How do I begin to get organized?

So, you’ve decided to clean up, declutter, organize and/or simplify. That’s great, but it can be hard to know where to begin. You can start:

  • With your papers, to ensure you haven’t missed a bill,

  • In your living room, or spaces guests see the most,

  • In your bedroom, which is supposed to be your sanctuary, right?

  • In a closet that is overflowing with clothes, shoes and bags,

  • Or, might I suggest, in your kitchen!

Getting rid of expired food, spices and other consumables can not only create more space for storage and cooking, but be important for your health. And fortunately, there is little guesswork involved: The date on the can or box will make the decision for you. Sometimes, the condition of the food will help with that too. (Note: I’ll never forget the childhood experience of excitedly reaching into my grandmother’s refrigerator for a carrot to feed a wild rabbit outside, only to pull out something black and slimy, which I immediately dropped on the orange shag-carpeted kitchen floor. Scarred for life.)

For those items that don’t have dates, you can get a sense of whether you should toss them here. For food that isn’t expired, but you know you’ll never eat, you can donate to a food bank. And when you’ve whittled down to what you really need, check out this site for organizing ideas.

For more help with getting started on decluttering and organizing, check this out.

Where should I put my stuff?

People have different systems for organizing, but think of the “why” behind organizing: It’s so we can find things. Therefore, your things need homes.

We have homes, which have addresses, so people and mail can find us. We know where to go, and so should it be for our stuff.

Some homes for things are easily determined for us. What’s a typical home for a plate? On a shelf in a kitchen cabinet. In the kitchen, because that’s where food is prepared, served, and often eaten. On a shelf in a cabinet, because it is protected and stacks easily with friends there. But what about swim goggles? Clipped coupons? Rubber bands? You’ll have to create homes for those. It doesn’t matter where, but it has to make sense to you. Think about:

  • Where are you likely to use it?

  • Is it something you want displayed or tucked away?

  • Is the home an appropriate size for that item and all of its friends (others like it)?

  • Most importantly, where are you likely to look for and find it?

For more methods of getting organized, see some of my other posts and check out some of these links I like because they’re helpful and fun (and not because I’m endorsing anything in particular):