Organizing, Redesign & Staging

Monday, July 7, 2008

Professional Organizer-isms

There are a bunch of things I tend to say to clients on a regular basis, and I share them here as "Professional Organizer-isms" -- principles of decluttering, organizing and design used in my business. Maybe one or two will strike a chord with you...

  1. Just because you have it, doesn't mean you have to use it -- this applies to containers, space, closets, furniture, storage accessories. People some-times feel compelled to keep things or systems either be-cause they've bought it, used it in the past, it exists, or for emotional reasons. If some-thing does not work for you, don't use it!

  2. When in doubt, throw it out -- while this may seem extreme, in 99.9% of cases it holds. If you don't think you'll use something or don't know where the piece goes, get rid of it. Things that offer no use to us are clutter, and can be thrown or given away to someone who will use them.

  3. There's only 2 options: less stuff or more storage -- let's be honest, there really are only two choices. Generally, increasing the storage (i.e. building another room or closet or buying more furniture) is not always realistic or in the budget. Better to start of reducing your inventory (purging) then utilizing existing storage more effectively.

  4. Do you know what is in there? How long has it been there? -- Think about the box that's been on the top shelf or the stuff in the attic. If you haven't accessed the container in a while, and furthermore don't know what is in the container, seems to me that the contents are not that important. Be prepared to get rid of it, and use the space more effectively.

  5. There's only three things you can do with paper: File, Act, or Toss -- The Toss category is easy -- the harder part seems to be getting used to a system for Filing and Acting. Filing including both short-term and long-term files, and Acting is anything you need to do (i.e. invitation RSVP, catalog order, bill paying). Address mail and incoming paperwork accordingly.

  6. If items are important to you, they should be displayed or stored with respect, not stuffed away or in a box in the attic. It is amazing what people have in storage, all dusty or wrapped in paper (sometimes not knowing what the exact contents are), but then they see the item and say how important the item(s) is/are. How important can it be if you're treating it like that? Have sentimental china? Use it or dis-play it! Want your daughter to have a set of family heirlooms? Give it to her now.

  7. It didn't get like this over-night; it's not going to get fixed overnight -- Things don't change without effort, progress and adapting new habits and routines. Like a diet must become a lifestyle, organizing is a habit that must be learned and applied to daily life. It definitely takes work, but is SO worth the effort!

  8. What's the worst thing that would happen if you got rid of it? Between buying a replacement, finding it online, or realizing you can live without it, you generally can function after getting rid of items. You may even find it liberating! You have the power over your things, not the other way around.

  9. Procrastination is really just postponed decisions. I didn't come up with this saying, but I like it. Often people become stuck in indecision because they find the question of 'keep or get rid of' difficult. Hence they choose to keep clutter in order to reduce anxiety. Ultimately, once you face the decision and move on, you'll feel much better.