The 5 Essential Tools for a Successful Organizing Project

“What products should I buy before we begin?”

Within the first 15 minutes of most client project assessments, that question comes up. Some ask with excited voices anticipating the opportunity for a spree at a container store and others with trepidation as visions of multiplying dollar signs cloud their thinking. Regret gurgles into the pit of their stomachs. Their shoulders visibly tense. A wash of fear and disappointment shroud their once eager faces.

Whoa, let’s slow down.

Here’s the thing, if you are about to embark on a DIY organizing journey or have engaged the services of an organizing professional, it’s advisable not to rush out for any purchases before a thorough needs assessment. Your wallet and rooms will thank you. Chances are you have some storage options on hand. Repurposing will erase some of those dollar signs. And if your project involves reducing or downsizing, then the goal is to end with less not more. And please, do not use grocery store boxes. They could be harboring larvae infestations. If you need free boxes, liquor stores are often willing to share. those tend to be much cleaner.

Image by  Astryd_MAD  from  Pixabay

Image by Astryd_MAD from Pixabay

Now if you want the process to go smoothly and enable sustained space transformation, these are some non-negotiable essentials and they won’t gouge your wallet.

chaos-227971_1920 clutter pixabay.jpg

Clear Intent

Without knowing what you wish the end result to be like, it will be difficult to get there. So let’s explore.

The Why

  • Why are you considering this?

    Are you:

  • Expecting guests?

  • Fed up with nowhere to sit?

  • Irked by the constant shuffling of papers and piles to find a space for work assignments or chores?

  • Battling chronic lateness due to search and rescue of keys, glasses, and important documents?

    Maybe you don’t want to do this project at all, but someone else in your household feels that areas would be better served by a good clean up and clear out.

  • What are their goals?

  • Would there be greater harmony in your home if you achieve a meeting of the minds?

    Here’s a suggestion. Creating zones where compromises can be reached and private spaces that can be kept to the primary user’s preference with the aid of a privacy screen or closed door can help alleviate tension.

    The How

    Once you are clear about the “why”, the “how” becomes much easier. The resistance and emotional triggers associated with uncertainty such as fear, apprehension, anger, overwhelm begin to subside as we gain clarity. If those emotions are still raging, check out the tips below for overcoming resistance to get motivated and stay motivated.

    Letting go of the strong emotional responses boosts our logical reasoning and when overall thinking is less cloudy, we can perform our tasks with greater ease. Decisions will be less taxing with a neutral eye and a desensitization toward any baggage surrounding experiences with household objects.

    Clear intent also involves consideration of where you wish donatables to go. Do you have a favorite charity that you wish to support? Knowing that something you prize will be appreciated by someone else via an organization you champion will make the release process more palatable. In fact, if you ever have the chance to witness the excitement of a donation recipient, you will know what I mean.

Image courtesy of Origin unknown.

Image courtesy of Origin unknown.

2. A heavy dose of realism

Pinterest and Home & Garden Magazine provide ideal images of what our spaces could or should look like, but in your world are they realistic? When I was a child, and boy this will date me, I wanted very much to look like Jaclyn Smith. Unlike the sandy-haired Farrah who garnered all the attention, Jaclyn radiated a homespun, graceful, brunette beauty. Reality check, it wasn’t happening. I looked and acted nothing like her, not then, not now. And I would have wasted a lot of my time and energy trying to be something I was not.

We could spin our wheels ad nauseum trying to create and maintain the perfect home, but how realistic would that be? Would it drive you bat sh*t to try to maintain it if your schedule is super busy? It might make more sense to create spaces that reduce the amount of stuff you need to tend to, clear out nooks for relaxation or enhanced productivity, and meet your aesthetic desires while reflecting your sense of livability. Let’s not put more pressure on you with a longer to-do list. The goal is less stress right?

3. A fully resourced you

Energy depletion will not only set you back, it will keep you from wrapping your head around what you need to do and rob you from the oomph to keep going. Organizing takes an immense amount of brain power. If you don’t believe me, try tackling a pile of papers. Decide which papers to keep, where to logically store them, which to dispose. Should documents be shredded? Should copies be kept on the Cloud or shared with relatives, or in a safety deposit box?

Then there is the physical stamina and strength component. Lifting, bending, running up and down stairs, hauling boxes to the car or temporary storage until you have time to take them to a facility. Yikes, I am tired just thinking about and typing all that.

Taking scheduled breaks to hydrate, grab some protein or healthy snack, stretch, clear your head is advisable to reduce frustration, keep on track, avoid injury, and make steady progress. Set a timer to as a reminder to rest, another to start up again, or as an alert that you have somewhere else to go.

Social media? Email? Phone calls? Those are the surest ways to get off track, so avoid if at all possible until you reach your daily goal.

Image by  klimkin  from  Pixabay

Image by klimkin from Pixabay

4. Patience

Image by yogakalyanii from Pixabay

Image by yogakalyanii from Pixabay

Unless you recently moved into your home, disarray did not happen overnight therefore, the process of sorting, removing, rearranging, and restoring will take time. Sorry to be a bummer. And if you look at a linen closet thinking that will take me 5 minutes, unless you are a super fast processor, it could actually take you a few hours. Why? To really organize it, pulling everything out to assess what you still need and where it makes most sense to house the items will take a chunk of time. It may require you to gather bins to transport items to other locations, create space to temporarily place objects as you work through the closet to avoid tripping, determine which items go on each shelf (that may take some trial and error as you realize that not everything fits the way you anticipated), and then to restock the shelves.

5. Time

Image by  Free-Photos  from  Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

When taking on a new client, I explicitly try to prepare them that it will likely take us longer than they expect. In fact, I can usually guarantee it although some clients have blown me away with how fast they make decisions and act upon them. But for most, you should set aside more time than you think you will need and as much workspace as possible. The level of complication will contribute to how much time you need to devote. Obviously a whole room will take longer than a desktop. And a few papers on a surface will go far quicker than piles that have not been dealt with in months or years.

Working with someone else will help to speed things along, hopefully keep you on track, and make it more fun if you find the right partner. If you try to rush the process you will likely be disappointed in the outcome or make hasty decisions that could lead to unintended consequences. Mindfully approaching the task will lead to more lasting results.

I hope that you find these free essential tools useful in your toolbox.

If you are still feeling a heavy dose of resistance, can’t get an ounce of motivation, or experience inexplicable tension about the entire process, here is a resource from Coach and Emotional Freedom Technique practitioner Gene Monterastelli. This podcast might inspire you to take action and keep going until you reach your objective. And as always, for hands-on assistance or a fresh set of eyes to help you figure out how and where to start, contact me at