Organizing Basics 

Make space for more important things!

What is organizing? 

Organizing isn’t cleaning, or tidying, or making your closet look like a Pinterest board. It’s the act of creating a functional, pleasing space which is clutter-resistant, because everything has a place.

How do we organize? 

The order of operations usually goes something like this:

  1. Gather — Pull everything out — ideally, everything! If you’re working on clothes, get all your clothes from the whole house — coat closet, seasonal bins, and anywhere else you may have stashed things. Load it all in one place – I like the bed for clothes. 
  1. Sort — Group like with like. T-shirts, sweaters, leggings, etc. Sort by color and use (active wear, work wear, special occasion). Now you can see how much you have. 
  1. Choose — Rather than “getting rid:” of stuff, you are choosing what works for you and what makes you happy. Conversely, you’re letting go of things that don’t work. Maybe something has a bad memory attached, or it’s never quite fit right. Maybe you bought it because it was on sale but you don’t really like it. Maybe you have more of one item than one person would ever need. Ask yourself: how many [pairs of black leggings] do you need to live a successful life? 
  1. Purge — The less stuff you have, the less you have to take care of. Maintaining things costs time, money, and space in your home. Do you really want to spend time dusting that ugly tchotchke that was gifted to you? Do you want to waste packing paper and storage space to safeguard it? If you don’t love it, someone else might consider it a great find at the thrift store. Paring down allows space for the things that matter to you.
  1. Place — Put your chosen items where they belong. Designate a shelf, drawer, or appropriate and convenient spot for this thing to live. You’ll want to consider how, when and where you use this item so the placement makes the most sense. This is also the step where bins, labels, cubbies and other products can help define spaces. If it doesn’t have a place, you create one for it — or else let it go
  1. Remove — This is an important step! If you leave your unwanted items around for too long, they may find their way back into your closet or drawers, where they’ll continue taking up space and mental energy every time you look at them. It’s important that once you’ve done the emotional labor of letting go, you do the physical labor of getting things out of your house as soon as possible.  
  1. Maintenance — Things fall apart. It’s only natural. But when you create systems — by designating places for things, labeling, and holding a line about what gets to come in your home — habits are easier to form and a system reset takes less effort and time. 

Removing Stuff – Where to Take Everything? 

We don’t have a Planet B, and taking care of the Earth is everyone’s responsibility. Attached you’ll find an extended list of locations you can take almost anything, in order to get things where they’ll most likely find a second life and to avoid the landfill whenever possible. Here are the basic ideas: 

Consign/Resell — If you have something of value, it can be worth the time and effort to consign, or sell online on your chosen platform (Facebook Marketplace, Ebay, Poshmark, to name a few). Remember that online selling takes some effort, what with staging and photography, communication with buyers, and arranging shipping or meetups. If you don’t want to sell it yourself, you can enlist someone to help you for a fee. Don’t fall into the trap of “I’m going to sell this one day” and start a pile that never goes away.  

Donate — Donating is easy, because you can drop things off and they’re out of your life forever. Thrift stores such as ARC and Goodwill are great, and for more specific items (such as a piano or a bike), you can usually find a place. 

Buy/Sell Nothing Groups — Usually found on Facebook, these groups are great, especially if it’s something thrift stores won’t take (such as an inflatable kiddie slide) or something you don’t feel like hauling (a heavy piece of furniture). Often you can post a picture and a description and said item is gone within a day or two, better yet to someone who really wants it.  

Hazardous Materials — Many people have old chemicals and cleaners that have been lying around for years. They can be disposed of properly by contacting city waste services. Denver offers one pickup a year for residents for a small fee. 

Not sure? Check this link for a list of resources of where to take unwanted stuff in the Denver area.

Preventive Measures — How to Stay Organized

  • No. 1 Tip: Buy less! It’s better for your bank account and better for the planet. 
  • Purge frequently. Get rid of broken or outdated things that are no longer of use to you.  
  • Fix recurring issues — if something bothers you often, take action to fix it.  
  • Enjoy life – read (library) books, make art, go on walks, hang out with friends. 
  • Shop when you need something, not when you’re bored. Use a shopping list and stick to it. Avoid impulse purchases!

Professional Service

Sometimes it’s too overwhelming to start. Hiring an organizer can make all the difference. Whether it’s simply a consultation to define and set goals, a block of hours or a series of sessions to get through the physical and mental labor, it’s amazing how extra eyes and hands can help. And there’s nothing like a date on the calendar to motivate!