A lot of life has happened, you say? Chronic illness, divorce, marriage, having a baby, working 80-hour weeks—these are all things that can knock our best intentions down from action status to the feeling of unattainable daydream. And then, when you do have time to start, your systems have been destroyed, so who even knows where to begin? I do, and I’m going to help you out with a simple process to get started today.
When you don’t know where to begin when it comes to getting organized or re-organizing a space that fell apart, it can feel overwhelming. Maybe people have even offered to help you, but you don’t know where to tell them you need help. Not only will we walk through the steps to working toward your organization goals, we’ll explore the two steps that come BEFORE taking action that make getting started SO much easier.
Step 1: Prioritize by frequency of use
If your entire home is out of control messy, it doesn’t make sense to start in the guest room that is messy because nobody ever goes in there. It makes the most sense to start in a space that you will frequently use. Another way to decide the starting point? Ask yourself a simple question: What space or system in my home is annoying me so much that it can ruin my day if I let it? This is probably a space that you often use and don’t have a functional system in place for. Think spaces like your coffee station, the shoe rack by the front door, or the mail bin that’s overflowing (which, by the way, we now have an eBook to help you with—it’s called Pile to File, and it’s available at pile2file.com). You don’t have to do everything right away to get started. You just have to do One. Thing. Start with something that really irritates you and that you use every day.
Step 2: Imagine the finished product
There are some systems in my home that I do not care if they are not Pinterest worthy. I mean it. We have a utility drawer (some call this space a junk drawer, but as a professional organizer, I’m anti-junk, pro-utility). This drawer is not pretty. It’s organized with old Air Pod cases and Ziplock baggies—and I don’t care, because it’s stayed pretty darn organized over the past few years. I’m proud of that drawer. I never expected it to be color coordinated and posted on Instagram—and if that’s what you want, cool! But know that it’s okay to go strictly for functional and not a particular aesthetic. By knowing what you actually want the finished product to do for you and look like, and also cost, you’re setting yourself up for success.
Step 3: Start in the corner
Now we begin the organizing WORK! But where do I start, Taylor? Well, dear friend, you start in a corner. The corner of the room, the corner of the cupboard, the corner of the box, the corner of the whiteboard you’re spilling your thoughts out onto. You start in the corner. By establishing “Start in the corner” as a rule, my team and I have made great gains on projects that are limited by hourly-contracted increments. Our entire goal is to maximize the client’s gain within the timeframe we have allowed, so we don’t have time to dilly dally deciding where to begin! We start in a corner.
Step 4: Set a timer
Did I mention that when we organize for clients we’re definitely on the clock? We’re legitimately racing in 30 minute increments to complete micro-projects throughout the scheduled time. So set a timer. 30 minutes to empty, declutter, and vertically organize that box of memories. 3 hours to do the same for your garage. 6 hours with a friend to completely re-work your child’s bedroom and closet (with a one-hour break in the middle). Set a timer to define your time “on the job” and force you to know when you’re satisfied with where you ended up.
Step 5: Plan for touchups
Plan for judgment-free failure. For me, this means setting reminders on my digital calendar to check in with the systems I have in place. Whether with my budget, my grocery list, or my social media posts, I plan to touch-up the things that I likely did imperfectly to begin with. The same goes for organizing projects. You might have found the perfect organizing bin that falls apart in a month of use, so you have to reassess the material of the bin. Maybe you’re a foster parent who gets a new placement at an unexpected age and BOOM life changes again, swiftly. You don’t ever know what life is going to throw at you. So, you can be super structured like I am and put things in your calendar, OR you can just adopt the mindset of showing yourself some grace when systems you put into place break down and require a touchup. It happens to literally everyone, so I think this mindset trick actually takes pressure off of whomever is doing the organizing to get the job done—not expect it to be perfect forever. Plan for touchups, show yourself grace. We all need a little more grace in our lives.
Organized YOU! host Taylor Vogel is the Owner &
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