The Path to Getting Organized

Common Organizing Questions Answered

A reporter for Angie’s List Magazine recently interviewed Absolutely Organized’s owner, Katherine Trezise, about getting organized. Hopefully her responses will benefit our readers as well.

► What advice do you give to someone in order to get started with home organization?

1. Define your goals. What will you be able to do, once you’re organized, that you can’t do now? How will you feel when you are able to do those things that you can’t do now? What will your organized space look like? Being organized means different things to different people.
2. Define how you want to use each room in your home. What function(s) does each room serve? What items are currently in those rooms that don’t support those functions? What items will you need to bring into each room so it can function in the way you desire? Here’s an example: If your goal is to create sewing and crafts room out of an unused bedroom, you’ll need to relocate any items that don’t support those activities. Relocation can mean simply moving items to another, more appropriate area of your home, or it can mean relocating items somewhere else—donating, selling, recycling, or tossing items. Once you have removed items that don’t serve the function of the room, you can bring in items that will help the room serve its new functions—a sewing machine, craft table, craft supplies, shelving, etc.

► What mistakes do homeowners often make when they try to organize? (How can they avoid those mistakes?)

Homeowners often become discouraged because the process of getting organized can be daunting, especially when they are working alone (or with impatient family members). Here are some common mistakes:

1. Not breaking the project down into small-enough parts. Many people need to organize multiple areas of their homes, and they try to do this all at once. Instead, break the project down into manageable segments, such as room by room. Finish organizing one room before you start on the next room. Yes, the other rooms may become even more disorganized during the process, but rest assured that you’ll get to them in time.
2. Not scheduling regular appointments to work on their organizing projects. If you are committed to getting your home organized, schedule regular appointments with yourself to work on it. Write the appointments on your calendar, and keep your appointments, just as you would if you had an appointment with a doctor.
3. Not disposing of donations and trash immediately. Once you make a decision about an item, take it to the appropriate place at the end of each organizing session. Letting these items sit around impedes your progress and may cause you to evaluate them repeatedly.
4. Not storing items close to where they will be used.This is a major cause of backsliding—returning to the previously disorganized state. When you designate storage for an item close to where you’ll be using it, you are more likely to put it away after you’re finished using it.
5. Organizing alone.If you have trouble making decisions about what to do with your things, you may find yourself churning—looking at the same items over and over and mixing trash with treasures. Having a supportive person with you gives you a sounding board for decision-making and keeps you motivated to stick with the project.

► How can a professional organizer help?

A well-trained professional organizer can help you articulate your goals and break the project into manageable steps. She or he can work side-by-side with you to help you achieve your goals. Your organizer can help you develop criteria for eliminating certain items and suggest appropriate storage options for the things you decide to keep. A trained, professional organizer will teach you how to maintain your newly-organized home after the initial organizing project is complete. She or he may also offer maintenance services to help you keep your home organized.

► How do you know if you need to hire a professional organizer?

If you fit one or more of the following descriptions, you will benefit from hiring a professional organizer:

  • Disorganization has been a problem for you for most of your life.
  • You have tried to get organized on your own but have been unsuccessful.
  • Disorganization affects your work, relationships, or finances negatively on a daily basis.
  • You have ADHD, depression, a chronic illness or disability, or a brain injury.
  • You do not have the physical ability to organize your home on your own.
  • You are getting ready to move, or are otherwise under time pressure to get organized.
  • The clutter and disorganization in your home are a health or safety hazard.