BY PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZER JANEE STOVER
Spring is almost here! Maybe your spring fever includes wanting to declutter and organize your space. Especially if you didn’t get to it as the month of January flew by.
Decluttering is the vital first step to organizing. The purging process is the first thing to do, and also the hardest and most time-consuming. After moving twenty-five times in my forty-five years of marriage, I have purging down pat. And that doesn’t include the several moves before, including a cross-country move as a young teenager with only our personal belongings in a small trailer made by my dad.
Moving is a great time to purge, because who wants to move things you don’t need or want, or pay to move them? But even if we aren’t moving, we still need to clean out. There are so many people who have storage units, paying a premium for that space without even knowing what’s in there.
How do we declutter? The first step is purging. Always begin with a small space; a drawer, a shelf, or even a corner can be a great first step. Start small so you can feel success from the beginning. Just thinking about cleaning out the whole house is an overwhelming thought, nevermind actually doing it. No one can eat a whole elephant in one sitting, but by working one bite at a time, all of the sudden, the job is done. 15–20 minute cleaning sessions are a great way to get started. They allow you to feel successful and avoid distractions and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish in that time.
As you go through your belongings, ask yourself questions: Do I need this? When was the last time I used it? Do I have a plan for the item or know when I will use it again? These questions give you perspective.
Continue asking questions: Do I have the space for this item? Consider your space and how you want to use it. People frequently resort to extra storage because they don’t know what to do with Aunty Sally’s boxes of things or keepsakes from childhood. Once you’ve asked yourself these questions it’s time to make a decision. Let it go, or keep it.
Now it’s time to organize. How much space do you have? How much space do you want to devote to these items? For example, you may not need a dozen wooden spoons but you could keep 4-5 of your favorites. You may not need every kitchen tool ever made but just the ones you use all the time. These items might have cost good money but letting the extras go will give you freedom and peace of mind.
Nearly every mom has that box or boxes of school papers for her kids. I can guarantee when those kids grow up, they are not going to want it all! Pick out a handful of awesome pieces to remind them of younger days.
Another important step in organizing is to plan storage containers. What size do you need? What kind? Using what you already have will save money if it works in the space and for what you are organizing. And if you need new storage containers, be sure to measure the space you want them in as well as the items you are storing. Always group like things together. It makes finding them later so much easier and helps keep track of whether you need more of something.
I love vertical storage because it takes up a lot less floor space. There are organizing holders that hang on the backs of doors or in closets to lift things off the floor. Any vertical space can potentially be used for storage to save floor space and bring you more living space.
Joy comes through the process of organizing and taking it a bit at a time. It’s not about looking at the whole picture or space, but taking a closet, shelf, or drawer and focusing only on that small area to start. Giving yourself a scheduled time allows for more work to be done without distractions, and you can compete with yourself to see how much you can get done. Extra stuff isn’t just messy, but could be holding you back from living your best life.
Best of luck tidying up! Start small, be consistent, and remember you are doing this to enjoy your space and your life.
Benefits of decluttering
» Reducing clutter around living spaces helps us feel more calm and confident
» Organizing our spaces frees up cognitive resources in our brain, which can help improve memory
» Less clutter around the home means fewer items to dust, and fewer contaminants floating in the air
» Organization reduces stress and can increase productivity by 40%
» Organization in the kitchen can make cooking and planning healthy meals easier
» An organized home can help save money, saving us from buying items we already have and just can’t find!
» Living in an organized home gives us more time to do the things we love
About our contributor…
Janee is a professional organizer and the owner of Janee’s Joyful Spaces. She loves helping people declutter and organize the things that bring them joy, and get rid of the things that don’t. Janee aims to help her clients feel empowered in organizing their own spaces with gentle coaching and guidance. Connect with Janee on Facebook at Janee’s Joyful Spaces or instagram @janeesjoyfulspaces.