One of the most common questions I ever get asked about organization is the process. How do you make the decisions to get rid of things? While there are many tips and tricks to simplify the rationalization process, there are five simple steps to getting it done:
- Set a goal: "I'll sort half of this space before going to sleep" or "I'll streamline the contents of that one box."
- Find comprehensive categories and sort by categories.
- Sort things out, systematically move around the room and do not bounce back and forth.
- Delete what you do not want.
- Stop when you have reached your destination.
Use the sorting time to remember the objects – do not make any decisions here. Let the emotions arise and clarify, so that during the rationalization phase you are free of emotional ties and can make more objective decisions.
If you overstrain the idea of sorting, make some early victories and tour the room by removing some big things that open up the room quickly.
- Take a category and, if you can, move it from the area where you work to an open space (like the dining room). So you can focus on one category and you do not have to face the rest at once.
- Ask yourself two questions: Do you need it? Love it? If you can not say yes to both, you'll get rid of it. Life is too short to fill our spaces with things we do not care about.
- Take things that will not keep you out of the house as soon as possible. The longer they stay, the more likely they will be to return to the house.
- Give yourself some rewards – for example from fifty books that you have never read for sentimental reasons. Keep five and keep them in a place of honor where you can see them and appreciate the memories that come with them.
There are two cases where you stop for the day, even if you are not done yet:
- If you hit a "brain fog" that makes no sense, or if you cling to anything you check.
- When you reach a manic state and start throwing everything without looking at it.
Simple, yes? Now tell us what you will optimize this week.
This post has been updated since its original publication in 2009.
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