In Part 1 of this series I explained that I’m going to take you through the basic steps of the organizing process. I break the process down into what I call the NAPO process: Needs, Assess, Purge and Organize. In this post, I’m going to talk about the first step in that process: NEEDS
A common mistake that people make when deciding to get organized is that they focus on the physical clutter and jump right into buying organizational products. The first thing they do is look in a magazine or stroll down the organizing aisle in a store and think, “Wow. That’s cool. I’m going to get a bunch of those nifty containers and that will solve my problem.”
There are a number of things wrong with this:
- First. Running out and buying a bunch of organizing products without really taking stock of what you have, how much you have and how much space you have to contain it, is a waste of time, energy and money. How many times have you done this only to find out that the product didn’t fit the items or the space you intended it to fit or that you got too much or too few of the organizing products? Guilty? Well, don’t be embarrassed…we’ve all been there!
- Second. Jumping the gun and buying a bunch of organizing products before you’ve done anything else can add to the problem. Essentially, you’re just buying more stuff to…contain more stuff. That’s not the goal here. You really need to go through the entire process, especially the purging step (which we’ll cover in Part 4) before you do any purchasing.
- Third. Folks mistake the clutter as the problem when in reality, clutter is merely a symptom of the problem. The real problem is that you may have too much stuff, you don’t have assigned places for your stuff (ie: “a place for everything and everything in its place”), you don’t have defined zones for your activities, you don’t have defined routines or you don’t have a clear understanding of your priorities and needs for your space.
That’s why it’s so important to determine what your needs are for your space. This is a critical step and probably the easiest, however it’s the one that’s most often overlooked.
Here’s what I recommend you do as part of the “NEEDS” step:
- The obvious: Identify your needs. No matter what room you are wanting to organize you first need to identify your needs. Is your family expanding and you need more space for a baby? Have you retired and need to downsize so you have space to “live” comfortably in your home? Do you need a space for guests or a family member that’s moving in? Do you need more space to efficiently cook and entertain for family and guests? Do you need a home office? Do you need a space to exercise? Do you need a space for the kids to play? Do you need a place to do bills? Do you need a place to work on crafts and kid projects? Do you need a workshop to build things? Or do you simply need a place to unwind and relax?
- Get the family and household members involved. If there are other members in the household you definitely need to get them involved in the process. They may have totally different ideas and needs for the space. This is especially common in family rooms…ie: “the multi-purpose room.” You may think it’s a place to relax, but your kids want to use it as a place to do homework, play video games or surf the internet and your spouse wants to use it as a home office. Don’t assume anything and be sure to keep all of their needs in mind.
- Determine your priorities. Now that you know your needs and the needs of the other members in the household, determine what the priorities are for the space. Talk it out and decide together how best to utilize that space. List your needs in priority order because you may later find out that you won’t be able to accommodate everyone’s needs for a particular space. Don’t write-off anyone’s needs though. If it doesn’t fit one space you can always look at alternative spaces. The goal here is to identify everyone’s need, prioritize those needs and have everyone come to an agreement.
- Now…envision the space. This is the fun part….the part where you get inspired. The part where you get motivated to change your space…and probably change your life! How do you want it to look? How do you want it to function? How do you want to feel when you enter the space; relaxed, energized, inspired, ready to work, ready to create, ready to have fun? You can start looking in magazines and such for inspiration…but don’t go buy anything yet! Just get that image in your head of how you want your space to look, feel and function and etch it into your memory…because this is what you’ll refer back to as you go through the rest of the organizing process; especially when you hit roadblocks. You’ll need to think back to this image to help you make decisions on what to keep or get rid of. You’ll need to refer back to this image to remind yourself of your goals…your needs…your fresh start to the way of life you want to live in your space.
That’s what this whole process boils down to…determining your needs to help you live the life you want to live. To not let clutter dictate your life. To not allow clutter to push your priorities aside. You are ultimately in control but you have to make the effort. Yes, you’ll need to make some difficult decisions along the way but I can almost guarantee that you’ll feel great once you start decluttering. It’s like getting a really good haircut….you feel lighter…energized…like a new person.
I’m happy you’ve joined me for Part 2/Step 1. Stick around for Part 3/Step 2: Access which will be posted this Friday, July 2nd. And as always…feel free to leave comments and questions. I love hearing from you!