START WITH THE GREATEST PAIN
Begin working in the area that is the biggest thorn in your side -– the part of your home or office that causes you the greatest pain. If you find yourself saying, day after day, “Man, I wish I could get my (bedroom, desk, storage closet whatever) straightened out. This mess is driving me crazy!” –- you know that’s where you want to begin. What is your area of greatest pain?
HAVE A PLAN OF ATTACK
Create a list of the areas you want to work on, in order of priority. Be sure to include a deadline for completing each project. This will help you focus on the big organizing picture as you work your way through your home or office. It is much easier to stay on track if you have a specific timetable within which to work. Crossing tasks off of your “to-do list” as you finish them also reminds you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel! Just don't let yourself feel overwhelmed by it all — understand that you will be getting to all of your problem areas, in due time.
LIMIT YOUR SCOPE
Try to tackle one SMALL AREA at a time –- a drawer, a cabinet, a shelf, a closet. Don’t attempt to clean out the whole place at once. Chances are, you will get overloaded, you will become frustrated, and you will GIVE UP on the entire project. Plan to set aside some time each week to work on a different area. Once you get started, you will be surprised at how quickly the job goes. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you “get into the groove” of cleaning out.
Do your best to move systematically through your home or office, completely FINISHING one area before you begin another. Avoid hopping from one task to the next if at all possible. There is nothing more frustrating (and draining!) than finding yourself surrounded by a bunch of half-finished projects. And it will be even harder to find things down the road if you have only organized part of your closet or cleaned out half of your filing system, while the other half is still a wreck.
FIND THE ORGANIZING STYLE THAT SUITS YOU
Some people work best if they empty an entire storage area before organizing it. Others find that too overwhelming, and choose to tackle their clutter one item at a time. You need to decide for yourself which of these methods suits your personality best. But there is no “right” way — only what's right for you. Remember, there are as many different ways to organize as there are people on the planet!
ENLIST SOME HELP
If you can recruit some organizing “assistants” — do it! This is a big job, and it will go a lot faster if you have some help. Consider drafting your friends, family members, or co-workers -– put on some music, serve them pizza, and turn cleaning out into a party. You might even consider hiring a Professional Organizer. Just be judicious about who you bring on board. If you what you need most is an objective opinion, your nosy mother-in-law may not be the best choice!
CUT YOURSELF SOME SLACK!
This is hard work — and it's going to take a minute. So don't get frustrated with yourself if you can't tackle every pile of clutter in one weekend! And don't drive yourself until you drop — cleaning out does not have to be painful. Just go at your OWN PACE. Most importantly, be sure to reward yourself every time you finish a particularly challenging task — even adults need “gold stars” (or a cappuccino or a movie or a soak in the tub) every now and then!
Ramona Creel is Professional Organizer, NAPO Golden Circle Member, and the original founder of OnlineOrganizing.com. A former Social Worker, she has always enjoyed helping people find the resources and solutions they need to improve their lives. Ramona now travels the country as a full-time RVer, sharing her story of simplicity with everyone she meets. She leads by example — having worked for more than 10 years as a Professional Organizer, and having radically downsized and simplified her own life as a full-time RVer. Ramona now considers herself a “Renaissance Woman” — bringing all of her passions together into one satisfying career. As both a virtual and traveling organizer, she can create a customized organizing plan for your home or office, put on a workshop, or educate you through one of her popular teleseminars. As a simplicity coach, Ramona provides a proven program for making every area of your life a little bit easier — perfect for those who want to make the time a nd space to focus on their true priorities. As a Professional Photographer, Ramona captures powerful images of places and people as she travels. And as a freelance writer and blogger, she shares organizing techniques, social commentary, travel tips, and film reviews with others. You can see all these sides of Ramona — read her articles, browse through her photographs, and even hire her to help get your life in order — at www.RamonaCreel.com.