Tackling an organizing project may not be the easiest thing to do, and sometimes it can get overwhelming. My personal approach to combating this distressing feeling is to take a deep breath and take a few baby steps–10 to be exact. Below, I’ve listed the 10 baby steps I follow every time I clean a space. I hope they help you as much as they have helped me!
1. Determine it’s purpose.
Determining the function of a space can be difficult and does not always happen immediately. If you’re not sure what you want to do with the space, take a couple of days to think about it. Go about your life as you normally would and allow your daily routine to tell you what the function should be. If you constantly keep your keys on your bedroom vanity when you wish you could leave them closer to the door, then maybe it’s time to clear off the side table in the foyer and create a new home for your keys. Once you establish the function of a particular area, it will make it easier to categorize the things that do and don’t belong.
2. Start fresh.
Doing this allows you to reevaluate the things that you truly need in that space. It also helps you see everything that you had stuffed in there (“There’s my bracelet! What are you doing, hanging out with the paper clips and thumbtacks?”).
3. Find inspiration.
Like many of you, I love Pinterest for its endless supply of ideas. A simple search can bring up so many results and may even give you an idea you hadn’t even considered! It may also show you how others have chosen to approach a project similar to your current undertaking. Whatever you choose to take inspiration from, however, don’t get lost in the creative flurry: your project is ultimately about you and what you like. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine!
4. Let it go. (cue sing songy voice)
Admit it: we have all been guilty of this at some point. You hold onto those rusted pots and pans because you feel it might come in handy some day. Or you’re keeping the broken vacuum because someone will get around to fixing it eventually. Or even that hideous sweater you got as a gift that you’ll never be caught dead wearing but can’t give away because it was from your best friend.
My rule of thumb? If I haven’t used it for over two years or if I’ve forgotten I even had it, then maybe it’s time to say goodbye. You don’t always have to toss them in the trash; donating your items will give them the opportunity to be loved and appreciated to their full potential. Alternatively, you can sell them for some extra cash, and who doesn’t like that?
5. Group similar things together.
If you’ve ever taken a course in organic chemistry, then you know that in terms of molecules, “like attracts like”. This concept also applies to cleaning and organizing. Putting things that belong together in the same area will help maximize the overall functionality of the space. Categorizing items according to size and color can also help as well–especially in terms of aesthetics.
Source: Arianna Belle
6. Secure some storage.
Storage is not always necessary and can cost quite a lot, but sometimes, having containers can make it easy to keep things neat and in one place. Before you run out to grab some pretty boxes, be sure to do a sweep of your living space for any unused containers that can be repurposed for your current project. Sometimes, a quick wiping down and a label is all it takes! If you don’t have and cannot recreate the storage you are looking for, then go ahead and treat yourself to a quick trip to your favorite store for some new boxes! (My favorite places to find storage are Target, Ross, and IKEA. I also love The Container Store, but it isn’t always friendly with my college budget. It is, however, still a great place for inspiration!)
7. Label everything.
This is especially important if you are not the only person using a space. Labeling things will tell your roommates or family members what goes where without you having to constantly remind them. Even if it’s just you, labeling can help you remember where items belong. I find that the best labels are uniform in appearance with a personal flourish.
Source: Arianna Belle
8. Add the finishing touch.
I don’t know about you, but seeing a bright and happy pattern always manages to make me grin from ear to ear. Others enjoy seeing family photos, sentimental items, or decorative trinkets on display. Regardless of the specific item, incorporating these things that make your day into your living spaces will allow you to enjoy them more–and hopefully keep them cleaner longer!
9. Maintain your system.
This is perhaps one of the most important steps in keeping a space clean. If you stop eating healthily and in moderation after successfully finishing a weight-loss program, what are the odds that you will maintain that figure you worked so hard for? The same goes for maintaining a clean space. Make sure you don’t fall back into your old habits by following the rules you had established before.
If your keys now have a new home, be sure to place them there. Once you start making exceptions to your rules, it will only be a matter of time before your beautifully organized space reverts to its unruly state.
10. Enjoy your new happy space.
Go ahead, open that drawer and smile. You deserve it!