March Organizing Tips

Getting organized means making a lot of decisions. But you can set yourself up to make fewer decisions by adhering to the next component of our proprietary Flexible Structure Method™: Make Smart Choices. For example, when you are at the store and see something you want, you are making choices. You choose not only to spend the money, but to bring that item home with you and store it somewhere in your space. When you ignore the pile of mail, you choose to risk paying the bills late or missing something you need.

This month, we're going to apply making smart choices to one of the busiest rooms in your house: The Living Room/Family Room. This room might serve as everything from entertaining guests and visitors to hanging out with in front of the TV. Despite what sounds like limited functionality, a lot of outside items often end up in the living room. It's often an easy dumping ground for things that have no other home. It also hosts many things coming in the door, because living rooms are usually near the front entrance.

So this month, let's make some smart choices about the living room. The first choice will be to determine how you want that space used. We talked about this a bit in February with the dining room. You want your home to be an intentional setting. So what type of uses does the living room have? We often talk about organizing in terms of departments, like in a department store. So if your living room is for entertainment of both family and guests, items there should be related to entertainment.

  • Start your reorganization with a family discussion. (This will apply to many of the rooms in your house that are used by others.) Although you may be making smart choices, you want to make sure the rest of the family understands the goal so they can follow your lead.
  • Although the living or family room is often for entertainment, you might still end up with other departments within. Your TV and movie items will be in one area, but you might also have a reading corner, a kids' toy/play corner or a computer/office set up. Make smart choices on a large scale by taking this time to think about how you use the space. Would it be easier or less cluttered if you move one of those functions to another room? Why is the computer in that corner versus another corner? If you have both a family room/den and living room, which would be better suited for the children's play area?
  • Just like with the dining room, start in one corner and work your way around. As you pick up each item, think about the choice you are making to keep it there. Is this something you use in this room or want there for decoration? If not, put it in the "outside" bin or box near the door.
  • Don't forget to set real boundaries (see February). If you cannot fit any more DVDs/Blu-rays into the cabinet you may end up with a pile threatening to topple over. You can choose to buy a new cabinet or cupboard, using a bin or box that pulls out. But you might also choose to donate or selling those you don't watch anymore. Another great boundary is to toss any magazines older than six months. (Better still: two months.) If you have not read them yet and there is a large pile, it's going to be tough to find the time to go through them all.
  • The main point on making smart choices isn't about the organizing process, but what you do afterward. So when you come home tomorrow, where are you dumping backpacks, mail, newspapers, shopping bags? Where do toys go? When you're done reading that magazine, do you shove it back in the basket or take it to the recycling bin? Making smart choices is part of a daily struggle, but a big step on the path to organization.

Bonus Tip:

  • Before you go shopping, make a list, even if it's not for the grocery store. If you find yourself straying from the list of needed or specifically sought-after items, ask yourself why you are considering that purchase.
    • Where will that item find its home in your home? Where is there space for it?
    • Under what circumstances will you use that item?
    • Is the item simply a deal to get a sale price, such as a buy one, get one half off? If so, think about the first two questions.

Workbook :

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