No matter the starting point, getting your living spaces organized is a big project that often leads to feeling overwhelmed. Kate Wert, LMSW, Owner and Executive Organizer of Moxie Life Organizing, LLC—a full service organizing and coaching company—says when starting any organizing project, it's always helpful to "manage your mindset."
BEFORE GETTING STARTED
"Life is demanding and we truly cannot 'do it all'—focus on what you're doing right," said Wert, who started her organizing career over five years ago and still practices as a licensed master prepared social worker. "Social media and the trending organizing shows can be misleading and set us up for unrealistic expectations. A healthier mindset is to embrace a little chaos with the goal of getting your home more manageable."
Determine your "why."
"If it feels like your full-time job is managing stuff, you also put yourself at risk of exhaustion, anxiety and even depression," said Wert, suggesting using a value system for making decisions on items. "Try shifting your view to making decisions based on what you value most and giving yourself permission to let go of the rest."
Start small with a drawer or cupboard.
"Set realistic goals and schedule the time to work on it, even if it's 30-60 minutes," Wert said. "Set a timer and allow yourself to rest. Consider rewarding yourself afterwards and don't forget to celebrate small successes!"
KITCHEN & PANTRY
Be honest with yourself.
"Are you really going to get around to using the made-for-tv products gathering dust? Or are they taking up prime real estate?" said Wert, who's a believer in quality over quantity. "A good starter for kitchens and pantries is 'taming the Tupperware' and evaluating your current stock of food items. I cannot tell you how many mismatched Tupperware items have passed through these hands."
Donate any unwanted (yet still fresh) food to one of many local pantries.
"Consider taking inventory of waste or unwanted items and work toward making better future decisions," Wert said. She also advises noting item locations. "Sometimes, it can be as simple as switching cupboards so your dishes are closer to your dishwasher or moving coffee cups closer to your coffee maker. If you have kids, consider making items easily accessible (or inaccessible!) so they can help themselves."
DESK OR HOME OFFICE
Remember: all papers are not created equally. Wert advises purging what's not needed and moving toward digital records and payments.
"If there are important documents that need to be filed away, try to get them in one location and consider a fireproof safe for legal and other difficult-to-retrieve documents," said Wert, suggesting keeping action items visible. "When stored vertically, it prevents pile up and offers a visual cue of our to-dos. Bulletin boards, stackable letter trays or hanging magazine racks can help get items off your desk, but still at your fingertips."
Get ahold of papers before they get ahold of you.
"I recommend reviewing these daily and immediately discarding unnecessary items," said Wert. "If daily maintenance is tough, consider zoning out a specific spot for incoming papers and setting a specific day to review all at once."
Short on office space? Consider investing in a rolling cart or portable file box for work documents.
It's OK to ask for help. Organizing your life takes time!
"Consider finding a nonjudgmental friend or family member who can offer a little tough love and ask them to help," said Wert. "If it's difficult to find objective support, consider hiring a pro. We love that we can make the project fun and clients see noticeable results even within a single session."
- Take before and after photos to see how far you've come, even when progress feels slow.
- Weed out the bulk. You'll be surprised how much room you have after letting go of empty boxes, stagnant linens and unused appliances.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for West Michigan Woman.
This article originally appeared in the Aug/Sept 2021 issue of West Michigan Woman.