Getting Organized- Realistically. Part 1

I read that this year people have decided that getting organized is just as important to them as losing weight or saving money. Maybe its because getting organized is easier to do and last longer, but who knows. All I am sure about is if you read the home improvement magazines and web sites, there are a gazillion suggestions on how to accomplish order in your home. I found two problems however. Firstly, the ‘professionals’ plans for organizing usually end up costing more money that throwing everything out and starting over; and second, they still save more than I would which requires more time. Here, I’m all about getting things done fast. So here are my suggestions for getting organized for a normal family.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I am doing this project as I write about it, so you know this isn’t just some random, unrealistic ideas. When we moved into our new house last summer it was a week shy of our wedding. I was far more concerned with unpacking than organizing. As a result, all the stuff that used to fit neatly into 800 sq. ft. now seems to bulge in our 2400 sq. ft home.  This is my philosophy going into the project, read next time to see how it’s going!

Make a list: My husband teases me about my lists because I use them…alot.  But I’m one of those people that is too forgetful to go without them. So, I made a list of all of my drawers, cabinets, and closets to cross off as I go. This also helps to make me feel a sense of accomplishment. The ‘professionals’ say do a room at a time so you can see visible results. My two year old says, “Do what I might be interested in while I’m sleeping or you’ll have a HUGE mess.”

Have a Goal: Originally my goal was to organize in the winter as I got time. A new pregnancy, nursery, and guest room to be finished has pushed that deadline up to ASAP.   Thus my New Year’s resolution became to organize one drawer, cabinet or closet per day, which should take me about 30 days total. Also, because some closets needed to be organized simultaneously, I’ve allowed some ‘banking’ ahead or behind but I make sure 7 are done each week no matter what.

Cloth bins are cute but….: I’ve noticed that organizing things into cute, color coordinated, labeled cloth covered totes or boxes fill the pages of Better Homes and Gardens. I won’t argue, a part of me very much wanted to mimic this look…until I went to buy them. The cheapest I found was $7.00 for a medium to large size, and these weren’t nearly as cute as in pictures. So then I was forced to chose, pretty and expensive, or cheap white baskets.  What made the decision? When I realized that nobody is going to see those pretty cloth totes in my closet.  So instead I left the store with a few white baskets of each size, knowing I will use them all.  Normally though, I would recommend you plan ahead how many of each size you will need.   Save the pretty bins for places people will see.

Cut your losses: I have a rule that has served us well in our 4 years together. If you haven’t used it in a year, get rid of it. If it is something you only use once a year and maybe missed a year, go ahead and give it one more year.  (This doesn’t happen often).  Also, if you have a sentimental attachment, I will concede that some things just don’t get thrown away, however evaluate that attachment. Is it something that belonged to your grandmother or is it the first beer glass you ever bought. Save Grandma, let the beer glass go on to make the next college kid happy. If it helps, I couldn’t let mine all go in the same year either, but my collection is dwindling. I see everything but the fancier Bud Light glasses going in the ‘rummage sale box’ this year.

Papers and Magazines: I’m attacking this with the idea that a lot of stuff is online and I can really downsize the amount of paper we keep around here. I get one magazine each month, which I read, take the interesting stuff from it that I want, then recycle the magazine.  Then the stuff I’ve taken out falls into the 1 year rule. As for important papers, such as monthly bills, if I can’t access it online or if something on it could come into question in the next year, I file it for a year. If otherwise, it goes in the shredder. Up until now we’ve saved everything for a year…I’m eager to see how this affects the file cabinet.

Tune in next time to see how these plans work for our house and maybe get an idea how they’ll work for yours.  OH…and how much the kids will actually let me accomplish!