May/June: Organizing Systems

Due to popular demand, the Organized Space Works newsletter will go back to a monthly format starting July. My fans say they miss it so we're getting back on track into a monthly system. 

And speaking of systems, this feature is about setting up systems. A few simple ideas and a little effort goes a long way. It helps make everyday life more enjoyable to see beautiful shelves and closets, and it's great to find items you need easily. What a concept!

I ask clients not to buy products until we determine their needs and create a custom plan for their spaces. Most people already own random organizing products and without a plan or system, they don't function effectively and often these become part of the clutter. 

What is a System?
The dictionary says a system is "a set of connected things or parts forming a complex whole." As we sort like-with-like and weed out the excess, the next step is to create a system. It can be a collection of jars, baskets or boxes to contain items which have a common purpose (kitchen supplies for cooking) or live in one space (office supplies near the desk) or used together (sewing supplies). Now we know exactly where our things can be found.

Systems create access and clear boundaries. In a store, items are arranged by departments so we can locate them easily and see quickly what's in stock: nails live in the tool department and threads in the sewing department. Similarly, think of your home that way. If you take a shortcut and just stash things all mixed up in a cabinet or closet without a system, it's hard to recall where things have landed.

Corral Small Items 
A collection of hardware, spices or buttons can be organized into a system using small food jars at little cost. Use an assortment of jars with good shapes and sizes and plain lids. Soak off the labels in a bowl of hot water. If any glue residue remains, use one of my go-to products GooGone. Wash and dry the jars thoroughly and organize your items inside. Once they are all filled, label them even if you can see what's inside. This last step is critical. Attractive uniform labels will help you create a system that functions well and looks great on a shelf.

Shelves and Supplies
Most people just place books on shelves without much thought. Office supplies lie about, toiletries are scattered and food is stashed in a cupboard randomly. Clear bins and revolving trays work well inside a closet or pantry to create a system for toiletries or food. 

Open shelves in an office can be beautiful if books are artfully arranged, and boxes for supplies are colorful and neat. Don't forget to label the boxes to indicate extra printer paper, tapes, staples, sticky notes and all those small supplies we all have. A box for receipts will save time and trouble when you need to return an item. 

In a drawer dividers help to keep supplies you use everyday available. In a kitchen a crock will keep cooking utensils at bay. Order is attractive and much less stressful.  

Paper and Files
Papers often land in piles on every surface of the home. A well-made file cabinet is the most effective system for papers. In a small space, attractive file boxes serve the purpose. Files must be labelled and must also be systematized into departments. 

An in-box on or near your desk will hold papers and mail which you need to process (read, act, file or toss). A desktop file organizes action items and a cup holds pens, letter openers and scissors. Even your desk has departments.

Systems Help You Maintain Organization
With systems, you know exactly where to put things after each use. If you are creating a new system, avoid the dollar store or random purchases. It's best to buy quality items in a place which stocks the same things all the time so you can always add to your system. Bins from different manufacturers of varying quality and size can cause problems. They don't stack neatly and when they become separated, it's a real time-wasting chore to fit the right lid to the bin if each one is slightly different. If you need help creating systems in your home or office, email me to schedule an appointment.

My Podcast on Getting Organized
I was recently a guest speaker on a website called “It’s All About Women,” which features therapists and other mental health professionals talking about life challenges. It's actually relevant to both men and woman. “Why Can’t I Get Organized, Once and For All” runs about 18 minutes. Here is a shortcut link to the podcast. It's now also on YouTube, shortened to 15 minutes. Hope you enjoy it!

Listen on It's All About Women

Listen on YouTube

Win a Free Hour
After you listen, write a comment for a chance to win a free hour on your next organizing session. May the best comment win! And while you’re on my blog, look at the past entries too to learn some surprising things.

Look forward to seeing you soon!