Follow these practical steps to simplify and organise any area of your home.
Step One: declutter
The first step in any home editing project is always to eliminate the unnecessary. The more unwanted or unnecessary items you let go of, the easier the following steps and the better the end result will be.
Organised clutter is still clutter.
Most people use a small fraction of their belongings and feel a huge weight lifted when they reduce clutter and excess.
Choose a room or space to work on. Then break that down into smaller sections to work through one by one - you can start with a drawer, shelf, cupboard or part of a room.
To stay organised through the process, it's best to create labelled clutter sorting categories. The four main ones that I use when working with clients are; GIVE/DONATE, RUBBISH, RECYCLING and DIFFERENT ROOM.
Using different coloured bags and/or labelling the bags or areas will help you stay calm and clear on each category and where it needs to go. You can download and print the ones I use from the free resources page or use a sticky note to label.
Remove all of the contents of the area you are editing onto the floor, bed or another clear surface area. This will help you to see how much you have and start with a clean slate. Commit a block of time to do this task. One to three hours is an ideal time for a sorting session.
You can download a free Simply Your Home Checklist and Clutter Sorting Card Printables from the Resources Page. You can also read Before You Start: Decluttering Tips first for more preparation advice.
Some helpful questions for when you get stuck:
Would it make a difference to my daily life if I didn't have this item anymore?
Is this item worth the space it takes up in my home?
Is this item adding value to my life right now?
Would I buy this item for full price today?
Does this item energise or drain me?
Do I already own something similar?
If the item were lost, would I notice?
Is keeping this item standing in the way of creating the home I want?
Keep working your way around that room or space, or category, until fully decluttered.
STEP TWO: ORGANISE
Now that you have decluttered and have kept only what you use and value, it's time to organise!
There are two key principles to organising your home; creating categories of 'like for like' items and then creating a home for each category and item you own..
Sort your 'KEEP' items into broad categories - grouping similar things together. For example, if you are organising an office, all office supplies should be grouped together, all electronics and cords, all stationary, all paperwork, etc. When you're done, label each category with a sharpie and a post-it to prepare for the storage stage.
Every little thing needs an intentional and specific home. That's right - everything. If everything has a home - and only one home - it is nearly impossible to lose track of your belongings. They are either in use or in their home.
Don't expect everyone else in the home to know where things are once you have re-organised. Take some time to explain any new homes, systems or routines that you have put in place - and the reason for them. It will save you time and effort if you're not the only one who knows how to put it away.
STEP THREE: STORE + CONTAIN
Organisation is just the practice of setting up each item that you own in a systematic way. A 'system' can be as simple as placing like items together in a box or a basket.
Make sure that the locations you choose to store your items and are intuitive and convenient. In a place closes to where you are most likely to use that item.
Frequently used items should be stored at arm's reach, ideally in the room where you use them most. Occasionally used items, such as kitchen appliances, memorabilia, and archive paperwork should be stored out of the way in 'deep storage' in a loft or garage or on high shelves.
Containing your categories together will make it much easier to allocate a home for them; and put them away after use.
Storage boxes and containers are a brilliant way to contain and control items, but only purchase them after you have decluttered and organised so you can clearly see what you have that needs to be stored and the space that the items will be stored in. There is little point in spending out on storage boxes and adding more clutter to your home unless it is truly necessary and fits the items and the space.
Try and make use of any existing storage you have in your home before buying more.
STEP FOUR: maintain
A clutter-free, organised home requires regular maintenance. Sorry to break it to you, but that's the reality, And the more you own, the more maintenance you need to do.
But, implementing some simple habits and routines into your day to make sure your systems are maintained means that you should be able to keep your home relatively tidy (most of the time) without too much extra effort.
Your turn! Think about something in your home that always gets lost or ends up lying around the house and not put away. Try decluttering the excess and then creating a simple system to make it easy to find, use and put away.