Professional Organizing Tips and Resources.
Holding onto something and your not even sure why? Can’t seem to let go of that old file of phone bills from 2008 or earlier? Stuck with that broken down toaster that was a wedding present from 10 years ago? Or maybe you still have every piece of artwork your child ever made, yet they’re grown up and out of the home?
Come on, it’s ok to toss that book you promised your friend you would read 3 years ago. If it’s just collecting dust on a crowded bookshelf, it’s not adding to your life is it? Maybe that box of “skinny” clothes haunting you in your closet, or cases of old bottles you trip over in the garage ‘cause “one day” you’re going to start making wine, are just taking up valuable space and energy.
Don’t get me wrong, sure there could be some things that you really need and have a plan to use soon. And maybe you’re keeping some old paperwork because they relate to a business and you need it for tax reasons.
Yet, what I have learned from by being a professional organizer is this… for the most part clutter is simply “postponed decisions.” So today to help those that need to learn to be more objective and really take an honest look at what their keeping and why, I have my ultimate TOSS LIST. A series of questions to ask yourself in relation to your “Stuff” that will give you that objective edge you might be missing.
Let's take a moment to consider how to make your life and work space better by eliminating the excess now. Just because things are interesting to you is not a good enough reason to keep them around. For example, everything that could in theory be used at the right time, under the right conditions, sometime between this ‘very’ moment and the time you plan to retire, should be tossed. To help you determine what those items are, here are the questions to ask yourself.
I am going to lay them out by category to make it that much easier:
When it comes to Paper:
Is it a duplicate?
Is it current?
How often will I refer to it?
Is it relevant to my work/life?
Will it add something new to what I already have?
Can I get it elsewhere if I need it?
Do I have time to read it?
Do I want, or truly need this?
In addition to making decisions on what to toss, the following 6 guidelines are important to deciding what not to toss. Review these so you know when it’s time to keep things:
Replication would be very difficult.
There is only the one copy available.
It is a vital piece of a project or client file.
The document is your original creation.
The information will be needed again soon.
The law requires you to keep it.
For items you are required to keep for legal reasons, I have found that there is an abundance of information on the internet. Yet, if you run across something you're just not sure about, my advice is to speak with your accountant or tax professional before making the final toss.
Tip: Remember to protect yourself. Shred documents containing personal or confidential information on you or your company.
When it comes to Clutter:
Now we may be treading into an emotional area, as we discuss personal possessions. For personal belongings and keepsakes I am going to provide two things. First, the ‘TOSS LIST’ questions, then, another way to help determine what category the “Keepers” fall into.
When was it last used?
Is there a specific date I will need this again in future?
Does it require action by me? (If yes, move to location for 'ACT' items)
How hard would it be to replace again if I needed it?
Is it recent enough to be useful?
How does it make my life more purposeful or better?
Is it beautiful or loved?
Does it reflect the person I am now?
What is worst case scenario if I toss it?
Now, if you struggle a bit with the questions above and/or still need a little help to decide where to put things, take a closer look at the ‘Toys, Tools, Treasures & Trash’ list below.
Basically, what you need to do is pick up each item and ask yourself two questions… 1. Does this item hold a high emotional value for me? 2. Does it have a high level of function in my home/office?
Here are the suggestions based on each possible answer:
High Emotion – High Function – TOYS – Keep close at hand and visible. Invest in good containment, making it easier to put away than to take out. (A basic organizing rule of thumb)
Low Emotion – High Function – TOOLS – Keep close at hand and accessible but out of site. Again, good functional containment is important. Label well also, as this helps remind you to put things back where they belong when you’re done using it.
High Emotion – Low Function – TREASURE – Keep displayed at a distance or store away. If you have treasured items, take a few of your best and put in a quality display. Store the rest if you really can’t part with them. Store things in good quality containment and review often. Tip: A collector enjoys and takes pride in their collection; they don’t treat their items poorly and leave them lying about unorganized where they can be damaged.
Low Emotion – Low Function – TRASH. Trash it, recycle it, or donate it, yet do it fast. Once the decision is made, get rid of the items quickly so you don’t go back on your decisions later.
If you find you still can’t do it, don’t have the energy or time, then I am here to help you. I will bring the tools, the process, the energy, the knowledge and a truly objective view.
I recognize the fact that in this world we are bombarded with paper, information and stuff and that getting overwhelmed by it all can be a hard barrier to break. Let me help you break past that and learn the way to simplify your life and your work today.
Need help organizing? Michelle serves the Carleton Place, Lanark County and Ottawa areas.