As featured in Huffington Post Canada
January is GO Month. For those of you not familiar with the Professional Organizing lingo, that means it’s time to Get Organized. The beginning of a new year is a great time for a fresh start. The holidays are over so you likely had a huge influx of new toys, books, clothes and gadgets. What better time could there be to take stock of what you have and do a little decluttering?
Getting organized tends to make the top 10 list for New Year Resolutions again and again. Being organized can help simplify your life, de-stress you and free up your time to do the things you really love. I’m a busy mom of two young children (with another on the way) and I consider my time valuable. Why would I waste my time looking for things? It comes down to the fact that I love spending time with my family, seeing clients, organizing, writing and being creative. Being organized allows me to do all of these things. It means that I don’t waste 15 minutes every morning looking for my keys. It means that I don’t buy the same product over and over again because I can’t find the first one. It means that I can open a cupboard or closet without feeling overwhelmed by stuff. It means freedom to live my life.
This doesn’t mean that my home and my life is perfectly neat at all times. Afterall I am a busy, working mom whose mental “to do” list is as long as anyone else’s. It does mean that there are things that I do (more or less without fail) that help me and my family to stay organized.
I know this is easier said than done, but putting off all of the little things adds up to a big mess very fast. Of course it’s quicker to throw your clothes on the floor instead of putting them in the laundry bin. Of course it will cause less conflict to let your kids leave a mess after they play instead of having them put their toys away. But putting off for later what really needs to be done now always comes back to bite you. Try using Gretchen Rubin’s One-minute rule: If you have a task that can be done in less than 1 minute, do it without delay. So go ahead and file that paper, pick up that toy, reply to that email and put that bowl in the dishwasher. It’s not like you’re going to come back at the end of the day and regret that your counters are clear of dishes. Don’t procrastinate. Just do it.
Give Everything a Home
There is a reason I called my company “Everything in Place”. When an item has a designated “home” you know where to look for it and where to put it away. You don’t want to be searching through five drawers in three different rooms to find the tape you need to wrap a present when you’re running late for a party. Try to make this home make sense for how you use the item. The more frequently you use something the more accessible it should be. Your favorite cozy flannel sheets should be right at the front (preferable in cute bins divided and labelled by bed size!) but it’s okay to have all the guest bedding in a vacuum bag on the top shelf of the linen closet if you only use it a few times a year.
Forget the yearly Spring Cleaning, declutter often. Toys get broken, shirts get ratty, dishes get chipped. There’s no need to wait until the “designated” time to take stock of what you have. You don’t have to tackle everything at once. If you see something that needs to be dealt with look at it as a 10 minute opportunity for a project. Did you find a holey sock while putting away laundry? Use it as a catalyst to empty your sock drawer and keep the ones you actually need and wear. This doesn't mean you have to dive into your entire wardrobe, but having a neat, pared down drawer of socks is an easily accomplishable task that will put a smile on your face.
Live with Less
Minimalism isn’t for everyone. It isn’t even for me. But I do like to dip my toe into the minimalist pool. Try not to buy and accumulate the items that aren’t necessary. That new gadget for the kitchen that takes up counter space, the extra set of bath towels you just bought because they were on sale, that hot new book you want to read even though you already have a stack of unread ones next to your bed. All unnecessary. Less stuff = less mess = more freedom. A real trend I see with my clients is having a back-up of a back-up of a back-up. While no one wants to run out of shampoo in the middle of a shower you also don't need 5 bottles in the bathroom. Try using my 50% rule, when something is half full it goes on your list. This gives you enough time to find it on sale and you don’t need to stockpile it in your already full storage space.
Consult a Professional Organizer
I realize this is a bit self serving but hear me out. If you wanted to know the best toothpaste to use for your cavity prone teeth you would speak to your dentist. Questioning the most effective cream for your laugh lines will send you to your dermatologist. Why not consult an organizer for the best way to get organized? We have the resources, training and connections to set up a system that works for your lifestyle. I realize that it may not be in everyone’s budget to have a Professional Organizer come in for hours but a lot of us will do either in-home or remote consultations and coaching at lower cost than in-home organizing sessions. You can set a Skype call, give the organizer a tour of your space, discuss your needs and goals and we can come up with solutions that you can implement and work for you. As long as you are prepared and motivated to do the work we will come up with the plan. To find a Professional Organizer that suits your needs have a look at the Professional Organizers in Canada (POC) or National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) website or get in touch with me here.
Happy New Year and Happy Organizing!