How To: Start Organizing: Part I

092308container-01.jpgOne of the first steps to organizing your belongings is to plan. Have a goal and set a finite date or time you will accomplish your goal (we suggest starting out small with goal setting)--but then what? We'll guide you through the steps with these compact, collapsable containers after the jump.

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Collapsable Green Cubes; $12.95

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Padded Canvas Fold n' Hold $12.95

So you've already picked a place to start organizing--which for our clients is sometimes the spot that's the smallest (for ultimate satisfaction) or having a go with the corner of the room you can't stand to look at. It's up to you but what's important here is to just pick a place and start.
We like to use these collapsable containers from the Container Store to process items. They are larger than a paper bag and fold down flat when not in use. The biggest bonus of these sturdy containers is their wide opening that stays put. If you've ever tried to organize with trash bags or paper bags, you'll find rather quickly that you have to hold the trash bag open in order to toss items inside. It's super important to make the organizing process as easy as possible. That's why these containers are such a hit with our clients. You can also use the containers to store items that need to be returned to their proper home. Once the box fills up, distribute its contents and the container folds up to be stored.
Now that you know why we love these containers, we'll get going with how we start the organizing process below.

  • First you'll want to clear an area of a room, a bed, or a table where you can process your belongings.
  • Next you'll set up your processing stations. We have multiple categories when dealing with "stuff" on the first pass. Some familiar categories are keep, donate, recycle, can't decide and toss. We like to keep a set of index cards around to identify each sorting container. Since you're just trying to get used to making decisions, you don't want to get stuck on an item (hence the cushion category of "can't decide"). Once you start processing your belongings you'll notice you'll get into a rhythm and eventually process your "goal" area.
  • Now you're ready to deal with the containers full of your belongings. Donated items should be taken to the car immediately. Then you're left with your piles of keep and can't decide. We like to take the can't decide items and put them aside for a few weeks. When you return to those "can't decide" items and find that you haven't needed them or used them they can be tossed or donated.
  • Finally you're left with what you've decided to keep and use in your home. We'll cover how to deal with these items in How To: Start Organizing: Part II.

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