Most people, when faced with clutter, are deterred by one, often overwhelming question: Where do I start?
The answer is simple: top to bottom, left to right.
I recently helped three different clients organize the following spaces:
As you can see from these before pictures, each of these spaces could seem a bit overwhelming at first. But we began together – top to bottom, left to right – and completely emptied each space. This is key. If you really want to organize a cluttered space, you must completely empty it first. The act of taking every single item out of the space gives you a chance to truly reflect upon and evaluate each item. Nothing gets to stay simply because it’s “always been there”. Also, once the space is empty, it is like a blank canvas. You can re-imagine the layout and use of the space with a fresh perspective.
As we emptied items out of each space, we sorted them into three basic piles: Trash, Treasure, and Transfer.
The Trash pile is for things that are broken or otherwise unable to be donated.
The Treasure pile is for the things my clients value and love, the things that make them truly happy to own.
The Transfer pile is for things that aren’t trash or treasures, but need relocation. I usually subdivide this pile into Transfer Donate, Transfer Sell, and Transfer Different Room. I also sometimes create transfer piles for specific people. For example, one client created a Transfer Ashley pile for her daughter-in-law.
Once you’ve emptied the space and sorted into these piles, it’s time to put those treasures back in! As you can see from the before/after photos below, one main treasure that always gets put back is lots of beautiful, empty space! So if you are stuck with the question, “Where to start?” now you know – top to bottom, left to right. Happy de-cluttering!