Friday, January 2, 2009

Treatise on Organizing

This began as a comment to cindylouh's plea for suggestions, but quickly outgrew the comments box (and any rational hope for keeping it to comment length ;o). So, here's a post just for you, cindylouh, from a new reader. As for the rest of my loyal readers, I have a feeling that most of you could use this, too, so keep calm and carry on. ;oD

On Tackling Your Crafty Space

{voice: booming announcer; style: impressive echo}

The Rules of Organizing!

{/voice; /style}

The #1 Rule of Organizing:

Makest thou all things easier to put away than they are to find.

Kids will dig in a big toybox for incalculable minutes on end for a certain toy, mystifying their mothers with their determination and focus. But, if putting them away takes more than three seconds, no deal. It looks like you have a lot more stuff than space right now, with your current system(s). So, following the #1 Rule of Organizing comes the . . .

#2 Rule of Organizing:

Usest thou larger containers, with broad categories.

Larger containers mean less wasted space between and around smaller ones. You know the beautiful closet ads from California Closets? Whole rooms full of gorgeous closet hardware and the like, holding only a week's worth of dress clothes, three party outfits, and four pair of shoes. Measure your funny fabric nook and find containers that will fit one on each shelf (or so), and then categorize your fabric according to the visually least-obvious, or most often used requirement. If you usually search by color, then that's your sorting algorithm.

#3 Rule of Organizing

Excerisest thou restraint. Also known as: Thou Shalt Not Stash.

Whenever you bring something new into such a small space, you must either have made a spot for it before your purchase, or must remove something in order to keep your delicate crafty ecosystem in balance. Yin and yang. Live it. Love it.

#4 Rule of Organizing:

Pickest thou up after thyself.

Amen and amen. Without adherence to this last and final rule, all hope is lost. (And I'm in as much trouble as any of us! ;o)

And now, with these simple rules (and preamble) committed forever to memory (c'mon, it's not that much ;o), you are now to "Knowing is half the battle." On to the last half:

{voice: booming announcer; style: impressive echo}

The Plan of Action.

{/voice; /style}


Dividest thou thy crafty space into discrete spaces, according to thy will or their uses.

This allows you to conquer them one at a time, without tearing the whole room apart, or losing your sanity in the reorg process. As FlyLady says: "Don't pull out more than you can put back in an hour." Wise words from one of us.

Step 1:

Choose one of the spaces you defined earlier, and attack, armed with: a garbage bag, a "give away" box, a "put away" box, a tape measure, notebook and pencil.

Armed with these vital tools, you can now begin your quest.

Step 2:

Sort everything in your chosen battlefield into either the garbage bag, the "put away box", or the "give away box", remembering this cardinal rule:

Chuckest thou all that which thou dost no longer love, or that which thou wilt no longer use.

Need I say more? ;o) All of us crafty types have stashes that include things which we've had for (insert your time frame here), and we just don't love, won't use, or can't remember. Those things are taking up precious space . . . the space necessary to use the rest of the stash! So, the first thing to do it take stock, and let the pockets of less-loved supplies go elsewhere. (I like to let my kids go wild with them. It's fun to see what they come up with, and the kids' craft supplies are kept in a separate location! Muah-ha-ha-ha!)

Once things are sorted, take measurements of the spaces you need containers for, and guard that record with your life.

Step 3:

Now that you know what it is you have, and exactly how much space you have in that zone: Acquire containers, and install them.

Whether they're repurposed from elsewhere in the house (I hoard baskets and glass bottles) or purchased (try Craigslist, too!), use your imagination and go wild. Remember Crazy Uncle Eddie's workbench with the baby food jars full of screws and nuts, magically hanging from the shelf above? Screws. The lids were attached to the shelf with screws. Use the bottles from spaghetti sauce, jam and jelly, mustard, or whatever else you have. (Melt a pilot hole with a hot metal skewer on the plastic ones, or punch a hole with a nail in metal ones--just be sure you poke from the inside of the lid so your screw sits flush.)

This is where the resevoirs of creative how-to (especially Unclutterer's Workspace of the Week, Martha Stewart's Good things for Organizing, or ikea hacker's repetoire) come in handy. Or any of a million great blogs on design and such. And, where my vociferous (and hopefully humorous) treatise ends.

Have a great weekend!!!