Opportunities exist each day to either clear away a small amount of clutter or maintain an existing space. Taking these small opportunities to organize a little at a time reduces the need to spend hours later “getting organized.” I call it organizing “While You Are There.”

The easiest way to see how this works is with files. No one likes to clean out an entire drawer full of files (myself included), but it doesn’t hurt much to clean out one or two. The next time you pull out a file, look through the entire file. Shred or discard any duplicate, outdated, or no longer relevant information. If you have more time, tackle a few of the surrounding files. This should only take five minutes or so.

The idea is to clear out items that are not used, liked, or needed as you naturally come in contact with them. Follow me through the office and house to see how this works:

• office desk drawers – What supplies do you regularly use? Discard or donate what you don’t. Store the rest in a separate box.

• book shelves – Do the titles on the shelf reflect your current interests and lifestyle? Donate a few books (especially those old college textbooks!).

• kitchen drawers and cabinets - Are you holding onto unused cooking and baking items or food? Donate what you can to your favorite charity.

• junk / utility drawer - Can any items be better used in another room or stored with other like items? Put them there.

family / living room – Old magazines? Outgrown or broken toys or games? Recycle and donate. No one misses what isn’t used.

• linen closet – Mismatched or old towels? Keep the best. Toss, donate, or store a few as rags in the garage.

• bedroom – Items (like paperwork and kids’ toys) that are not conducive to sleep and relaxation should be returned to their proper homes.

• closet – There’s a reason you, your spouse, or your child hasn’t worn X, Y, or Z. Donate it to someone who will.

• bathroom – Do you really use all those toiletries?

Remember, the idea is to clear out unused or unneeded items while you are already there. Does this take a lot of extra time? No, the time is already there. You just haven’t noticed it yet.

You have a few minutes when you are:

o waiting (in the car, in a line, or for _______ to get ready)

o taking a break between tasks

o looking for something

o putting something away (especially a new item)

This week look around. Is there a small area or two that you could organize while you are there? Do you have a few extra moments to look through that drawer or cabinet? You’d be surprised what a difference small steps over time can make in your home and office.

Take some time this month to clear out a few spaces while you are there. You’ll be glad you did.

© Renee Ursem, 2010

Author's Bio: 

Renee Ursem, Professional Organizer and Consultant, is the owner of Get It Together, LLC, offering clients in Las Vegas simple, practical solutions to organizational challenges. She can be reached at www.get-it-together-llc.com and is on Facebook and Linkedin.