How to STAY Organized
Last Saturday I awoke at 5:30 to organize my garage. Oh, I hit the snooze button a few times, but I still did get up pretty early to make time for a task that just never seems to rise to the top of my priority list. Why, you may ask, would a professional organizer need to organize his garage? Shouldn’t it already be organized by now?
It’s a fair question. The answer has to do with an organizing process outlined by master organizer Julie Morgenstern in her outstanding book Organizing From the Inside Out. The process can be remembered by it’s acronym of S.P.A.C.E., which stands for Sort, Purge, Assign, Containerize, Equalize.
I’m going to quickly summarize the first four stages, but the focus of this blog will be on the last one. To stay organized you need to establish effective systems. These systems must be based on a manageable quantity of items. This quantity must be arrived at by first SORTING like with like so that you have a context that enables you to make the best choices for PURGING. Once the excess is purged, the manageable quantities need to be ASSIGNED to dedicated zones that make sense. When you are clear on how much you are keeping and where it is going to go, it is now time to choose the appropriate containers and structures for your organizing systems.
So why doesn’t it end there? An effective organizing system is made up of two essential components: an appropriate structure and an EASY habit. New habits take about 3 to 4 weeks to learn. EQUALIZE is the part of the process that deals with what it takes to stay organized. You might call it maintenance (but that doesn’t help spell SPACE.) Equalizing is not only about using your new habits, but updating them as the circumstances in your life changes. It’s also about updating yours systems’ structures, which brings us back to my garage.
I organized my garage as soon as I moved into my condo, seven years ago. My garage systems have served me well for most of that time, but there have been some significant changes, that have required that I rethink my storage priorities. The most significant change is that my organizing business has grown. Therefore, the quantity of organizing supplies I need to keep handy has grown and deserves to occupy a greater percentage of my garage space. Conversely, I have come to realize that my need to keep auto, gardening, and painting supplies has decreased. In the first image you can see one set of shelves dedicated to organizing supplies. In the second image you can see that they now take up two sets of shelves.
I also realized that while I had made it easy to donate and recycle before, I hadn’t made it easy enough. Frequency merits facility. So I established a set of exit shelves, located right next to my car trunk. More on this in a future post.
Getting organized is not about climbing a mountain and posting a flag that says “organized.” Getting organized is more like finding the right vehicle to drive, to get you where you need to go. Like any vehicle, it requires maintenance. Much of the vehicle will run like a well oiled machine, but driving it, will always require that you are at the wheel. You must participate in your organizing systems all your life. The good news is that a little maintenance beats a complete overhaul.