DON'T BITE OFF MORE THAN YOU CAN CHEW. Do not set aside an entire day to organize your whole house. Very few people have the energy or stamina to spend 8 straight hours organizing. You'll likely become frustrated and less efficient as the day progresses, and it's much better to spend a few hours — 2 or 3 — on one project or space. In the end, you'll feel motivated to do more, not burned out or overwhelmed by the process.
DON'T PROLONG THE INEVITABLE. There are no shortage of gimmicky 'get organized one bag at a time' tricks floating around the internet - the 40 bag challenge (committing to getting rid of a single bag of 'stuff' every day for 40 days), the 12x12x12 challenge (locating 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate, and 12 items to be returned to their proper home), the 365 Less things challenge (giving away 1 item every day for an entire year)...
Although these challenges sounds simple and even a little fun in theory, the reality is they draw out a process that is best handled quickly. No one wants to be thinking about organizing or dealing with their clutter for an entire year, and seeing the amazing transformation of an entire room over the span of a few hours is much more impactful (and thus, more motivating) than watching items slowly disappear 1 at a time. So do the hard work and commit to powering through - the end result will be much more enjoyable.
DON'T BUY STORAGE CONTAINERS BEFORE YOU ACTUALLY ORGANIZE. We get it. Buying cute storage baskets and containers to house your things is definitely the most exciting part of organizing, but containerizing is one of the LAST step on your organizing journey.
The Room to Breathe team organizes using the Julie Morgensten's SPACE method:
- Sort || Going through everything and grouping like with like according to categories that make sense to you.
- Purge || Get rid of items that are broken, useless, superseded or otherwise irrelevant. Morgenstern and RTB are a firm advocates of the notion "if you haven't used recently, ditch it!"
- Assign || Assign a permanent home. Think outside the box (or room you are in) and pick a location that makes use of your own preferences and existing habits. Doing this ensures you always know exactly where everything is at any given moment, and saves you from searching endlessly for items you tucked away somewhere.
- Containerize || Now (and only now) is the time to evaluate whether you need to bring in any containers- whether that's a new bookshelf or a little box to keep toiletries in, evaluate what you already have and can repurpose, and what might be most useful to keep your belongings neatly secured in their new home.
- Equalize || The final key step is dedicating time every day (or every week for less frequently used rooms) to equalize: returning every item to its proper home. If you've been diligent with the previous steps, this shouldn't be time consuming.
DON'T LEAVE THE JOB UNFINISHED. This is the most important part: Once you have decided to part with something, take it there! Never keep bags for donation or boxes for friends in your home to deliver later, or you will absolutely start to second guess your decisions. Finish the process- take the bags and boxes out immediately. You've done so much work getting to this point, seal the deal!
DON'T DO IT ALONE IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOU NEED HELP. We all have different strengths in life, and for some us, organizing may not one of them. So if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, burdened, or nervous about tackling a project on your own, give Room to Breathe a shout. We will guide you through the process step by step, teaching you along the way, and leaving you with an individualized organizational system that actually works! And in less time than you probably thought.
Blog post written by Jessica Thorburn - Our Vancouver-based Marketing and Administration Superstar.