I’ll let you know a secret: while every space and client is different, there ARE some very basic steps to every organizing project. Whether you are organizing your bedroom or your garage, these basic steps should help you start your project!
Clean the Space
This might be self explanatory, but you’d be surprised how many of my clients do not prep their spaces for our session by cleaning. A (literally) clean slate can really get you in the mindset to transform the space. Sweep, vacuum, dust, wipe down, etc all surfaces in the space. But Aileen, what if I have no room to even walk in the space?!
Clear the Space
Make physical pathways to make the space navigable. Make a very clear open space available for sorting. Make sure this open area has been cleaned. You don’t want to be sorting your precious items in piles of dust or dirt.
Once you begin sorting, what you will toss will become more obvious to you. Survey the area for any noticeable trash (plastic water bottles, food wrappers, discarded papers, etc)
Put Items “Away”
If there are items that belong in another room, move them. If you already have a dedicated laundry bin, put your dirty clothes there. You will sort your items next, but this might be easier if your items are already together in a way that makes sense to you.
Take Everything Out
If you’re organizing your closet, take everything out of the closet. Garage? Use your driveway on a nice sunny day. I will stress again the importance of having a clean area to place your stuff. Also, to be honest, sometimes this step can be scary and overwhelming. However, sometimes, seeing everything laid out can really help you get an idea of how many items you actually have in the space and the volume they take up. I also recommend combining this step with the next step and sort as you remove items from the space.
This is the most important step (in my opinion). Here, you will decide what to Keep, Toss, and Donate. You will also sort “like” items together. What does that mean? You can sort by size, color, function, season, etc. How you group items will depend on your lifestyle and the space itself
Get Rid of Stuff!
I guarantee you do not need everything you currently have. You don’t need to start living an extremely minimalist lifestyle and move into a Tiny Home tomorrow. However, you do need to learn to let go of things that no longer serve you. How you get rid of the items is up to you. I highly recommend recycling or donating when you can. Regardless, remove it from the space before you move on to the next step. If you are having trouble how much or what to remove, stick to the 80/20 rule. Remove 20% of the items. Ask yourself “why” you own the item; if you don’t have a good reason or you find yourself having to justify keeping it, you probably don’t need it.
Create Systems and Put Items in Designated Spaces
Now you will find new homes for all your items. I highly recommend using containers to, well, contain your things. Decrease the visual clutter by using matching containers. When deciding where to put your things, find a way to decrease the surface area. In other words, have your items take up less space. For example, a pile of clothes takes up way more space than a stack of folded clothes. Loose items almost always take up more space than contained items. Place high use items in accessible areas in areas that make sense to their function. Do not stack items on top of each other if you need access to them. Do not place items on a high shelf if the are heavy or used frequently. Use your space creatively! Think of ways you can creatively use empty spaces such as behind the door, under the shelf, over the cabinet door, using hooks, etc.
Do Not Fill the Space
Now that you have made more room and found ways to store all your items, do not fill it. Learn to live with the space that you have. If you acquire new items, consider removing other items to make space for it. Try to adapt the principle of “one in, two out”.