At one point or another, in the past 14 years, you may have heard me mention all these rules. However, they need to be repeated because some of you are breaking these organizing rules and aren’t even aware you are doing it. I definitely don’t like to use the word rule around here too often because organizing is a very personal thing and there are literally thousands of different ways to go about it. However the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there are in fact some tiny little rules to follow if you want to be an organizing junkie like me (#goals –> #totallykidding). I mean if you are going to be an addict of something why not let it be organizing! Am I right?
But don’t let the idea of “organizing rules” scare you. These rules will help you facilitate the organizing process so you stay the course. It’s so easy to get sidetracked and overwhelmed especially when you feel like you are drowning in stuff. So these organizing rules are simply there to help you avoid that trap and keep you motivated to get the job done instead.
Organizing Rule #1: Have a Plan & Know Your Why
Ask yourself these questions. Why is it important to you to “get organized”? What is your why for wanting a decluttered space? Why is your home stressing you out? Why is it causing you overwhelm? The answers to these type of “why” questions will be the reason you decide to finally let go of your clutter and organize a space. Until you know that, you will never be motivated to actually do it. There’s not much incentive for getting organized if it’s just something you feel like you are supposed to do. Having a specific purpose for a space or saving yourself time, energy or money are all effective motivators.
People will find the time for the things they are motivated to do.
What is your motivation?
Once you have that figured out, then of course you need to take it one step further and create a plan to make it happen. Planning is the very first step in my organizing PROCESS and if followed in its specific order will help you organize any space in your home. It works. Please check that post out for further insight into why this organizing rule is going to be an absolute organizing game changer for you. You can thank me later 🙂
Also grab this free printable bookmark to remind you!
Organizing Rule #2: Don’t Buy Containers Before You Purge
The most popular post on my blog is the one where I confessed about breaking this very rule myself. In order to be an effective organizer, you must do a purge first. Believe me, I’ve learned this the hard way! I know it’s not what you want to hear but it’s so terribly important. The trap here is thinking that the best way to get organized is simply to stuff all the things into cute bins and baskets so it looks pretty. And while this might work temporarily it won’t last long if you still have to dig through all the clutter in those bins to find what you need. I know it’s hard to make decisions about your stuff. I get why so many want to just skip this rule because it’s complicated and filled with emotional baggage.
But as with many things, purging is something that just takes practice. Letting go gets easier each time you do it. It is so freeing to live with only the things in your home that you love and use AND have the room to store. For example, why have an entire room filled to the brim with clutter if you have always wanted a space for a home office? Make your home work for you and following this rule is an excellent way to make that happen.
Some other posts you might find helpful:
How to Get the Itch to Pitch
How to Use Declutter Questions to Make Purging Decisions
Thrift Stores Are Not Just Outlets for Our Trash & Other Donation Guidelines
Organizing Rule #3: Don’t Compare Your Organizing Progress with Others
This organizing rule seems pretty straight forward but comparison is a very real battle. That slippery slope where we compare our homes to friends and those we follow on Instagram and Pinterest. Believe me I do it too! Yet it’s not very helpful if it keeps us from getting anything done.
Overwhelm often leads to procrastination and procrastination leads to nothing getting accomplished, allowing clutter and chaos to continue to dominate our lives.
Every home and family has different requirements and circumstances to make it run. So do what works for you. Pay no attention to your friend Sally who may have expensive color-coordinated baskets lined up on her bookcase that you only wish you could afford. No matter, because you can be just as organized with bins from the dollar store. Functionality always trumps how an organized space looks. Do the best you can with the resources you have available to you and what works for your family. If storing all your dishes and cups in lower cabinets works for you so your kids can put the dishes away themselves saving you time, then do that.
Everyone’s clutter tolerance is different as well so stop comparing and just concentrate on setting up systems that make sense for your family.
Organizing Rule #4: Avoid Being a Scattered and Unfocused Organizer
When organizing it’s so important to stay focused on the task at hand. If you are anything like me, then you might be able to relate to this below.
You start organizing in one room when you find something that belongs in another room. You go to put it away in that space and realize you should actually deal with the toys scattered all over the bedroom floor. However that means you need to find somewhere to put them all away. And while you are doing that, you realize a piece to one of the toy sets is missing. So you head over to the living room to find it. Your eyes land on the pile of paper on the coffee table and that’s when you remember there is a bill to be paid somewhere in that towering stack. The papers end up scattered all over the floor in your search but you find the bill to pay!
At this point you realize you really need to go the bathroom. Yet once you get to the bathroom you see your hair products scattered all over and start cleaning them up. And on and on it goes. As you can imagine the path of destruction by this time is totally out of hand. You feel like a failure and beat yourself up.
Sound familiar to anyone? Scattered and unfocused organizing is not good for anyone. Unless of course you have all the time in the world then don’t worry about it. Except most of us don’t. Most of us organize in the tiny pockets of time we find here and there. And if we are scattered while doing it, nothing gets accomplished. And that’s a problem. It’s simply not effective. The only way to counter this is to FOCUS on one organizing task at a time.
Focus –> Freedom Out of Curing the Urge to Scatter
Set smaller task goals that can be completed in reasonable and practical amounts of time. Never say to yourself “I need to organize my playroom today”. Instead break it down to manageable steps…I need to organize the Polly Pockets, I need to organize the Lego, I need to organize the dress up clothes, etc. Always have a container near you for items that need to be relocated elsewhere and toss things into that rather than moving it to the other room right then and there. At the end of your time, relocate all items at once. It will not only save you time but your sanity as well.
In order to motivate yourself to continue you need to see that you are making progress and you can’t do that if you never allow yourself to complete any one task.
Don’t be a scatter pants. Focus.
Use my free printable purge labels to help you stay where you need to be.
After reviewing this list of four organizing rules, which ones do you think you do okay with? Which ones need a little more attention? Where will you start today?
You got this!
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