February Organizing Tips

One of the first steps to getting organized is to look at your space. We often feel overwhelmed by clutter because we simply have too many items to fit in our space. For example, many people cram a bookshelf full of books and then continue buying more, piling them on the floor or in stacks all over the house. If the sight of these piles makes you feel overwhelmed, consider the first component of our proprietary Flexible Structure Method™: Set Real Boundaries. Click on the video below to learn more about setting boundaries.

This month, we're going to apply boundaries to another slightly easier organizing goal: The Dining Room. In theory, this room is for eating. But dining rooms tend to serve many other functions for families. Many people find the dining room table covered in papers, school supplies and other items -- often meaning they can't sit there to eat. So your first step in organizing this space is to decide: Do you want to use it for eating or not? If you do, it's important to find a way for eating to take place along with the other activities.

  • Set Real BoundariesThe dining room table needs to have space for eating, so that's a boundary. You can decide the table must have nothing left there after someone is finished working on a project. Or, maybe a time works better for your family, so your guideline could be nothing left on the table after 5 p.m.
  • Start in one spot and work around the room in a clockwise or counterclockwise formation -- whichever makes more sense to you and the room. This helps you avoid trips from one side of the room to another. Sort through each pile or area to make sure that all items belong in that room. That means everything relates to:
    • Dining - dishes, tableclothes, candles, items in a sideboard such as wine, glasses, etc.
    • Other dining room activities:
      • Home office use or homework - School and office supplies, paper, pens, notebooks, stamps, envelopes
      • Craft room use - Art supplies such as markers, paper, glue, etc or whatever hobby items you need (quilting, sewing,etc.)
      • Other uses?
  • Make sure you have a place to put both the dining items and the non-dining items. If your room does not come with shelves built in, it will be helpful to have a sideboard for dining items and a rolling cart or nice-looking cupboard for other items.
  • If an item does not belong in this room, put it in a bin or box near the door. Leave it there until you are done organizing the entire room. That way you can make one trip with the bin to all the other rooms of your house, dropping off items in the correct departments.
  • Don't forget the boundaries. As you organize, set more boundaries for your room. They can be:
    • Only keep the number of dishes in the sideboard/cupboard that you have room for. Or, only keep the number your family regularly uses.
    • Only keep a few tablecloths. One for the table, one for the laundry and one or two for special occasions/holidays.
    • If you have at least 100 pens and pencils, set a boundary that all must fit in a pencil tray or cup. Those that don't should be tossed. (Check first to make sure the ones you keep actually write!)

    Bonus Tip:

    • Many people struggle with purging. Ask yourself, "When was the last time I used it?" "Under what circumstances would I ever use this?" If it's been a few years and you can't think of a good answer to the second one, it's time to let go.

Workbook :

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