How do you PLAN an organizing project? Easy, we follow the five organizing steps.

This is something we do every single month in Organized Life Academy.

At the beginning of the month, we have a new focus and we plan our projects. Now, everybody plans independently: we don’t plan the same thing because all of our lives are different.

How do you plan an organizing project, you ask?

The same way that you organize anything.

You use the organizing steps.

The first step is to SORT.

You’re going to sort all the tasks that you need to do.

I like to do one of two things:

I. Draw a picture

If we’re wanting to focus our organizing on the living room, I like to draw a picture of the living room.

Draw in the couch, the end tables,  the TV, the console, the pile of junk on the floor in the corner, the fireplace, and maybe there are more piles on the coffee table – it’s full of paper. Draw it all into your picture. Write the tasks that need to be done on your picture.

2. Make a list

Instead of drawing it out, make a list of all the things that you want to organize in the room.

You want to organize the movie drawer and video game accessories, vacuum the couch, clean the pile off of the coffee table, go through the drawers of the end tables, sort through the pile of junk in the corner, tidy up the fireplace, etc.

The second step is to PURGE.

Now look at your list (or drawing).

First, circle your favorite things or your highest priority tasks.

Then, see what tasks could you purge?

Could you delete something from your list that you know you’re not going to have time to do this month? Just cross it off your list.

Maybe you can delegate some tasks. Something in the room needs to be fixed and you know someone who can fix it. You’re going to delegate it to them.

If you have a pile of crafts in the corner of the room, you can delegate that to your kids to work on.

Purge any tasks that you can off the list.

The third step is to ASSIGN HOMES. 

You assign each item/task on your list (or on your drawing) onto your calendar at a specific time. Get your calendar out, look at it for the month. What days do you have free? What time during these days do you have free? How could you make room on your calendar to do this organizing project? Write these tasks from your list onto your calendar.

For example, I might say, “On Saturday there are two hours that I have, and I’m going to use that time to organize my living room.” Write down ‘living room’ on Saturday for the two free hours you have.

If you don’t have a large chunk of time, then you could find 15 minutes every day to work on a section of the living room. Commit those 15 minutes by putting ‘sort top of coffee table’ on your calendar. Write in every 15 minute block that is open for the next whatever number of days until the living room is organized.

Coral and pink background with text quote from simplysquaredaway.com

The fourth step is to SET LIMITS.

You’re going to try to estimate how long it’s going to take for you to sort the top of the coffee table.

Just guess at the beginning. You’re going to guess that it’s going to take four, 15 minutes slots to get the coffee table cleaned off.

If you’re working on your desk, maybe you set the limit of going through ONE file for that 15 minutes.

If it’s a pile of paper on your countertop, maybe you need to set 15 minutes to sort through the paperwork in the morning and then that evening before bed you set 15 minutes to put items into the filing cabinet. Bam! That pile of paperwork is put away and cleared off the counter.

You get to set a limit on the amount of time that you’re going to work on that project. This helps you really focus.

I like to think of it like you’re taking a test and the teacher gives you an hour. You have to get the test done in an hour. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Maybe you rush through it and with the time you have leftover, you go back and you reread questions, and make sure you like your answers.

Do that with your project. Speed through it in the time you slotted knowing you can go back to it and perfect it later.

The top of the coffee table is going to take an hour. You’re going to go as fast as you can. If there’s time left, you’re going to go back and perfect the little things.

The fifth step is to  MAINTAIN.

Set a certain number of days, say a week, and go back to your completed project. Are you keeping this space cleaned up? Do you need to put a system in place to maintain its cleanliness? What adjustments do you need to make?

Tie maintaining to something you already do. Every time you turn the television off you tidy up the pillows and clear the coffee table.

Then the next week, go back again.

Are you on track with your maintenance plan? Do you need to make any adjustments?

Make sure that you celebrate your progress!

Each step of the way, make sure that you celebrate. 💥 You are further along than you would have been if you wouldn’t have planned.

Don’t skip planning!

Clients tell me during the months that they do the planning, they get a lot more accomplished than when they didn’t do the planning.

When organizing, use the acronym S.P.A.S.M

When you organize a project, use the organizing steps – S.P.A.S.M.

  1. Sort
  2. Purge
  3. Assign homes
  4. Set limits
  5. Maintain

The reason I have people plan an organizing project like this is so then they can go back and learn from what happened.

  • Did it take a lot longer than you expected? After practice, you will get faster.
  • What was it that took longer? Maybe give yourself a little longer for that project next time.
  • Did you get distracted? Work on the skill of staying focused.
  • Was it that you just had more stuff than you thought?

After planning and following these organizing steps a few times, you’ll also see what you need to tell yourself to get motivated and stay focused. Planning allows you to learn and perfect the skill of organizing a project.

If you want help, please come over to Organized Life Academy. At the beginning of every month, we plan what we’re going to do to organize that month. We are really intentional. It’s like putting a location into your GPS. Once you enter the address, you now know where you’re going to go.

My name is Tracy Hoth. I help people just like you simplify and organize their life so that they have more peace, more calm, and feel lighter with less weight of clutter on their shoulders. With less weight, you can enjoy and do the things that you really want to do in life.

Tracy Hoth