Organizing Basics 101


YOU can organize anything!  It’s true.  Let’s just set the record straight now. 

But…maybe you’ve tried before and not succeeded.  Maybe you’ve succeeded but it doesn’t stay organized.  Or… you don’t want to but know you need to. 

Each reader comes to this article with a different past and a different outlook on the future.  With that in mind, I want you to know that things can get better though the journey will be different for each of you.

Are you ready to begin?

In this article I’m going to offer some basic guidelines to organizing anything including the paper world in which most of us live.  I have determined that these are the guidelines to use after working almost six years professionally in the organizing industry with many residential, and a few business clients. 

Here are the basics which I call the all important 3 C’s:

Categorize – Clear – Contain.  That’s it.  Sound easy?  In theory it is.  In practice, not always.  So, let me explain more about how to put the 3 C’s into practice. 

* Plan to come to your organizing job prepared for success.  Do not expect too much from your efforts and don’t overexert yourself. 

*Bring these things:  drinking water, a trash can, a box labeled ‘Donate’, a box labeled ‘Another Area’, several sizes of Ziploc bags, a marker, and a few other empty boxes in which to sort your stuff.  These are the right tools for the job. 

Now begins what I call the ‘quick sort’ into Categories, and I’ll pretend we’re organizing a closet. 

Some of your categories will always be ‘Trash’, ‘Donate’, ‘Another Area’.  Others, in this case, might be ‘Mending’, ‘Dry Clean’, ‘Try On’, or ‘Return’.  (Since we’re talking about a closet, I will suggest that one of the first things to do is to place all the empty hangers into a box.)  

*Work to distance yourself emotionally from the task.  Quickly make decisions as best as you can when putting things in their categories.  Clearing the floor will allow better positioning, clarity, and safety in the space.   

When working in a closet I suggest removing a two-foot portion of your hanging items onto a bed or table in which to work on.  Then turn your attention to the item on the top of the pile and decide whether you will put it back on the rack or into one of your categorized boxes/bins. 

If you choose to keep it and put it back on the rod, begin to create a designated area for those categories on the rods like long-sleeved dress shirts or jackets.  Work quickly through the pile on the bed/table and once finished, begin to work through another portion. 

*Once you have gone through all your hanging items, the next process is to ‘Clear’ from those categories. You’ll go back and review what remains in the category of long-sleeved dress shirts.  Do you have too many white shirts and not enough green?  The picture should become more noticeable as to what your shopping tendencies are. 

This is where ‘balance’ and ‘sensibility’ comes into play.  Now is the time to ‘Clear’ out some of those white shirts leaving only your favorites or the ones in the best condition.  You also could consider creating a shopping list and put ‘two new green long-sleeved dress shirts’ on that list. 

*After working to Clear out the categories, the next step in the process is to ‘Contain’ those categories. Please know that ‘containment’ means different things for different areas of the home or for different items.  For hanging clothes it means designating an ‘area’ or ‘home’ for the long-sleeved dress shirts. 

Just so you know, I organize hanging clothes from no-sleeve, to short-sleeve, to long-sleeved and from light to dark and with the hangers all facing one particular direction. 

But this would come later in a process I call ‘Adjusting’.  For now you’re working on the containment process which basically means finding a more permanent ‘home’ for the items that will remain after your quick categorizing and clearing. 

So we’ve worked through the hanging items…but there’s more.  You will use the same 3 C’s process for your shoes, accessories, and whatever else may be presently living in your closet.  It might be here that you choose to quick sort items into a baggie which is sometimes a temporary containment solution until you determine how many of a certain item you will keep.  It is in the ‘adjustment’ process that the more permanent containment solution is determined.

I have covered the basics to organizing which I describe as the 3 C’s.  Remember, this process can be implemented in a garage or your office! 

 ‘Adjustment’ is something we’ll cover in the next article and is what makes your space go from good to great!   

Notice I never use the word ‘perfect’.  I want to encourage you to just take the next step to making things better.  And if you stick with me and the upcoming articles, I’ll begin to talk more about maintenance and making your new knowledge and ‘better habits’ stick!


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