When looking to organize the first question you should ask yourself is; what benefits do I want to gain from organization and how can I most easily incorporate any needed changes into my life? Let’s face it, people have variable comfort zones when it comes to the amount of clutter they can tolerate (or embrace) in their daily lives. Some folks need “a place for everything and everything in its place” while others are perfectly happy employing the “stack, stuff, and spread” method. Where one person may feel they need to keep nearly every object they own another will feel nothing but stress and frustration when placed in this same environment. It is simply a matter of personality and you need to decide for yourself what level of neatness best suites your lifestyle. Of course, if two or more people share the same environment the opinions of all involved must be considered to create the most harmonious atmosphere. Once you have decided on the degree of organization your lifestyle requires, you can then create a plan to achieve the desired result.
First, sort all items currently in the area to be organized. Like items should be placed together. For instance books in one location and music cd’s in another. When first sorting items it is crucial to eliminate all the items that you can from the area. Bring in a large trashcan for items to be tossed and a large box or other container for items you want to donate or give away. If you are the yard sale type, create a container for the items you want to try to sell. Many people place all their unwanted items in the yard sale section first and then whatever does not sell is then donated to charity. Donations can be given to Goodwill, homeless shelters, local church and school bazaars, etc. The main point here is to be strong and eliminate as much as you can now. It helps to have a second or third person to help with this task as they can help talk you out of any emotional ties you may have to unneeded possessions. Get rid of all trash and unwanted items immediately. It does no good to simple move them into another room with a promise to be taken up to Goodwill “someday”.
Now that you have your area cleared, you can begin installation of your new organization/storage system. Set a budget of what you can afford and stick with it. If your dollars won’t go as far as your organizational needs then purchase an expandable type system that can be added on to later as your budget allows. The number of storage and organization products available in this day and age seems endless. These vary by type, quality, material, price, and design just to name a few of the differences. Make sure you check out all your available options before making a purchase. Nothing is more frustrating than installing a new system and then finding one a couple of weeks later that is both cheaper and better than the one you selected. Install your system per the manufacturer’s directions and make sure not to add any load beyond the rated capacity. I know of a family who nearly lost a pet poodle when a shelving unit loaded with books came crashing down on the poor sleeping pooch. Not only was the shelf overloaded, it was also anchored to the wall incorrectly leading to its ultimate failure. As my old school teacher used to say, “a word to the wise should be sufficient”.
Once you have your system installed place all remaining possessions as needed for best utilization. Place dangerous, breakable, and heavy objects away from a child’s reach if you might expect small visitors. Place little used items on the upper shelves or to the back of your storage system. Likewise, frequently used items should be placed within easy arm’s reach to aid in retrieval. Use labels where necessary and make sure you have adequate lighting in the area as well. Once you have completed these tasks you can start enjoying the fruits of your labors. There are few things in life as satisfying as obtaining the perfect environment and knowing exactly where everything is located. So relax and enjoy, you deserve it!
You now have the very basics to get started with your organizational project. Getting organized and reducing clutter is not rocket science. Just remember to use basic common sense and to keep your emotions in check when deciding what to eliminate from your life. Future articles will give more detailed insight and suggestions as required for a variety of different storage situations. We will also take a visit to “true horror stories of the disorganized”.
(Mark Pierson is the Founder of Wall To Wall Storage, a company that sells and installs storage and organizational products. For further information visit www.walltowallstorage.com .)
Note: This article may be republished without prior approval from the author provided it is not altered in any way and is published in it’s entirety including this note.