iStockphoto

iStockphoto

 

Sound impossible? It’s not. The contents of spaces varies wildly, but the process you use to organize a physical space are pretty much the same whether you’re tackling a kitchen cabinet, your garage, your office or your purse.

[More from Manilla.com: Your Top 5 Organizing Mistakes]

The next time you want to change your life, take action using the four steps I’m about to share with you, but only after you’ve determined the purpose for the space you’re organizing. What will happen there? Do you want the space chiefly for storage or will day-to-day functions happen there? Will the space be yours or will you share it? Once you know the answers to those questions, dive in!

Check out these four easy ways to organize your home.

Step One: Assess

Open your eyes and assess what’s presently in the space. Identify each item, it’s usefulness in the space, and its general usefulness in your life. If it doesn’t support the purpose and function you’re planning for the space, set it aside. Work through the space item by item until the only things that remain will become part of the space plan.

[More from Manilla.com: Manilla Mini: Organizing Your Desk]

Step Two: Toss (or shred)

In the case of paper, determine what needs to be shredded versus what paper is safe to simply toss out. Anything with personal, financial, medical, or other sensitive information on it should be shredded. For the physical items you’ve set aside, separate items you still use from items that are candidates for sale or donation. Then be sure you don’t let those things get stuck in your life — move them out of your life quickly.

Step Three: Organize

Once you’ve culled the extraneous things from the space, organize what remains by grouping like items, or items that serve a common purpose together. Install organizing tools and products that support the functions you want the space to perform. Do you need bookshelves? Bins? Closet components? Lazy Susans? Desktop sorters? Whatever you need, get it. Organizing tools are an essential part of any organizational system, so don’t skimp and try to go without just to save a few bucks.

[More from Manilla.com: 5 Tips to Tame Your Messy Bathroom]

Step Four: Maintain

You’ve assessed, sorted, categorized and eliminated the unnecessary. You’ve put the tools in place to support your organizing systems. Now what? If only you were finished! GETTING organized is the hard part. STAYING organized is the goal, and maintenance is the secret sauce to long-term organizational success. Whatever processes you designed during Step Three (Organize) will require some level of maintenance, just like the other processes in your life.

Dishes get used, washed, dried then put away. Then they get used again. Teeth get brushed, then you eat, then you brush again. Neglecting dish (or tooth) maintenance would mean an eventual disaster of a kitchen full of dishes or a mouth full of cavities. Your organizational systems are the same way. Design simple systems, then USE them. Your long-term success is only as good as your maintenance habits.

What systems have you designed that make your life easier at home or at work? I’d love to know!

Monica Ricci is the organization expert for Manilla.com, the leading, free and secure service that lets consumers manage all of their bills and accounts in one place online. She founded Catalyst Organizing Solutions in 1998 and has been helping people change their lives ever since. She is the author of Organize Your Office In No Time and was named one of the nation’s “Organizing Elite” by Forbes Magazine. Monica is a Certified Professional Organizer and she sits on the committee that created her industry’s only professional certification program. She is also a winner of her industry’s highest honor, the National Association of Professional Organizers Founders Award. She appears frequently as an industry expert on both radio and television and is the former host of the radio show Organization Nation. Monica can often be seen on the HGTV show, MISSION: Organization.

More from Manilla.com: