Sunday, January 30, 2011

Getting Organized - Tips and Tricks



So I have spent much of this month trying to get organized. It was the theme of this month all in an effort to Work Smarter, Not Harder. Getting organized has been a real challenge. I am not the most organized at the best of times but I have been trying to stay really focused with this challenge.

I feel like we are over run by our stuff, that our stuff is starting to control our lives. We have an old 4 bedroom house and what it lacks the most is storage, there are only a few closets in the entire house. The biggest closets in the house are in our master bedroom and the basement and that makes storing things a challenge. My husband has a home office and that presents additional challenges. We have a lot of stuff  in the office, including paper, comic books, toys and action figures that my husband has worked on and really no where to put any of it. To be honest that is the problem throughout the house. Our bedroom is over run with clothes, the toy room is over run with toys that have spilled over to every floor of the house. The plan is to move the toy room to the basement and make the two rooms on the third floor of the house office and spare room but one thing that is holding us back  is that we are currently housing a friend's stuff in our basement. We had someone living in our basement for a while ( ok, several years) and now that he has moved out he forgot to take his stuff with him. There is a date for the stuff to leave but in the meantime the move is on hold. What I am trying to do while we wait is de-clutter and organize. Sadly I don't feel like I have made very much progress. I think in order to really get effective change I need to enlist the entire family - husband and two kids. I think I also need to get some tips and tricks from an expert.

I put it out there on twitter that I was looking for an organization guru and that's when my twitter peeps said if I needed to get organized then I needed to talk to Lindsay Harris, @lindsayglowbaby, of Glowbaby.ca.

Lindsay and I spoke over the phone for about 30 minutes. I asked her questions and she asked me some questions. It is really important to talk about the areas that are the biggest challenge. The amount of stuff in our house has to be the biggest challenge. There is four people in our house who all have lots of stuff and it is starting to overwhelm us. Lindsay talked a lot about what she does in her house and the kind of routines they have in place. I want to touch on a few of the best tips Lindsay gave me because I think they can work for everyone.

De-clutter: It is really important to go through the things in your house to make sure that you are using everything. It can be a daunting and overwhelming task but if you go about it room by room it can be easier to tackle. Lindsay also says sometimes it is easier if you start with the room that is the least cluttered.
                  Lindsay says it is really important to go through toys and clothes on a regular basis to get rid of anything that isn't being used. Throw away anything that is broken or damaged. Donate anything you think is still in good condition that someone can still use.

Everything has a home: Once you have thinned out all your stuff it is essential that everything has a place. Storage in each room is key says Lindsay. If there is not enough storage for all the toys and things don't have a permanent home in the room then the kids will have a difficult time cleaning up because they won't know where anything is supposed to go. Lindsay says a really good tool to help everyone keep the toy room clean is to label bins with pictures of what is supposed to go in it that way the kids won't have to guess.

Maintenance it key: Lindsay says it is easy to keep things organized and tidy when you make it part of a regular schedule. When it comes to de-cluttering she says it is a good idea to do it every couple of months to make sure that everything in your home is getting used. "It is never done. It is an ongoing job", says Lindsay. If you make it part of the entire families regular chores then it is more likely to get done. Lindsay says if you actually schedule cleaning and organizing like  an appointment then you are more likely to complete the task and there is a better chance of it becoming part of your every day routine.

This month was all about getting organized and de-cluttering for me. It was an overwhelming task for me. I got things started and I am far from being done. While I am planning another focus for February I will still be working on getting organized and de-cluttered. It could take me the entire year to tackle this challenge. I will continue to update how it is going.


What tips and tricks do you have to stay organized? How do you de-cluttter?