Here we go, the promised post on the process I use to get things organized! I’m dividing it into three separate posts so you can all get a clear, simple, yet also thorough picture of how to really tackle the clutter dilemma in your own homes. Keep the 3 organizing principles in mind as you go through this process (you can click on any of these here if you need a quick reminder: do it now, designate a place or everything, keep it simple). Alright, onto stage #1:
1) The Sorting Stage – The end goal of this stage is to have the entire room completely cleared out with every item in the room having been sorted into one of three categories. Yes, this means you will have seen and sorted through absolutely positively every single object in the space, no exceptions. Please know that, contrary to popular belief, there is not a right or wrong place to start this sorting stage, just look down and start with whatever is in your way then continue through the room till the whole place is cleared out (goes along with the “do it now” principle). Key idea in this stage: keep moving through things quickly (this is not the time to dwell on fond memories, stay focused and move quickly). When I say the room will be completely cleared out I mean it. Here are the categories:
- Trash – Pretty obvious what this pile is for. Use a black trash bag and immediately through trash items into this bag so you will not allow yourself to second guess on your decision (because most likely you really don’t need the items you choose to trash). Also, as soon as a trash bag is full take it out to the garbage right away, it’ll clear out space and encourage you to see the progress your making as you see more space open up and less stuff cluttering your home!
- Keep – This pile will be the only pile of things returning back into your space, so choose wisely. Be picky about these items, you really don’t need as much as you think. A few helpful questions in deciding if you should keep it: Is it a necessary item in your home? When was the last time you used it? Do you even like it?
- Donate – This pile is for items you decided you do not want or need but believe are still in good enough shape to be helpful or useful to someone else. Rule for this pile: when the room is cleared out and the undecided pile has also been through it’s final sort, take this pile immediately to your car. Then within no more than two days drive this pile to your nearest thrift store or salvation army. You may also call certain places to schedule a pick up for this pile at your home (look up online for more info on these places).
- Undecided – Yes, I realize this category makes it four and not three. However, this category will only be in existence during the sorting stage, not at the end. It is simply here to keep you moving through this sorting stage. So, if there is any particular items that you find yourself taking more than a minute to decide on, toss it into this pile. When all other items in the room have been cleared out you will come back to this pile and by then have a better idea of what you have and what you really do or don’t need to keep. So, by the end of the sorting stage you will have eliminated this pile by sorting through it and designating each item from this pile into one of the three categories listed above.
So here we are at the end of the sorting stage: Most likely at the end of this stage you will find that your keep pile is now only 50% (or even less) of the stuff you used to have in your space, it’s a great feeling!
You have just completed the least fun but also the most important stage of organizing. Tomorrow we tackle The Planning Stage of organizing…..