The Famous 6 Steps that will organize anything – including Time!
Caveat: (you knew there was one) Actually, there are two:
Time = Project and Project = Time. You may not choose a project that is larger than the amount of time you have to devote to it, and that time must include “cleaning up” time. To start, I suggest people choose the amount of time they have, pick a project, then divide that project in half. (If you were realistic about this, you wouldn’t be reading this.) Set a timer for ¾ of the amount of time you have; the last ¼ is “clean up”.
Sit. Stay. Repeat: You must you must you must stay focused for the time you have picked. It is better to take 10 minutes and do 10 items of clothing and then walk away than to try to do a whole closet and quit in the middle. If focus is difficult for you pick tiny projects and return to them often. You also need to stay put – make piles but do not take them anywhere. You do not need bags, boxes, etc. Just make piles. In the “clean up” phase you can retrieve appropriate storage for what you need to relocate.
Six Steps to successfully organize anything: email me if you find something this does not apply to. We will use a walk in-clothes closet as an example.
Divide: divide the content into categories. You are going to put like items together such as: pants, dresses, blouses, jewelry, shoes. It is much easier to make choices once you see how many and what kinds of items you have. Start with clearing the floor so you can move, next go after any storage spaces, like shelves or drawers, then work on the hanging rods.
Decide: what you are keeping. Sort your items into categories such as: keep, donate, repair, or clean. Make the piles distinct, and any items leaving the closet should be piled directly outside the closet door so you have room to move and so the piles have room to grow without merging into one big lump. The piles of items that are destined to stay in the closet must be in designated areas – or they can go outside the door while you are sorting if there is no clear space.
House: where is the best place in your house to keep this category? The keep pile needs to be further sorted into where the item belongs, getting it as close as possible to the final location. IF the item has a good home in this closet (a place on a rod, in a drawer, or on a shelf that is the right size and will hold everything in the category) it may stay put. Otherwise place it temporarily in an open space. You can even use baggies or grocery bags to group smaller items (i.e.: socks or jewelry)
Home: create appropriate storage for each category. Once you have sorted the space you have chosen for this project, locate the items you want to remain there into clearly designated empty locations in clearly labeled categories and temporary containers. Once the space is complete you can tour each category and choose the best storage for each. The container should have at least ¼ space empty (for growth), should be very easy to use, should be easy to label, and should be appealing visually. You want to love this closet once it is complete. Folding styles should be uniform for shelves. Be realistic about how you will function in here day to day. You can fold each piece of underwear into a divider, or toss it all into a drawer or a basket on a shelf. It’s your underwear – you just need to be happy with the system and able to find it when you need it.
Title: Always label both temporarily and permanently – it makes it much easier to return to the project if you don’t have to open every bag or drawer to refresh your memory. Masking tape and labeled baggies both work well for temporary labels. You can make a tag out of tape to wrap onto a clothing rod or hang from an empty hanger. Once your space is complete, you can choose many ways to label (words, color, pictures, etc.) It takes 6 weeks to change a habit, so the labels are great reminders for you. In addition, anyone else using the closet will be much more able to keep up your system or retrieve what they need independently. Finally, the less frequently you use something, the more important the labeling becomes, especially if the item is not within easy reach on a top shelf or the back of a cupboard.
Time: realistic and ritualized: With your last ¼ amount of time, get all this bagging and labeling done, then take the other categories and place them as close to where they go as possible (your car for the donations and repairs, the floor outside the closet in the office if you can’t actually access the closet). THEN schedule your next work session in writing. Learning to be realistic about how long organizing takes is a big part of the challenge. And making a commitment to yourself to keep up with the organizing projects around your home is mandatory. The rule of thumb is that the more you have, the more it takes to maintain but once a system is in place it becomes much easier.