Blog: Can We Have Some Order Here?
Keep, Get Rid Of, And Not Sure
Cleaning out can seem overwhelming -- especially if it's been a while since you've done it. But following this very simple process will help you sort and separate your belongings into manageable piles! When you begin clearing an area, you should have three large boxes close at hand. One box is labeled "Keep" -- one is labeled "Get Rid Of" -- and the third is labeled "Not Sure"...
"Keep," is meant for items that you have defined as either beautiful, useful, or loved. Deciding which items are "Keep's" should be fairly obvious -- if you use it all the time or consider it a cherished memento, that's a "Keep." You may even want to have several boxes of "Keep's" -- each box labeled for a different area in your house. That way, you can take all of your "Kitchen Keeps" and "Bedroom Keeps" and "Basement Keeps" to their respective homes without making 30 different trips.
You may locate a few stray objects that are missing a part or in need of an accessory. Of course, you would be perfectly happy to use these items -- if you only had those essential lost components. Put these fabulous finds into a box labeled "need to buy," and make a list of all the parts and pieces you are looking for. Then you can take the list with you on your next shopping trip. You can do the same with any object that requires modification or repair before it can be used. But set a time limit -- if you don't get an item in functional working order by your deadline, it gets moved to the "Get Rid Of" pile.
You can also create a space for unfinished projects that you still intend to tackle. However, this box is not meant to be a graveyard for past guilt. Ask yourself if each task is still as meaningful as when you first began working on it. Macramé potholders may have sounded like a good idea 10 years ago, but now? It's okay to admit that you will never write the great American novel. You're not going to hell if you decide that tennis just isn't for you anymore. I hereby grant you permission to let go of outdated interests, and to focus on activities that bring you joy today. And if it sits in the project box for more than a couple of months, it's out of here!
Get Rid Of
This box is for those objects that you are certain you don't want any more. Oh no -- you have to make a decision? Whatever will you do! I know the concept is frightening, but what I'm asking really should not be that hard -- you ought to be able to look at a broken lamp or an old book you haven't read in 20 years or a pair of pants that will never fit you again and know that it serves no purpose in your life (if not, we've got much bigger issues to tackle than disorganization!) Remember, we're only looking for those items that you can immediately identify as clutter -- ones that don't require a lot of thought or deliberation. Of course, you may want to break "Get Rid Of" into some smaller categories -- such as "Throw Away" for the trash, "Give Away" for those things you would like to donate, and a even a "Sell" box for anything you think might be worth money.
You're also going to find some "Get Rid Of's" that aren't even your responsibility. If you are like every other person on this planet, you probably have custody of at least one item does not belong to you. These orphaned souls create a sense of guilt, of incompleteness, and of loose ends to be tied up. How freeing would it be to rid yourself of other people's clutter? Let's put these in a box labeled "To Return," and then schedule time to get them back to their respective homes. I promise that -- once you have freed yourself of everything that doesn't belong to you, serve a purpose in your life, or mean anything to you -- you will find it much easier to organize the rest. And you will have taken a tremendous weight off of your shoulders -- the weight of unnecessary clutter. Just be sure to go through this process at least once a year to keep the piles trimmed back!
While I would love (in a perfect world) for you to be quick and decisive about each item, I realize that you are going to run across a few things that stump you. I give you permission to label these as "Not Sure." That having been said, it's best if you can try to keep the "Not Sure's" to a minimum. This box is supposed to be for belongings that you can't rationally justify keeping -- but some gut feeling won't let you part with them yet. Remember, your "Not Sure Box" isn't a dumping ground for things that you just don't want to take the time to think about. The last thing we want to do is ask the same questions about the same objects over and over again. Try your very best to make a solid "yes or no" decision about your belongings the first time that you pick them up.
If you honestly can't decide what to do with an item, put it in "Not Sure." When your box is full, tape it shut and label it. Make sure you list the contents (kitchenware, books, clothing), the date you packed it away, and any special storage instructions on the outside. Then, I want you to stash this box in the garage, attic, or basement -- some place out of the way. Trust me on this one. I actively want you to forget about this stuff for a while. Just make sure that you put your box where its contents won't get ruined (that means, don't place something that will melt in an attic without air conditioning!)
Make a note in your calendar (you are using a calendar, right?) to check back in 6 to 12 months. If, during that time, you haven't needed anything out of your box, it will be a lot easier to let go of those "Not Sure's." If you still can't part with an item, that might be a hint that it is more beloved than you first thought. Either way, this will help you make a final decision about what to keep!
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posted on: 12/3/2009 11:30:00 AM by Ramona Creel
category: General Organizing Tips
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Can We Have Some Order Here?
by Ramona Creel
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I have been a Professional Organizer for more than 10 years, I am a NAPO Golden Circle member, and I was the original founder of OnlineOrganizing. I have worked one-on-one with scores of clients and have trained dozens of newbie organizers as they got started in the industry. I provide both hands-on and virtual coaching to help clients improve their organizing skills and simplify their lives. I invite you to visit my website at http://www.RamonaCreel.com, and I challenge you to find one new idea that you can put into practice in your life, to help you become better organized, starting TODAY! I am passionate about coaching folks toward a more balanced, productive, and enjoyable life -- and I firmly believe that if I can do it, so can you!
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