Whether there are more snowy weekends like this past one yet to come or spring is just around the corner, by the time that nice weather finally does arrive, the last thing most people want to do is spend a weekend – or two or three – spring cleaning, decluttering and organizing the space where they’ve been cooped up for several months through winter.
Follow the steps below now to help you get an early start on the process so you’ll be able to go outside guilt-free and enjoy spring whenever it arrives.
No matter what you’re organizing – clothes, papers, toiletries, toys, kitchen items, furniture, all the stuff in the garage or shed etc. – there is a formula, developed by veteran organizer Julie Morgenstern with the acronym S.P.A.C.E. (Sort, Purge, Assign, Containerize, Equalize), that will make the task easier.
The key to success is to do every one of the steps and to do them in order. First, list all of the areas in your space that need decluttering and organizing.
Next, pick just one area to focus on and clear a space on the floor and/or other horizontal surfaces like tables and begin the Sort step of the S.P.A.C.E. formula.
SPACE Step 1 – Sort
Circle the area, pick up each item in it and start putting similar items together in categories so you can see what you’ve accumulated in each one. For example, take the items out of your clothes closet and bureau and group sweaters together, T-shirts together, underwear together, socks together, blouses together, skirts together, suits together, pants together, etc.
SPACE Step 2 – Purge
The Purge step of the S.P.A.C.E. formula (often the most challenging) requires you to focus on each item in each category and ask yourself this question: Do I use, love or want/need to keep it?
If you answer, “Yes”, enjoy it! If it was a gift/you inherited it/you paid good money for it /it’s a duplicate of an item you already have but you don’t like/want/need/have room for it; if it makes you feel badly; if it’s clearly trash…let it go. Call a junk removal specialist like JunkXS to haul all the junk and unwanted stuff away.
Toss, recycle, sell, gift or donate it. Ask your relatives, friends, neighbors or co-workers if they would like it or sell it on eBay or craigslist or at a local consignment store or auction, etc.
Give yourself a reasonable period of time, say one month, to find a good home for the item or to sell it. If after a month that hasn’t happened, donate it to a local thrift store or your favorite charity, but only if it is in good, saleable condition.
SPACE Step 3 – Assign
The Assign step of the S.P.A.C.E. formula is about deciding exactly where you’re going to store each category of keepers. Being specific is key, so determine which shelf, drawer, cabinet, closet, section of the closet, etc. will hold what.
Keep access, frequency of use, safety and logic in mind when assigning homes. For example, store your spices on a shelf or in a drawer nearest to where you will use them when you’re cooking. You should not have to walk all the way across your kitchen to get your spices when you need them!
SPACE Step 4 – Containerize
The Containerize step of the S.P.A.C.E. formula is about maximizing and personalizing your available storage space. Containers make it easy to keep categories of items together but, so as to avoid confusion, separated from other categories of items in the same storage space.
Containers also help to limit how much you can accumulate in any particular category since you can only store as much as the container will comfortably hold.
Containers help to make retrieval, clean-up and maintenance effortless. The trick to containerizing is to do it at this point in the process when you know what you have and can get the exact containers you need.
Before you go shopping for containers, measure the size – height, width and depth – of the storage spaces the containers need to fit into. Also, measure the height, width and depth of items to be stored in an individual container – and count the number of them – to know what size container you’ll need.
Make a list of how many and what size containers you need. Along with your list, take your tape measure with you to the store so you can measure the actual containers.
To make it more fun and appealing to get – and stay – organized, chose containers (baskets, bins, boxes, bookshelves, cabinets, etc.) that appeal to you and work with your décor and that you will enjoy using.
Make sure you choose containers that are strong, durable, easy to handle and the right size for the job. Label containers, where appropriate or necessary, to make it easy to remember what goes where.
SPACE Step 5 – Equalise
The Equalise step of the S.P.A.C.E. formula is about maintaining what you’ve created. A well-organized space should only take 5 -15 minutes to clean up at the end of the day if every item has a home that’s easy-to-access.
Clean up and follow the One-In, One-Out rule – for every new item you purchase or otherwise bring into your space, remove something old and equivalent in size to make room for it – and it should be easy for you to maintain organization.
Apply the S.P.A.C.E. formula to each area that needs decluttering and organizing. Perform periodic check-ups to make sure that the systems you have put in place still meet your needs and priorities.