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Tough Love: Getting Real About Getting Organized

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I'm a person that believes strongly in tough love. It's not because I want to be mean, it's because I thinks it's crucial to be realistic. This is very true when I'm working on organizing projects, and when someone's paying me to help them get organized, I think they appreciate a realistic approach. Even when they don't want to hear it.

So here's a little tough love for all of you as you're pulling out those summer clothes, staring down a pile of papers or just trying to get the organization under control. 

  • "I might need/want it in the future" - No but really. Did you even know it was there in the first place? If you needed/wanted it down the road, would you remember where it was? Do you reallllly think you're going to want/need it in the future? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then get rid of it. 
  • "But it's my favorite" - Ok this one is admittedly is dedicated to my sister. Everything is her favorite, especially if she thinks she may have to part with it. But if it can live in the corner of her closet forever, she's fine never acknowledging it again. Be real. If it's your favorite (I mean your real favorite) then keep it. If it's not, get rid of it! (hint: If you haven't used it months, it's probably not your favorite)
  • Similarly, "It's sentimental" - I'm all for saving memories (good ones anyway!). But you have to decide whether a memento from a moment in time is important or the memory itself is what you're after. There is nothing wrong with keeping mementos, they just need to have a home. Can't part with those old cards, notes or pictures? Create an album that can be displayed or at least takes up less space. Or create a display box with similar items. Even a designated box works. You just don't want little items tucked into all kinds of corners - keep it contained, small and reasonable. Saving everything isn't realistic. 
  • A pile is not a place - keeping your loose change in a pile on your dresser is probably not the definition of keeping it organized. It just happens to land in a convenient spot that you keep defaulting to. For an organized system to work EVERYTHING needs a place. If it doesn't have a place, it can't be put away. If it doesn't have a place, you likely can't find it when you're looking for it. If it doesn't have a place, it can't really be organized! From your couch to your vacuum cleaner to your loose change, everything needs its own place.
  • If you take it out of its place, put it back - It's that simple. Sure, it takes a few extra seconds. And it also takes a few weeks to make it a habit, but you're better off. It's that age-old rule we learned back in kindergarten about picking up after ourselves. (Major life lesson right here: those kindergarten rules never expire and are often the most important ones we ever learn)
  • "I need to get organizing supplies" - False. I love The Container Store as much as the type-A, neurotic person. But not having the funds to buy out their stock or not having supplies on hand isn't an excuse. Get creative. You'd be amazed at what you can do with ziplock bags, rubber bands and a sharpie.

See, that didn't hurt too badly did it? They say when you push yourself to an uncomfortable point, that's where you grow. So go on and face the organizing project you're dreading. It probably won't be all fun, but it's worth it. And if you're having a weak moment, think of me with my tough love voice. 

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