Friday, November 04, 2011

Organizing The Professional Way

A couple of days ago, I had the opportunity to help a friend with her organizing business. When she needs a little muscle (yeah right!), she calls me. Actually, I've been blessed enough to help her with a few of her larger jobs. It's always amazing to get into another person's space and help take them from chaos to order. I absolutely have a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

The other day we were working in the home of a young, busy family. The father owns his own contracting business and the mom is a teacher. They have two daughters under the age of 4 and boy, was this family disorganized. It was purely a case of having way too much stuff and not a proper place to put it all. It took four of us to blitz the first floor of the home but we put in some systems that should help the family stay organized.

Image courtesy of Google Images

Let me give you a rundown of what we do when we go in and help organize a space.

1. Start With A Vision
Start with a vision for where you want the space to go. This usually happens when my friend meets with the client a few days before the actual organizing job. She tours the space and gets a sense of the family or company. She listens to their needs and what they want out of the space. She takes note of how they use the space and what they hope it can eventually offer them. She's very detailed in her approach and so far, she's had amazing success helping folks get their spaces back on track.

2. Clear Out The Space
This is where I come in. When I help with a job, first things first, is we always empty out whatever it is that needs organized. For instance, there were two closets on the main floor that needed organized. It was my job to empty every.single.item from each of the two closets. I left nothing in them. Another gal was working on the kitchen. Her job was to empty a number of drawers and cupboards and get them into tip top shape for this busy family. My friend worked on sorting toys in the play area. She removed everything from the toy box and bins so that she could get a sense of the true storage capacity of what she was working with.

3. Sort
Number 2 and Number 3 go hand in hand. As you are clearing out the space, sort items into piles. For instance, I put all of the father's coats into a pile. The children each got their own pile of coats and the same with the mom. I made a pile for each respective person's gloves, hats, scarves, clothes and shoes. I sorted out Halloween costumes and paraphernalia. Sports equipment was in it's own pile. There was a spot for purses, backpacks, tote bags and diaper bags. Even the dog had his own pile. This is so important because you can finally take inventory of what all you have. And people, I got to see how the other half lived! I was pulling Gucci purses and Chanel handbags from under work boots and running sneakers. The dad alone had more than 50 coats and over 60 pair of shoes - and that didn't count what was in his upstairs closet or in the garage. It was unreal. I also emptied each and every pocket of the purses and bags. I was tossing out tissues, half eaten suckers, diapers, and random bits of paper. Even the items in the pockets were sorted. Once things are sorted you have a sense of what you have and what you can get rid of. I mean really, does one person honestly need five black leather coats that look hauntingly the same?

4. Purge
Take time to go through everything! Do you love it? I mean, LOVE it. If not, why is it taking valuable real estate in your home? Try it on. Does it look amazing on you? Or is it something that just isn't looking as hot as it once did? Get rid of it. Let someone else love it and use it for all it's worth. If things are too big, get rid of it. If they are too small, get rid of it. Don't live in "somedays" and "what-ifs". Those days rarely come and if they do, chances are, you'll want something new and ten times better. Get rid of lids without a matching partner. Throw out empty boxes in the pantry. Purge, purge, purge! Unfortunately, this family had no time to purge, and honestly, the mom was hesitant to get rid of anything so it all went right back into the closets. You hope that they are able to maintain the order that we helped create, but sometimes it's hard with too much stuff. Don't be afraid to let go. Love everything you own.

5. Bin It, Bag It, Label It
Set out baskets to corral similar things together. We put a basket in the front closet for all of the sunglasses. There was a bin for each little girls shoes. The dad had two large big for his shoes. We even put the central vacuum cleaner hose into its own flexible laundry basket so that it is easy to take around the house. Make sure there are labels on things so that other people know where things go. We set up baskets in a drawer in the kitchen for the husband and wife. Each basket was labeled with their name and when paperwork or little items needed put away but couldn't be done at that moment, in the respective basket they went.

6. Put It Up High
For those things you rarely use - put them up high. Get them out of the prime real estate of eye level shelving. I was later in charge of organizing the pantry. There were a number of appliances that the family did not use so I relocated them to the upper shelves of the laundry room closet which is just off of the pantry. The appliances aren't so far away that they are inaccessible, but they are out of the way until they are needed. Put the things you use most often at eye level. The husband had a little bin of gum in the pantry. He told me that he didn't care what happened in the home, just that his gum was where he could see it. That gum bin went on the eye level shelf.

7. Put It Back Where You Got It From
This is probably the Number 1 rule when it comes to maintaining order in your home. Just put it back where you got it from. My mom used to ALWAYS say that to us growing up and it's stuck. One of my biggest irritations is picking up after someone who doesn't put things back where they got them. It creates so much more work for other people. Don't be lazy. Just put it back where you got it from. And the next time you need that item, it will be there.

So there are a few tips from some organizing junkies! I love when my friend gives me a call to help her out. It absolutely does not feel like work. It's amazing the sense of accomplishment you feel when you know you've left someone a clean, tidy, orderly space to thrive in.

Happy Organizing Friends!

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