If you follow me on Instagram (click HERE to follow me – it’s fun!), you saw this picture last night: This is the “It-Has-To-Get-Worse-Before-It-Gets-Better” part of organizing and purging. As part of the big room move-around here, I had to empty the guest room/my office and its closet to make it our master closet. I am usually a pretty organized person, and I tend not to save things that we don’t need.
That said, it appears that I’ve been more of a pack rat than I thought over these last few years. There was a lot of stuff in this closet that I simply don’t need to keep. That made me think of this post and this post I wrote about purging and organizing. I’m going to try to follow my own advice today and get this mess cleaned up!
Here are my five tips for purging and organizing:
1. Recycle as much as possible when cleaning out your home. What do I mean by recycling?
a. Donate as much as you can.
There are many, many people who are struggling right now. Clothes and household items that are gently used are welcomed by Goodwill and other groups who donate and/or sell the items to people who need them. You can even donate diapers, wipes, and other goods like that. You can donate canned goods and non-perishable food that are still within their expiration periods to food pantries and drives and soup kitchens.
b. Recycle as much of the “trash” as you can.
Don’t just pitch it in the trash. Check your local recycling rules and nearby recycling centers.
Certainly paper (whether whole or shredded) and cardboard can be recycled and is accepted by local recycling programs and at recycling centers (such as at libraries and fire stations).
You would be amazed at how much plastic can be recycled. We are lucky that, for our county recycling, they accept any plastic with numbers 1-7 in the recycling triangle. That would include most sippy cups and other plastic cups, reusable plastic containers (that are broken or missing lids), plastic hangers, etc.
Even if your local recycling program doesn’t accept the plastic, check with grocery stores (Publix and Whole Foods here both recycle many kinds of plastic, including styrofoam egg cartons and plastic bags), libraries, nearby schools and universities, and separate city or county facilities where you can take your recycling.
2. You don’t need fancy bins or labels to stay on top of the chaos. Many of the websites on cleaning and organizing use fancy-schmancy labels and cloth bins, which certainly are pretty, but also pricey. You can achieve order in your home with dollar-store bins and a $15 label-maker from Target.
Also, consider using containers you already have for organization. For example, I had some jelly and canning jars from goodies that friends brought over, and, once we ate the goodies, I washed the jars and used them to hold paper clips, binder clips, glue sticks, thread, and buttons. You can even tie a pretty ribbon around the jar to make it fancy. (And you can find cute and fun ribbon at the dollar store or even the dollar bins at Target.) Another idea is to put contact paper (which you can get at the grocery or drug store) around a shoe box or cereal box (yay – more recycling!). I did this to hold my recipes for a long time.
3. Tackle one thing at a time. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It won’t be organized in a day, either. Decide to tackle one room or area of your home or office at a time and dedicate a set amount of time to it and only it.
Even if you decide to tackle your kitchen one day, you might break it down into more manageable pieces – such as first doing the pantry, then organizing the fridge and freezer, then the dishes and pans. If you don’t break it down into manageable pieces, the task can become overwhelming and, I know for me, that means I generally just don’t do it.
4. Use the resources available to you that work for you. For example, several people (actually, probably most of the world at this point) use iCal or other electronic calendaring programs to keep track of everything. I like these programs in theory because the calendars can be linked together – on one’s phone, computer, and tablet.
The problem is that I like crossing things off my list. You can’t cross off on an electronic calendar; deleting isn’t as satisfying. I’ve tried it – it doesn’t do it for me. So, I still have a crazy-looking paper calendar. Do what works for you. Don’t do something just because someone else is doing it.
5. Have fun! Put on some fun music and dance while you purge and organize! Celebrate that you are about to find order in chaos!
What are your favorite tips for organizing and purging? I’d love to hear them!