How To: Start Organizing: Part II

092408organize-01.jpgOn Tuesday, we left you with a few simple steps on how to start organizing. So now what? It's time to start categorizing and giving your items a home, sweet, home.

So right now you're staring at a pile (or piles) of your belongings. Your next step is to sort and categorize. Again, you'll want to clear a space to work which will help keep distractions to a minimum. For this how-to, we'll say you've chosen to organize your desk and all of your office supplies are now on the dining room table.

  • First, you'll want to sort like with like (functionality, color, size, etc.). You should choose your sorting category based on which one best fits your organizing style. When categorizing items, chances are you'll end up purging more things than expected. For instance, you may notice you actually have three staplers (now that you finally have them all in one place) and can feel better about letting one or two go. There might also be other items not related to the office mixed in as well--set those aside and return those items to their proper homes once you're done.
  • After categorizing, it's time to start thinking about how you use each item-- this directly relates to where they will be stored. The items you use every day should be within arms reach. Items you use only once a week or every other week can be placed further away. Office supplies that are used even less can be stored in another room entirely. Easy access to items you use every day is the number one goal--that way super important items have less chance of getting lost in a sea of clutter.
  • Now you have to decide where each item will live. Some things, like pens and scissors, may have already had a home on your desk. These groups of items can go directly back to their previous spots. Other items may be a bit trickier. Maybe your file folders had a previous home but for one reason or another, they never got put back. It could be that your filing cabinet is too difficult to access. Or perhaps you don't have an active filing system, which would allow you to file papers, cabinet-free. Whatever the reason, it's important to understand why you weren't putting these things back where they belonged. Once you define exactly how you use an item, it will be easy to determine where to store it. Check back for Part III, when we'll discuss how to choose the best containers for your space.

    Take a look at your desk. What items are taking up space that you never use?

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    [Image from wsh1266]

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