I’ve seen it all. In the last thirteen years, I’ve been in the most cluttered spaces and the most organized environments. In all of them and with my own spaces, I use the exact same steps.
Five simple steps.
These five steps work in ANY situation.
Use these steps to organize your calendar, organize ALL your paper and of course use these steps to organize your entire home!
The five steps are…
- Assign Homes
- Set Limits
The first step to organize is to SORT.
When I see a disorganized area – and I’ve seen LOTS of them – I get overwhelmed.
You know why?
Because I’m thinking, “OH MY! I cannot do this. This is way too much. There’s no way! I want to go take a nap.”
Those thoughts make me feel overwhelmed.
So you know what I have to do?
I literally say this in a stern voice out loud or in my head, “Tracy! The first step to organizing is to SORT. Pick up one thing at a time!”
I repeat that sentence in my head over and over. This mantra makes me feel focused. I laser in and force myself to pick up one thing. I ask, “What is this?” (office supply? t-shirt? cleaning? tools?) and put it in a pile. I continue with the next item. I clear out the space putting each item in a pile, like with like. Choose whatever categories make sense to you.
And before you know it the space is emptied and everything is sorted into categories.
The second step to organize is to PURGE.
Before you make any decisions on what to keep or get rid of, check in with yourself.
Are you feeling abundant or scarce? Are you trusting that God will provide you with everything you need when you need it? Do you want to be generous toward others? Do you believe you will always have enough?
Does your stuff have a hold on you? Is it giving you a sense of security? This is a really good video from a Catholic priest on stewardship and true freedom.
Once in an abundant, peace-centered mindset, go category by category and make decisions.
Ask questions like:
- Would I pay full price and bring this item in my home today?
- Is this my favorite?
- Have I used this regularly?
I have a free PDF that you can print off with questions to ask that guide you through the process of purging. They’re abundant questions. Get your copy here.
Once you’ve purged every category and now have what you love and use and intentionally decided to keep…
The third step to organizing is to ASSIGN HOMES to all your items.
When everything has a home, picking up is easy and you can quickly find what you need.
Where do you use the item? Make its home as close as possible.
Where do YOU think to look for this item? Try to make a home where you naturally think to look for it.
One of my coaching clients had a drying rack that she didn’t have a home for. She said she used it in her bedroom. Could she store it in the bedroom? It folded up and might be able to slide behind her dresser or under the bed. She had never thought of that.
Make the things you use the most often the most accessible.
The fourth step is to SET LIMITS.
This is the step everyone wants to start with. They want to buy cute containers, baskets, dividers or binders thinking that will help them get organized.
Do not buy anything until you’ve gotten to this step.
Now you can see exactly what you need. Measure it and shop your home first, use what you have (even a cardboard box!) or purchase the product(s) you’ve been dreaming of.
I call this step “SET LIMITS” because the container, drawer, shelf, divided space serves as a limit. Once the limit is reached it is the trigger to start with step 1 again.
Once you’ve tested and decided on homes for all your items and contained them, add labels so the whole family knows where the item lives.
The final step is to MAINTAIN.
Just like your garden and your laundry, your organization needs to be maintained.
The secret is to tie maintenance to something you already do.
During tax prep, maintain your paper filing system.
As the seasons change, maintain your closet organization.
When you put away groceries, maintain your pantry and refrigerator organization.
Every time you start the dishwasher, process your mail.
These are the steps to organize anything and EVERY thing.
Be encouraged! This IS possible for every woman.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15 NIV