Step Back to the Beginning

June 23, 2010 at 8:04 pm 4 comments

While assisting a customer in a large and ongoing closet organization project we were asked “What’s your method? I’ve been holding onto this stuff for years, daunted by the thought of having to go through it. How do you two make it so easy?!”

We then realized we haven’t taken the time to share our most fundamental “how to organize” theories, methods, and beliefs.  So here goes.                 

Our belief is best summarized by Leo Babauta’s simple yet succinct mantra “Identify the essential.  Eliminate the Rest.”

Elimination, through strategic organization and de-cluttering, has therapeutic attributes.  It requires time, patience, and the ability to ask oneself some difficult questions.  Questions like why am I really holding onto to this? and why am I afraid to say good-bye? demand answers.  And, in our experience, those who take the time to ask and answer (identify and eliminate) often end-up with a greater sense of self awareness and ability to let go (sounds like therapy to us!).  

This is often an emotionally charged experience and it’s where we (the empathetic and highly intuitive de-cluttering aficionados that we are) play an important role. We add value by asking those tough questions, identifying often overlooked patterns and themes, paying attention to body language and, most importantly, listening.  And we always follow through with support, confidentiality, and practical organizational and throw-away solutions.  This is our expertise.

This is our methodology:

1. The Beginning: Identify the cluttered space you want to organize. Easy.

2. The Goal:  Establish expectations.  Do you have a vision for the room/closet/cabinet etc…? Be clear around your intentions (writing them down helps significantly).  

3. The Space:  Survey and assess. Do you have too much stuff? Are you running into specific problems such as a drawer or a door not closing? Is the area a dumping ground for items that have other, more appropriate, homes (or no home at all)?

4. The Compartmentalization:  Empty all the items from the space and sort into smaller, categorized piles.  For example, when organizing an office you may have a stationary pile, an electronics pile, a pen pile, etc…

5. The Decision-Making (also known as The Intensely Emotional Question Asking & I need a Tylenol & Vodka Process): Go through each item piece by piece. Create 3 separate piles labeled Toss, Maybe, Keep.  Ask those tough questions.  Be honest.  

Neat Tip: Taking pictures of items that evoke sentimentality is a great way to “hold on” without compromising storage space.  Also, stay tuned for our segment on environmental and socially ethical ways to discard unused items!

6. The Mapping:  Look at the empty space and think back to your vision. Are you missing anything? Would additional storage solutions help?

 7. The Cleaning: Clean the area BEFORE you start filling it with your essential items. This important step is often missed by the novice organizer, but believe us (in terms of de-cluttering) nothing is more liberating and satisfying than working with a pristine canvas.

 8. The Completion: Create your masterpiece. 

You might ask: Why do I need a team of fast, reliable, affordable, cute, modest, professional organizers (focusing on the greater Toronto area – sorry Saskatoon) now that I have these steps? 

And we might answer:  In theory anyone can organize and de-clutter.  In reality, however, most people have a hard time identifying the essential and eliminating the rest.  It takes time and willpower to trudge through the stuff you’ve been storing for eons.  And this basic methodology is just the beginning.  We have many, many, many tricks up our neatly pressed sleeves.

You didn’t think we’d give it all away for free did you?!


Entry filed under: Closet Organization, Decluttering, Editing, Storage Solutions. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Step Into Our Kitchen Cabinets «  |  September 9, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    […] For such a substantial and high traffic space, we suggest working through our 8 step de-cluttering method. […]

  • 2. Step Into Our Proverbial Closet «  |  October 7, 2010 at 10:44 am

    […] smooth sailing use our 8 Step Process!  And listen to Christopher […]

  • 3. Step Into Our Cubicle «  |  December 10, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    […] always refer back to our glorious 8 step organizing process along with our other helpful posts about home offices and desktop […]

  • 4. Step Into Our Garage Sale «  |  August 5, 2011 at 8:58 am

    […] The trick to preparing for a garage sale is (like all things in life according to us) compartmentalization. Separate items into piles (like with like) and label (price) as you go.   Check out Peter […]


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