Organizing – a process not an end point

Sometimes people I know personally are self-conscious about letting me see their spaces – afraid I might critique their systems.  Other times, I get requests for ways to tweak and improve on things.  Fortunately I love what I do and am happy to talk about ideas and even get hands on.

Recently I was with some family and she was probably a little of both of the above – a little concerned I might critique things and probably more excited at my ideas and help.

Now, let me preface everything else with admitting she does not really need much organizing help.  Her spaces are relatively uncluttered and organized.  Yet, this is part of my point – just because you have good systems in place doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth analyzing and tweaking.  This is the exact thing that is often missing and a struggle for people – it takes work to sit down and look through things are already mostly organized.  And this is how clutter can get out of control!

One of the spaces we did some physical hands on work with was on the garage.  I took some before pictures – what do you think about how it looks?

Is this really a before picture?

Before or after?

The challenge of organization is that it’s never really finished.  It’s about creating a system in order to simplify the process as life continues.  If we keep adding clothes to our closets and dressers without pulling anything out – we become overwhelmed with all the clothes we’ll need to go through to get organized again.  And of course, we need to pull out enough clothes to make up for what we’re adding.  This is one of the reasons the idea of “one in, one out” is so popular – it makes the process automatic and simple.

As I’ve said, I dislike absolute rules.  They don’t work for everyone.  I strongly resist the idea that I would have to get rid of a book or CD every time I brought a new one in, although I’d be OK with getting rid of something else entirely.  I think we need to follow guidelines that work for us and that respects what we value.

This means that we need to stay attentive to what is gathering around us.  First, we have to notice what our surroundings look like, including the insides of closets and drawers, as well as our basements, attics, and garages.  Second, we have to make time to deal with things once we’ve noticed them.  Third, are there ways to simplify the process of getting rid of things?  My husband and I have a donate bin that we throw things into as we come across them and once it’s full I list the items and get it out of the house.

During my visit, she and I spent a little less than 2 hours working in the garage.  By the end, we had created 3 small bags of trash and had about 2 small bags for donating.  Many things got moved around – grouping like items together.  Now, we did not literally go through every box and bin though we did look inside every one.  As I already stated, she was already pretty organized so the boxes and bins were what they looked like.

As you saw, it didn’t need an overhaul, but it did appreciate some refining of things.  And although I work with people in much more extreme situations, I also have clients closer to this situation – wanting some help in tweaking the relatively organized stuff already in the space.

Remember, organizing is not an end point – it is the continual process we need to incorporate into our lives.

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