Before You Begin an Organizational Plan
Focus on one room or area before you try to tackle an entire unorganized house. If you're new to organizing, or are a little skeptical of your ability to succeed, choose one small area instead of an entire room. Try organizing a medicine cabinet or underneath the kitchen sink, instead of the garage.
Don't just answer the questions in your head. Take time to take a sheet of paper and write down the answers. It will be helpful to be in the room as you work. Don't get discouraged if there's no readily available place to sit. Push some stuff onto the floor, and remember that soon the room will be an example of organizational virtue.
Don't lose your lists. The answers to the questions for individual areas will help you determine the purpose and function of every room in the house. Grab a folder or three-ring binder and use it to store your organizational observations. Find a designated safe spot to put your folder, and don't forget to use it.
The Organizational Plan Questions
What do I want the purpose of this room or area to be?
This question is one of the most important that you have to answer. What is it that you'd like to happen in this room or space? How does this room or space serve your home and your family? Some rooms have more than one purpose, like an office/guest room. Be sure to note any of these considerations.
What do I need in or near the room to serve that purpose?
You may want to make lists of both items you'd love and items you need. Don't be afraid to dream a little here. We'll consider your budget later. Just brainstorm the tools to make your room or space achieve the purpose you have planned for it.
What can I remove from the room?
Yes, I know that you may have always had an extra broken sofa in your den. No one ever sits there, but you'd be hard pressed to figure out what to stick in its place. Right now consider what to remove based on how it fits with the purpose of the room. If an item does not help the room be what you want it to be, find another home for it. These items may serve a purpose in another room, or they could be perfect for a purpose far away from your home.
What problems do I see with the room?
Look for problem areas that are difficult for you to keep cleaned or organized. You probably have the beginning of an idea in your head of how you want the room to be. What parts aren't fitting with that vision? One of my major problems with my entryway, was the the pile of shoes near the door. Look for the things that bother you and jot them down.
What organizational tools might solve those problems?
There aren't any wrong answers here. Brainstorm tools that might help each individual problem that you've written about. Maybe an over-the-door shoe organizer in the entry closet would get rid of the cluttered looking shoes, without giving up the convenience of having storage for them in the entryway. Create a wish list of tools to organize your space.
What habits need to change to solve the organizational problems?
We can get caught up in organizational tools as the salvation for our disorganization, but in reality we also have to have the right habits to go along with them. If your family is in the habit of tossing their shoes into a pile as soon as they walk in, using a shoe organizer may have to be learned. What habits need to change in your room to make your tools and plan a success?
What kind of a budget do I have to create the organized room of my dreams?
It's not fair, but most of us don't have unlimited amounts of money to funnel into organizing projects. You might think about how much you can spare each paycheck. It's not fun to be realistic, but how much money can you really spare in the coming months to reorganize your room?
What kind of a timeline is necessary to organize the room?
Just like money, our time is valuable and in high demand. We now have to be realistic about the time we have to commit to our new project. Will you only have Saturdays, or part of a weekend to devote? Are you planning on taking some time off to complete your project? Create a timeline of when the work for reorganization can take place.
What is my plan of action?
Now that you've thought of almost everything, it's time to make a plan. Using your answers about what you want, what you need, and what resources you can give to the project, create a plan. Keep in mind that even if you must wait until your next paycheck to get the tools you want, you can still remove or reorganize much of the contents of the room. Sketch out a reasonable plan incorporating actions, budget, and time.
Which room would I like to focus on next?
Generating these ideas and plans can often trigger a flood of emotions and answers about other rooms and spaces in your home. Only choose the next room, without any brainstorming, until you complete your first project. You may be eager, but take one step at a time. Before you know it, you'll be ready for your next room.