As a professional organizer, one of the things I hear most often from prospective clients is this: I just don’t know where to begin! Have you ever felt this way? Whether you’re setting out to organize your home for the very first time, or you’re ready to do some organizing maintenance, when you’re feeling overwhelmed by all there is to do, it’s hard to figure out the best place to start. Next time you feel this way, use this simple thought-process to figure out the best place to begin the next phase of your organizing journey.
When you think about your entire home all at once, or consider all of the projects on your organizing to-do list, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Remind yourself that you can only do one thing at a time. The key to combating feelings of overwhelm, is to prioritize your list so you can start on one project that will have a big, positive impact for you and your family.
The trouble with impact, however, is that when you’re overwhelmed, everything feels really important. This makes it hard to choose just one project to start with. To help you cut through these feelings, start by grabbing a piece of paper and a pencil, and ask yourself this question: How will my life be better when I’m more organized?
List the benefits of being more organized. At this point, don’t worry about how you’re going to get it all done. Instead, simply close your eyes, take a couple of deep breaths, and picture yourself in your organized home. How do you feel? What are you doing?
Give yourself a few minutes to really picture your home and feel the calmness of being organized. Take one more deep breath, open your eyes, and write down how your life will be better when you’re more organized.
When thinking about getting organized, typically we consider the cost of containers and other items we feel are necessary to set up an organized space. But, I invite you to think of cost in a new way. Staying where you are, less organized than you’d like to be, has a significant cost. You’re experiencing negative outcomes because of the disorder and the longer you stay stuck, the longer those consequences linger.
As you consider what disorder is costing you, don’t be discouraged. These consequences are temporary. Every step you take to get more organized will minimize these costs, until ultimately the consequences will be erased from your life. For now though, in the spirit of moving forward, take a minute to face these costs head on. Ask yourself what consequences am I currently experiencing by being less organized than I’d like to be?
Then, write down what you’re experiencing. Are you stressed? Are you paying late fees? Are you missing important deadlines? Are you short or cross with your family? Are you unable to have people over or do activities that bring you joy? Do you have difficulty sleeping? Capture your costs on paper…and then move on.
Next consider time. You could think about how long your organizing projects will take and start with something that will give you a “quick win”. Or you could consider how much time you and your loved ones spend in the various spaces in your home. Spaces where you spend the most time will have the biggest positive impact on your life. Additionally, when you organize spaces where you spend time doing activities and performing tasks – whether it is cooking, laundry, paperwork or sleeping – you’ll save time on an ongoing basis because these activities will be more efficient to do. Ask yourself where do I spend the most time in my home performing activities? Then, write down your answers.
Pick Just One
Alright, it’s time to pick your starting point by filling in the blank in this sentence: Once it is organized, my _________ will have the biggest, positive impact on my daily life.
Write down the first space that pops into your mind. Whether you choose the kitchen, bedroom, laundry room, home office, or some other space altogether is less important than simply choosing one place to focus on. By going through this process you’ll know you’re working on improving an area of your home that will positively impact your life and the lives of your family members. And that’s what getting organized, and staying organized, is really all about.