Plenty of people approach organizing projects with the mindset that setting aside a big chunk of time is the way to go. This can be the stereotypical idea of not starting to clean out the garage or basement until you have a weekend to dedicate to working on it. Maybe it’s even a reason to procrastinate, “Oh, I don’t have enough time to work on this – look at my weekends, they each have things that are more important.”
It can also be the internal “shoulds” of having the time to spend on organizing projects – “I should be spending at least 6 hours a day organizing my stuff, I don’t have that much else to do…”
First, one of the ways we all end up with too much stuff is that we haven’t embraced the process of purging as part of our life. When purging happens only when you’ve found an available weekend to clean out the garage (or wherever) – the stuff will pile up again. Is this how you want things to function going forward? I’d encourage you to incorporate the purging and hence the organizing process into your life in order to avoid a weekend of cleaning out any space.
Organizing is never truly finished; rather it’s part of life. Even when you’re attentive to getting things out, stuff can accumulate. Have I shared how my husband and I found 3 sets of mixing bowls in our cupboards a couple years ago? 3 sets! Somehow things slip through, or multiply behind our backs – and I had no idea there were 3 sets using up our valuable cupboard space (even a couple years later I’m confounded by it!).
Second, when you’re tackling a space over a weekend, you could be heading yourself into a state of overwhelm. Getting overwhelmed has potential consequences – serious ones even! In your goal of cleaning out the garage, you might reach the state of being overwhelmed as everything is strewn about for sorting – and when walking away is not a feasible option. When it might be possible to walk away, the stuff is there, now less contained and probably gnawing at you to get back to it.
You might get through everything and then find yourself resistant to any other projects that involve sorting and purging – it becomes overwhelming to consider another big project. What people often discount about any organizing – whatever the size – is how much energy it can take. If you’re working alone, physical energy is probably required. Yet, I’m talking about mental energy – the decisions required for every item. Often each item is more than 1 decision – since once you’ve decided to keep it – the first decision, where are you going to keep it? What other items do you have like it? How will you know where and how to find it when you need it? And any number of other decisions for each and every item. This can be extremely draining – and please don’t discount how much or how normal!
No matter what the size of the project – whether you want to get the whole house organized or just that linen closet – it can be done in small steps. The basement can be approached in small chunks of time rather than waiting for a whole weekend. When you break things down – whatever the size – you want to make sure you keep the things you’ve sorted distinct from the things you have yet to sort. It can also help to keep things tidy – it’s common for things to get more chaotic before they get better – so containing the stuff in order to keep things and spaces accessible as well as avoid being overwhelmed just by entering.
If it’s not obvious, I don’t recommend the weekend room tackle! There are more reasons I find it counterproductive, though I’ve certainly met and worked with people who take this approach. As long as it works for them, that’s what matters; though I expect they are still in the minority. Regardless, when you’re working in a space, sorting, organizing, and purging it needs your attention. So, in the other extreme, I would be cautious about starting an organizing project when you might have to run out of the house in 5 minutes – unless you have a plan! Bursts of organizing can be any amount of time – theoretically – you get to decide for yourself. What amount of time works well for you?