Six Questions to Ask When Organizing

by: Gail Gray

a Fresh Start

How many times have you started and stopped an organizing project? How often do you move the piles from one open space to another? Do you ever look at your clutter and not know where to begin, so you just walk away? Like most people, there is a reason behind the clutter. One we ourselves may not even know! Sometimes we have multiple reasons as to why we just can’t seem to get a handle on our stuff. So what is the everyday mom to do?

Most people will tell you the three basic rules to organizing. The first is to sort. Next is to purge. And last is to put away. Sounds easy right! Well we try and follow that and somehow we still have too much stuff and nowhere to put it! Sometimes we need to get back to the old elementary school learning and think about the 5 W’s (and one H!). Asking ourselves questions through the process of organizing will help make a lasting change in your organizing abilities.

So what are the magical questions to ask? First, before I reveal the magic list, remember these aren’t all the questions you need to ask. I will be setting the foundation, but because every person’s home and life is unique, you will need to build on this foundation to make the best decisions in your organizing journey!

1. Why do I need this? Of course I could have asked, “Do I need this?” but I didn’t for a reason. Of course we feel we need everything we have in the home, but the real reason is why do I need it.

2. What purpose does it serve me today? We need to stop living for the “I Might Needs” and the “I Used To’s” and start thinking about today. Think about what this does for you today and in the immediate future. Change your thought process from the past and the future and live for today.

3. How easy is this to replace? For example, you have a cabinet full of toilet paper and another Costco 100 pack sitting on a shelf in the garage, but nowhere to store the scrapbooking supplies you have invested in, it may be time to donate the toilet paper. You can easily replace it. There is toilet paper in at least one store you go in a week. It hurts more that you wasted the money on access, than letting the toilet paper go. Now, grandma’s quilt that she used to read you bedtime stories under, that is a different story. That may not be as easy to replace as the Charmin!

4. Why do I care about this? Do you feel guilty about something that was given to you and now you keep it because you don’t want to hurt feelings? Do you wish you had time to do something, yet have never prioritized it and there is sits? Is this a big part of who you are and what makes you “you”? Get to the root of the feelings you have behind the item. This will be the biggest Ah Ha moment for you. We sometimes don’t realize we have held onto things not because we want to but because we felt we had to.

5. Who uses this? This is an important question, because you may not purge anything that does not belong to you. (Ok, kids toys they haven’t touched in months is acceptable, but not your husbands thread bear t-shirt from college!) But if the item is being used, I mean used within 6 months to a year) than it needs a home.

6. Where is it best used? Many people will hide their clutter in any available open space. We tend to grow to the space we have. We fill open space with things. What I see most people do though is not think about where it is most used, where it should be used, or where we would like to use it. If you were to always dry your hair in front of a dresser mirror in your bedroom, why would you put it away in the bathroom? The most common answer is because that is where it has always been kept. Wouldn’t it be more efficient to put it away closer to where it is being used?

When you being to ask yourself these questions, you learn a lot about yourself and why “you do what you do” to create. Now, I want you to go look at your piles and hidden clutter and really think about it. Don’t just go through the motions moving your stuff around, really make the decisions necessary to make a lasting difference in how you look at your stuff!

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