As FlyLady says, “You cannot organize clutter.” I am sure many people wish this were not true. The very idea of having to go through stuff and make decisions about what to keep and what to let go causes many people to shudder. It can be so tedious and often emotional. Sorting and organizing can be a time consuming process. As organizers, we sometimes forget that this process can be foreign and unfamiliar to others. Therefore, I am breaking the process down and sharing the critical steps to embarking on the task of sorting and purging.
The first thing you need to consider when beginning, this is to include in your time frame, any time you need to get it completely out of your possession. If you want to try to sell it on e-Bay, this takes time, so you need to make sure that you make the time to work on the process of it. Only you can judge whether you can be disciplined to take photos and create the listing. Until it is in the mail, you are not done. This applies just as much to donating it, so until it is out of your house, garage, and trunk, you are not finished. It is important to schedule the time for these things as you tackle purging your belongings.
Unless you have boundless energy and never get overwhelmed, start small. You do not need to accomplish everything in one day. Set aside a small amount of time for working on this, even using a timer so that you have a clear stopping point. It is so easy to get overwhelmed. This can happen to anyone, whether there is a lot of stuff around or even if there is minimal clutter. Overwhelm happens and it is something to avoid if you can. When we get overwhelmed, we often dread working on that thing again. “Ugh, the last time I started doing that….” FlyLady also comments that things did not get that way overnight, and therefore cannot get fixed overnight. If you start and stay small, you can help yourself stay motivated and productive.
It is important to decide on ONE area in which to focus. After you have chosen the area, have some containers to gather things in, you want to remain in that room until you are done working. If you want to donate items, you’ll need a container for those things. A trash bag is also a useful thing as you are working and cannot get distracted by going into another room. You might want a container for the things that belong in other rooms, as the goal is to wait to return those items to their appropriate room until you have completed working in that space. I often will have two containers for misplaced things, one for the upstairs rooms and one for the downstairs rooms. If you have even more stuff, you can have a container for each room.
In thinking about and planning to sort and purge your belongings, ideally you want to make time to regularly review and purge things again. By setting up some time to do this periodically, you can limit the burden and tedium for the future. You can adopt the approach of each time you bring something into the house, something else must leave. I find this somewhat extreme, though it certainly can be helpful. Find a time that makes sense to you to review things. If you rotate seasonal clothing, this is a great time to go through the past season’s clothes and part with what you did not wear. The key is to make time to review things.
These are the keys to getting you ready to sort and purge in the process of becoming more organized. It is important to consider these points before digging in and doing anything. Here is where you lay the groundwork that will help you succeed in the often tedious process of getting organized. You might notice that there is very little action at this level, yet without considering these points, it is easy to get distracted or overwhelmed. Both of these things can get in the way of making the progress you are aiming for, so it is helpful to factor these things into your plans.