What the heck does that mean?!
It means that you survey your space, and decide how much of it you can dedicate to what ever it is that you are organizing.
Let’s say you are organizing your office space and, more specifically, your office/school supplies. After looking through your home office area, you decide that you can allocate one shelf of one cupboard to office/school supplies. That means that is all the area you have to store every spare pen, pencil, roll of tape, notebook, folder, ruler, bottle of glue – whatever. That is it. You may want to put smaller items into a basket of some sort, that will help maximize some space and prevent those small items from falling all over the place, but that space is all you have to store these items.
This is a great way to get yourself to pare down. Donate the extras, have a big art day at home with the kids, send extras to school (they can always use more supplies) or preschool or church or anywhere you can think that can use such supplies. I shared colored folders with my best friends, whose kids needed them for school, extra packages of loose leaf and printer paper with our preschool and sent tons of art supplies to our elementary art teacher. It felt great: The items were getting used and I had more space. Win-win-win – what more can you ask for?
Another related tip is to limit your storage to the area where you actually will use the items you are storing. When we redid our office last year, I decided that everything that was going to be done in the office needed to fit in it. In doing so, I had to find space for wrapping papers, gift tags, office supplies, school supplies, scrapbooking items and stamping goodies, as well as files, desk supplies and things like envelopes and CDs. Some things are stored on bookcases in pretty containers (or not so pretty, if I had other ones on hand to use), stored in drawers or in a file cabinet. Anything that I could not fit in, I took a second look at, decided if I wanted to keep it, then I had to get rid of something else to make room for it. But I made myself stick to the space.
In doing this, I determined that I just did not have enough space for both my scrapbooking supplies and my stamping supplies. Since I was back to working full-time and have four kids in four different schools (high school, middle school, elementary school and preschool, thank you very much), I really have not done much of either in the past 2 years. This exercise forced me to get real with myself. I sold, then donated, 98% of my stamping supplies, keeping only a few for my kids to use. While it was a sad decision for me in some respects, I was happy to free up the space and ease my guilt of knowing I had so much but did not have the time to use it.
I think that after you complete this exercise and reflect back, you will find that a couple of great things will come in the end. First, you will use what you have, because you know what you have and where to find it. Second, you will know what you have before you buy more. I now know that even if folders are free, heck, even if they are paying me to take them, I do not need another folder for a very.long.time. In a way, that is one less thing I have to think about for a while.
Be sure to check out our other great tips for getting organized on a budget.