The Home Organization Life Cycle is an important concept to understand. Once you figure it out, you can finally end the cycle of (1) spend all day cleaning, (2) get frustrated the very next day at the messiness of your house, (3) give up the rest of the week, (4) repeat.
The great part about this stage of the Life Cycle is that your living areas are…well, livable. Your home looks clean. Friends and family can easily find a place to sit when they visit. Overall you enjoy the space.
The problem is that you know there is clutter and disorganization behind the surface. It’s a MESS behind closed doors.
If this is the stage you find yourself in, you absolutely can not stop during this phase of the life cycle. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “out of site, out of mind,” right? Well, that’s exactly how most of your possessions are at this point.
It’s time to Simplify Your Stuff and Get Organized!
Organize Your Stuff.
Simplifying Your Stuff and Organizing Your Stuff go hand in hand. They are complementary.
You must work on these two stages together.
But, you also have to work on them separately. Simplifying and Organizing are two very distinct concepts that need to be focused on individually.
We’ve covered simplifying your stuff in depth. Today we’ll dive into the specifics on how to organize the stuff in your home as well as how the two themes intermingle.
3 Steps to Organize Your Stuff:
1. Group similar items together.
Initially, this step may seem obvious because we instinctively group some items together. Living room furniture goes in the living room. Bedroom furniture goes in the bedroom. Clothes go in the closet. Office stuff goes in the office.
But we usually stop with the big stuff. The little stuff gets spread all over the house.
- Are your books scattered throughout different rooms?
- Do your kids store toys in their bedroom, the playroom, your room, the kitchen…basically everywhere?
- Do you have papers piled all over the place?
- Do you keep some tools in the shed, some in the junk drawer and some in the laundry room?
- Do you have a few shirts in the closet, a few in your dresser, and a few thrown over the corner chair?
- Do you have canned good in the pantry and in a cabinet?
- Do you have have cleaning supplies in the laundry room, in the kitchen, in the bathrooms, and in the garage?
It may be necessary for some items to be located in several rooms of the house. But more often than not, those spread out items create unneeded duplication.
As you start to get organized, begin grouping like items.
For example, if you are organizing your office, group specific office supplies together. If you want to get your bathroom organized, group each type of toiletry item together. When you’re organizing your closet, group t-shirts together, blouses together, skirts together, pants, together…you get the idea!
Whether the item is big or small, collect like items and put them in one location. It’s often eye-opening to see just how many…
- light bulbs
- cleaning sprays
- organizing containers
- unfiled papers
- small appliances
- office supplies
- gift bags
…you own. As you know, the list can go on and on and on and on.
You can visually see the sheer volume of any particular type of item when each is grouped with similar items.
Most importantly, you can begin to notice how many of each category goes unused! Which brings us to the second step…
2. Streamline those items.
This is why it’s so important to simplify and organize together. When it becomes obvious how many of a particular item you have, it gets easier to simplify.
You can sort through each group and determine if the item works (think about those dried up pens) or if it fits (jeans from 2 sizes ago). You can decide if it’s outdated (hello unused planner from 2015).
When you know what you have, you can use it up instead of buying more!! (Unfortunately, finding those 10 bottles of cleaning spray mean means the excuse not to clean is null and void!)
The best place to begin is to start with easy:
- obvious trash
- items that are broken
- empty boxes
This gets you used to removing items from your life and gives your brain a little space to think. Then, you can focus on items that take a little more effort to eliminate:
- clothes you like but don’t actually fit
- books you bought when you were into that fad, but know deep down you will never be interested in again
- duplicate items
- gadgets that can be easily replaced by something else you own
Finally, you can begin to get rid of the good stuff. I know, I know. But, trust me, if it doesn’t add value to your life, it’s not really good stuff!! You can begin to think through a different lens:
- Is it your favorite?
- Does it function/look/operate the best?
- How can my sentimental items become part of my every day living instead of hidden away in a closet, attic, or box?
When you look at your possessions as providing value, you can begin to eliminate the rest. Of course, there’s a bazillon other things to think through when it comes to simplifying your stuff…that’s why I have an entire course on the topic!
When you finally decide what to keep, you move to the next step in the organizational process…
3. Create one – and only one – home for each group of items.
When every single item you own has one home – and only one home – life is so much simpler.
