disorganized. No Bueno!
START SMALL AND FOLLOW-THROUGH
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
How do you get organized? One small task at a time!
You wouldn’t want to task yourself with “organize my bedroom.” Avoid getting overwhelmed by breaking this task down into smaller, more “bite sized” tasks:
- Go through my pajama drawer, donating/tossing all the pajamas I don’t wear anymore
- Sort out my makeup drawer, throwing out any old mascaras and lipsticks
- Go through my sock drawer, throwing away any that are threadbare
These are all things that can be done in 15 minutes or less! If it is the last thing you do before crashing into bed at night, get one of these mini-tasks completed and you’ll feel a huge sense of accomplishment in just a short amount of time!
If you focus on the entire room at once, starting it might be easy, but finishing it is going to be tough. You won’t have enough time, space, or support to be successful. So, the easiest way to get on the right track is to START SMALL.
CELEBRATE YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Change is hard – it doesn’t happen overnight. Change (when it comes to organizing your home) is challenging work. Celebrate your successes, even the mini ones!
BE KINDER TO YOURSELF THAN YOU ARE TO YOUR STUFF
Your “stuff” is only part of the problem. The more significant problem is your emotional attachment to it.
We don’t realize how much stress and overwhelm it can cause us, and frankly, we are kinder to our stuff than we are to ourselves by keeping it around.
If you make one change — let it be that you will be kinder to yourself than you are to your stuff.
A great resource for learning strategies on getting organized is the book, “Living with Less”, by Certified Professional Organizer® Kathy Vines.
Find a Professional Organizer in your area by visiting the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals.
With the promise of holiday shopping, baking, decor, and festivities right around the corner, getting a head start on these essential fall organizing and decluttering tasks ahead of the holidays will ensure your home isn’t bursting at the seams come January.
To help you get started, Redfin reached out to us and other experts from Delta, BC, all the way to Boston, MA, for our best advice on compiling a manageable checklist for every room in your home. Whether you’re starting from scratch or need a little extra guidance, here’s the ultimate fall home organization checklist to prep your home for a stress-free fall and winter:
The Ultimate Fall Home Organization Checklist to Prep Your Home for the Season | Redfin
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Maintenance is key! Organizing isn’t a one-and-done type of project. You must continue to make progress and change your habits to stay organized.
Have you been making decisions on letting things go? Has it been easier or harder than you thought it would be?
If it didn’t lead you to a feeling of contagious decluttering, don’t give up! Give yourself a pat on the back for a good first round and then try again in a few days for round two.
PIN IT to remember it!
By: Nicole Ramer, SMM~C
(Professional Organizer & Certified Senior Move Manager®)