Those of you who know me very well can attest to the fact that I am what might be referred to in politically-correct terms, “highly organizationally challenged”. Don’t get me wrong: I like organization alot. I just never really learned to do it well, and once done, I’ve never worked hard enough at maintaining what was begun. This makes life difficult in some respects, but especially more so as we acquire greater numbers of children, and with them, a plethora of toys, clothing, and books, etc of many sizes and shapes.
Perhaps I have come down with some sort of spring cleaning bug, but for whatever reason, the general clutter of things has gotten to me more of late. So, over the past week I have made some serious efforts at organizing certain areas of the house which are highly used and could benefit from some attention to detail. And I must say, the sense of accomplishment from this work has been monumental.
On Friday after I took apart and redid the pantry I proudly showed the results of my work to Jay (he, by the way, is in general a very well-organized person, thank you Lord,for this grace in my life!). He was immensely pleased, to say the least. And so was I. Subsequently, I redid my system for all of our tupperware and tackled a huge project: the kids’ craft cabinet. Sadly, this storage space had become so bad that things would often come flying out at you when you opened it to get the crayons, for instance. This area took the most time and thought but tonight I am happy to report that games, crayons, stickers, playdough, etc, are neatly stowed in lovely plastic containers of various sizes and shapes. And I feel like a new person!!
There are a few basics I have come away with as I worked on these little projects. For those of you who are highly organized, this will be elementary. For others like me perhaps they will shed new light on the whole concept of becoming organized. I will note that I didn’t take these points from a book or anything; they were the fruit of thinking and working through the process, so take them with a grain of salt, if you are even interested.
1. Be patient: take a little time to think about the space you are organizing and what your overall goal is as far as purpose served, etc. Do the various items all work toward that purpose? (Not that they need to, but it’s sometimes helpful for focus.)
2. Sometimes the first step in organization is to pare down the amount of things in one area. Often that will greatly help you as you work toward making sense of a cluttered space. I was trying to put placemats, candles and kids’ crafts all in the same cabinet area. Silly me. I found that just moving the placemats and candles to a small chest I relocated downstairs was a huge first step toward making the remaining space more useable.
3. Do not underestimate the value of a simple tool or product to make the space work. For example, I bought 2 very inexpensive ($2-$3) “helpers” at Target originally last week. A little shelf to double the amount of items I can fit on a pantry shelf, and a great can-stacker-organizer-thing so now all my canned goods can enjoy stadium seating. These two items gave me the incentive to redo my entire pantry. A good value for my dollar, eh?
4. Get advice from people you know who do organization well. Most likely, they have already thought through a lot of the pros and cons to various methods and ways of organizing say, your sock drawer. Draw upon their wisdom and knowledge. They are usually quite happy to offer help! In my case I have a husband who is good for bouncing ideas off of. He is also my most enthusiastic cheerleader…the man absolutely glows when I show him another space which has been given new life due to thoughtful organization. I have also placed numerous daily calls to Steph, my dear organized friend whom I must thank for ongoing input in this area.
5. This may sound like a reiteration of #2, but it’s really different, I think. In creating an organized system, do not make the mistake of being so efficient with your space that you cram so much stuff into it and thereby make it impossible to keep it organized. Even organization can be overdone and you want something that you can realistically maintain. This is also important if children will be using the space. Kids will do better with simplicity and being able to easily access their things and also being able to easily clean up after themselves.
6. I’m bad at this one, but, once you’ve completed the organization, make the effort in an ongoing fashion to regularly maintain the system. This is easier when done as you use the space rather than a periodic “cleanout”.
Well, that’s about all…if any of you have some other good tips to share, please jump in! I welcome input! Happy organizing, my friends!