When you know where everything belongs, it doesn’t take as long to clean up. You don’t have to search the entire house (i.e. under beds, in closets, behind furniture…) when you’re looking for a particular item. You’re also less likely to re-buy something because you can’t find it in your house…even though you KNOW you have it…somewhere.
Disorganization wastes time and money. And it also stress us out.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Just put items in their home. It will save you a ton of time – and brain power – when you need it again!
Keeping similar items together has several advantages:
- Everyone in your family knows where to look when they need something.
- It takes the guess work out of finding a “home” when a new item enters your home. That makes the first tip much easier to implement!
- Grouping similar items together makes everything easy to find. If you’re looking for a necklace, you know where to go. When you need a pen to sign your child’s school paper, you’ll know exactly where to get one. Your kids will always be able to find their favorite toy…and more importantly it’s OBVIOUS where they should put it back.
- You know when you’re running low and need to restock. Think light bulbs, batteries, spices, toilet paper, air filters…you get the idea.
- It will save you money. How? Because you won’t find yourself looking for something you KNOW you have but just can’t find.
- It gives you automatic boundaries. When the items are contained in an area with finite space, you have to continually make decisions. When that space begins to overflow, you know you have to streamline again.
Grouping similar items together, simplifying those groups, and creating ONE home for each group are extremely important organizational habits to implement.
Repeating the “Organize Your Stuff” section of the Home Organization Life Cycle.
When you jump into the GET ORGANIZED part of the Life Cycle for the first time:
You’ll start by grouping items together so that you can simplify. Being able to see all of a particular type of item gives you clarity on how much you actually own. When you streamline one group of items, you’ll be able to determine an appropriate home for that group.
As you repeat this part of the process:
You’ll simplify so that you can keep items in their home. The “home” of any given item will create an automatic boundary. As similar items enter your life, you’ll know exactly where to store them (i.e. you “group” them automatically). When you run out of space, you’ll either need to find a new home for that group or (preferably) streamline the amount of like-items again.
Real Life Example.
The clutter in our homes are made up of normal, everyday items. So, let’s use an everyday example like batteries.
When more than one person lives in a home, each person will instinctively put batteries in a place that makes sense to them. Let’s say the husband instinctively stores extra batteries in a cabinet in the garage. The wife puts them in the laundry room. The teenager puts batteries in a drawer in his/her room.
However, every once in a while, each person could buy a entire package of batteries even though they only have immediate use for one or two. Let’s say the husband replaced two D batteries in his radio and put the extras in the nearby junk drawer. The wife replaced the bathroom scale coin battery and put the extra in the bathroom drawer. The teenager replaced the TV remote batteries and put the extra AA batteries in the coffee table drawer.
Now, there are batteries in 6 random placed in their home. If the mom needs AA batteries, her instinct would be to look in the laundry room and possibly the bathroom drawer because that is where she has put batteries in the past. She wouldn’t know to look in the coffee table drawer. What do you think she would do? Buy more batteries…even those she has what she needs in her own home.
If that family collected their batteries into one location, do you think they would be surprised at how many batteries they own? I would think so!
Making a group decision on where the “home” for batteries should be would eliminate future confusion. It would save time because they wouldn’t constantly be going to the store for batteries. Plus, it would save money and eventually simplify their collection of batteries because they would be able to use what they have.
It’s a simple example.
But guess what? Our home is made up of simple items.
Applying the 3 stages of organization (little by little or in one big organizational project) can make a huge difference in the way your home functions.
Eventually, your home will be so organized that you won’t have to use brain power searching for lost items. You’ll always know where any given item should be.
And that’s exactly what we will talk about next. Get ready to dive deep into the next section of the Life Cycle….Increased Productivity. Sign up to get the entire series delivered straight to your inbox.
Until then, start organizing and let me know about your progress! I’d love to hear about it!
P.S. If you need help organizing something simple, like your closets, you can get The Ultimate Guide to Simplify Your Closet video course at an 80% discount right now. It’s regularly $39 but you can get it today for just $7!
P.P.S. If you need accountability and step-by-step guidance on how to organize and simplify your stuff, you can find out more info here. Also, for the next week, you can enter the coupon code LIFECYCLE to get a 25% discount.