Have you ever looked at photos of someone else’s house and thought, “Oh my word! They have it all together! How on earth do they do that?”
Have you ever logged onto Pinterest and seen all the gorgeous, drool-worthy photos of perfectly places items on a desk and thought, “My desk will never look like that!”
Have you ever seen a photo of a child’s room where all the toys are color coordinated to the room and placed perfectly in their correct spots and thought, “That’s just not real!”
Have you ever found yourself scrolling on Instagram and feeling envious that everything in every photo looks perfectly in its place, forgetting that the pile of random stuff is probably behind the person taking the photo?
Do you ever wonder if you’re going to get there…
Do you wonder if it’s worth the effort trying to get there…
Do you ever wonder if your space will be picture-worthy…
Do you ever wonder why you bother to try to get organized…
Do you ever get discouraged trying to get there…
Hold on a minute here…where is there? Where are you trying to go in the first place? Do you know? Have you taken a moment to define where you want to go? Or are you just trying to get “there” without even knowing where “there” is?
Can I let you in on a secret? If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re never going to think that you’ve arrived! Did you catch that? You have to know where “there” is before you can know if you actually get “there” or not! You have to define where you want to go before you can tell whether or not you’ve made any progress on your path to getting there!
Do you know where you want to go? No? Well, my Friend, grab your coffee as we take a few minutes to define your end goal otherwise known as defining where “there” actually is! But how do you start? How do you figure out where you want to end up?
Well, when it comes to organizing, start with these four questions:
- What do you want to accomplish or be able to do?
- Why do you want to address this particular space or process?
- What does “being organized” look like in this particular space of yours?
- When do you want to have this accomplished by?
Let’s look a little deeper into each one of these questions…
What do you want to accomplish or be able to do?
What are you aiming for? And, no, “To be more organized” is not allowed as an answer! You need to get more specific than that. Is there a particular area of your space you want to focus on? If there are many areas of your space you want to focus on, write them down, but choose only one – maybe two – to focus on at a time. Remember, the goal is to create less overwhelm, not bury yourself in discouragement!
Here’s some ideas to get your creative juices flowing: Do you want to be able to know where your shoes are? Do you want to be able to see the top of your kitchen counter again? Do you want to be able to walk across your living room without your foot being impaled by a sharp toy? Do you want to know where things are on your desk? Do you want to clear out the extra things that you don’t need or aren’t using in your closet? Do you want to be able to open your pantry and see what you have at a glance?
Or maybe you’re looking more at a process than organizing a particular spot. Maybe you want to streamline your process so you can get out the door with your shoes on, your keys and purse in hand, all the extra things you need plus your children and still be on time! Maybe you’re seeing the mail landing somewhere in your space and sitting there for days or weeks before anyone bothers to go through it. Maybe you’re wanting to simplify creating your grocery shopping list.
Remember, your answer is going to be unique to you! This is something only you can answer. Don’t be afraid to get specific here! What do you want organizing to help you do? What do you want to accomplish?
Why do you want to address this particular space or process?
Now, this question might not seem important at first glance, but it’s really vital to not only creating your system, but maintaining your system. You see, if you don’t have a reason to keep up with the organizational system you create, the system will fall apart and you’ll be right back at square one. So, why do you want to bring organization to this part of your life? Why is this space so important to have organized? How is improving this process going to help you?
Will it bring you more time? Will it streamline the process of getting out the door with everything you need? Will it bring you more breathing room? Will it allow you to sort the mail right when you walk in the door so papers don’t have the opportunity to pile up in your space? Will it help everyone to know where things belong so everyone can help pick up, taking the burden of cleaning off of just one person in the house? Will it allow you to find what you’re looking for with ease? Will it help facilitate a calmer day for you? Will it clear space so you can think more clearly?
Why is this area, this process so important?
What does “being organized” look like in this particular space of yours?
This is another question that at first glance seems completely out of place. When you think of the phrase “being organized” or “getting organized,” your mind automatically goes to all those curated magazine or website pictures with the incredible organizational systems, right? But the pictures in the magazines or on Pinterest or on Instagram aren’t always the right answer for you.
Often those photos give a picture of perfection. And yet, organization is not about perfection. It’s about progress. It’s about creating a system that works for you in the space you have.
