Diving Into a Small Organizing Project

Often when we “tackle” an organizing project, we dive in only half-heartedly. I don’t believe this is intentional, just a sign of other struggles: afraid of being overwhelmed, unsure of how long it will take, of making it complicated, etc. It can be daunting to truly dig into a space completely, yet this is exactly what we need to do, just in small increments.

It’s simple to go look at a shelf or a drawer and shuffle things around, trying to pull out the things that don’t belong there, whether they are trash or simple in the wrong area. This can even be a way to begin. One of the problems that occur when we do it this way is that we easily get frustrated or unmotivated to continue. Things are already in a jumble, shuffling things around leaves little room for progress. It provides no sense of accomplishment or of having made much of a difference.

On the other hand, if you take everything out of the space – the drawer or shelf (remember, start and stay small) – you can begin to group like items together. You will see right away if you have several items that are unnecessary duplicates. It might be time to find a container to keep some of those like items all together, and you will know what size you’ll need since they will be together.

Now that you have pulled everything out of the space, you can start grouping them with similar items. Deal first with the items you know you want to keep and figure out where you want them. Since the space is already empty, you can start putting them away. You will also see whether you still have too much for the space. You’ll need to decide then whether you can get rid of more or find another location to keep them. A container can be useful to keeping like items together within the space as well.

Frequently we come across items that we’re not sure where they need to go, they do not have a good home. These things can set us back since there does not seem to be a specific place they belong. The first step in dealing with those things will probably not feel the best, but to gather those items together in a container and put them to the side for the moment. Don’t concern yourself with right now with these things.

Those odds and ends can often be found throughout the house. If you have the time and availability to do it, I recommend letting them sit in a container for a while. You have the container, so if you have a need to get something from it, you know where it is. Putting them somewhere “just because there is nowhere better” does not serve you in the long run either. As you deal with other spaces, you might come across similar type items. Sometimes that is when you have a sudden idea of where to logically keep those items.

It takes time and energy to pull everything out, yet it will increase your productivity and effectiveness in whatever organizing project you dive into – as long as you remember to start with small projects. A standard drawer or shelf should take you typically less than 30 minutes for the entire process: from pulling everything out, sorting and purging, and putting the things back in. Maximize your energy by doing it right the first time, avoid shuffling things around, and find the wonderful success of accomplishing your organizing project on the first try.

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  1. What if you have no place/space to put even what you pull out of a drawer or shelf?

  2. It is amazing how poorly designed some “storage” spaces are designed. First, you would have some space, as you removed everything first and need to decide what you want to keep in that space. There are often tools for maximizing spaces, yet too often even these do not help enough. Ideally you would try to not overfill that area, no matter how desperate you might be for storing.

    So then, second, see if there is a place/space somewhere else that makes some sense for storing additional items. In our house the main bathroom has a medicine cabinet and one wall cabinet, a pedestal sink and no room for the over the toilet cabinet. There is a closet across from it, so a couple of the shelves store other bathroom items. I also use the half bath for even less used items. This is just an example, and I still keep my eyes open for other options! 🙂

    This is when thinking outside the box can help to consider unique alternatives for storing items. I already feel like I’ve become long-winded here, and will try to address a whole blog to this! 😀

  3. Pingback: Making Progress? | Sustainable Organizing, Milwaukee WI

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