shoe storage for the win!
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Jessica Wilkie

How do I start organizing my home? 

Most everyone can appreciate the idea of having an organized, tidy space to live in. But often people don’t know where or how to start. From my experience working as an organizer, here are a few ideas to help you decide how and where to start organizing your home. 

First, ask yourself a few questions. 

Which area causes you anxiety? 

We all have enough anxiety in our lives. It’s nice if our homes don’t contribute to it. Maybe something tumbles out of the closet every time you reach for a hat, or you can’t find the right spices when you’re cooking, or your favorite pants can’t be located among the 20 pairs that you never wear. If an area causes you stress, take it as a sign that it’s a good place to start. 

this office would cause me extreme anxiety

A note here: make sure the problem area is in your domain. Don’t go picking someone else’s space, like your husband’s sloppy bathroom, to start. The best way to get people in your household onboard with your organizing strategies is to set an example and work your own areas first. If the kitchen is your domain, it’s fair game. If the work shed is an eyesore but you rarely go in it, save it for another time. 

What size job can you (realistically) commit to?

Don’t bite off more than you can chew. It will lead to frustration and you might create an even bigger mess to look at, if you lose steam halfway through. Keep in mind, an area may not be as simple as it seems. Sometimes opening a can of worms in one room can lead to another can of rooms in another room, and so on. Instead, think about how different areas connect and overlap in the home and plan on working those areas in tandem. Consider how much time and energy you have for the project so you can set realistic goals.

Low-Commitment Organizing 

A small project can test your mettle and get you into the organizing groove. Bathroom drawers are an easy first step. They are often mixed up and messy, and it’s amazing what 30 minutes or so of sorting, purging and re-placing will do to make your morning/nightly routines go more smoothly. You’ll improve a problem area quickly, avoid getting overwhelmed, and will hopefully build up momentum for something bigger.

Let’s say you’re still fired up after the bathroom drawers.. Maybe now you can move on to the medicine cabinet or the linen closet–someplace close by, with areas that overlap in use with those bathroom drawers. You’ll probably notice how they relate to each other, and find space for things as you rearrange.

Maybe instead of bathroom drawers, you decide to work on the craft cabinet, or a spice rack or a sock drawer or a jewelry box. Any small, manageable project will be a step in the right direction! 

Medium-Commitment Organizing 

A medium commitment job might be the whole bathroom, a kitchen pantry, or a clothes closet. 

In my own home recently the entryway had become a real eyesore. There were shoes all over the bench and the floor, and nothing fit right in the closet. To make matters worse, my husband was stomping around every morning looking for his keys, sunglasses, wallet, etc. He’s stressed because he’s running late, and it was painful to watch. 

I finally decided to take action: Project Entryway. I identified an excess of shoes as a big part of the problem. They wouldn’t all fit where they were supposed to go in the closet. I pulled all the shoes out and we purged several pairs, but there were still many left and I knew our problem was not solved. So I found an attractive shoe cabinet to go next to the closet. This freed up space in the closet shelves, where each family member has their own bin (for hats, gloves, what-have-you). Each person’s bin now had space next to it for overflow (like a saxophone case, backpack or work bag). A few pairs of easy shoes, like flip flops, are allowed on the closet floor. An extra decorative box migrated in to provide a tidy place to drop keys, wallet, and the like. 

Creating this lovely space by moving things around and adding a piece of furniture works great on paper — but some training is also involved. Husband must get into the habit of dropping his keys, sunglasses, and wallet at the door when he comes in. Otherwise he’s still stressed in the morning. 

This is a perfect example of how purging, sorting and placement are only part of the job. The maintenance part is about human behavior and habits, and we’ll discuss that in another blog post!   

Large-Commitment Organizing Job

If you want to organize a couple of big spaces together, like the kitchen-pantry-entryway or basement-garage, or even your whole house, it can be done! Just know that it will take time and will probably need to be broken down into smaller projects, even if you hire an organizer. 

I worked with a client recently who had a lot of stuff coming back into her house from a business she had recently closed. The business had taken up a lot of energy and time and things definitely needed to be reworked in the home in order for the family to operate at a higher and more enjoyable level. 

We identified the garage as the crux of the issue. The rehoused business supplies had landed there, and there were also tons of sports equipment, bikes, tools, construction supplies, and the usual gardening tools and camping gear. Focusing here first forced us to re-home the business supplies and gardening tools by moving them to the basement and the backyard, which in turn gave us an accurate idea of what would be needed from those spaces. From here we could move forward knowing what needed to be done, without having to patch things in later. 

Are you ready?

Whether your project is big or small, organizing helps you feel better in your space. While the basics of organizing are not rocket science, it can be overwhelming. Hiring an expert is a good way to get a date on the calendar and keep motivation up and ideas fresh. It’s hard work–physically and mentally–and when time or mental capacity are limited, a professional can make your organized space become a reality instead of a distant dream. 

If you have questions about a problem area in your home, don’t hesitate to schedule a time to discuss. Let’s see what we can do together!  

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