Having the right supplies on hand when you need to turn a non-functional area into a functional area can decrease the anxiety of tackling the project as well as the time you spend working on it. We recommend having the following supplies on hand;
· A Sharpie
We recommend black trash bags for trash and white trash bags for donate. If you don't have two different colored bags, use a cardboard box and label it “Donate”. Laundry baskets and cardboard boxes work great as extra containers during the sorting process. You will use the Post-it Notes and Sharpie to make labels for the different categories you will be sorting items into. We also suggest taping the Post-it Notes to the containers, so they do not fall during this phase.
After you have your supplies you are ready to start. However, there are some ground rules we like to stick to in order to make the organizing process less stressful and more productive.
·First Rule: Acknowledge that the goal of your project is to make the area functional, so you know what it is in the area and can easily locate a specific category. An example of this would be a “Camping” Category. At the end of the Functional phase you may have two containers full of random camping stuff, you still may have to dig around in those containers to find a specific item, but you do have a general idea where to look. Organizing the camping category into more sub-categories, such as “Bug Spray” or “Cooking Equipment”, should be done during another organizing session, once the whole area has been addressed.
·Second Rule: If it takes longer than 5 seconds to decide what category an item should go in you need to put it in a category called the “Keep/Don’t Know/Need to Sort” category and move on to the next item. This is our cheat category and we only recommend using it during the Functional Stage of a project. The items you aren’t sure about go in this category, it lets you know that you already decided to keep it, you don’t know what to do with it, and you need to sort the stuff in that category after the main goal of making the area functional has been completed. This prevents us from getting hung up on a few items.
·Third Rule: As soon as you start a new category, you need to designate a container for that category and tape a labeled Post-it Note on it. If you don’t have enough containers or have items that won’t fit in a container then label a Post-it Note and put it near the pile as well as making sure no other piles are close by. Labeling every container and pile prevents us from forgetting what the category was, accidentally mixing categories, and makes it easier for other people to help. Labeling also allows you to stop, if needed, and pick back up where you left off later.
·Fourth Rule: This rule is for married people or anyone who shares their home with someone else. If working together isn’t an option, then anything that is not yours and you would consider "Theirs" needs to be put in a "Their Stuff" category. Once you have addressed your items in the area and made the area functional it will be easier for them to make decisions on their belongings If there are items are aren’t technically “Theirs” but you aren’t sure if they would like to part with the item, you can create a “Ask Them” pile.
·Fifth Rule: The final rule is to stay focused on the end goal. Don’t let yourself go down memory lane and try not to let emotions slow you down. If you find yourself getting emotional or playing the blame game, remind yourself that the goal is to sort and put everything in a category.
Now you are ready to get started. However, if you struggle with making decisions regarding your belongings, we will cover how to make decisions and how to come up with categories in the next article.
Until next time,
JLB Simplify Organizing Blog
At JLB Simplify Home and Unpacking Organization we help people on a regular basis who are overwhelmed with the state of their home. It is a normal thing and even happens to professional organizers! This is because life tends to throw more at us than we can handle from time to time. We created the JLB Simplify Organizing Blog to help provide tips and advice for anyone trying to get more organized as well as to be honest about how hard getting organized can be. We hope that you find useful information as well as comfort in knowing we all struggle from the JLB Simplify Organizing Blogs.
Thank you for reading,
The JLB Simplify Team
The JLB Team