January 12, 2018

The Art of Organizing

You may have noticed one very common resolution not on my list this year - Getting Organized. In part, that’s because cleaning is already a habit for me; in fact I’m a little OCD, and bringing order to my life is one way I reduce stress. I love feeling like I’m starting with a clean slate, and tidying helps me get in that grove. Of course, I’ve tired many different systems of organization and tricks for keeping tidy, but as many of you I’m sure have also experienced, things don’t tend to stay organized. Interestingly enough, that’s the challenge tackled in Marie Kondo’s book – The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It's a light, enjoyable read with solid recommendations for how to get your life organized. I'd like to share my key takeaways and tips to help get organized so you can have more time for your art business and the things you love.

Tidying Starts with Eliminating
While Marie Kondo's approach to tidying up helps you get organized, she actually starts one step back. Before you find a place for everything in your life, Marie asks you to first consider what you truly want and need. As she puts it...
“if you use the right method and concentrate your efforts on eliminating clutter thoroughly and completely within a short span of time, you’ll see instant results that will empower you to keep your space in order ever after.”

That may sound a little intimidating, especially if you are a natural collector like me, but I really appreciate the simplicity. You can sort things and put them in special containers, but if you don't first take the time to consider whether or not they are contributing to your life, you will always have more than you need. With our busy lifestyles these days, it's pretty common to see things pile up because we may not have time to deal with them right away. What Marie recommends is setting aside time to filter through these things and not let them stack up if you don't want or need them. If you do a major declutter once, then you should have an easier time keeping piles manageable moving forward.

Work by Category
Marie's #1 recommendation is to focus on “choosing what [you] want to keep, not what [you] want to get rid of.” By starting here, you can eliminate a lot of what you might have otherwise tried to organize without needing to. To make this process more effective, Marie reminds us that we should work by category, so you tackle related items together. That way you have a clear view of all that you own in that particular grouping, like clothing for example or office supplies. It's normal to have the same types of items scattered around your house or office, but at the end of the day, do you really need multiples?

Does It Have Value?
As Marie sorts through her items, she asks, "Does it spark joy?" Her method involves holding each of your belongings and considering this question. I honestly don't have time to touch every single thing I own, even when I set aside time to clean out, but I do agree that it's a beneficial perspective. Why are you keeping things? If you use them regularly, the answer is obvious. But how do you deal with the items gathering dust? Maybe they were gifts that you feel you need to keep. Maybe they are seasonal items that are important just once or twice a year. There are plenty of reasons, so consider the below schematic for gauging the value of your belongings...
  • Physical – An item's worth in monetary terms.
  • Functional – How useful an item is in your life.
  • Informational – Sources of education & enrichment.
  • Emotional – Sentimental items tied to memories.

Belongings that are high on any of the above types of value are usually worth keeping. We all have our own threshold for what's too much, so that's where you have to make an individual judgement. As you sort through things, you're likely to find that you value far fewer things than expected. Does your studio have an abundance of craft supplies unrelated to your current medium? If you don't foresee putting them to use soon, you could give yourself more room by giving these away. Or perhaps you don't even have an official studio space right now. You might discover a whole room waiting in your house under belongings you don't need.

Now You Can Organize
Once you've identified what you actually need and want to keep, the next step in keeping tidy should come pretty naturally: Putting things where they go. “Storage, after all, is the sacred act of choosing a home for [your] belongings.” It's a lot easier to find a home for things if you don't have too many things. There isn't one set way to store your belongings, but Marie's main recommendation here is to avoid organization solutions that themselves create more clutter. I love the Container Store as much as the next girl, but I understand the need to focus on just core storage options that keep my items contained and visible so I know what I have and where to find it when I need it.