Wednesday, January 14, 2009

An Organized Home: Step 1

Organizing comes completely naturally to me. I can't help organizing everything in my life. In fact, when I'm not organized, I'm very out of my element and just not comfortable. For this reason, I reorganize my house several times a year. Not everything gets turned upside down and redone, but I definitely re-evaluate what I've got in place and what needs to be changed.

January is one of those times. It's a natural time for me because I'm in the process of allocating places for our new Christmas gifts {among other reasons}. This year, due to some requests about how I organize, etc., I have decided to chronicle that process here on the blog. There are 6 basic steps that I go through each time I organize. I don't walk through them myself because they are second nature to me, but in order to detail it here, that's how I've broken down the process. I might even share some pictures of my closets. Maybe. Although they are organized, it still feels like I'd be showing you the guts of my house. But we'll see. Illustrations are valuable.

So, let's get to it. Step One:


It's no accident that this is step one. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that if you're not willing to do this step, you're going to have a really hard time organizing your house. This is THE most important step. Crucial. Essential. You get the idea. You simply MUST get rid of really don't need as much stuff as you have anyway. If you are not good at getting rid of things, follow these basic rules. These are my guidelines when it comes to keeping my house clutter-free and all of our belongings to a reasonable amount:

1. Only own as much stuff as your house will allow. If you have a smaller house and not much storage space, you can maximize it to its fullest potential, but you can't fit more than it will fit. This is just a fact. You'll be a lot happier if you get rid of stuff that you simply don't have room to store. We have personally taken this a step further and made a commitment to keep our garage clear enough for both of our cars to fit in it because that is important to us and also not to own a storage unit. We feel like if we're thinking of paying for storage, we just have too much stuff.

2. For sentimental items...only keep the best of the best. It may be hard to throw away some of the drawings your kids have made or some of birthday cards you've received over the years, but just keep the best ones. You will appreciate going through a smaller stack of sentimental things when you do pull them out {which, realistically, is not often} than a huge, daunting pile of stuff. I have found that I don't miss the extraneous items and I really appreciate the ones I chose to keep.

3. For general items...keep only what you need and use. Be brutally honest about what you need to keep. Have you used this item recently? Will you use it in the foreseeable future? If you answered no to either of those, toss it out! Be merciless. Once you start doing this, it becomes very easy. If you have trouble, start by boxing up items that you don't think you use, label the box well, and put it in an attic or storage space for 6 months. Then, revisit the items and if you haven't needed them in that time span, it's time to let go! Even better, if you can't remember what's in's a sure sign that you don't need that stuff.

I have very rarely {probably only once} regretted getting rid of something. The one time was when I got rid of a pair of 1992 vintage GAP overalls that I wanted to use later for a costume! Other than that, I haven't missed anything. {I'm sort of kidding about missing the overalls...but not totally!}

Here are a few suggestions for what to do with the things you are purging: give them to Goodwill, have a garage sale, sell anything of value on ebay or craigslist, give stuff away to friends and family. You can donate books to your local library, give clothing to a clothes closet, and dump hazardous items {paint, etc} at your local dump.

The feeling of freedom that you will have after you do this can be addictive. Just try it. You can do it.


Mary said...

I love the feeling of purging, don't you? The only thing I regretted giving away was Jason's coffee grinder, who knew we would get a bag a really nice coffee beans for Christmas this year...oops! We also have a rule that for every piece of clothing purchased, one is given away, so the amount of clothes stays the same (except for the kids, they don't have clothes to replace it with!)

Kristen said...

I love organizing is a hobby! So fun to get rid of stuff. I just cleaned out my closet last week! :)

jocelyn said...

Hey friend! It's been awhile! I just found your blog again and was looking at some of your recent posts. I also like having an organized house and agree that the vital first step is getting rid of stuff.

I also wanted to comment on your post from a few days ago about gift-giving for kids. When our siblings started having kids, we told our siblings that we would try to give experiences to their kids rather than more toys. We define "experiences" loosely, especially while our nieces are all so young. But we try to give them gifts that they will experience. For example, books, dress up clothes, craft supplies, etc. As they get older, we'll try to be more creative with these gifts and give them things like: a slumber party at our house, a trip to the zoo, etc.

Just thought you'd be interested in that idea.

Hope you are well! Your son is so cute!

Emily Cade said...

Love it. I am so unorganized (that is an understatement) and I always use your organizing tips!!!