Organization

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Organized Cutlery DrawerA basic concept around which organizing works, is that items are grouped together with like items.  This is pretty basic, and applies to home organizing or any other kind of organizing, but it’s easy to forget this simple thing and end up with various places where an item, or more of those items, might be.  Home organization begins with having a place for everything.  Once you have that done, then everything can be in its place.

Grouping items can be done in stages, beginning with getting things into the correct room, for example personal items belonging to each family member in his or her bedroom, anything to do with food or cooking or eating in the kitchen and so on.

Beyond that, we are narrowing down to cupboards, closets, cabinets, shelves, baskets, drawers etc.

Any old box can be used temporarily to gather things together from around the house and group them together, creating and allocating a place where you have decided they belong logically in your home.  Perhaps for example you have tools scattered around because you don’t really have a proper toolbox which fits everything.  Just using a box and gathering what you can locate into it, then finding a place for it is a start.  Then as you come across any other tools about the place, you will know where to put them.  As they start to gather in that place, you’ll always know the first place to look for them, and it will become clearer to you if there is a better way you can store them, because at least you can see them all together.  This also makes it easier to see which things are useful to you and which are not, so that you can get rid of superfluous items and acquire extra items you need without duplicating.

Once you are confident that all the food in your home is either in the refrigerator or in the pantry or food cupboard, you can then group the items on the shelves into categories, for example spreads, cereals, pasta, rice and noodles, flour, sugar etc, oils, sauces and vinegars, canned goods, packages such as tacos and sauce mixes, pet food, potatoes and onions, fruit, dried fruit, biscuits and cakes, baking and cake decorating extras, spices and herbs, stocks and gravy mixes.  This can be done gradually, by creating moveable labels on the shelves and using square or rectangular plastic storage containers or boxes in which to group things.  Throw away what you know you’re not going to use as you come across it.  You bought 3 cans of soup which looked good, but nobody liked it – it’s not doing anybody any good taking up space there, get rid of it.

At your desk, computer software and driver discs are an item to group.  These should be separate from home movies or music or movies or backups, but all in one place so you can always go through them and see exactly what you have.   When you do go through them, throw away the discs for the old camera or printer you don’t have any more, so it’s less confusing.

Incoming bills need to be grouped together in a folder, unless you take care of them as they come in the same day.  Any papers which seem to be accumulating on your desk (or around the house – get them to your desk) relating to the same topic, need grouping together in a folder so when you are ready to deal with it you don’t have to go hunting for all the bits of information.

In the bathroom it’s easy to accumulate a lot of products and forget what we have in there.  Grouping together all makeup, all hair care items, all moisturizers, all tooth care items for example, allows us to more easily find what we’re looking for, decreases the chance of us buying more of what we already have, and shows us what we can get rid of which keeps getting pushed to the back because we have found a better one.  It’s much better to have a small, manageable collection of our favourite items which we enjoy using, and letting go of stuff we really don’t need or wasn’t suitable.  It’s not necessary to keep every bottle or jar of stuff until it is used up.  Keep and use the good stuff.

Odds and ends around the house like batteries, rubber bands, pegs, glue and tape, stationery, cleaning products, safety pins, sewing needs, dog or cat toys, medicines, are all more easily found if grouped together, and a group of items kept together are easier to find than individual items all over the place.

In your closet, wardrobe or drawers, the first step of organizing is to group all the socks together, all the undies together, all the singlets or camisoles together, short sleeved T-shirts together, jeans together, etc.  Once they’re at least all sorted into groups, you have something of a useable system already.  Folding things and colour coding them within those groups if you want to go that far can come later.

What if when you group together all items related to one need, such as kitchen wraps or first aid supplies, you find you have way too much of it.  You might be tempted to store the excess somewhere out of the way.

Don’t fall for it – it’s a trap.  You’ll never see those bandages or clingwrap again until you move house, and you’ll just wonder why you can never find anything, why you keep buying new stuff when you already have a surplus, and why you have no storage space.

Keep it all together, and slog it out using up the surplus before you buy more.  If there is more surplus than you can reasonably use in your lifetime, or it is stuff you don’t like any more, give it away or chuck it out.  Life is too short to be living like this, using up leftovers you don’t even like any more, like that shampoo that never worked out.  

If you keep everything in one place only, you will not always be buying new batteries when you already have some, buying new underwear when you have some unopened ones at the back of the cupboard you forgot about.

As you are confronted with uncomfortable decisions, forcing you to admit you made a mistake purchase, cop them and carry through the decision.  Get rid of the stuff rather than continue to punish yourself by forcing yourself to live with it and look at it every day.

Having one place only in your home where any particular category of item can be puts you well on the road to an organized home.  You’ll be able to find things, you’ll know where to put things (with all the other things like that), and you’ll see where you have too much or not enough of something.

Comments   

#4 julie 2010-12-01 07:48
:-)This is really good advice, thank you
#3 naiomi 2010-11-25 16:42
:-) I did need some idea where to start thank you!;-)
#2 Michelle OSullivan 2010-11-16 15:14
This website is excellent, I really needed motivation and now I have it.

Thanks for helping me get organined!
#1 Maisie 2010-11-03 07:27
Just found your blog. Thank you for this good advice. Just what I need at the moment. Such good sense does need enforcing!

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