Ask the Expert

-A A +A

Planning for an organized you, Part 1

By Amy Keeling Walton


    Are you tired of reading organizing articles in magazines with perfect pictures of the eternally well organized? Maybe you ask yourself, “But how did they do that?” The task of reorganizing can be overwhelming, but it is possible if you make the choice to deal with it and create a plan to guide you. The steps are simple, yet they may take some time for you to complete. Pace yourself and only do as many steps or as much of a single step as you can complete thoroughly. Becoming organized is a process, not a destination at which to arrive. Step one: Get a notebook, a binder with paper, a legal pad — whatever. This will be your Clutter Plan of Attack. Step two: On the first page of your notebook, write down the type of Clutter Collector you are: Distractible, Avoiding, I Might Need It One Day, Shopper, Frustrated or Too Busy. Clutter Collector descriptions can be found by searching the word “organizing” on www.thenewsenterprise.com. Step three: On the second page, list all the rooms in your house that need help. Be sure to list each closet as a room. If you are attacking clutter in your office, then list all the areas of your office (ex. computer, writing, client, filing, desk). So far, so good? Great. Keep going. Step four: On Page 3, list your life goals. Whoa! Don’t get stressed out here. Ask yourself: What am I trying to accomplish in my life? What brings me the greatest joy and feeling of satisfaction? What do I want people to say about me at my funeral? These answers can be full thoughts, half thoughts, fragments, whatever. Don’t worry about grammar rules and punctuation; just write it down. Step five: On the fifth page, rotate your notebook 90 degrees (so it is horizontal) and draw five columns. Label the first column “Room,” the second column “Working,” the third column “Not working,” the fourth column “Essentials” and the fifth column “Storage.” Create a page like this for each room you listed on Page 2. Step six: In the room column, write the first room on your list from Page 2. In the working and not working columns, list the things in that room that are working and not working. For example, list the master bedroom. In that room the dresser, chest and nightstands work. They have functional drawers that can hold a respectable amount of items. What is not working may be the amount of stuff in those pieces of furniture. So write “too many t-shirts” or “too many magazines.” In the fourth column write what items are essential for the room to function optimally for you. You may indicate that you really only need seven t-shirts or three magazines. As you complete this column remember to think about your life goals written in black and white on Page 3. Leave the storage column empty for now. I know that is a lot of information to dig out of your brain and commit to paper. That’s all we’ll deal with today. I’ll keep the process going next month. If you are wondering what is the point of all this planning, let me assure you of something. When you clearly lay out your plan, you are more likely to achieve your goals. This is true in planning a wedding, a vacation or organizing your life. Your Clutter Plan of Attack is specific to you. It is not a one-size-fits-all attack that you read about in magazines. You are the leader of this planning process; therefore, it will fit you perfectly. Take a bit of advice from Benjamin Franklin: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Invite some friends over, pull out some refreshments and plan your clutter attack together. You can do it. Amy Keeling Walton is owner of The Neat Freak Professional Organizing in Bardstown. If you have a question for this column, email amytheneatfreak@yahoo.com.