August Organizing Tips

In the prior months, we've talked about six of the components of the Flexible Structure Method. All seven components work together to make lasting organizational change in your space. But we put the final component, Select Success Tools, at the end. We do this because it's very common for people to go out and buy cool bins and baskets and buckets, put things in them, and still have trouble with organizing. It's best to start with the other components and add the tools in later.

In addition, tools aren't just bins, boxes and labels. Your tools might also be the right support system: help from your spouse and/or children, a friend to work with you on that big project, or a professional organizer or organizing coach.

Click on Janice's video below to hear more about Selecting Success Tools. Meanwhile, let's talk about organizing that bonus room, play room, or multi-purpose room.

  • One of the common reasons for organizing challenges is that your needs have changed over time, but the organizing system has not changed to meet those needs. For example, your bonus room might have begun life as a play room for your toddlers. As they grew, the toys in the room changed. But now, they are grown and you are storing your hobby items there. Step one is to decide how the room is used. It's OK to have more than one answer. If the room serves multiple functions, you can simply divide it into sections, just like in a department store.
  • Next, start in one corner and begin sorting and purging. Think critically about those objects and how you might use them again. Another common organizing challenge is the urge to keep things. We talked about this previously when we discussed minimizing inside clutter. We all have memories and emotions attached to certain objects. You might feel nostalgic about your son's baby bottles, for example, or his favorite toy. There is nothing wrong with keeping some of those items if you've got the space. But if you're annoyed with the clutter of the room and you can't get your sewing equipment in there, then set a boundary for yourself. Keep only one bottle. Keep a box of his very favorite toys, but donate the rest to charity.
  • After you've sorted through everything, set up the space for your current needs. If it's multiple functions, you might set up your miniature trains in the middle, with a work table to the side. One corner might be your art section or feature shelves for your books. Selecting Success Tools begins with big tools, too, such as the desks and tables that work for you and your needs. Or maybe it's a rack hangar to display your handmade quilts.
  • Although we caution against buying out The Container Store, you will need some containers for supplies. But before you buy new ones:
    • Go "shopping" in your own house. What bins, boxes and baskets do you have in the basement or attic that can be used elsewhere?
    • Be sure to measure the space where you will keep the container. If you have shelves, you want to make sure the containers are small enough to fit (with a lid) on those shelves, with wiggle room to pull them in and out.
    • Consider the contents. Clear containers are great if you need to get into them frequently, because you can see what is there. Sewing supplies might require a container with compartments. Memorabilia for storage in a basement should be packed into a weatherproof bin.
  • Finally, use labels and other signs to help keep your room organized. This might be a basic sticky label that says, "Tommy's Memories," for the bin going down to the basement or a cute little sign in the sewing corner that says, "Sew Nice." Labels don't have to be from the labelmaker. We've seen little mini chalkboards in kitchens and fake metal street signs for Dad's workshop. But if you have a certain segment of the room with many containers, or compartments dedicated to certain objects, the labelmaker labels will help make sure things are put away properly.

Bonus tip:

  • Sometimes the stuff we keep is there for others. You might be keeping your 45-year-old brother's stuff for some reason. Or your grandparents left you and your brother two boxes of things that are kept at your house. If you don't mind being the family keeper, that's fine. But sometimes it's time to tell others to come collect their items "or else." If the clutter is overwhelming, set a deadline for those family members and be firm.

Workbook :

Want more ideas? Check out our workbook, "Get Organized This Year!" chock full of tips and ideas for each month of the year.