One of the questions I hear from many of my clients wanting to get organized is “Where do I even start?” After so many months (or even years) of being surrounded by the same clutter and disorganization, it’s hard to see a starting point when the urge hits to get organized again.
If you’re one of the many people struggling with clutter but don’t quite know how to tackle it, here are two little words to help you out: start small! It seems almost too simple, but I’ve found success with clients by keeping those two words as the starting point.
It’s true, when most of us walk into a cluttered room we feel negativity and an instant drop in energy level. And if we have several rooms in the same condition the feelings can be overwhelming. This is where “start small” comes in. With a task that seems too daunting, you know you need to start somewhere. Instead of thinking you need to tackle the whole house, think of starting in a single room, or a section of a room, such as a closet, or pantry, or a drawer or counter top.
Grab Your Hula Hoop, Get Organized
Some people may find it helpful to visualize working within the space of a hula hoop. If you actually have one, even better! Walk into your cluttered room or space with your real or imaginary hula-hoop, and set it down. Depending how cluttered the room is, you can put the hoop on a surface with too much stuff, or on the floor. Wherever will give you a “start” on the clutter.
Make the goal to work within that hula-hoop sized area for one hour every day/second day. If you don’t have an hour, work for half an hour. If that’s even a stretch, work for 10 minutes. The key here is consistency. 10 minutes may seem like a drop in the bucket, but if you were to consistently work for 10 minutes every day for 2 weeks, say over a lunch break or before bed, you will start to see progress.
We tend to think when we start a task that we need to finish it as soon as humanly possible. Especially if it is an unpleasant task, as organizing can be for a lot of people. This is what ultimately deters us from even starting. We see the scope of the task and get overwhelmed, don’t know where to start, and all of a sudden we find ourselves choosing a nap and a good movie instead.
Keep The End Goal In Mind
The point behind “start small” is that even 10 minutes can and will eventually get you to your end goal. We’re all busy. Life gets in the way, priorities take over, and really, we just want to do the things we enjoy the most. Most of the time, this is WHY clutter happens: we haven’t taken the time to make “homes” for our stuff, so it piles up, gets neglected, and all of a sudden we look around and feel stressed and drained by all the clutter.
So take time this week to schedule in some organizing. Figure out if you can manage an hour, half an hour, or if ten minutes will have to do. Then decide what time of day would be best. Some of us work better in the morning and some of us are night owls. Take this into account when scheduling.
If you’re reading this and thinking “I literally don’t know how and when I can fit even 10 minutes in”, make a mental note of any “down time” you have. Is it before you head out to work? Is it right before bed? Is it when the kid(s) are taking a nap? Maybe it’s while you’ve got something cooking in the oven for dinner. (Don’t forget to set that timer!) The point is to find even 10 minutes you can logically spare each day/second day and make that time a priority. Focus on the end goal.
By keeping in mind what you are ultimately trying to achieve, you’ll find the organizing process much less cumbersome. Take the opportunity to do some downsizing. Do you have closets and drawers stuffed beyond capacity? Do you hate searching for items you need? Or would you prefer the freedom and peace of mind a functionally organized home brings?
Where most of us falter is getting bogged down in the decision-making process required to get us to the end goal. This is where a Professional Organizer can help if the task still seems too daunting. When I walk into a client’s home, I see the bigger picture and offer a voice of logic and encouragement. I am seeing the space with fresh eyes and can visualize a path toward the end goal, which is ultimately a stress-free, peaceful, and well-organized home.
Hopefully this blog has encouraged you to “start small” in one area of your home. To follow up on this, my next blog will be about decision-making while organizing: things to keep in mind when you just can’t decide. I’ve always found certain specific concepts kept in the back of your mind help tremendously when sorting through clutter. I will give you these concepts and explain the reasoning behind them.
As always, give the “start small” strategy a shot in your own home. If you still feel like you need help, feel free to give me a shout with any questions or concerns. I’ll just be over here with my labeller…