How to Get Started Organizing at Home

BullseyeOne of the challenges we run into often (and that helps us to procrastinate) is not knowing where to start. I’ll stay away from the clichéd “journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” advice. OK, well, maybe I will go there…just a little bit. In order to make the trip you need to start at, say, point A and move to point B, right? However short your trip, ideally there is some movement or progress involved.

It can be debilitating when you are overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. When I first started my organizing journey 13 years ago, there were times I was literally reduced to tears and couldn’t move. But I have learned that what is more important than where you start is that you do. Just get started. A tactic I use personally and have shared with clients is to designate a starting point. Let’s call it your “initial organizing target” or IOT, for short. This will be the place you start whenever you feel you need to restore order to your home but feel overwhelmed.  There is no ideal place that works for everyone so you should choose whatever works for you.  Being specific and consistent with your IOT eliminates the indecision and overwhelm.

Here are a few ideas, pick one:

The Kitchen sink- As the hub of the home the kitchen often gets the most abuse love. Start by loading the dishwasher, washing dishes or whatever you need to do to properly empty the sink. Then, move onto the counter area adjacent to the sink in a clockwise direction around your kitchen. This is the IOT I use.

The Master Bathroom- You probably begin and end most days in your master bathroom. Start clearing clutter at one end of the room and work your way around. Wipe counters, put away beauty products, hang towels, etc. If you have the time, keep going.

The Bed- Make your bed. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just pull the sheets and comforter up, place pillows at the head of the bed and make it look presentable. It goes a long way to making the room look orderly and climbing into your made bed at the end of a long day will always bring a smile. Work your way around the room in concentric circles.

Your Desktop- Put pens in cups, paper in files, toss the trash. Paying bills and filing paper can be stressful enough without having piles of paper and clutter drain you before you even begin.

If none of those spaces motivate you, pick a specific spot in one of these places that does:

  • The first room you see when you enter your house
  • The first room guests see when they enter your house
  • The first room you see when you wake up in the morning
  • The room you (and your family) spend the most amount of time in

Regardless of which room or space you choose, make sure to pick a specific spot, um, say about the size of a bread box. Make it so there are no ambiguities- don’t leave any room for your lizard brain to interfere here.

Practice Assignment:

  1. Designate your “primary target” for restoring order and leave it in the comments.
  2. Set a timer for 15 minutes and start organizing from there. Go. Now.

Bonus Points: Practice this every day for 2 months. Use it first thing in the morning or before turning in for the night. Whenever you need it. Comment or email to let me know how it works for you. I’d love to hear from you.

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