I have probably 5 books on home organization. I've viewed pretty much every page on home office organization at the Real Simple website. While I'm no expert, I have learned a thing or two on the topic over the years. I've also learned a lot about what methods DON'T work for me.
When a person decides to "get organized" the first instinct is to go out and get containers for organizing the stuff. And it's an exciting first step for those of us with visions of organization. Especially if we go out and buy matching containers. Oohh, I get all tingly just thinking about it.
However, as all the home organization guru's say, it's pointless to buy containers until we know what we are going to be containing. In other words, we need to get containers that fit our stuff, instead of trying to make our stuff fit the containers that we've gotten. (This is why my garage is now full of containers that didn't end up working - because I didn't follow this very important step)
So, this time, before I bought any containers, or any storage units, or re purposed things I already have (which is actually my ideal - since I'm kinda cheap) I went through the painful and messy step of looking at all my junk in one big pile of a place.
Sure, no one could enter my house for a week or so, because the front entry was blocked, by the massive junk pileup, but looking at one big messy pile was more purge inspirational than looking at a bunch of neat little piles of sorted stuff.
I'm sure we're all familiar with the "three bag method." One bag for keep, one for donate, and one for toss. (I'm loathe to toss - save the earth and all), but sometimes, you just gotta do it.
And so, after giving myself permission to admit I may have made a mistake on some of my prior purchases (Rule #1 - Nothing is sacred ) Also being somewhat sickened by the size of the pile, I got to work and almost immediately cut the pile in half. Now, let me just say, I'm not a super disciplined purger person. I'm just like you. So if I can dive into a pile like this and make half go away in an afternoon, I have faith that you can too. Really. You can. Trust me. The hardest part is sending away things you paid good money for. It feels wasteful.
Then I realized, it's not wasteful to send it on for someone else to use. It's wasteful to have this stuff sitting in my house unused. It's not like I live in the frozen tundra, and can only sled dog out once a year to buy pens and notebook paper. There's no legitimate reason for me to have 6 spiral notebooks. None. Yet I did. So now, a local charity has 4 spiral notebooks to give to people in need.
Next up - containers !!! Yes, yes, yes !! I love containers. But still, my first containment step was not a container store. My first step was to think about what sort of containers worked for me. Clutter makes me claustrophobic, but I'm a visual person. I need to see what I have. I realized that for me, the containers that worked best, were the clear containers. This means, all my lovely baskets and boxes, though pretty to look at, were actually part of my organization problem. Rather than taking the time to lift the lid, and look at what was inside...if I needed something, I just went to the store and got it. Mainly because I had no idea that I already had it - in a pretty box.
Armed with this new knowledge and insight, and with a list of the optimal container sizes in hand, I hit the shopping trail once again. It's hard for me to make a bunch of trips to the same place over and over. It seems so inefficient. However, this process has taught me, it's more efficient and cost effective to only buy what I know I need at that moment then to try to anticipate what I'll need in the next step and the next step, and buy it all at once. Mainly because I'm horrible at returning things.
I'll tell you, it practically killed me, doing it this way. In the end though, it's working out a whole lot better.
Next up - color.