Ask Erin: Organizing From A to Z
by Erin Sharplin Love
Does the mere mention of the word “organizing” make your heart race and cause you stress? The organizational process can be extremely intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! Often it takes simplifying a daunting task to complete it, and what is simpler than your ABC’s?
To begin your path to an organized life, follow my ABC list below:
A is for ACTION – You have to start somewhere! Resolve to do something every day that will make your world a little more organized. Small steps lead to big results that can become habits that last a lifetime.
B is for BOOKS – If you are like most people, books and magazines tend to stack up on you. I suggest a quarterly purge of any books that you have read or those that you aren’t interested in anymore. Give them to someone who will enjoy them or donate them to a charity. As far as magazines go, recycle any that are older than three months.
C is for the COAT CLOSET – More times than we wish to admit, our coat closet tends to end up as the “catch all” closet instead of actually functioning as it is meant to, but it’s easy to prevent this. Start by ridding the closet of anything that shouldn’t be there. Depending on how packed your current closet is, you might need to clean out a little at a time instead of tackling the whole job at one time, making the task seem not so overwhelming.
D is for DESK – Can you see the top of your desk? If not, it’s time to pay special attention to the area and make it an inviting place to pay bills, do homework, etc. Take the time to develop a plan – without an end goal in mind, it will be harder to complete the task.
E is for ELECTRONICS – How many electronics and electronic cords do you currently possess? Now, how many of those are actually in use? Free up much-needed space by culling the electronics and cords that you don’t like or need anymore.
F is for FREEDOM – Now is the time to stop and see how far you’ve already come in the ABC’s of organizing. Notice how much freedom you have gained by completing tasks A through E. Imagine how much more freedom is yet to come.
G is for GARAGE – Is your garage a dumping ground for items you no longer need or use? If so, consider holding a garage sale. Not only will you make a little extra cash, but you will also be able to use your garage for what it is meant to be used for – holding your cars!
H is for HANDBAG – How often do you clean and reorganize your handbag? I suggest you make time weekly to clear your purse of any trash, receipts, toys and other unneeded items. Also, replace any items that may have come out of their designated area of the purse.
I is for IDEAS – I can bet that your head is swimming with ideas for other areas of your home that you would like to spruce up and organize, so take the time to search for inspiration throughout magazines and on websites. You can start a “pinboard,” dedicated especially to home organization.
J is for JUNK MAIL – The quickest way to rid yourself of wasted time and stress is to get rid of junk mail immediately upon receiving it! Don’t even let it in your home if you are tempted to lay it on the nearest table. Put a trash can next to your door for easy and quick access.
K is for KITCHEN – When was the last time you went through all of the drawers and cabinets in your kitchen? What about the hidden nooks and crannies? Kitchens are notorious for holding duplicate items, so I suggest making a yearly appointment to clean out the kitchen of unneeded items. Don’t forget to check the pantry and refrigerator for expired products, too!
L is for LIKE WITH LIKE – If you are unsure where an item should be stored, take a cue from your utensil drawer – you never have to wonder where your forks are, do you? That’s because they are organized by like with like.
M is for MEDICINE CABINET – As with your kitchen, I suggest going through your medicine cabinet once a year to rid yourself of any expired or ruined items. Expired medication is not as effective and can be dangerous in some cases.
N is for NECKLACES – How many pieces of jewelry do you own? Could you name them and then put your hands on them? Many times, jewelry drawers become bottomless pits full of pieces that are forgotten and never worn. Some of those necklaces are probably even in a tangled mess or disrepair by now. Save your jewelry pieces by creating a boutique-like atmosphere in which to display and store them. I love to use busts, vases, frames and other items I have lying around to create a unique and fun display.
O is for OBJECTS – How many objects do you have displayed in your home? An “object” in this sense is any item that serves no other purpose than taking up space. Accessories can also be described as “collectibles.”
P is for PETS – Don’t forget that these members of your family come with “stuff,” too! Food, toys, shampoos and even clothing for pets can cause a clutter problem in your home, so create a special place for your pet items, too.
Q is for QUITTING – Now is not the time for quitting! You have made such progress, and it can only get better from here. If you are feeling a bit burned out by this point, it’s ok to take a break, but also make firm plans on returning to the organization process.
R is for REWARD – A break in the organizational process is the perfect time to reward yourself for the progress you’ve made so far. Take yourself to dinner, savor a glass of wine, or treat yourself to a manicure. After taking such brief respites, begin again soon!
S is for SPARE BEDROOM – What do you use your spare room for? Most spare rooms are guest rooms, but you can utilize your spare room for whatever you wish. My only suggestion would be that it serve that purpose and that purpose alone. And, do not make it a holding ground for clutter and junk.
T is for TIME MANAGEMENT – As you continue to complete the ABC’s of organization, you will begin to notice that you have more time to do the things you need to do and even the things you love to do. So, creating a time-management system is another step in the right direction. How do you manage your time now? Do you create a to-do list? Do you have a daily planner? If not, I suggest you invest in both immediately.
U is for UPKEEP – The one and only way to stay organized is to commit to the upkeep it will involve. For instance, put items back in their assigned spaces immediately upon finishing with them, and make sure the entire household is on board with your efforts.
V is for VIPs – A “VIP” is “a very important piece,” and I subscribe to the belief that you should allow nothing in your home that isn’t on the VIP list. If you don’t love it and/or use it, it shouldn’t be in your home.
W is for WARDROBE – Ah…my favorite topic. I could write a complete article dedicated to organizing your wardrobe, but let me just give you a few of my favorite tips for now. 1. Refresh and reorganize your wardrobe at the beginning of each season. Get rid of anything that no longer fits or you no longer love. 2. Make sure all of your hangers are heavy duty and match. Nothing else will make such an immediate difference in the way your closet looks and feels. 3. Pair like with like. In other words, hang all of your pants together, dresses together, etc.
X is for X-RAY VISION – You don’t have x-ray vision, so why are you storing items in containers that you can’t see through? I prefer clear storage boxes so you can see what is actually in the box. Sometimes, labels aren’t enough, and you will forget what you have stored.
Y is for YOU DID IT! – You have pretty much completed the ABC’s of organizing! How do you feel?
Z is for ZEAL – Hopefully, this article fuels your zeal to succeed in the organization process.
Now I’ve said my ABC’s, won’t you come and organize with me?