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May 5: Where to Start

Yesterday we talked about separating short term storage from long term storage, finding "hidden" storage space in your home and the types of storage products for you to consider. While it may take time to build a new closet, or order new plastic bins, you can start a list on the types of things that need to be organized ..... and then dive in!

This list can be divided by purpose, by room, by priority, or all three. Your list could look something like:

Kitchen - refrigerator, cabinets, pots and pans, silverware drawer, seasonings, pantry.

Living room - bookcase, collections on shelves, magazine bin, remote box.

Bedroom - shirts, pants, skirts, dresses, ties, shoes, hats, jewelry, cosmetics, nightstand drawers.

Hallway - mail, coats, boots, scarves, gloves, hats.

Linen closet - towels, wash cloths, sheets, pillow cases.

Bathroom vanity cabinet and medicine cabinet - over the counter medicines, first aid supplies, thermometers.

Home office - file cabinet, supply drawer, pens/pencils/paper clips, computer files, client contact info.

Some of these items may already be organized while others aren't. You can not possibly organize everything all at once. Choose one item, within one area, and focus on that.

Start by taking inventory (mentally or written) of what's there already. Decide if you really need or want all of it to stay. Then the scrutiny starts: is it in good shape, is anything expired, broken, missing pieces, have lost labels, no longer fits, out of style, etc. I know all of us are programmed with "one day I may need/use/want this" but now is the time to say "clutter get back!" and choose only the best for you moving forward. Items that you truly need or want, that are in their best condition.

Side note: If there are items that are in disrepair that you really plan to fix one day, make a "project" box and put it there instead of cluttering up your other spaces. Make a list of items that you need to complete each project (ex: spray paint, #3 screws, plastic tarp, etc.) and acquire them so that you have what you need on hand when you want to start on that project. Then on that day when you have free time to work on a project, you know where to find your projects and can start working on them.

Everything else goes! If it can be donated, donate it! If it can be sold, sell it! If it needs to be disposed of, safe disposal is a must so make sure you know what can go in your regular trash or recycle cans, and what needs special disposal like paints, batteries, etc. Your city or county has dump sites for these items. You may also be able to schedule a free "bulk trash" pick-up for large items like beds, refrigerators, etc. Or you may need to pay for your own pick up with companies like 1800GotJunk or College Hunks Hauling Junk. Some used-appliance stores will come pick-up your old appliances for free.

Once you've gotten rid of what's not staying, take everything out of its current spot and clean it! Clean the shelves, bins, cabinets, etc. There will be dust and dirt that have accumulated - put your gloves and mask on if you need them. Wash, wet wipe, dust or vacuum everything, and then clean the items that are staying before putting them back in their place. Then determine a regular cleaning schedule for this item. For example: you might decide to clean your refrigerator once a week (throw out old food), once a month (wipe down all the shelves and drawers), or once a quarter (vacuum under it). Remember, electronic items will work better and last longer if they're kept clean.

You're on a roll now! Go to the next item on your list and repeat. As you get into the swing of things, it WILL become easier!

Take Away: Identify which items/areas that need organizing first and dive in - one area at a time! Continue to add things to your "donate" and "give away" boxes, and sell and trash what you can. Start a "project" box for future repairs. Tomorrow we will discuss our three phase fight plan (see May 2nd).

About the Author: L. Sidney Irving is the owner of Sidco Properties, a real estate company dedicated to educating and assisting those that want to buy or sell a home, Sidney loves to organize herself and those around her because she believes that an organized space brings peace and fosters creativity. May the power of organization be with you!

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