So, what does “being organized” look like in this particular space you chose? What does “getting organized” look like in this process you want to create or refine? Does it mean being able to see the floor or the counter? Does it mean that all the toys have a bin where they live? Does it mean being able to reach for a pen on your desk and finding one in the exact spot where it should be? Does it mean sorting through paperwork and figuring out a home for where it should live? Does it mean you can see what type of food is in your pantry at a glance? Does it mean that you have your counter space clear so you can start cooking right when you walk into your kitchen? Does it mean that you know where your keys, shoes, and purse are so you can walk out the door quickly?
Again, this answer will be unique to you, but it’s such an important question to answer. Remember, you’re not going for perfection here, but you can absolutely make progress. So, what does progress look like to you? What’s the end goal of “being organized” in this particular space or process?
When do you want to have this accomplished by?
Be realistic on this one! If your calendar is packed for the next two weeks, making a goal to have your closet organized by the end of the week is just not realistic and will only discourage you in the long run.
Is the space you want to address going to take a lot of attention to organize? If so, consider breaking it up into smaller tasks and assigning a goal date to each task. For example, if you want to organize the books in your living room but the books are currently in piles on the floor and you don’t have anything to hold the books, you’re looking at a multi-step process. First, you could set a goal of finding a bookshelf by a certain day. Then, you could have the goal of building the bookshelf (if it comes in pieces) within 4 days of it arriving at your home. Then, you could have the goal of putting all the books onto the bookshelf by 10 days after the bookshelf is sitting in its place in your living room.
Organization is not an overnight process! Many times there’s a good deal of sorting that you’ll have to do on your way to finding the right system for you. Don’t let this discourage you, but recognize that this is reality. Blocking off an entire week of your life to do nothing but organize your space isn’t reality. Organizing needs to be done bit by bit and your timeline and your goal dates should reflect this.
So, when do you want to have your space organized by?
I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about setting end goals here. You cannot organize something and expect it to stay organized forever…unless you lock the room that you just organized and don’t let anyone in. Or maybe you organize a trunk or box and close it up so no one can get into it. But, let’s face it, that’s not real life! In real life, we organize spaces and continue to constantly use them. You can organize your kitchen to perfection, but you’re still going to be using the kitchen to cook meals for your family on a daily basis!
It’s less about the picture-perfect organized space and more about the organizational system you create – a system that works for you and your family and one that you can keep up!
Can I let you in on a little secret? I have 5 kids!! My house is never completely picked up and organized! Messes happen. Toys get dumped out onto the floor. Rooms that were picked up when I left them look like a tornado ripped through them upon my return 5 minutes later. Life happens. You see, it’s not about perfection. It took me so many years to realize this, so please, learn from my mistakes and save yourself some time on this one!
It’s not about having the picture-perfect house. It’s not about having every toy color-coordinated to the room it’s in. It’s not even about having every tiny thing put away at the end of the day. If you choose to hold tightly to having everything perfectly organized and put away, you’ll miss so much with your family.
Progress, not Perfection
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that since there’s no possible way to keep a perfectly organized space you should just throw the whole idea of organizing out the window and forget trying to organize in the first place.
On the contrary, organization helps tremendously! Organization is essential to creating a calm and inviting space! Creating a system so everyone knows where things belong and can help put things away is incredible. But when you hold so tightly to your organized space and organizational systems (perfection) that you start destroying relationships or neglecting relationships (particularly with your family) that’s where things get out of control.
You see, organization is all about progress, not perfection. It’s all about moving forward and creating your system to help you have more joy, more space, more time, less clutter, and less paralyzing overwhelm in your everyday life.
Organization creates processes. Processes allow you to move more quickly though those tasks you need to do over and over. Things like sorting the mail, putting away toys, putting away groceries, and more. They also allow you to be able to find things quickly when you need them. Putting these organizational processes into place ends up saving you time so you can spend more time with your family doing what you love and less time trying to find that stinking lost shoe!
The Goal of Organizing
The goal of organization is to make your life easier. To make things simpler by streamlining them. The goal of making things simpler is to gain more time. The goal of gaining more time back from tasks is to be able to spend it with your family. Do you see how that all ties together?
Remember, this is a process. It will take time for you to get from where you are to where you want to be. To to get your “there.” It will take time and effort for you to work with your family so everyone will be on board with the organizational processes you create. It won’t be perfect – especially not at first.
The goal is not perfection…
The goal is progress!
Are you making progress?
- 5 Simple Steps to Take You from Scattered to Organized
- Using Bins, Baskets, and Buckets to Contain the Toy Explosion
- How to Organize Your Desk and Why It Matters
- How to Deal with Piles of Paper in Your Space
- My Top Tips on How to Organize Your Pantry
Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.