Identify the purposes of the room.
This was a dream of mine since the day I got married. Perhaps it was a nesting thing, or my nonsensical love for paper, but for a long time I wanted a room that would serve several purposes – a place to do my crafty mom projects like sewing and painting; a place for company to sleep, a place for me to work (I am the bookkeeper for my husband’s business); a place to store extra “stuff”; and a sanctuary from the rest of the house. I wanted all of that in one tiny little 10×10 room! What!? I thought it would be unlikely to happen, but for Christmas last year this is what I got:
(Picture of my white room)
My “Do” room! So proud! Let me just say that my husband is awesome! And the best part is that it really does “do” all of those things! Although it may seem farfetched, you don’t need to have a lot of space in order for a room to do everything you want it to. It’s really a matter of how you organize it!
Here are some of the items I used in my “do” room to make use of the most space:
Identify what is creating the existing mess or what has potential for becoming a mess.
Whether there are papers scattered about, craft supplies in piles on the floor, random things bought from the store tossed around, or books all over the place, look around for a good long minute and really identify each item in the room that is causing a mess either because there is no proper way to take care of it or because you are too lazy to put it where it belongs. Make a list and keep it in mind for step 5.
Embrace your weaknesses and accommodate for them.
We ALL have them. And since we can’t work on all of our weaknesses at once then why not embrace them and help ourselves out? For example: I know that my family and I are too lazy to put our shoes in one of those cute material boxes that fit in a cube organizer. If I had baskets for each person’s shoes, it would be a disaster. Shoes would still be strewn about. And what’s even more sad is that the shoes would be directly in front of the cute baskets rather than in the baskets. Can we spell LAZY? But that’s the whole purpose of organization isn’t it? The goal of your organizing is to have places for things to go so that cleanup is quick and easy. You want something that will be practical, stylish, and convenient. You don’t want the organization to create more work for you. You want the organization to do all the work for you.
Instead of putting our shoes in baskets we now leave our cube organizer plain. Then we can toss our shoes into the cubbies without much effort. Also, I put a large basket on the floor by our front door to make up for our weakness incase we walk in the front door too. We still have to root through the basket of shoes each time we want to go out, but at least it keeps the floor free from shoes and we generally have a tidy entryway without any effort on my part. I embraced my weakness and made appropriate accommodations.
Assess the situation. What are your habits? When you look at the room you are organizing, keep that in mind. Ask yourself this: “What am I willing to do for my organization (meaning how much time are you willing to spend keeping things organized regularly? What do I want my organization to do for me?”
Set a budget.
Budgeting is an entirely new post in itself, but for now, let’s just plan on just making room in our already existing budget for organizing.
No matter what people say, successful organization WILL cost money. It doesn’t have to be a ton of money, but it will cost some. There are plenty of ways to stay frugal with any organization project. However, if you want to be successful, you most likely will have to buy a few more bins, or furniture, or hangers, etc. etc.
Let me explain where I am coming from. I have a dear friend, we’ll call her Sarah, who has the cutest three little kids. Her little boy has ADHD and her two little girls are 2 and 3 years old, only nine months or so apart. You can imagine just how wild are her days. Trying to keep up a small house with piles of stuff everywhere can be a full time job in itself, let alone keeping house with three kids, a husband, and two giant dogs making messes faster than you can clean them up. Needless to say, Sarah fell behind in her house work—dun, dun, DUN!
Being something we have all experienced, a few of us from surrounding neighborhoods got together to surprise Sarah with a cleaning crew for the night. We sneaked up to her house, knocked on the door about four times before she answered and forced our way in! At first she was embarrassed for us to see her house “as is”, but honestly, not a one of us thought any less of her for having a dirty house. In fact, my fondness for her grew even more that night because I got to see and hear as we chatted with her just really what she handles so well every day.
Let me tell you a little about Sarah. She is the most genuine person I have ever met who has a talent for finding the good in people without letting it make her feel bad about herself. She will rave about some other woman’s talents and successes for 20 minutes or more! So much so that I begin to feel a little self conscious thinking, “Whoa, what good things are people saying about me…anything?” Yeah, total opposite of what Sarah was doing. Ha! But anyone can tell that Sarah simply admires people for who they are and can sincerely appreciate other people’s talents in a way that she is inspired to do greater things herself.
Back to the cleaning party…While Sarah and the rest of us were working and chatting, I asked her, “Where does this go?” holding a bunch of Christmas lights and wooden blocks. By now Sarah had let her guard down a little and was okay with us being there. She thought about it for a minute then said, “Uh. Let’s just put it over here on top of the entertainment center. It’s a project I’m working on and I’m not finished yet.” Okay, so I did that. Then I picked up some colored pencils and a pencil box and asked where to put those. Sarah replied, “Oh yea, I don’t really have a place for that either. Probably just put it in the Pantry.” Okay, I did that too. I finally realized the problem when I picked up some CD’s. I walked over to the entertainment center since that was a likely place to put CD’s when Sarah reached out to take them from my hand and directed, “And those just go on top of the cabinet.”
