Getting organized has to begin somewhere, and the best place to start is with taking inventory. It can be very tedious, and you probably do not want to do it. However, if you want to establish a system that can carry through for the long haul, you need to start out here. How can you properly organize your living space unless you know what is in that living space? Take a notepad and a pencil, and make a room-by-room list of what is present. When that grand act of tedium is finished, sit down and sort out each item by a few categories.
A chart may be the best way to do this and each item should get its own row. A few columns should also be created in order to keep your chart organized. These columns can categorize which seasons the items are used in, and how often the item is used, whether or not it has sentimental value and what type of product it is (Decoration, clothing, electronic, etc.) should all be included. This can help you easily split up your various items into easily discernable categories. Now go around each room and begin to picture how everything can be stored. What aspects of organization work well now? What is frustrating about the current setup? Which items need to stay in their current location? Is this space really the best place to have this room?
Sometimes a problem can be fixed simply by switching around the living room and the study. You should also be willing to add some creativity to the new setup. Keep in mind that spring-cleaning is a large task and it is the perfect time to completely rearrange things. You should try not to avoid this problem because it may be too much work. A better opportunity is unlikely to come up again.
Once the inventory and mental organization is complete, it is time to begin putting things into practice. Start with one room and take it all apart. Destroy any semblance of clean that you have, and in the process of putting it all back together, you should find yourself solving many problems. There are a few pitfalls that you may run into, but you should work hard to avoid those while going through this process.
First, do not worry about decorative items yet. In fact, get them out of there completely. With all of the moving, dusting and organizing you will be doing, they are at risk. Put them somewhere safe, and come back to them later. Another important detail to keep in mind: Do not pack locations to capacity. Always leave space for expansion. You are going to acquire new items and over the course of the year, lots of clutter can develop. However, if you set up a system that leaves extra space for that new stuff, your job should be easier next year. Indeed, a great system can remove the need for spring-cleaning for a few years because you may have left enough flexibility in place to use.
After you have finished your first room, look around and decide if there any gaps in your system? Do some area have too many items, or do others have too few? This is when you troubleshoot the problem. Maybe decide to put some items in a different room, or bring in something from another room. Make sure that you are effectively using all of your space, and do not get caught with too much clutter in one room. This can happen very easily.
Products are out there to help make your organizational dreams a reality. After all of the ideas you can think of have fallen apart, it may be time to invest in some help. Whether your solution is as simple as a clear plastic container, or as complex as a modular rotating closet, there should be a solution out there to fix your problem. In the end you may have to throw some things away, you may be tired and your family may be frustrated with having to learn a new organizational system. However, the long-term ease of living that should be created by an effective spring-cleaning campaign is worth all of the trouble. Enjoy the work, it can be rewarding.
Nick Kakolowski is a freelance writer and blogger who writes about DIY topics and home care, often focusing on a specific area such as home organization.
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