The art of organizing is not a simple process. Organizing involves a keen eye, spatial abilities, lots of thought and planning, brute labor, ability to stay focused and sort through 100's of categories, and an aesthetic knowledge for balance and design. Clients that want to get organized range from mild to chronically disorganized.
Being perpetually messy and disorganized comes from many places. You may have grown up in a messy house, you may suffer from depression, OCD, anxiety, ADD / ADHD or you may just not have time to keep up with the stuff accumulating around you. Wanting to get organized is the first step towards becoming neat and organized.
Next is the will to do something about it. And then finally getting some help with a Professional Organizing company to help you individualize the project to make it work for you.
Many clients come to me just to basically clear up messes they have made over the course of years, and they have no intention of keeping up the organizing system after we leave. The home has become so over-wrought with stuff they can't wade through it any longer. These folks really do like a lot of things around them, and to be able to churn their belongings often. Churning means looking at, admiring, pondering, moving about their stuff with no intention of either using it, selling or donating it. Some people just love to own stuff they think they might want someday for some purpose. It is just comforting to know the items are available. These collectors and savers love seeing everything around them and have great attachment to things. It is a pleasurable experience to wallow in their stuff.
For those of us who love neat, minimalistic and categories, a messy, uncategorized world would make us cry and suffer a suffocating existence. But even minimalists suffer from mild clutter challenges and want an individualized and personalized approach to their environment. The process is the same whether it is tons of stuff or just a bit of stuff.
The first step is to categorize everything in the house, home, apartment, condo and or office. Then figure out what you will keep based on four categories:
2. You love it
After you figure out what you will keep based on the categories above. Remove the items you don't want either to friends, family, give away for free or charity.
Next you move look at the furniture placement, space that you have, locating homes for the categories you will own. Sometimes you will have too much furniture to hold items you keep, and sometimes there is too little. Sometime enough closets and cabinets and sometimes not enough. Locating green options for furniture on Craigslist or Facebook selling groups is the easiest, and most economical, but ordering a new couch that fits perfect with the perfect fabric is great too. Finding armoires, cabinets, shelving, baskets, organizing tools is essential for long-term organization since these things all become the homes for your stuff. Stuff cannot just float in mid-air. I have seen people agonize over getting furniture to hold their items, yet they keep collecting stuff, which ends up all over the place without a containment, and my common phrase is "do you want the stuff in mid-air?"
Why are we all so different about how we get our spaces organized? Let's start with the definition of Organized.
For a minimalist it is everything in a category and a home for every category, and easy access to the things we use the most and the things we use less often. For someone with a love of stuff having everything at hand and in plain view, even uncategorized is organized. We are all different in how we handle, look at and process "stuff".
The art of getting individual's homes organized is just that, an "Art". For one client, who loved to collect books and literally could have opened up his own Barnes and Nobles we created a library bookshelf system in his living room. He was ecstatic. He had over 1000 books. I found actually library type shelving, and we set up an actually library in his home. My rules as an organizer for safety purposes and aesthetic value was let's get the books on shelves and put them back their when you're done. For another client, whose amount of clothing was the size for a small boutique but with very little closet space, the solution was a second bedroom lined with racks, armoires, shelving. We created an actual boutique designed after her favorite shop and she was elated. Other clients don't want to see a thing out of a cupboard, pantry, closet, linen closet or living areas. For them we are sorting, purging, editing and ultimately keeping, in a hidden home, the stuff they use and love, but don't want to see.
I tell people my three rules, "nothing, on the floor in piles and all over, and nothing on the surfaces". The third rule is everything that you own deserves a home. That's it, three rules. So for all the clothes, shoes, books, bags, toys, make-up, hair stuff, gift wrapping and cards, DVD's, electronics, bicycles, tchotchkes, and memorabilia all over the place, I will want to categorize it, move into a home proportionate for it, and get it off the surfaces and the floor.
Remember when your mom told you to "pick up your room", well some of us Professional Organizers have taken this to heart. We will take the steps to help you get an organized space, and an organized you.
Marla Stone is a Professional Organizer who specializes in everything from Mild Clutter Challenges to Over-Collecting and Saving behaviors, and has created innovative methods to stay organized long-term.
Marla earned her BA in Psychology and a Master's in Social Work and is the founder of I-Deal-Lifestyle, a Self and Space Organization Service.