Getting Organized: Where Do I Start?

There are a handful of questions people ask over and over about getting organized. One of them is “Where do I start?” As in, how the heck do I begin to even tackle something that seems so insurmountable right now. And also, where as in location. Then, what next?  So, I thought I’d address the “how” part of the question today.

Getting Organized- Where Do I Start-The best way for me to answer the question of how to get started organizing is to help you prepare, both mentally and physically. I know that you really just want to jump in and get started but doing these things will improve your chances of success.

I tried to think of the most common roadblocks my clients run into when their organizing and what can you do to avoid them.

  1. Schedule some uninterrupted time. It’s challenging enough to organize your stuff without being interrupted 15 times in an hour, so do yourself a favor and save your organizing tasks for a time when you won’t be interrupted. Organizing can be physically demanding work, so the absolute longest I recommend is four hours at a time. For most, that’s too long. You need to decide what works best for you, though. On the flip side, you’d be surprised at what you can accomplish in 15 uninterrupted minutes.
  2. Eliminate distractions– Turn off your phone, computer, television, etc. and close the door to the space you’re working on.
  3. Fuel up– Your head will be clearer, you’ll have more energy and you’ll make better decisions when you are working on a full stomach. Have snacks and a beverage nearby to keep you going strong.
  4. Wear comfortable clothing appropriate for the job– Self explanatory, right?
  5. Turn on your favorite music– Whether it’s Baroque, Beyonce, or Bon Jovi, music you love will put some pep in your step and make a tedious organizing task more enjoyable.
  6. Gather supplies– Typical supplies might include Sharpie, Super-Sticky Post-it Notes, bins or boxes (I prefer Banker’s Boxes), trash bags, tape measure, camera, notepad and pen.
  7. Determine your boundaries– Setting the boundaries on the project will help you stay focused (i.e. this drawer, tabletop, closet rod, etc. Avoid everything else. It’s also good to know the limits on your time and possibly set a timer to keep you on track.
  8. Staging area– Depending on your project, your staging area might be the counter adjacent to where you are working or an entire room. Regardless, it’s important to have a clear, flat surface to work on. The floor can work but can make it back-breaking work. I have a small card table and a 6 ft folding table that I pull out depending on the size of the job. (NOTE: If you are tempted to go out and buy a table so you can be more organized, stop right there. Check with friends and family to see if they have one you can borrow. Buying more stuff is rarely the solution.)
  9. Don’t leave the space– STOP! I know you’re on an organizing roll but leaving the room to go put something away is an open door to distraction. If there’s something you need to remember to do, write it down on your notepad. Items that belong elsewhere can be placed just outside the doorway. Put a sign on the door or a tape line on the floor to remind you. Sounds silly now but it works ;)
  10. Stop worrying about making it pretty. Form follows function. Focus your efforts on how the space works first. You can always make it beautiful later.
  11. Forget about going shopping first. Very rarely have I seen an organizing dilemma solved by going shopping first.
  12. Finally, don’t compare. Teddy Roosevelt said “Comparison is the thief of joy.” It also robs you of the ability to organize your space for how you live in it. Forget the magazines, Pinterest, blogs, super moms, your perfect neighbor across the street- they don’t live in your home.

If you want to get in the right mindset for getting organized, you can check out my post on the Top 10 Organizing Myths. I’d love to hear from you! Do you have anything to add? Questions?

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