Alright. Alright. Alright.
Y’all ready to finish up those six action steps for establishing Zero in your space?
Six Action Steps to Establish Zero in Your Space
1. Empty it.
2. Clean it.
3. Sort the items that used to live in it.
4. Evaluate and purge the items that used to live in it.
5. Evaluate and figure out how to store the items that made the cut.
6. Make it cute.
(And do you think I’m legally bound to formally quote Matthew Mc Conaughey for those “alrights” up there? I mean, it HAS been his signature catchphrase. Just to be on the safe side, I borrowed your catch phase, Matthew McConaughey! Thank you!)
Those six steps can be broken down into two major chunks. The first three, which we talked about in the last blog, are pretty much straight up grunt work.
The Grunt Work
Sort the items that used to live in it.
These next three? Well, they’re mostly about the emotional work.
The Emotional Work
Evaluate and purge the items that used to live in it.
Evaluate and figure out how to store the items that made the cut.
Make it cute.
Steps one through three? You sweat on the outside.
Steps four through six--ESPECIALLY step four--you sweat on the inside.
And maybe cry a little.
Without further ado, let’s rip off the band aid and get right down to the absolute hardest part in the organizing process. Step four is all about figuring out what to keep and what not to keep.
4. Evaluate and purge
Okay, the most important part of this step is ONLY thinking about one category of items at a time. You’ve got everything you pulled out of your space sorted into labeled boxes according to category, right? Just focus on ONE box at a time. Forget that any other boxes even exist.
Let’s say you’re cleaning out your closet. Here are the categories you most likely sorted your stuff into:
- workout top
- workout bottoms
- short sleeve shirts
- long sleeve shirts
- accessories- belts/hats/scarves
- tech items
- random paperwork
Choose one category. JUST ONE. You’ll eventually get to all of them, but you need to be singularly focused so that you don’t get overwhelmed or confused.
Let’s say you start with your pants.
Dump out all of the pants. The pants box should be empty. From this point on, the only pants that go back into the pants box are the ones you’re keeping.
Pick up your first pair of pants and ask yourself the following questions:
Do you like them?
Do you use them?
Do they fit your CURRENT lifestyle? (You know, or your hiney.)
Are they in good shape?
If you had to buy them again right now, would you?
If you answered no to most of those questions, then those pants either go into the Get Rid Of bag or, if they’re in really bad shape, the trash.
Now look. Don’t get all caught up in where your Get Rid Of items are going to go at this point. Don’t worry about if you’re going to sell them or give them to a family member or donate them to a charity or AHHHH! What charity should they go to?! Right now, they just need to go into the bag.
If you answered yes to most of those questions, then fold the pants and put them back into the pants box.
Repeat that process for all of the other pants in your pile. Once you finish dealing with the pants, you can either take a break or move on to the next category.
Regardless of which action you choose, you now know exactly what pants you have, where to find them, and they’re not rolled up into a tiny ball under a pile of shoes.
Before we move on, it’s important that we address a few things that could possibly derail you. I’m going to make them specific to pants, but they can be applied universally.
I don’t care who gave those pants to you. If they’re not useful to you, unless for some reason they’re super sentimental (You know, given to you by Elvis) or maybe magic, you just need to pass them on.
I don’t care how much you paid for those pants. If they’re not useful to you, unless for some reason they’re super sentimental (You know, signed by Elvis) or magic, you just need to pass them on.
Get over the “I might wear it/use it again someday” fallacy. If you haven’t worn it or used it in a year, you’re not going to. Unless they’re super sentimental (You know, given or worn by Elvis) or magic, you just need to pass them on. The only exception to this, at least for clothing items, is pregnancy.
I realize that may have come out a little harsh.
If I was working with you in your home, I’d be a little more gentle. I’d let you have a “maybe” pile. Heck, I might even let ya’ have an entire tote of items that don’t currently fit. (A carefully labeled tote that fits nicely in the top of your closet.)
The thing is, when I’m working with someone in her home, I’m there to follow up and talk through those "maybes." I’m able to send her a text to check in and see if she’s lost the weight she was planning to lose and, if the answer is no, to encourage her to just get rid of the dang clothes that make her feel like a sausage.
Because I’m not physically with you and don’t have that guaranteed interaction to follow up, I’m laying out the tough love.
And that tough love states that you ask yourself the following questions to determine if an item--ANY ITEM--makes the cut:
Do you like it?
Do you use it?
Does it fit your current lifestyle?
Is it in good shape?
If you had to buy it again right now, would you?
Once you’ve gone through this process with each of your sorted categories, you can move on to step five.
And you know what? You can move on that same day or come back to it another day. All of your stuff is completely accessible and already probably more organized than it was before!
5. Evaluate and figure out how to store the items that made the cut.
Now we’re getting closer to the fun part.
Let’s take your closet again.
Things you’ve got to figure out:
What gets hung up versus what gets folded.
Where your shirts are going to live and put them there.
Do you want bins to hold the folded items and then start to figure out the type of bins you need.
Will you keep your shoes on the floor or on the top shelf and put them there?
Will you use an over the door shoe organizer to hold your accessories?
See where I’m going with this?
THIS step is where Pinterest becomes your friend again. Because you know exactly what you have and how much space in which you have to store it, you can go there to look for cute/cool/out of the box ways to store it, so it’s more likely to stay organized.
There’s really only one potential un-fun aspect of this step. Depending on how much space you have available, you may have to go back through the items you’ve decided to keep and pare them down a little bit more.
Look, I know it’s tough to get rid of stuff, but it really comes down to this one question:
Do you have enough room for the items you’d like to keep?
Physically speaking, can you store the items in a way that they can be easily used or accessed by you and your family?
Emotionally, do you have the room or energy readily available in your life to deal with these items on a regular basis?
Think back to your closet.
Physically, will the square footage of that space comfortably hold all of the clothes you’d like to keep? Emotionally, do you have it in you to make a decision about wearing that item every time you get dressed?
Let’s say we’re talking about jeans.
You’ve decided you want to keep 25 pairs of jeans.
Okay, can your closet hold all 25 pairs along with all the other stuff you want to put in there? Every time you want to wear a pair of jeans, is it worth flipping through all 25 to figure out which ones you wanna put on for that occasion?
While there IS a definitive limit to how many items your square footage can hold, there really isn’t a right or wrong answer to the emotional part. Only you can figure that out.
6. Make it cute.
Oh y’all. THIS is the best part!
Making it cute is your reward for all of your hard work. It’s saving the best for last. You’ve already figured out your function, so now you can focus on form.
This is where you get to shop!
Tip: It’s super important to wait to shop until this point. The danger of shopping too early is that you end up with all this stuff that you don’t need or doesn’t work, and it just adds to your chaos. At this point, it’s actually a true solution.
You replace those banker's boxes with awesome binsand exchange your painters tape labels for cute ones.
It’s where you purchase all of the same type of hanger and get rid of the crappy ones.
It’s where you put all of your belts and hats and gloves and scarves in an over-the-door shoe organizer on the back of your closet door.
This is where all of those Pinterest ideas actually become reality.
Welp, there are all six steps I use to establish Zero in a space. You’ve got the details on the grunt work and the emotional work. Now all you’ve gotta do is GET to work making it happen!
I’d love to hear about your progress! Oh, and here’s a cheat sheet you can use to help keep you focused! It’s great to have on hand as you’re working your way through the six steps!
Grab the Cheat Sheet
This cheat sheet walks you through how to get organized for real!