organized kitchen drawers. sort, purge, and learn how to be organize

Why many of us need to learn how to be organized

It’s easy to watch a TV show, and they bring in a designer or organizer who transforms the space into this amazing oasis of color and style.  Or you talk to a friend about how they purge all this stuff, and it feels so great!  And then you wonder, “well, why can’t I do that”?

So, you decide to tackle a room or a closet.  But the only outcome is that you end up with an even more enormous mess.  It can be so discouraging, but I want to walk you through the only two steps you’ll need to learn how to be organized. 

open planner. identify emotional attachments to belongings, sort, purge, and learn how to be organized.

Being organized doesn’t always come naturally

As a professional organizer, when I tell people what I do, I almost always get the reaction that they need my help.  I imagine it’s the same with a personal trainer or even a hairstylist.  We either lack the skills, motivation, or time to do what needs to be done, and it’s great when we meet someone good at something that we’re not.   

What is the solution? If something doesn’t come naturally or you don’t have the proper skill set, it’s essential to research and learn from someone who does.  This is where a professional organizer can help! 

My two organizing tips to help anyone get organized

  1. Have a place for everything

  2. Identify your emotional attachment and feelings towards all items

Didn’t I just say it’s not as easy as it seems?  So, why only two tips?  The actual methodology behind each step is not that complicated.  

The problem arises when we have too much stuff that we don’t want to part with.  This is the crux of the issue. 

I want to give you a word of encouragement.  This sounds like tough love, but as I’m saying it to you, I’m also saying it to myself.  You will feel better about yourself and your home if you learn how to part with your belongings.  I know that it feels like I’m trying to pry something away that you are tightly holding onto. But take a deep breath, relax your grip, and tell yourself that it’s going to be okay. 

Let’s dive into each step and gain some insight on how to accomplish the goal.

Have a place for everything

Again, this sounds so easy.  As with any math equation, 2 + 2 = 4.  Not 5 or 8.  You can only fit the number of items any given space can hold. 

  • Measure your space.
  • Determine what you want the space to look like. 
  • Estimate the amount of space your belongings take-up
  • Decide how much stuff you need to get rid of or reallocate, so everything fits

A rough estimate.  A guess.  There’s no hard and fast rule.  It just depends on what you want the outcome to look like.

Okay, so now that you’ve come up with a potentially heart-wrenching number of boxes, items, etc., that you need to part with, how do you go about doing this?  Let’s step away from this tip for a second and move onto the second one. 

Emotional attachment to our belongings

When learning how to be organized, we need to address the emotional attachment we have with our belongings.  You can find books and articles, and podcasts galore on this topic.  And that’s because it’s not an easy topic or task. 

So much of the emotional baggage in our lives is tied to our stuff.  It goes way beyond the value/usefulness of the object.  It’s what that object means to us, how it makes us feel, and what it represents. 

For the time being, let’s hit upon the main emotional hindrances that keep us from parting with our stuff. 

  • Some gave it to me, and they would be hurt if I got rid of it
  • I know I’ll find a use for it someday
  • It’s still in good condition and is useable
  • It reminds me of a fun memory or represents someone in my life

These are all valid reasons for keeping something.  And this isn’t a decision I can make for you.  I encourage you to look past these reasons and envision life would without some of these items.  What is the worst-case scenario that would happen if you parted with some stuff? 

It’s easy for us to become disorganized and not prioritize decluttering and purging.  But it’s also easy to put it off because we don’t want to face our emotions and attachments to our stuff.  Learning how to be organized involves dealing with unhealthy habits. 

Tips on overcoming strong emotional attachments to our belongings

  1. Mentally and physically prepare. Don’t try and conquer a room when stressed and fatigued. Take it easy and make sure you’re well-rested with a clear schedule before and after your organizing project.

  2. Journal. This is super helpful to do before decluttering your space. Start to think about stuff you should probably get rid of and try to identify what’s make you hold onto it. Work through these reasons and come up with a list of things that you know you need to let go of.

  3. Play the devil’s advocate. Ask yourself if you really need to keep an item just because it’s useful. Is it truly that valuable, or are you assigning value where it doesn’t belong? Wouldn’t it be more helpful to have the extra space for something better?

When struggling to get rid of things

If you were able to work through the mental hang-ups and purged a lot of stuff, that’s great!  It’s now time to start organizing.  But what if you’re stuck?  If you still are holding onto too many things that are taking up too much space, I have a few outside-the-box ideas to keep you moving in the right direction.

These aren’t long-term solutions or excuses not to thoroughly purge belongings that are weighing you down, but Rome also wasn’t built in a day.  Bad habits and roadblocks aren’t easy to overcome.  Give yourself grace, but also encourage yourself to push through. 

  • Sort through your belongings and determine what doesn’t belong or isn’t useful for this space
  • If you can make a quick decision, separate into piles based on the four examples of emotional hang-ups above
  • Pack up in bins or boxes and label appropriately
  • Most importantly: write yourself a note.  Give yourself a deadline and a game plan of what you will do with this stuff later on. 
  • Store somewhere out of the way. 

Organize any space

Let’s get back to the first step.  You’ve decided how much stuff to remove from this space, defined its purpose, and started going through your belongings.  It’s not a perfect process because you and I aren’t perfect people.  I’m sure there is stuff you’re keeping that you probably shouldn’t.  And that’s okay. The goal is to make progress. 

The final goal involves giving everything a home.  Now that you have cleared out any unwanted belongings, it’s time to organize.  This can feel like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.  It will look a little different for each space, but here are some basic principles to follow.

  • Group similar things together
  • Make regularly used items most accessible
  • Determine how the items will best fit in the room- utilizing closets, shelving, etc
  • Draw a picture or layout of the room
  • Decide on organizing accessories- baskets, bins, storage containers, shelving
  • Make any purchases for storage/organizing items you might need
  • Start putting stuff away

Label/mark any containers so that you know where stuff is

This might involve some trial and error, but the goal is to find things quickly.  And to put things back where they belong, so you know where everything is.  There’s nothing worse than wondering where you put something! 

final thoughts

If you share the space with someone, get them involved too. You’ll only stay organized if everyone knows where stuff is and where it should go. 

Now that we’ve walked through these two steps, I hope I’ve helped you eliminate a lot of excuses and encouraged you to tackle your next organizing project.  It’s not as scary as it might seem, but it might take some soul-searching and decision making on your part.  But when you learn how to be organized, you can declutter and conquer any living space!

Learn how to be organized and organize like a pro!

Hi, I’m Shara

I have a passion for organizing. This stems from being naturally drawn to simplicity and structure in my home. Combined with my desire to help women achieve their goals, Simply Renewed Living was born.

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