Best way to stay organizedHow often do you ask yourself  Where’s my phone? or  Where did I put my keys? If this is a common occurrence for you, then you’ll want to read this….

The #1 Best Way to Stay Organized!

 In my previous posts, I’ve talked about the S.P.A.C.E. program for getting organized and the daily T.L.C. habits to help keep things in order. But there is one other task, that if done regularly, will go a long way to helping you maintain order in any of your spaces.  Create a home for all your belongings.
Items without a designated home are one of the biggest contributors to clutter. They hang around taking up prime real estate such as your kitchen counter, the kitchen or dining room table, your desk, or some other ‘handy’ spot. You feel like you’re constantly tripping over them and/or you have no room to get things done, but you just don’t know where to put these things.
These homeless items need a home.

Homes for Your Homeless Stuff

This task relates to the A in the S.P.A.C.E. system – Assigning a home. If you’ve previously organized the space, you have presumably assigned homes for all your belongings. So why do you need to do this on a regular basis?
As I’ve stated many times, life is not a still photo. There is a constant stream of ‘stuff’ coming in and out of your house. The following describes the nature of this ‘stuff’ coming in and out of your house and how to create homes for it.

The Usual Stuff

The usual stuff includes coats and bags, mitts and scarves, shoes and boots, keys and even groceries. The usual stuff needs to go back to its usual home. This is the never ending task of picking up. While there is no such thing as no maintenance, there are low maintenance ways to make the task easier. Strategically placed hooks, baskets, and shelves can be used to create a home for the usual stuff.

The Temporary Stuff

This is stuff that comes and goes periodically such as recycling, dry cleaning, mail, gifts, borrowed items, school or work projects and paperwork that needs to be filled out manually and returned. Ideally, you will create a home for your recyclables, just like you do for your trash. Likewise, you should have a home for your paperwork. One of my favorite professional organizers, Lisa Woodroof, has a great system called the Sunday Basket for this. For everything else, you need a drop-zone. A drop-zone is like a staging area where you can temporarily place things that are in transition. In fact, everyone in the house should have their own drop-zone. I’ll be writing more about the drop-zone in my next post.

The New Stuff

hanging cupsEvery time you buy something new, you need to make a home for it. If its something you already have, you may already have a home for it. For example, clothing – you probably already have a home for your clothing – either a closet or set of drawers. However, if you continually bring home new clothing and never get rid of any of the old clothing, you’re eventually going to run out of room. There is the old one-in/two-out rule that can help you pare down your wardrobe to a manageable level. For every new piece of clothing you purchase, get rid of two from your existing wardrobe. If you already have a minimalist wardrobe, you can get away with one-in/one-out. But I only personally know one person with a minimalist wardrobe (and no, it’s not me).
Because none of us has unlimited storage space, the one-in/one-or-two-out rule applies to everything – dishes, DVDs, books, jewelry, etc.  If you’ve just bought a new kitchen gadget, ask yourself if it can do double duty and replace one of your old gadgets? For consumables such as groceries, batteries, toilet paper, and cleaning supplies, you should only be purchasing what you have room to store. If you have all your batteries stored in one place, it’s so much easier to know what you have on hand and what you need to re-stock (not to mention being able to find one when you need one.)
Another example of new items coming into the home is when you purchase something new that you’ve never owned before. For example, a new sport or hobby may involve things you’ve previously never had to find a home for. If you’re pressed for space, you might need to consider  getting rid of items from an old hobby or sport that you haven’t used for a while. Ask yourself if you’re really going to play tennis again or make another quilt if you haven’t done these things for a couple of years now.
Impulse shopping is another culprit that contributes to clutter. You may want to ask yourself where you’ll store a new item, and which item you’ll get rid of to make room before you make a decision to purchase something new.

How Often Should You Assign Homes

Whether you need to perform this task daily, weekly, monthly or even quarterly is entirely up to you. It will depend on:
a) how many items you already have an assigned home for
b) how much stuff you have coming in and out of your house on a daily basis (which is closely tied to how many people are bringing that stuff in and out)
c) how much of that stuff is ‘new’ in nature.  And finally
d) your tolerance for clutter
Remember, perfection is fleeting (not to mention exhausting). Your goal should be for improvement, not perfection.
If you haven’t yet gone through the organizing process, finding homes for all of your belongings can be a daunting task. But once you’ve done it, it gets easier to maintain over time.The more regularly you find homes for your homeless stuff, the less onerous and time consuming the ‘Evaluation’ phase of your S.P.A.C.E. project will be.

What Do You Think?

Do you have homes for all of your belongings? Are you struggling to figure out where to put stuff?  We’d love to hear from you and hear about your challenges and successes with finding homes for your homeless stuff. Leave us a comment below.
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