Saturday, January 10, 2009


As the song goes..."Oh, the weather outside is frightful..." so I've decided to do some organizing.

Being a bit of a bookworm (non-fiction), when I check out books from the library on what I'm currently interested in, I burn through them. I think I've read about every book about organizing the home that my local library owns!

One interesting tip that I gleaned from Julie Morgenstern on "Organizing from the Inside Out". When organizing, people tend to throw out things first. She says there's a method to it. She uses the acronym, S-P-A-C-E to remember the order of things.

S - Sort
P - Purge
A - Assign a Home
C - Containerize
E - Equalize

First, Sort: getting your things into categories, separating things into like items. You may find you have some paper files that need to go elsewhere or long lost projects that are outdated and no longer wanted.

Second, Purge: You can now see all you have from the sort step. Now you can decide what stays and what goes. Some may go into the trash, be moved to another location in your house or be given away and some will stay. This is the step where you may find you have 9 unused garment bags taking up space. Can you use some for dust covers for infrequently worn suits or dresses that you still want to keep? The rest you can pitch if you haven't used them for some time. Anything you don't like or can't use (or won't use) can be given away or tossed.

Third, Assign a Home: This is the step I love. You get to decide where things should go. Most people who write on this subject will tell you that you will be most organized if you put things where you use them. This applies to all rooms of the house. So remember that when you are assigning a home to all items. Most people put things where there is room and not where they should go. Assign all items to a certain spot in your home. When asked, you should be able to tell someone else where an item is without searching for it. Keep that in mind.

Fourth, Containerize: See what you have and the space you need to put it in and then you can decide what kind of containers you need to use. Just like you wouldn't need a deep drawer for only two small items, you need to make sure the items you have will fit into the appropriate container, shelf, drawer, etc. with a little "wiggle" room so things aren't stuffed in. This is the step that people often do ahead of when they should. They go buy containers without sorting and purging first. And assigning a home is very important before you go buy anything or you may be getting something that isn't appropriate. Wait to buy until after the first three steps are done. Don't forget that you may have some containers already that don't have a job yet. (Too many of us buy these because we like them and never get around to actually using them. When I'm tempted to buy something to "help" get organized, I try to think of a use for it right there at the store before I buy it. Most often I end up not buying the item at all.) Remember that measuring spaces cannot be undervalued in this step.

Fifth, Equalize: This step is the working and adjusting step. Make it work and if it doesn't when your circumstances change in 6 months, then adjust it. You've learned the steps, just go back and think through it again. Make it work for you. Once you've had organization you'll realize how much it really does the work for you. Remember to always put things away when you are done using them and it'll work like clockwork.

One interesting story: a couple had some leftover items from a recent room remodel project they did in their home. It was taking room up into their garage so they finally decided to organize it. When they went to buy a shelf to do this, they found the appropriate one to cost around $100. When the man figured out how much the actual materials were worth that they wanted to organize, he realized that they were not worth $100 total. They then easily decided to give the items away and not buy the $100 shelf in the end. When they needed a certain item in the future, they could just go and buy the piece they needed without keeping everything. So do your homework before deciding to keep even the useful things. Unless you use it quite frequently, you could be blessing someone else with it.


tandemingtroll said...

I would like to know which book you thought was the most useful that you read. We are also working to organize things and keep them organized.

In the past, as I have sorted and organized stuff, I have had to put labels on shelves or containers so that I remember my original assignment. For instance, when I organized the pantry, I put labels to show where the canned goods should go vs. the grains vs. the snack food, vs. baking supplies. I also label bins.

I am not an organized person by nature and I can live with clutter, but I am starting to think organization skills are a good thing to teach my kids. I just don't want to be the blind leading the blind. :-)

Loretta said...

I have read a few books, but the ideas that I like the best are the ones I can do right away without spending money. I figure I have more time then I have money! =)

Your idea about labeling is a great one. I didn't mention it in the post, but it is a great way to identify things especially in the kitchen. And when there is more than one helper, even better!