Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Organization is crucial.

So over the past couple years that we've lived here, I've really developed a hatred for some areas of our house. Unfortunately I have only just realised that it is because they're constantly cluttered, messy and unorganized. The solution: research, shopping, cleaning and labeling... YAY!

Organization IS crucial, especially if you live in a small house or with numerous people or have lots of stuff. So pretty much no matter who you are or where you live! It can get your daily mood down, cause arguments or accidents, make it difficult to find important things or risk destroying items or documents.

There are some obvious quick fixes to clutter and organizing, like designating rooms to certain tasks or sorting through things you hardly ever use. Then there are the solutions that some consider you crazy if you find joy in them, like a million plastic containers with labels, stacked up in categories alphabetically. But there's a blissful middle, something everyone can enjoy and appreciate...

Rooms are most commonly unorganized because they're "drop zones", rarely visited rooms, the hub where your family spends most it's time, or unappealing in the first place.

The 5 Most Commonly Unorganized Rooms:
- Garage
- Laundry/Mud Room
- Spare Bedroom
- Office
- Kitchen

Start by deciding which areas are cluttered, misused, or a nuisance. List them in the order in which you'd like to achieve them in, taking into perspective of most important and frequently used places, what you can afford to tackle (time & money wise) or the originating spot where the overspilled clutter came from (like if most of the things in your laundry room should be in your garage, do the garage first).

Figure out why the room needs help, and how you want them to be in the end. Does it need an intense categorized library, or maybe just some extra storage? If it's an unappealing room - say there is terrible 80's wallpaper, it's dark and dingy or maybe there was 500 yards of shelving when you moved in so you just had to fill them with something; consider redecorating to make it more inviting and suit your needs.

The 5 Most Important Items to Start Organizing:
- Motivation & Lists, Spreadsheets (or at least an idea of what you want to accomplish)
- Containers of all shapes, sizes & materials
- Grouping Supplies(Ziploc bags, rubber bands, twist/zip ties)
- Labels &/or Tape, Markers
- Cleaning Supplies

The 5 Basic Steps to Organizing:
- Sort & Purge
- Designate Areas
- Deliver or Discard
- Purchase or Recycle Storage Solutions
- Divide, Label & Store

Sorting and purging it probably going to be the hardest, yet most important step of your project. In most cases you can start by sorting into "Keep", "Donate/Sell" and "Garbage" piles, using giant black garbage bags for the "Garbage" pile to make it easiest to just take them to the curb and forget about it. When distinguishing between "Keep" and "Donate/Sell" consider the last time that item was used, what it represents to you, and the condition it's in. Are you really ever going to fit into those 'when I was skinny' clothes? Will you ever actually take an interest in that bathtub full of yarn you were given to start a hobby with? And how many coffee-makers-minus-the-broken-glass-pot(s) do you need? Be determined and assertive, but take emotional consideration with heirlooms and other family member's items.

Designating areas can be obvious: the laundry room for cleaning supplies; the office for craft materials; the garage for outdoor equipment. But many rooms can serve uncommon or multiple purposes: a bedroom for clothing, make up and getting ready; the laundry room for gardening or crafts; the hall closet for an office or nursery. Choose a function that suits your needs the best, and remember that once you organize the room it will be more spacious allowing for multiple areas for different tasks. Think about where you use certain items, and keep them as close as possible to that spot. Store like items together, with everything you will need to complete a task in one box, bag or shelf. Also consider having multiples of items you use in numerous places, if you use a hammer commonly in your house - keep one in the garage, and one in your mud room.

Getting rid of unwanted items as soon as possible is key. Deliver donation items to your local Goodwill, drop off box, or ask friends if they'd be interested in them. If you bagged up a bunch of clothes you no longer want, moving them from your bedroom to the spare room doesn't accomplish anything aside from cluttering up another room. If you were really amazing and ended up with a lot of trash bags, you may have to set them out to get collected by the garbage men a few at a time, as most neighbourhoods have limits.

Once you have a clear keep pile, you may need to sort it once again to divide it into "Other Rooms", "File", "Repair", "Return" and categories depending on the room. Seeing each pile will help you understand the type and size of container you'll need to store it, considering if the amount will grow or be used. Copious amounts of large items might need shelving, small items probably need lids and dividers, breakable items either need padding or an out-of-reach home. Purchasing a set or 'line' of storage containers can be best if you need a lot of similar sizes, or if they will end up in a grid-like stack. Recycling is always a cheaper and 'greener' way to go, but can have an irregular or mashed up appearance - this choice is based on your personal taste, budget, and if the containers will be seen by guests.

The 5 best Recycled Items for Storage:
- Glass/Plastic Food Jars (spreads & sauces, pickles etc.)
- Cardboard Boxes (sandwich bag boxes, shoe boxes, diaper boxes etc.)
- Rubber Bands, Twist Ties, Ribbons etc.
- Bowls & Cups
- Toilet Paper/Paper Towel Tubes
See this link for more possibilities: New Uses for Old Things

Once you've got containers you can start to fill them! Sort screws, nails and other hardware by purpose and size. Sort clothing by size, season and occasion. Sort craft supplies by colour and/or material. Sort seasonal decorations by individual holidays.
Label containers with what is in them - include details like clothing size or season, screw bit shape, year they originated and purpose. Choose labels appropriate for the item - some are can be permanent, may need clear tape to protect from the weather, or maybe they'll need to be relabeled often in which you can find erasable or less-sticky labels. You could even use pretty paper, ribbons, and other embellishments to make them more decorative and become part or your decorating scheme.
Group similar items together - separate the garage/storage room into task areas like gardening; hammers, drills and other tools; painting; leftover/replacement supplies. Store 'boy clothes' in a separate stack from 'girl clothes'. Divide your scrapbooking materials from your knitting yarn. Assign one side of the medicine cabinet to you, and the other half to your partner.

My Favourite 5 Websites for Inspiration, Ideas and Tips:
- Real Simple
- Style At Home - Organizing
- Simplify 101
- Life Organizers
- Ikea

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