My daughter went back to college this morning after spending time at home for the holidays. Before leaving she said, “Thanks for having me” and I replied “No thanks are necessary. This is your home.” That reminded me about the concept of home and how it can apply to organization. Home can be defined as a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family, or household. We can also have a home for the things that we own. For example, the home for my dinner plates is the cabinet to the left of my stove and the home for my car keys is a container near the door. The key to organizing is to create a home for everything and then making it a habit to put things where they belong.
Sounds simple, right? It is. But what happens when you have too many things and you can’t find a home for them. Most of us just start piling our stuff anywhere because it takes too much energy to figure out where to put it. That lack of decision making leads to clutter.
In order to create an organization system and get rid of clutter, ask yourself 2 questions.
1. Where should I keep this item?
2. What will I do if there isn’t enough space in the designated home?
- Can I add more space such as another container or drawer?
- If I can’t add more space, what can I throw away or recycle, give away, or sell?
Here’s how it looks in real life.
Over the holidays, my teenage son received many presents including T shirts, pajamas, posters, guitar picks, gift certificates and books. These presents sat in a pile in our living room until I finally suggeste that he take them to his room where he dropped them on the floor next to numerous piles of clothing. Was he being lazy? Perhaps. But in this case, he just didn’t know where to put everything. Not all of the gifts had a place to call home and for those that did, there was no room to add more stuff. His closet and drawers were already crowded which is most likely why there was so much clothing on his floor.
Decisions had to be made! Block out an hour or so, put on some music, and make it fun!
The first decision he had to make was to determine a home for every item. Although he wanted to do this by himself, I planted myself in a chair in his room so that I could guide him when he got stuck. The T shirts and pajamas (along with the other clothes on the floor) would go in his dresser, the posters would be hung on the wall, the guitar picks, gift certificates and books would go on his desk.
The second decision was to determine if there was enough space. The only area that was a problem was the dresser. All his drawers were already full so he needed to make space by getting rid of the stuff he didn’t use anymore. To keep it really simple he made 2 piles as he went through each drawer: Keep and Don’t Keep. He put the Keep items in the dresser along with his new gifts. He gave me the Don’t Keep items to take out of his room to sort through at another time into 3 piles: trash, give away, and sell.
If you tackle small areas at a time using these 2 questions, your home will be organized and you’ll be able to find the things you need when you need them. One word of caution, however. An item’s home does not need to be out of sight like in a drawer or closet. Some of us need to be able to see things to find them easily. Home can be on a table, shelf, or in a clear container. Another option is to put labels on the outside of drawers or containers so you know what’s inside.