Organizing, Redesign & Staging

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Cleanliness is next to...orderliness

Sometimes people figure if they clean up, they’ll get rid of the clutter. But there’s a difference between cleaning/staying neat and organizing. Cleanliness/neatness means your space looks good short-term but can get messy again. Organization refers to keeping things in predictable places or arranging things in an orderly manner for the long term.

So you can be organized and clean or organized and messy, but I truly believe you can't be entirely clean without being organized. Confusing, yes, and a bit extreme, possibly. But here's my rationale.

In general, I try for organized and clean. My house and personal life have a ton of organizing systems, but at times there are toys to put away, surfaces to be wiped, a bathtub needing scrubbing, etc. These, however, are things that can be fixed quickly and are routine tasks that will have to be done over and over again in the future. Clean is a short-term status; as soon as you're done cleaning, time and people make the space less clean afterwards.

Still with me? Ok. I've also had lots of clients who eventually become organized but still are a bit messy. The systems are in place, objects are in order, and time is managed but basically tidying up isn't a big priority. The most important thing is that the harder part, organization, is set. It forms the foundation, and allows a person to focus on the pure short-term maintenance tasks like cleaning the toilet or doing laundry.

You can not clean everything if you can't find it, if it is not filed, if there are piles or random items pushed in closets or are avoiding overstuffed drawers. Your house will never be totally clean if you don't remove boxes of stuff, throw away unwanted objects or empty out your junk drawer. Think of it this way: the clean house may look clean from all internal appearances, but the closets might be filled to the brim, the shelves have an assortment of objects, and residents can't find what they need when they want it.

Decluttering reduces the inventory you have to work with, work around, and clean. So think long-term!