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Summertime (Organizing) Blues

We all know about "Spring Cleaning", the phenomenon every year where folks clear the cobwebs and start anew. But what if Spring Cleaning didn't happen? Well, there's always the Summer!

And what if your Summer is filled with camps, vacations and work? It may be time to outsource your clean sweep to a professional. What do professional organizers do, you ask? I can't speak for all of us, but I work with a 4 step process to help clients do the initial clearing and keep clutter at bay.

Step 1: "The Purge":

We all have things lying about that no longer serve us. Step 1 is all about getting rid of things that are taking up valuable real estate in your home. Pull everything out, setting aside the obvious discard items and sort items by type. If you can't dedicate time to one space, choose 1 shelf, corner or surface. I typically start by clearing all the items off the floor 1st, then surfaces. Items tucked away aren't causing visual clutter, but do need to be attended to before the next step happens.

Step 2: Sort it Out

Once you have established your piles, it's time to categorize your items. It's helpful to use boxes or bins and label them so categories don't get "cross-contaminated". This is the step where most clients find it helpful to have an accountability partner and an extra set of hands to make the work go faster. It's important to set realistic goals here: Messes don't typically happen overnight, so it does take time (and patience) to restore order.

Step 3: Find a Home

Once everything has been sorted, it's time to plan out where your items will live. "Keep it where you use it" is a good rule of thumb and makes it more likely that things won't sprawl out again. For some clients, this means keeping a cleaning kit under each sink instead of having items in one central location. Once everything has a defined space (and sometimes labels) it is much easier to maintain the order that you have created. Like anything, keeping things tidy takes some time and planning, but the results are worth it.

Step 4: Containers

Notice how this is the LAST step? I love (big heart love) The Container store, Target, Amazon and all of the lovely, creative storage solutions that these retailers offer, but.....until you know WHAT storage solutions are needed, don't buy those pretty boxes, baskets and bins! I know it's hard-I love the aesthetics and functionality of container organizing, but it's not needed in every situation, nor is it financially feasible for every family. Shoeboxes make splendid drawer organizers that function just as well as a $30 solution (which is just cardboard covered in linen).

There is one last step, and it's an important one. While a certain organizing guru bags up discarded items and puts them in the garbage, I think it's important to be a more conscious consumer AND be mindful about how items are discarded. Most items can be donated, repurposed or recycled. I offer haul away on every 4 hour session. I wash clothes and linens before donating, schedule charity pickups and take recyclables to The City of Austin where they can be responsibly disposed of or reused.


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