My mother used to like to say, ‘keep it simple, stupid – KISS’. She was right. The simpler the strategy the easier it is to follow. This is why the primary rule I follow in organizing with my clients is to ask the questions: do you love it? Are you using it? Is it beautiful – to you? When a client answers ‘yes’ to one or more of these questions then the object in question is something to keep.
Sometimes people over-complicate the strategies they use to get organized by creating impossible rules to accompany the strategies. This can cause the methods to fail. Of course, organizing strategies can fail for other reasons, too.
Generally, when an organizing strategy is easy to follow, has simple and straight-forward rules, and the person wants to be organized it will stick if the person practices mindfully.
Practicing mindfully means that the person has decided to follow one specific strategy to keep a certain area organized or to modify a particular habit. The person intentionally implements the new strategy. The more a specific strategy is practiced and mindfully used the easier it becomes.
How do you decide what to keep?
Ask yourself when was the last time you used this? If it was 10 years ago, you can probably release that belonging. Let someone else who might use it more often own it now.
Is this part of a collection that you are displaying? Can this item also be displayed? If not, then maybe the collection is complete as far as you are concerned.
Use a box to hold items about which you are undecided. You can call it a pending or marinating box.
An example of a simple rule to follow is one I heard recently. Limit your pending or marinating box to four items. If you come across a fifth item, one item must be removed from the box in order to put a new item in. This forces you to make a decision about at least one item in the box. This is a brilliant rule.
Another simple rule is to limit the number of memorabilia boxes to one per person in the family. It can be a big box. This also limits the number of things you are keeping. If the box becomes full, go through it. Maybe you can decide that it’s time to let go of some of the things you are keeping?
Jonda Beattie goes through her memory box once a year. This is a great practice because she gets to revisit wonderful memories. (That is why the items are in the memory box, right?) Also, Jonda can decide if it’s time to remove something from the box to make room for new keepsakes.
Where to keep things that don’t have a place?
How do you know where to keep things that don’t have a home? First, think about what the item is. If it is clothing, it belongs in a closet, hung up or folded on a shelf, or in a drawer. Is it make-up, it belongs where you put on your make-up. Do you use it while cooking? Then it belongs in the kitchen. I think you can follow the straightforward and simple logic here. Things belong where you use them.
Magazines, Newspapers, Books and Papers
Magazines, books and newspapers sometimes get left in random places around the house. Have a landing spot for them. A shelf for books, a basket for newspapers, a magazine holder for magazines all work wonders to corral these reading materials.
Papers and files to keep cause many people problems. The questions of which papers to keep and for how long are ones that I am often asked. My answer is a simple one. If you can easily find the information online, then you can let go of the piece of paper. Documents that support your business, that are related to your identity, or that are related to financial concerns are ones to keep. How long to keep them is a question I refer to accountants.
Problems with papers arise because they get left on flat surfaces. Have a landing spot for papers and schedule time to deal with them. You can put them away in a filing cabinet or file box, shred them, or recycle them.
Accessories are also things that sometimes get left out and about. Think about who uses the accessory or what is it used for. If it is something that you take with you when you go to a class, then the simple solution is to keep it in the closet near the door or in the car.
When you take the time to identify where you use items and their purpose it becomes easier and easier to know what to do with them. Always look for the path of least resistance. Simple solutions are the best to follow and they are easy to remember because they are not complicated.
If creating a simple strategy for an organizing problem in your home is on your list of things to do contact me for a free telephone consultation. Also, take a look at the Clear Space for You virtual clutter support group. Click here to read more blogs on this topic.
Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® ,a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release●Repurpose●Reorganize, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. She specializes in residential and home-office organizing and in working with people affected by ADD, Hoarding, and chronic disorganization. Diane, along with Jonda Beattie, is the award winning author of : Filled Up and Overflowing.