Why not put them in the cabinet? I wondered. Sarah was doing her best to clean up but the problem was that there wasn’t enough designated places to put things! This made the clean up that much harder! It takes so much longer to clean when you have think for a couple minutes about where to put each item. That is why organization is a time saver. It takes longer to think about where to put something than it does to actually walk to the specific place each time you put it away. It may not seem that way, but trust me. It does.
Sarah doesn’t have a lot of money, but I have seen them save up for things that are pretty big, so I know they are capable of saving for things they really want. If she could only see how saving up to spend a little more on some extra more useful containers, even save a box and wrap it with wrapping paper, she would save herself so much time and headache when it came to housework.
I have seen it time and time again. People think they are getting organized by piling things in different places and clearing off one particular space, but that’s not really organizing. Doing that will only make organizing seem tougher because you feel like you just organized what has now become just as big of a mess before you spent all that time organizing merely two weeks ago. And now you have to do it all over again! Then you think to yourself, “What’s the point of organizing?!” If that’s your way of organizing, you’re right, what’s the point?
Therefore, when you are ready to really truly get organized, you will definitely need to set a budget in order to have adequate places to put things.
Get a vision for how you want the room to look.
This is where our pieces come together. Organization doesn’t always have to be in gray totes and plastic bags. You want the room to be functional, practical and stylish. There are numerous ways you can add a little zip to your organization without costing you a fortune. Usually what I do is choose a color scheme and then Google the type of room I’d like to have, in this case, a “do” room. Since Google is only able to search text rather than pictures, I try to think of synonyms for the type of room I am looking for. Then look at Google images, rather than articles or blogs.
Save the pictures into a file on the desktop. When you look at the images, you’ll want to pick out one or two things that are a possibility for you to actually afford and achieve. You don’t necessarily want to find pictures that are exactly the style and type of room you like, nor do you have to like everything you see in the picture. At this stage of the organization project, you want simply be looking for ideas of what could work for your specific needs.
Once you have several photos saved, move to the room you are working on, and browse through your images as you look at the space around you. Keep the items causing the mess that you identified earlier in mind. Try to get a vision of what you’d like to see in your room. I sometimes will sit in the wannabe organized space for 20 minutes or more, pondering and staring.
Be sure to write your ideas down or sketch them out so you can either share it or call upon it as you are shopping for the items/organizers you’ll need. It will also be handy to have around while you are working on the project for the sake of keeping on track. When organizing, it is easy to become side tracked or to want to have too much organization. In order to get the job done quickly, you’ll want to keep priorities straight and specific goals in mind at all times.
Make small specific goals you want to accomplish in the amount of time you set.
One of the best ways to achieve success at any given project is to see quick success right away. Dave Ramsey does this with his financial counseling. Whether or not you like Dave Ramsey because I know he is a little hard to take sometimes, it does not change the fact that he has helped thousands of people get out of debt and has a financial radio show on more than 250 stations with more than 2 million listeners each week. He may not be friendly, but he is successful.
The tactic he uses to get people to have success is to encourage them to work on the smallest debt first. That way people will see quick success that will boost their momentum for continuing on with the project. In reality, it doesn’t make sense to start with the smallest debt first since the larger debt incurs the most interest, putting one further in the hole at the fastest rate, but if it’s an incentive to continue on the long road to lasting success, it works.
The same goes for organizing. Organizing will be a constant battle. You will never be fully done organizing because once you organize something one way, you’ll find that a year or two down the road your needs change and you will need to re-organize a room or two with a more functional system. However, once you learn how to truly organize and obtain the skills to do so, it won’t take nearly as long the next time and will have saved you oodles of time in the meantime. Wow. That’s a lot of time….
In the end organizing is a big job, so start small and work your way up. Little success along the way are worth their weight in gold. It’s encouraging when you can measure your success at the end of the day.
Set aside a block of time to work on your project.
We all have several things to juggle throughout the day. If one of those things is organization, you won’t be sorry. But to keep us positive with this task, perhaps it would be helpful to you to schedule in time to work on organizing your room. You don’t want to get burnt out too fast.
Also, it has been our experience that people who are being timed, accomplish more than those who spend all their time in one area. My husband Jim has a sand timer on his desk that is 30 minutes long. When he finds himself circling through several projects, he will set the timer and make specific goals for that amount of time. When the timer is up, he forces himself to work on something different and he does not allow himself to go back to the project being timed. If something didn’t get done during that amount of time, it will wait until the next day. Simply having more time will not make you successful. Effective time, however, will make you more successful than ever. Limiting the amount of time you have to do something, forces you to concentrate your efforts on the task at hand and will prevent you from wandering off or becoming sidetracked.
And for us mothers, I know I feel much better about working on my own projects, when I can plan ahead knowing I will be absent for a couple hours during the day. It allows me to focus on my children, husband, or other housewife responsibilities for the rest of the day enough that when it is my time to spend on my project, I have no guilt in walking away because I feel I have done my duty and I can concentrate my thoughts on the task at hand instead of all the things left undone. We are all allotted to have a little me-time without guilt. Right?