Ok… let’s be honest. I know everyone either has a list of New Year’s resolutions already or thinks they are useless. I will confess… I am in the second group. I mean, I don’t think it is silly to want to improve yourself (or myself.) I just think choosing an arbitrary day is inane. (That and my birthday is right after New Year’s, so I would crash and burn quickly!!!) In addition, everyone and your mother (probably truly your mother!) wants to sell you a resolution today. But, whatever. I am joining the bandwagon!!!
So… you want to get organized for the New Year (or just any day!) but you have no idea where to begin. Do you know how normal it is to look at a mess and close the door or drawer and say “later!?” Even I do it and organizing is one of my favorite things to do! So, let’s start with a little piece of forgiveness for yourself. If you only start with a little project or a small corner of a large one, that is alright! I promise. My recommendation: choose a small project like the junk drawer. A completed project gives you a sense of accomplishment and pushes you to do the next one.
Now… where to begin? You have two ways you can start. You can pull EVERYTHING out (which you have to do with a drawer) or go section by section (maybe in a closet or basement.) You start by making three “piles.” They don’t have to be literal piles but there should be some way you won’t forget where you were. The three piles will be Keep, Donate, and Toss. This may seem like a “duh” but let’s break them down anyway.
- Keep: These are items you use regularly, will use in the very near future, mean an amazing amount to you (like a keepsake,) or plan on handing down to a future generation. Now, when I say “use in the near future,” you need to be REAL with yourself. I know… I have done it… held on to a purse that goes with that one pair of shoes I also never wear, but they match PERFECTLY. The question, will I really, really, really ever use it. I will say this: I give some leeway on this for good quality clothes, shoes, or purses that are relatively classic but currently out of style. For instance round toe shoes when pointy toe is in style. They will come back!
- Donate: These are items that are in very good shape and would be useful to someone else but you just can’t or don’t use them anymore. This is a very important category. There are a LOT of people in need who will benefit whether by the item directly or by the sale of the item by a charitable organization. I also allow for donation to friends and family (obviously!) I once had some GREAT work suits and they didn’t fit me anymore. They were the perfect size for my sister-in-law. I LOVE seeing her in the clothes I gave her. I get a kick out of it and I feel so much better they are in use than if they were wasted sitting in a closet. This pile is the hardest to be real with yourself in the start, because the item is still useable. You feel like you wasted money since you don’t use it. I know… you should just use it! But you don’t. How about this? Put it in this pile for now. If you use it in the next couple of weeks, you can keep it. Deal?
- Toss: Is it broken? Missing pieces? Full of holes? Unused and in terrible shape? Why is it even still there? Unless it broke yesterday and you know how to fix it or you saw the missing piece two days ago, it is done. No one (including you) can benefit from it! Trash it! It is complete garbage! Go. Do it now!
Ok… now you have three piles and they are everywhere! And you are thinking “What the heck do I do with this????” (Well, two piles. One should already be in the trash!) Put aside the donate . Put it in a place you will not forget to donate them soon. (I once, accidentally, hung on to four bags of clothes for Goodwill for six months. Oops! If you need help where to donate, there is a list here.) Now you have one (yes one) pile! Assess that pile. What is in it? Break that pile into smaller piles and name them. (Mental naming is fine, but if you just went to get labels, you are an organizing rock star already!!) Group like items with like items and see what you have. Now you need containment. What will you put these items back into/ on to keep them together, neat, and easy to find? Is it shelving? Is it bins? Hangers? Caddies? This is where you get to make it as pretty or as utilitarian as you like. You can buy new or use old. Whatever works for you (and your budget) is perfect! Ready?… Set?… Put them in their new storage. While putting everything away, ask yourself what you need to access more frequently and what can be stored higher or further back. You do yourself zero good if something is “put away” but you need it frequently and you have to take out six other things to get to it. That is a recipe for a whole new mess! But I digress…
Here is your final step: Stand back and sigh. You are done! Take pictures! Send them to your friends and family! You are awesome! Wait! Send them to me! I want to see them and congratulate you! Now what are you still doing here? Vamoose! Get up and organize!!!