“Just seeing all this clutter and things out of order makes me very anxious,” my new client Diane* nervously said to me.
I hear that all the time. A disorganized space makes most people anxious. We fear losing important things in the mess. The clutter makes us distracted, our eyes can’t land on anything, and we’re unable to focus on tasks.
To combat the craziness of clutter, think CALM:
Start by clearing some space. Clear out the entire room if you have a place to put all the clutter, or narrow your focus and work on one closet, one set of shelves, or one drawer at a time. Empty it all out! Now you’ve created a clean slate and can start to sort the stuff.
As you clear, you’ll also pare down some of the excess.
You’ll find obvious excess such as trash or recycling. You might also unearth things that make you say, “What the heck is this?” or “Why in the world do I still have this?” Grab a bag or box, write “DONATE” on it in big letters, and drop this stuff in there!
Now that everything is out on the floor, the table, or the bed, take a good look at it.
What can go elsewhere?
How did the stapler get into the bathroom?! Don’t derail the process with the distraction of putting it away now. Instead, put it in a basket or bin to distribute at the end of your organizing session.
What categories do you have?
Start to group like with like, and I don’t mean things of the same size or color. Group things that have the same function and/or are used together. For example, in a kitchen, you’ll have categories such as baking supplies, cooking utensils, serving pieces, etc. In a closet, you’ll find obvious categories such as socks, underwear, t-shirts, and jeans and less obvious ones such as formal wear, costumes, summer/winter scarves, and workout clothes.
Round up the strays:
Find the items that belong in these categories that have migrated to other parts of your home. Go grab the mug off your nightstand and reunite it with its friends in your kitchen!
Compare the stuff you have with the space where it’s going to live. Decide where each category goes.
Consider prime real estate:
Things you use most often should be at eye level and within arm’s reach. Stuff you use less frequently can go up high, low down, at the back of a drawer, or even in another area of your home.
Evaluate the volume:
Big categories need more space. Tall stuff needs tall shelves. Small stuff needs containers with compartments. Both the size of the category and the size of the stuff will help you figure out where it should live.
Group items by use:
Consider which categories of items are used in conjunction with each other and place them near each other. For example, store coffee pods near coffee mugs and put both of them close to the coffee maker to make a hot beverage station.
Relocate the excess:If you still have too much to fit back into the space, pare down the excess. Some categories might need to be located in another part of your home. Maybe you need to make some more donation decisions.
MAINTAIN & MODIFY
Live with your new system, keep it up, actively work with it — and make changes as needed.
If you’re now eating eggs in the morning instead of breakfast smoothies, move the blender to another shelf to make room to put the omelet pan front and center.
As you maintain and modify your space, you’ll see more excess that you can let go.
Did you think that once you set up your organizing system you were done decluttering? Think again! Let go of things you’re not using, things you break, things that wear out, and things you’ve replaced with new stuff.
Did you notice the one thing we did in every step of the CALM Clear-Assess-Locate-Maintain organizing method?
LET GO OF EXCESS
That’s key to your success!