GO Month Week 2 – Organizing Your Spaces

It’s week 2 of GO Month and it’s time to talk space organization. Organizing spaces is difficult because often times you have to work around the furniture already in the room. It isn’t always feasible to replace items you already have, so it’s a “work with what you’ve got” scenario. Don’t stress, there is hope! These 10 tips will walk you through organizing the most chaotic spaces, using the existing furniture.

Helpful Tools – Before you begin, gather some graph paper for diagraming, plain white paper and markers for making signs, garbage bags and boxes.

1. Analyze – Take inventory of everything in the room. Seating, shelving, tables, lamps, even art work. Before you can create an organizational plan for the room, you need to know what items will be in the space. This is also when you create the list of goals for the space. How will the room function? What activities will take place here?

2. Diagram – Draw up a simple flow plan for the room. Knowing how people need to move through the space will determine where the furniture can be placed.
Org Space Flow Plan

3. Zone – After diagramming the flow, create the different zones. For example, in the family room there may be the reading zone, the play zone, the TV zone, and the craft zone. Block out on your flow plan where each activity will take place. Look for opportunities to create double duty zones. Maybe the craft table you use at night can be the kids’ coloring table during the day. Double duty pieces make organizing and staying tidy that much easier.

4. Empty – This is where the first 3 steps begin to be put into action. Empty the room of every last item, furniture, area rugs, etc. It is much easier to work with a blank canvas than to have to organize around piles of stuff.

5. Sort – As mentioned in last week’s post, my favorite system for sorting is the “Friends, Acquaintances, Strangers” system created by Judith Kolberg. Your “Friends” pile should be the items you absolutely love, cannot live without, and use on a regular basis. Your “Strangers” pile is all of the items that are so old and unused you completely forgot you even owned them. Anything remaining goes into the “Acquaintances” pile. These are the items that you may not use often, such as a fold-up table, or items you aren’t quite ready to part with, such as the antique side table from your grandmother.

6. Sort… Again! – Take that “Friends” pile, make a sign for each zone you created in step 3, and sort your items out into more organized piles. In order to determine storage container needs, you need to see what exactly goes into each zone. Never purchase storage containers until you know exactly what your needs are. The last thing you want is to create more clutter from unused containers!

7. Box and Donate – Any “strangers” that are in good condition can be donated to your local charity. As for the “acquaintances,” those items can be boxed up and put into longer term storage in the basement, garage, or attic. Revisit those items when you need them (such as holiday decorations) or in 6 months to 1 year. After this time, if you haven’t used any of the items, consider donating them as well.

8. Arrange – Now is the time to start adding everything back into the room. Start with the largest items, such as area rugs, furniture, and storage shelves. Following your zone and flow plan will make this process go quickly.

9. Label – Label storage containers as needed so the family knows where to find all of their items such as DVD’s and art supplies. Having labels also insures that the system you have put in place can be followed. A place for everything and everything in its place helps prevent the buildup of clutter down the road.

10. Analyze… Again! – Anytime a new system is implemented, it’s important to be sure it is working for everyone. About 1 month after organizing the space, analyze how it is working for you and your family. Is everyone sticking to the zones that were created? Are the children able to use the space as easily as the adults? This is a good time to tweak any areas that don’t seem to be working. Keep in mind, even the most well organized space should be reanalyzed once a year to be sure the room is adapting as your family’s needs change.

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