This week’s guest blog post comes to us from Bonnie Dewkett, a certified professional organizer who began organizing as a child, and has been organizing ever since. Her company, The Joyful Organizer, creates and implements organizational systems for both the home and office. Passionate about helping others meet their organizational goals, Bonnie loves to see the positive impact that getting organized has on people’s lives.
“I need to declutter, but I’m having trouble letting go of sentimental items or practical things that I might need ‘someday.’ What should I do?”
The best thing is to ask yourself what it’s costing you to keep the item. If you pay rent or a mortgage you’re paying a per foot cost for everything in your home. If it’s not worth that cost, out it goes. Many items can be replaced for much less than you are paying to store them. Another question to ask yourself is: “If I moved today, would I pay someone to move this for me?” If the answer is no, donate it.
For sentimental items, I suggest giving yourself (and every other family member in the household) a limit. For example, one tote per person. The items inside the tote can change over time, but keeping your sentimental items limited is key.
If something is very meaningful to you, consider finding a way to honor it. For example, before donating something, I like to take a photo of it. You could also consider projects such as framing a piece of a wedding dress, using a shadow box for jewelry, or making a quilt from old t-shirts.
“When I start organizing a very cluttered space (attic, garage, etc.). I get overwhelmed by the volume of stuff. How do I stay motivated when it feels like there’s no end in sight?”
Break every large organizing project down into smaller tasks. If you’re organizing the garage, make yourself a list. It might look like this:
- Sort through boxes
- Sweep the floor
- Add in shelves
- Buy totes
- Hang garden tools
Breaking a large project down into tasks makes it seem less overwhelming. It also allows you to find the time for each smaller task. If you’re sorting through a number of boxes, remove those boxes, one at a time to another space. Going through them one at a time allows you to focus and keeps the feeling of being overwhelmed to a minimum.
“Is there one product or tool that you think everyone should use to help them stay organized?”
I love binders. By inserting page protectors you can store just about anything; take out menus, manuals for appliances, printables, photos, and so much more. My other favorite is the over-the-door shoe rack. These are available at just about every super store (and even some dollar stores) and they can hold ANYTHING. I love to use them for toys, snacks, water bottles, first aid supplies, accessories like scarves and mittens, arts and crafts supplies or even dolls.
“If someone is looking for professional help, but they’re not sure about how to budget for it or what type of services to get, what advice would you give to them?”
There are lots of affordable options out there for every budget. Many organizers will design a plan for you so that you know what to do and when to do it. It takes the guesswork out of the process. Other organizers can even help you virtually through phone calls or videoconference sessions. This keeps you accountable and on task. If you can’t afford an organizer, find an organizing buddy with a neighbor or friend. Spend time helping each other get organized and holding each other accountable for your goals.