One of the most common questions I get is "How to stay organized?"
Organization is not a one and done process. Life is full of changes - new foods, changes in decor, gifts received, new additions to the household, etc. All of these will impact how your life and home function.
Building an organized mindset that recognizes the ongoing nature of our belongings and use of space is crucial to any sort of maintenance or system.
The Resolute Organizing Process
Identify the Need
It starts with a purpose. As your "Guide to Purposeful Home Organizing" I strive to improve the quality of life and efficiency of your home.
Before you move anything or declutter or start to organize ask yourself -
“What is the purpose of this space or room or furniture?”
For most, if not all, of your spaces, you have likely never asked these questions. It is no wonder life feels chaotic when all your belongings and rooms exist in a state of purposelessness or at least limited purpose.
Purpose adds value to you, those you live with, and ultimately starting with the physical purpose of your home will flow into other areas of your life.
Purpose creates the value, efficiency, and quality that helps everyone live their life to the fullest.
Let’s start with a small example, like with organizing a nightstand.
Think about what purpose you want and need. Does it need to charge your devices? Hold books? Enhance the decor or the room?
Consider the big picture and the ideal purpose.
Big Picture: Easy access to bedside needs and aesthetically pleasing
Whatever you decide, that is what you want to cultivate.
Build a Plan
Pulling everything off a shelf and putting it back without a plan is going to result in the same level of disorganization you have right now.
Using your purpose as your guide, build a plan to determine what you want to have in each space. This includes thinking functionally of what belongings you want in the space and how you best want to access those. The planning phase may come to the conclusion that a new piece of furniture is needed, or an old item is no longer required. You may conclude the best solution is to switch out a whole room with another.
Again this is just the planning, no physical adjustments are being made yet.
Get inspired. Google, Pinterest, and Houzz are great resources to see how others have solved for a similar purpose in that space.
New Perspective. Pretend you are just moving into your home, how would you set it up with fresh eyes? Or ask a friend (or professional organizer!) for a new perspective.
Measure. You can have the greatest idea, but if you can't find or buy or make the thing you are thinking of or it won't fit in your space, you must keep thinking.
Draw a Picture. Especially as a visual person, I recommend mapping it out on a piece of paper or on a computer.
For the nightstand example, the purpose of the space for you may be easy access for charging devices on top, the first drawer for nighttime items like chapstick and lotion, the second drawer may be for storage of unused electronics. You may start planning as much detail as you want now - down to the organizing bins or dividers you want - or wait until you go through the next step. As you cultivate your mindset, you will be able to build your plan more effectively and efficiently.
Decluttering is where the action starts!
Decluttering in general may trigger a reaction of minimalism or sentimentality, depending on what project you are working through.
I am not here to tell you what you want to keep. I am here to ask questions about whether this belonging adding to or diminishing the purpose of this space.
Consider what comes into the space - what items, information, people and uses. What do you want to come into and stay in the space? This where you see what is impacting the flow of your home and purpose.
Start by removing everything or as much as possible to get a clean slate. (This also gives you the opportunity to really clean!)
Any project generally has a Keep, Relocate and Trash pile. As you remove things you will likely find other items you did not expect or plan for, so you may set aside a Maybe pile as well.
For the nightstand example, if your nightstand has too many products, it makes it more difficult to consider how to set it up efficiently.
Conversely, is there anything missing you need to fulfill the intention of the space? You may need a new lap or a bookend to really execute your vision.
Once you have the right things you want, you can now ensure things are available in the right place.
Always go back to the purpose - how can you put things back with needs of the end user in mind? The end result should create a smooth flow of the space and even the household.
A smooth flow means the belongings and space are accessible, visible and consistent.
For the night stand, your top drawer needs to quickly house the essential items you kept from Decluttering above. You want to grab a chapstick without fiddling around. Putting it in a divided drawer with an intentional spot that you always put it back to means you can easily find it in the middle of the night.
Consider the order or frequency in which items are used. Chapstick is used frequently, it should be closest to the bed. The extra charging cord should go in the back.
A well organized space is effortless for you, your family and anyone else to interact with and find what they need.
Take your organizing to the next level with the addition of shelves or bins or dividers. These can enhance accessibly and visibility of the space.
Hopefully you land on a settled state of organization that works well for you. One of the foundations of life is there are constant changes. These changes can have significant or minor impacts on the efficient and flow of your home.
Using the nightstand example, say you have a baby. You may need to move the nightstand to fit the bassinet. You may need to create space on top for a night light or a stack of diapers. That is when you go back to the Resolute Process and think through how to change the space to the new purpose.
We each have unique interests and gifts, and one of my passions has always been organizing spaces. My brain is very process oriented (Step 1, then Step 2, etc.). When my workplace did a roll out of Lean/Six Sigma principles for process improvements, I was completely in love. I realized Lean Principles are the same thoughts I used to organize my home and have adapted the concepts to align with home organization. Recognizing that although most people don't think this way naturally, I truly think the organizing mindset is a skill anyone can learn.
This post is the primary cycle of the Resolute Organizing Process and is a great start on how to build your organizing mindset! I will continue to expand on this in upcoming content. Next up is the 5 R's for decluttering and organizing.
I will continue to use this framework for "how to" posts, so please reach out if you have any questions.