10 Steps To Organize Any Room- Part II

On Friday, I introduced you to my 10 Step process for organizing and yesterday, I went into detail on the first two steps of Define & Design. And, today, I’m going to go step by step into the “Doing” steps 3-8 of the system. Note: Shopping is no where near the first step in the process. I know, I’m no fun. {really, I can be!}

The acronym I came up with {because PO’s love acronyms} is BE SIMPLE: Boundaries, Staging and Supplies; Empty & sort; Shed; Identify a home; Measure & shop; Polish; Live & learn; Eliminate.

3. Boundaries, Staging and Supplies- It’s important to set boundaries on your project. They may very well be the walls of the room or you may be working on a smaller space within the room. If you find yourself losing track, you can use painter’s tape to visually identify the boundaries. It may sound like overkill but it works. Placing a tape line across the entry way to the room can also come in handy if you find yourself getting distracted and leaving the room too often. Also, you need to have a staging space either in the room or adjacent to it where you can set your supplies and sorting bins. I often use a 6-foot folding table which is helpful in doubling the horizontal sorting surfaces {floor and table} and it preserves your back. Finally, it’s valuable to gather the necessary supplies in advance. This is not a comprehensive list but here are some of the supplies I like to have on hand:

  • Sorting boxes- I prefer letter/legal file boxes {aka. Banker’s Boxes} and the store brand is often less expensive. They are uniform, have lids, can be stacked, etc. Here’s a link to the Office Max file boxes. Since Staples redesigned their website, I’m unable to find a direct link to the Staples Economy Storage boxes. I assemble a bunch of boxes and lids so they are ready to when I need them.
  • Black Permanent Markers- My preference is Sharpie Retractable Fine Point permanent markers in black. It has a clip to hook on your clothing and you don’t have to worry about losing the cap {repeatedly.}
  • Sticky Notes- My recommendation is the Super-Sticky Post-it Note in 3″x3″. I like to use fun colors but I don’t use them for color-coding so you can get white, yellow, or a rainbow of colors.
  • Cord Wraps- Velcro Reusable Ties are hands-down my favorite product for corralling cords. They are simple, inexpensive and they attach to the cord. You can get a 50-pk in gray or black for around five bucks.
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Rubber bands
  • Notepad & Pencil

4. Empty & Sort- Empty the space by sorting each and every item into your sorting bins. Use your sticky notes and permanent marker to label each box. The storage box lids are great for sorting small items into. The first category I recommend is “Belongs Elsewhere” for items that should live in another room or space. Don’t leave the room to put it away each time you come across something. Leave 15-20 minutes at the end of the session to put stuff away. Rather than sorting by Keep, Donate, Toss, etc., I recommend you simply sort by item category as you come across it. Some kitchen categories might include: spices, baking, canned goods, sauces, pasta/rice, condiments, etc. Office categories might include: notepads, printer/specialty paper, writing implements, cords, tape & adhesive, etc. You get the idea. The point is that you are not making any decisions about what to keep, toss, donate, sell, etc. until you see all of what you own within a category. Save that for the Shed step. Anything that is obviously trash can go now but don’t get caught up trying to make decisions.

Sorting Boxes

5. Shed- Now that you have sorted everything in the space into your staging area, it’s decision time. It’s much easier to donate when you see that you own ten pairs of black dress pants and you only wear your three favorite. Here is where you should refer to your “Keep Criteria”. I shared a printable checklist on Day 7 that you can download again here.

6. Identify a Home- Here is where you’ll begin to find homes for things. A couple of things for you to consider:

  • Store like with like- this is up for interpretation according to how you use something. For example, if you only use certain items when you go on vacation, then store them in your suitcase. They may be different types of items {bathing suit, book light, adapters, etc.} but they have an activity in common.
  • Where the item is used- store it as close to the point of use as possible and/or make it portable, if appropriate.
  • How frequently it is used- Holiday dishes and platters, etc. for seasonal use do not need to be stored in the kitchen at all.

7. Measure & Shop- Take down measurements of space available for furniture and other storage. Also, if you’d like to store things in bins, I recommend placing all of the items together and actually measuring them collectively {length, width and height} or counting, where appropriate {i.e. CD’s, collectibles, supplies, etc.} This will ensure that the bins you purchase won’t need to be returned. Take pictures, too. It could be helpful when shopping and it certainly won’t hurt. And, now you are ready to go shopping. Here are some things to consider

  • Avoid stacking where possible, only stack two bins high if necessary
  • Think vertical-  Could you make better use of wall space with larger storage i.e. shelves, bookcases, etc? Also, smaller items are often best stored vertically as opposed to horizontally stacking i.e. papers, files, supplies, etc.
  • Clear is better- There is nothing worse than an opaque large storage tote- it’s like a big, black hole. You’d be surprised how helpful it is to be able to see through your container.

8. Polish- Here is where form meets function. Steps 6 & 7 focus on making things easy to access and operate smoothly. This is where you containerize, label, beautify and finish the space. Scrapbook paper, fabric, washi tape, paint, and ribbon are just some of the supplies that you can use to inject some personality into your space. Of course, the containers themselves can also be decorative. Invest here in fun containers that match your personality- they will make you want to keep the space organized.

9. Live & Learn- As one of the last steps, you’ll list all of the new habits that go along with your new space. Your new habit may simply be to put things away in their new homes or it may be a more complex process of putting paper in it’s proper inbox, processing it, filing it, etc. Here is where you incorporate your new habits into your life and learn what works and what doesn’t.

10. Eliminate- While this is the final step, it is one of a more ongoing nature. Think refine, streamline, simplify; eliminate what doesn’t work for you or your family. Here’s another reference to my favorite quote from Day 4 {with a little interpretation}: “Organization is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to take away. – Antione de Saint-Exupery”

I know it’s a lot of information to take in and it’s much easier to learn by seeing it done but I’m happy to answer any questions you may have. Please feel free to share any feedback in the comments.

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