Basic Principles of Organizing (How to Drill Down The Clutter)


Basic Principles 1 This is Step #6 – Basic Principles (How to Drill Down Clutter)

We’re getting closer to starting on that first organizing project. Are you getting excited yet?

You completed Step #1 Start-Here. You read Step #2 Organized Mindset and realize why that’s important. You asked (and answered) your honest questions as you went through Step #3 Questions to Ask Yourself . You refined your ideas through Step #4 Start Somewhere. You worked through the tips in Step #5 Baby Steps.

Now you’re ready for Step #6 -- Basic Principles of Organizing.


It’s time to ask some questions about those Keeper items from Step #5 Baby Steps (Tip #4, Item #6). This will help you drill down the clutter!!

Basic Principles 2

Question #1: Does this add real value to my life?

Basic Principle #1: If the answer is “Yes,” go to Question #2. If the answer is “No” --- get rid of it! If the answer is “Not sure” – keep it for now and proceed through the rest of the questions.

Question #2: When was the last time I’ve seen it or used it?

Basic Principles 3

Basic Principle #2: How long should you keep something? Every professional organizer has a different opinion. I go through things once or twice a year (spring and/or fall cleaning).

Except for tax filing records, if I haven’t used the item in the last year, out it goes!

Other organizers will recommend six months. It’s really up to you. 2 years would be the maximum. Unless it’s a family keepsake, if you haven’t seen it or used it in 2 years, give it another home!

Basic Principles 4

Question #3: Do I have duplicates of this item?

Basic Principle #3: Is the answer: “Yes?” You do not need duplicates of any item (unless it’s a necessity – food, paper towels, soap, etc.). You gotta let go!! Pick the one that is the best and trash the rest!!

Basic Principles 5

Question #4: Does it need to be repaired?

Basic Principle #4: Is the answer: “Yes?” What will it cost to repair the item (time and money)? Is it worth repairing? If it’s a sentimental item or an antique, maybe it’s worth repairing.

Frugal people need to keep what they have and repair it. Others can’t stand having something that isn’t new or has been broken and repaired. Either way, it’s okay.

If you can repair it yourself (or have it repaired), do so quickly. If you can’t stand having an item that’s been repaired (and you can afford to replace it) --- buy new and give the old one another home!

Basic Principles 6

Question #5: Is this “junk” or could someone else use it?

Basic Principle #5: This is a very subjective question. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

It needs another home unless:

  1. It’s a family heirloom
  2. It's an antique or collectible (but do you really need it? --- consider selling it -- Ebay it Baby!)
  3. You have sentimental attachment to it (but be careful with this one --- see Baby Step #5 about getting rid of emotional baggage).

Basic Principles 7

Question #6: Can this item be repurposed?

Basic Principle #6: If the answer is: “Yes,” consider keeping it.

Need an example?

I recently married and my new husband and I moved into our new to us home. He likes to keep mail, coupons, magazines, etc. spread out flat on the kitchen counter. I don't like the piles. During the move, I had no use for a kitchen rack that’s designed to hold pot/pan lids. It worked perfectly as a stand to organize those items. It kept the items where he could find them. It kept them off my kitchen counter top. Now we’re both happy!!

If the item can’t be re-purposed, get rid of it!

Consider that someone else could benefit from having it.

Basic Principles 8

Question #7: I’m keeping it . . . where does it belong?

Basic Principle #7: If it’s a kitchen item, it shouldn’t be in the living room (unless you can re-purpose something – see Question #6 above). Put it where it belongs!

Once you get through all the steps, you can go to the project areas for ideas on how to keep it organized. Or, if you're a fast learner, you can go there now.

You're now ready to go to the next organizing step -- Step #7

Other Things To Consider

Go to: Step #1: Start Here

Go to Step #2: Organized Mindset

Go to Step #3: Questions to Ask Yourself

Go to Step #4: Start Somewhere

Go to Step #5: Baby Steps

Go to Step #7: Other Things to Consider

Go to Step #8: Last Things to Consider

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