It happens to everyone, all of sudden you look over and you can’t see your desk anymore or your floor or the back of your closet or… and you know it’s time to tackle the mess.
I have my own system for organizing. First of all, if you feel overwhelmed you might want to get help. The other thing to do if you feel overwhelmed is to pick a small area to focus on – instead of the bookshelf do one shelf. The process works the same whether it is one shelf or an entire house.
- Choose your area and make some space to put sorted items. Cover as large an area as you can handle.
- Remove items starting with one area (shelf, desktop, drawer, portion of the room, etc.).
- Place the items into piles: Keep, Trash, Recycling, Donate, Unsure. The reason I do an Unsure pile is to keep down the time it takes to sort the items, for many people sorting is the hardest part. If you aren’t sure if you can give the item away then just stick the item in the Unsure pile.
- Once everything is sorted take the items from the Keep pile and place the appropriate items back in the area you have been organizing. You may have things in your Keep pile that don’t belong in the area you’re working on and those will be placed where they belong or dealt with later.
- Now the trash and recycling can be put out, and the items to be donated can be bagged or boxed and given away. See my lists of local resources for donating http://bayareaassistant.com/2010/06/25/taking-out-the-trash/ & http://bayareaassistant.com/2010/06/28/taking-out-the-trash-part-two/
- Take a look at your Unsure pile and ask yourself these questions: When was the last time I used this? How often do I use this? Will I use this? Is there a place to keep it? Would someone else be happy to have this? Now sort the items accordingly.
- Next continue to move through the rest of the clutter until you are satisfied. You can do this in small blocks of time or all at once if you are motivated. See http://bayareaassistant.com/2011/11/03/keeping-it-together/ for tips on how to store items.