Now that many of us have been at home for the past month, it would seem there are a couple of camps which have formed. Some people have hit the ground running and organized everything from their fridge to their garage; others have binged watched Tiger King and roughly 28 other series. Both approaches are exactly correct - there is no right way to ride out this season of our lives; whatever you are doing to maintain your mental health and well-being is just perfect. It is almost impossible to go online without seeing personal and home improvement projects – these are both wonderful ways to cope with our extended time at home, but not the only way. If you find yourself needing time to quietly grieve, to meditate, to pour a drink and Zoom with friends, to Netflix, run, dance or play with your furry companion - you are doing it right. If your home does not look like a page out of Style at Home in the next month, no one is going to judge, but if you are feeling the urge to purge, read on...
Are you Ready?
Like, really ready? Organizing should not be a forced march. Although it is one of those tasks which does take some effort and time, as well as an understanding that things will likely look worse before better, the right attitude is everything. You will know when you are ready – maybe you have misplaced something (again!), or maybe you are inspired to create a more peaceful space for yourself; whatever the reason, now is the time to start. Use that motivation to fuel your fire, and get started. Don’t tell yourself that you need special baskets/bins/tools to start – you don’t. Styling and organizing comes later, think of it as the sweet reward for your hard work. Right this minute choose a spot to start and being where you are. Often times, I find myself overwhelmed in my own space because there are so many organizational jobs I want to take on. I find my mind swimming with the logistics of how on earth I am going to accomplish everything, and it slows my momentum down to a screeching halt. I have discovered that when this happens, the best thing I can do is write everything down.
The First Things to Purge – Your Headspace
Your first purging project should be all of the organizational thoughts and challenges you have swimming around in your head. Take a few minutes, a pad of paper, and create a list of everything you would like to organize. Do not overthink, just get it all down. Once you have created a list for yourself, you have a great place to start. From this list, you will select the top three places you would like to organize, and from that list, you will pick a place to start. My recommendation would be to start with a small win. Once you have succeeded in organizing a space, you will have proof positive that you can do it, you will love to look at this newly refreshed space, and it will be the wind beneath your wings moving forward.
Just One Drawer
Something that has helped me to organize is starting with just one drawer. Along with this being an easy win, a drawer is something we can select which has little to no emotional grip on us. The purging process is far easier when it comes to objects that we don’t have a big attachment to – for example, socks and underwear. Along with a sense of being overwhelmed by the process of organization, I want to say that the decision-making process is a major stumbling block. How many of us have stopped mid cleaning spree to sit on the floor clutching a baby onesie to our chest lost in all of the feels, or spent an hour paging through our high school yearbook lost in nostalgia? We are all human, and many of the things we surround ourselves with are icons of our history – they tell our story, give us comfort, and holding on to them gives us a feeling of security. This is where just one drawer comes in – it serves as an organizational equivalent of the baby step. We can go through our socks purging quickly without the emotional tug of many other organizing projects. Purging is key in creating the organized spaces we want. You can spend days, weeks, months organizing, but until you are ready to part ways with an overabundance of things, your efforts will not stick.
Get it All Out
You will need to empty your space, regardless of what you are working on, and empty it all out. Everything. Let’s keep using our sock drawer as an example. I could tell you to roll your socks a certain way, buy dividers for your drawer, organize socks by color, and you would end up with a more organized sock drawer. Until it isn’t. If your drawer is overfull, it is just not going to stay organized. Organizing should always make your life easier, and if it involves a complicated system, and too little space, it simply will not. What if I asked you to choose your top ten favorite pairs of socks? What if you had a drawer comprised of only those socks you love. This means taking away socks with holes, socks missing a partner, or those Christmas socks you always think you’ll wear, but don’t. Now imagine opening the drawer to only your favorite socks neatly arranged- imagine how easy it is to put away your clean laundry, and one less hassle when you are looking for a pair of socks to start your day. Now maybe your sock game is in check, and hats off to you good sir; but if not, I challenge you to try starting with your sock drawer. If you are not a person to whom organization comes easily, take this one drawer, this one baby step, and then another. Take each room not as a huge, overwhelming job, but as a series of small steps. Enjoy your progress and the satisfaction of removing those things which do not serve you. Think of purging as your insurance policy that those things you are organizing are going to stay that way. Depending what you are purging, you will want to have a box to house donations or items you wish to sell, and a bag for garbage. Now, crank the tunes, get set and go!
Stay tuned for some creative ideas on what to do with the things you purge!