This month we're focusing on dump zones! I am talking about the areas in your home where you park things to avoid dealing with them at that very moment. Those I’ll-get-to-that-later zones.
Here’s the cold. hard. truth. The only way to get rid of them is with two tools: time and discipline. Another option is to throw it all away, but I have a feeling that would not put your mind at ease.
Time and discipline? Sounds like something a school principal from a classic 80s movie would say. But as a professional organizer, my goal is to make your time and efforts productive and fun and therefore make this project doable!
The best way to save money and maximize your time with a professional organizer is to declutter on your own. This is where time comes into play. Set aside multiple blocks in your calendar when you will tackle these zones. Actually doing it is the discipline! Enlist the help of a friend or blast some music to get you motivated. Hire a professional organizer (a.k.a. PO) for the hard stuff to sort or toss, space planning, workflow and systems, product knowledge, and her trade secrets. If you know yourself and know that you won't do this on your own, then by all means hire a PO for the whole project!
The first step is to locate your dump zones. ALL OF THEM. Prioritize which one to tackle first.
Next comes decluttering. And what I mean by that is to sort items, toss the ones you don’t need, then find a “home” for the items you keep.
Your decluttering approach can vary:
Declutter by Category - For example: clothes, books, papers, technology, utility items, keepsakes. This method has been popularized by Marie Kondo in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy.
Declutter by Zone - You could start with one pile, a bookshelf, your desk, the kitchen counter, or a junk drawer (renamed by me as the “jumble drawer”)
My biggest recommendation is that you start.
And don’t forget those digital dump zones!
You might have a running list in your Notes app, any number of To-Do apps, then there’s your email inbox, browser bookmarks, accounts that collect articles to read later (RSS, Feedly, Pocket), and now apps like Facebook and Instagram offer a save button for these links. Information stored digitally accumulates quickly because it’s not an actual pile that you see…which can get scary!
Minimizing your dump zones is ideal. It’s worth figuring out what is the bare minimum you need to function on a day-to-day basis (there's that discipline again!). The actual number of zones depends on what your life demands.
As a goal, set aside time to go through your newly manageable dump zones weekly. They will only remain manageable if you address them regularly.
Once you go through the high-priority zones, why not go through the dump zones you haven’t look at in years? Were these things deliberately saved or have you not yet determined what to do with them? No time like the present to make an actual decision about the fate of these things in your life. You will be surprised how many things no longer serve you (::whispering in your ear:: "That means you can get rid of them!").
You will thank yourself for doing this now instead of when something makes it urgent and stressful.
Let’s be proactive instead of reactive!