Posted by Sue on Jan 23, 2014
If you’ve been reading the last two weeks’ posts then you know that “Go!” is preceded by a couple of, “Stop: Do not pass Go” warnings. Jumping in feet first may be good for some activities like the Polar Plunge, but it’s not very effective when you’re tackling a project.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, your chances of successfully completing any project will increase exponentially if you take the time to plan and prepare before taking the plunge (If you missed the plan and prepare posts, scroll down to read them). And because planning, preparing and taking action each requires a different mode of thinking, you’ll maximize your energy and efficiency if you separate them into three separate sessions.
Once you’ve planned your project and prepared your space and yourself, you are (finally) ready to take that plunge.
Organizing any space can be broken down into 5 steps.
- Plan & Prepare
- Clear & Clean
- Sort & Purge
This week we’ll look at the second and third steps.
Step #2 is Clear and Clean – no mystery here! It means to clear out everything from the space you’ve chosen. If you have limited time or energy, you may want to break a larger space into sections. For example, work on one shelf in the closet or one drawer in a dresser. Emptying the contents of the space can be messy work. If you lay out an old sheet on the floor, table or bed, you’ll avoid dead bugs on the rug.
Once you’ve cleared, time to clean; and if you’re a shelf-paper type person, it’s time to cut and paste. Now your space is clutter-free and shining. Time for …
Step #3: Sort & Purge. This is often the most difficult step for folks. So, take a deep breath and let’s get started. You’ll need 5 boxes, labeled:
- Keep – things which belong in the designated space
- Goes Elsewhere – things which need to be put away someplace else in the house (don’t put them away until you’re done with your organizing session – it’s too easy to get distracted)
- Give Away or Belongs to Someone Else
- Recycle or Sell
- Don’t Know – for anything you’re not sure you’re going to keep or just don’t know what to do with
And, of course, a Big Black Garbage Bag!
Now (drum roll, please) pick up the item on the very tippy-top of the pile, ask yourself what it is and where it belongs, and put it in the corresponding box. In order to avoid being left with only the tough-to-process items, I recommend that you work from the top down.
Once you finish the pile, pat yourself on the back and distribute each box’s contents appropriately. Don’t put back the items that belong in the space you are organizing until you complete step 4, which involves creating a space to suit the stuff. We’ll discuss this and finish off the organizing cycle with step 5 next week. If you can’t wait until then, check out Joanna’s wonderful little book, Decluttering 101.
So congratulations! You’ve just completed the first 3 steps in your organizing adventure. You deserve a break. A hot cup of cocoa would taste great about now. Do you like marshmallows?