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BellaOnline's Organization Editor

My #1 Organizing Tip

My aunt recently told me she enjoys reading my articles but was curious to know whether I had a favorite bit of organizing advice—one single tip that beat out all the others. I told her I did (read on to find out what it is), and her question got me thinking about the organizational tips I give clients, friends, and family members again and again. These tips have such staying power because they’re simple, effective, and applicable to a wide range of organizing scenarios.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be detailing five of my favorite organizing tidbits and providing information on how to make each one work for you. First up: my all-time favorite bit of advice.

Allow into your life only things you use, need, love, or find beautiful.

So much of what looks and feels to us like disorganization—cluttered spaces, trouble finding what we need, the sense that there’s not a home for all of our things—stems from the fact that, by and large, we have way, way too many things in our lives. It’s easy to think that more stuff means more security, an enhanced sense of well-being, and an increased ability to plan and prepare for whatever the future holds, but none of those things is necessarily true. All too often, the stuff we gather and hold onto weighs us down, prevents us from being able to do what we want to do, increases our worries, and gets in the way of living life in the present.

When I’m working with clients, they’ll often pick up or point to an item and say, “I hate this thing,” or “I don’t know why I still have this; I never use it.” These words are sweet music to my ears, because it means the person is able to acknowledge the things in her space that don’t contribute to her life in a positive way; these things are often the first to go in the bag headed for charity, recycling, or the trash. The more things we get rid of that aren’t used, loved, needed, or beautiful, the easier it is to access and enjoy those things that are.

Putting this tip into action
I’m willing to bet that almost everyone reading this tip (and, truth be told, the person writing it as well) has stuff in his or her space that could be weeded out. The challenge, of course, is to determine what stays and what goes. Here, then, are my takes on what it means to use, need, love, and find beautiful the things in your life—the things, that is, worth keeping.

For the next week, challenge yourself to be more aware of the items throughout your home or office. Which of them do you use, need, love, or find beautiful, and which are simply taking up space? Letting go of the things that fall in the latter category makes it easier to access and appreciate those that fall in the former categories—and that’s one of the most powerful benefits of organization.

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